Toyota has unveiled the first of 15 new electric vehicles it plans to sell by 2025

Toyota_bZ4X_Concept_004
  • Toyota unveiled its new electric SUV at the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show.
  • The car is similar to a RAV4 in design, but rides lower and has a yoke steering wheel.
  • The new EV is one of 15 the company plans to make by 2025.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Toyota debuted its new all-electric SUV concept car on Monday at the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show.

The Toyota bZ4X is the first electric car under the company’s new Beyond Zero (bZ) lineup of cars with zero carbon emissions. It is the first of 15 fully electric cars the company plans to make by 2025 and one of seven under the bZ badge, according to a statement from CTO Masahiko Maeda.

The car is a compact SUV that looks similar to Toyota’s RAV4, but rides lower to the ground and features a longer wheelbase.

It’s the first car to be built on Toyota’s new electric e-TNGA BEV platform that the company created jointly with Subaru. Subaru is expected to unveil its own electric car on the platform shortly.

Toyota_bZ4X_Concept_006

The new car has several distinctive features, including a system that can use solar power to alleviate the impact of cold weather on the vehicle’s range, as well as yoke instead of a typical steering wheel. The car’s interior also has a large touchscreen.

The car company plans to manufacture the car in Japan and China. It should be available globally by the middle of 2022, according to the company.

Interior concept design of bZ4X

Toyota has not announced how far the car will be able to travel on a full charge, but it will likely be competitive with other EVs on the market, including the Ford Mustang Mach-E which has a range of over 300 miles.

Toyota also did not attach a price estimate to the car, but CarandDriver.com reported the vehicle may sell for about $40,000 – a similar price to Toyota’s RAV4 hybrid.

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Tesla raised the prices of its Model 3 and Model Y cars by $500, its 4th price change of the year

elon musk
Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

  • Tesla lifted the prices of its Model 3 Standard Range Plus, Model 3 Long Range AWD, and Model Y Long Range AWD by $500.
  • It also raised the price of its Model 3 Performance by $1,000, to $56,990.
  • It’s the fourth price change of the year for Tesla vehicles.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tesla can’t make up its mind on how much its electric vehicles should cost.

Electrek first reported Friday that Tesla had once again hiked up the US prices of its Model 3 and Model Y cars – marking its fourth price change in 2021 so far.

The Model 3, its cheapest sedan, has been hit by the most price changes this year. In the latest change, Tesla raised the price of the Standard Range Plus from $37,990 to $38,490, and the Long Range AWD from $46,990 to $47,490. The Performance version had an even bigger increase, from $55,990 to $56,990.

Read more: Apple will never deliver a car because it can’t figure out how to work with the automakers who could make it happen

The automaker also raised the price of its Model Y Long Range AWD from $49,990 to $50,490.

Electrek also noted that the Model 3 price hike was accompanied by a small design update, adding a new wooden door trim, which Tesla had already rolled out on Model 3 vehicles produced at its Shanghai, China Gigafactory.

Tesla Model 3 trim
Tesla Model 3s in the US now come with a wooden door panel.

Customers told CNBC that Tesla had double-charged for new cars in mid-March, leaving them with bills of up to $142,000.

A Tesla customer, Terry Oelschlaeger, told Insider’s Kate Duffy he was double-charged for a Tesla Model Y costing nearly $54,000 on March 25, and that a Tesla service center employee told him the error had affected “many” buyers.

The company has since refunded the customers, including Oelschlaeger, and offered them $200 in credit at its online store.

Tesla posted record sales in the first quarter of 2021 despite a worldwide shortage of semiconductor chips. It sold 184,800 vehicles in the first three months of 2021, and Wall Street now expects the electric-vehicle company to sell more than 800,000 cars this year.

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Tesla refunded customers who were overcharged up to $71,000 on new cars, and gave them $200 to spend at its online store

GettyImages 1288827259
Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

  • Tesla customers who were charged twice for a new car were refunded the extra money a week later, CNBC reported.
  • Tesla offered the customers $200 in credit to spend at the company’s online store.
  • The buyers were left with bills of up to $142,000, and were charged for overdraft fees.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tesla has refunded customers who were double-charged for new electric cars in mid-March, and has offered them $200 in credit at its online store, six people told CNBC on Wednesday.

