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July 27th, 2017 News of the Day: Texas Instruments Profits Rise From Automotive Business, Tesla to Livestream Model 3 Event

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【Summary】Auto News of the Day July 27th, 2017.

Original Eric Walz    Jul 27, 2017 12:22 PM PT
July 27th, 2017 News of the Day: Texas Instruments Profits Rise From Automotive Business, Tesla to Livestream Model 3 Event

Texas Instruments Profits Rise as its Automotive Business Expands

Texas Instruments Inc has reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as the company benefited from higher demand for its chips from automotive and industrial customers.

Shares of the company (NASDAQ: TXN), which first became popular for its calculators, rose 2.8% to $83.65 in after-hours trading yesterday.

The Dallas, Texas-based company's focus on the industrial and automotive industries is paying off as its automotive products have contributed significantly to the company's revenue in the past few years.

The automotive business, which includes sensors used in advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) in vehicles, generated about 18% of the company's entire revenue in 2016.

The company's core business consists of analog chips that are used to calculate changes in sound and temperature, and embedded chips that are used in IoT (Internet of Things) and personal devices.

Analog revenue grew nearly 18 percent to $2.41 billion in the second quarter.

As a result of its performance, the company forecast third-quarter profit of between $1.04 per share and $1.18 per share and revenue of $3.74 billion to $4.06 billion, above analysts' average expectation of a profit of $1.05 per share and revenue of $3.76 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Texas Instruments said net income rose to $1.06 billion, or $1.03 per share, in the second quarter ended June 30, from $819 million, or 79 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts' on average had expected 96 cents per share.

The chip maker's net revenue rose for the fifth straight quarter, to $3.69 billion from $3.27 billion.

Tesla to Livestream Model 3 Deliveries Tomorrow

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Elon Musk promised to hand over the first 30 Tesla Model 3s at a special event tomorrow (July 28th), and buyers and fans of the EV are excited. Industry analysts have called the Model 3 the most important electric car ever, with sales estimated at around 400,000. Tesla says it will livestream the event at 8:45 PM Pacific Time on the home page at Tesla.com. Musk will be handing the keys to the first Model 3 to himself, as Tesla board member Ira Ehrenpreis gifted his place in the queue to Tesla's CEO.

The other 29 copies will go to Tesla employees or current owners of Tesla EVs. After that, Musk has promised to ship 100 Model 3s next month and around 1,500 in September, eventually ramping up to 10,000 per week.

Buyers who placed their deposits as early as March, 2016, have not been told their place in the queue, however. many future owners are getting a bit antsy, and are hoping that Musk will provide more details tomorrow.

Depending on your place in the queue, the Model 3 will soon get more expensive. After Tesla sells 200,000 EVs in total, a countdown begins until the U.S. government starts to phase out the $7,500 federal tax credit.

Once the 200,000 EV figure is achieved, the full $7,500 tax credit will remain in effect for three to six months depending on where that falls in the quarter. Afterwards, the credit drops by half to $3,850 for the next six months, and in half again to $1,875 for the six months after that, at which point it drops to zero.

During the three-to-six-month grace period after 200,000 sales, buyers will still get the full rebate, provided that Tesla can ship them the Model 3. Consequently, buyers will be pressing Tesla hard to get their vehicles built in that period and during the 12 months afterwards to get any kind of federal credit at all. Many consumers will be eligible for state rebates, too.

House Panel OK's Legislation to Speed Deployment of Self-Driving Cars

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An influential U.S. House committee on Thursday approved a revised bipartisan bill on a 54-0 vote that would speed the deployment of self-driving cars without human controls and bar states from blocking autonomous vehicles.

The bill would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year, a cap that would rise to 100,000 vehicles annually over three years.

Automakers and technology companies believe chances are good Congress will approve legislation before year end. They have been pushing for regulations making it easier to deploy self-driving technology, while consumer groups have sought more safeguards. Current federal rules bar self-driving cars without human controls on U.S. roads and automakers think proposed state rules in California are too restrictive.

The measure, the first significant federal legislation aimed at speeding self-driving cars to market, would require automakers to submit safety assessment reports to regulators, but would not require pre-market approval of advanced vehicle technologies.

The House of Representatives will take up the bill when it reconvenes in September, while senators plan to introduce a separate similar measure.

"Our aim was to develop a regulatory structure that allows for industry to safely innovate with significant government oversight," said Representative Greg Walden, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Initially, authors proposed to allow automakers and others to sell up to 100,000 vehicles immediately. New Jersey Representative Frank Pallone said the phase-in period was essential so "millions of exempted cars will not hit our roads all at once."

Manufacturers must demonstrate self-driving cars winning exemptions are at least as safe as existing vehicles.

Under the House proposal, states could still set rules on registration, licensing, liability, insurance and safety inspections, but could not set self-driving car performance standards.

Automakers praised committee passage, while Consumer Watchdog privacy director John Simpson said preempting state laws "leaves us at the mercy of manufacturers as they use our public highways as their private laboratories."

General Motors Co, Alphabet, Tesla and others have been lobbying for legislation to speed deployment of self-driving cars. Consumer advocates want more changes, including giving the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) quicker access to crash data and more funding to oversee self-driving cars.

The issue has taken on new urgency since U.S. road deaths rose 7.7 percent in 2015, the highest annual jump since 1966.

Automakers say that without changes in regulations, U.S. self-driving car testing could move to Europe and elsewhere.

Drexel University Researchers Working on Ultra Fast EV Charging

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A new battery electrode design using a highly conductive, 2-dimensional material called MXene offers the promise of near-instant car battery recharging.

Engineering researchers at Drexel University in Philadelphia, working with colleagues in France and Israel, say that finding time to stop, plug in and recharge could become history as their new electrode design could charge batteries in seconds instead of hours.

The team hopes to it could solve one of the primary issues holding back the electric-vehicle market, EV charging time.

Previous research has looked at the use of supercapacitors as an energy-storage device for portable electronics. Supercapacitors release energy in large bursts, but they can be used only for rapid charge/discharge cycles rather than long-term energy storage.

Now, researchers from Drexel's College of Engineering have combined the properties of a supercapacitor with those of traditional batteries with large storage capacities by using MXene. MXene was discovered by researchers in Drexel's Department of Materials Science and Engineering in 2011.

MXene is a flat nanomaterial that looks like a sandwich: consisting of oxide "bread" with a conductive carbon and metal filling. When they are made, Gogotsi says the MXene layers stack on top of each other like Pringles potato chips.

While MXene has excellent conductivity, the Pringle structure creates a barrier that makes it tricky for ions, the chemical carriers of charge, to diffuse through the battery.

For a battery to store charge, ions are held in ports called redox active sites. The more ports there are, the more energy the battery can hold and, importantly, the battery also has to allow the ions to move freely; otherwise they can't reach the ports.

To allow the free movement of ions in MXene, something had to be done about the structure.

The Drexel scientists changed the structure of the MXene by combining it with a hydrogel, turning the Pringle stack into a structure more like Swiss cheese allowing the ions to flow freely.

"In traditional batteries and supercapacitors, ions have a tortuous path toward charge storage ports, which not only slows down everything, but it also creates a situation where very few ions actually reach their destination at fast-charging rates," team member Maria Lukatskaya says.

"The ideal electrode architecture would be something like ions moving to the ports via multi-lane, high-speed highways instead of taking single-lane roads," she says. "Our macroporous electrode design achieves this goal, which allows for rapid charging – on the order of a few seconds or less."

The university says its development for use in batteries is significant, largely because it addresses one of the primary problems hindering expansion of the EV market.

"If we start using low-dimensional and electronically conducting materials as battery electrodes, we can make batteries work much, much faster than today," said Yury Gogotsi, a professor in Drexel's College of Engineering. "Eventually, appreciation of this fact will lead us to car, laptop and cellphone batteries capable of charging at much higher rates – seconds or minutes rather than hours."

Gogotsi says the overarching benefit of using MXene as the material for the electrode design is its conductivity. Materials that allow for rapid flow of an electrical current, such as aluminum and copper, often are used in electric cables.

MXene is conductive, like metals, so ions not only have a wide-open path to a number of storage ports, but also can move very quickly to meet electrons there.

Although the team's research looks promising, it's unclear exactly how the battery would be upscaled for use in a electric vehicle. But they say that should this research end up in cars – and phones – it will completely change the way batteries are used.

Insurance Companies Likely to Partner with OEMs on Self-Driving Cars

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With the rapid advancement of autonomous vehicles, traditional personal auto insurance has the potential to be severely disrupted by new competition and shifts to other types of insurance coverage, meaning they are likely to form partnerships with OEMs, according to an Auto Finance News article.

Autonomous vehicle technology could shrink the auto insurance sector by 71 or $137 billion by 2050, according to a report from KPMG. As such, the core business model for traditional auto insurance carriers may be under threat of obsolescence, and manufacturers have the potential to be a viable alternative to cover driving risk.

While this reality will be an incredible upheaval to the traditional business model for insurance companies, there are opportunities for partnerships with OEMs, Jerry Albright, an author of the KPMG report.

"You are going to see a proliferation for partnerships just because no one can afford to stick it out alone," he said to Auto Finance News. "There's potential for relationships and strategic partnerships between OEMs and insurers … [but] firms are still trying to understand how their partnerships should evolve."

Automakers will assume more of the driving risk and associated liability, the article stated, and have new opportunities to provide insurance to car buyers—taking marketshare away from traditional insurers.

Additionally, by 2050, there will be a significant increase in products liability insurance to 57 percent of total auto losses in order to cover the autonomous technology in vehicles, and a considerable decrease in personal auto insurance to 22 percent of total auto losses.


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