Tesla refunded the extra money about a week after the customers told CNBC that Tesla had charged them twice without authorization and left them with bills of up to $142,000.

The customers said they received the money back on their double charges on or before April 1, but that they also had to pay for overdraft fees from their large bills.

Elon Musk’s car company sent the overcharged customers an email, which they shared with CNBC, that apologized and gave them $200 in credit. Tesla said the credit must be used in a single transaction, would expire on January 30, 2022, and couldn’t be spent on Tesla Tequila.

Tesla didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Three California-based Tesla customers first shared their stories with CNBC in March. CNBC’s journalists reviewed their purchase agreements, correspondence with Tesla, and bank statements.

Clark Peterson, Tom Slattery, and Christopher T. Lee initially told CNBC they had purchased Teslas ranging from $37,000, the price of a Model 3 sedan, to $71,000, the cost of a Model Y crossover SUV with premium features.

A former banking executive from North Carolina, who wanted to remain anonymous for privacy reasons, also told CNBC he was charged twice for a new Model Y costing about $54,000.

Read more: DeepMind’s cofounder partied with Elon Musk for his raucous 40th birthday party on the Orient Express, a new book revealed

These buyers all authorized the payment of their brand-new electric vehicles through ACH direct debit, but the next day found that the money had been taken from their account twice, meaning in total they had spent between $74,000 and $142,000 on the cars.

Now they’ve been refunded, they said Tesla customer service needs to improve.

Peterson told CNBC: “While happy to have the whole situation sorted, I still feel that the response time was inadequate. It took days before Tesla had any kind of response, and they were holding our significant funds the whole time. And it took them five minutes to take those funds from our account.”

Another Tesla customer, Terry Oelschlaeger, told Insider he was also double-charged for a Tesla Model Y costing $53,993.70 on March 25. He shared his bank statement with Insider, showing a duplicate charge for a new car.

Oelschlaeger said he phoned the company three times to complain and drove to a Tesla service center in California, where an employee told him the error had impacted “many” buyers.

The company told him the refund would arrive in his bank account in one to three business days. He eventually received a payment in full from Tesla on March 31.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook says he’s never met Elon Musk but has ‘great admiration and respect’ for Tesla

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk (left) and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook said Monday that he’d never met Elon Musk.
  • He said that Musk’s electric-vehicle company Tesla had done “an unbelievable job.”
  • Apple reportedly plans to enter the EV market with its own autonomous vehicle.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Apple CEO Tim Cook praised electric-vehicle company Tesla on Monday, but said that he hasn’t yet met its CEO Elon Musk.

Cook’s comments came less than two weeks after Musk posted, then deleted, a tweet implying Tesla could be bigger than Apple “within a few months.”

Cook told The New York Times’ Kara Swisher: “You know, I’ve never spoken to Elon, although I have great admiration and respect for the company he’s built.

“I think Tesla has done an unbelievable job of not only establishing the lead, but keeping the lead for such a long period of time in the EV space,” he added.

Tesla and Apple don’t directly compete – but this could soon change. Apple reportedly plans to build an autonomous electric car by 2024, and during Monday’s interview Cook hinted that the project was real. Apple has recently patented some vehicle features.

Musk said in December that he once wanted Apple to buy Tesla for a tenth of the company’s 2020 value, but that Cook wouldn’t meet with him.

Read more: Apple will never deliver a car because it can’t figure out how to work with the automakers who could make it happen

Tesla posted record sales in the first quarter of 2021 despite a worldwide shortage of semiconductor chips. Wall Street now expects Tesla to sell more than 800,000 vehicles this year.

Musk has famously clashed with other US business leaders including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

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Tesla may be losing its electric-vehicle crown as Ford’s Mustang Mach-E sales heat up

Mustang Mach E GT Performance Edition 03
Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition.

  • Tesla’s share of the US electric-car market fell from 81% to 69% in February.
  • The Mustang Mach-E was nearly the sole reason for Tesla’s market-share losses.
  • Ford’s new electric car has been widely successful, winning awards and Wall Street’s approval.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Ford’s electric Mustang Mach-E appears to be cutting into Tesla’s comfortable lead in the electric-vehicle market right out of the gate.

The Mustang Mach-E was the third highest selling electric car model in the US in its first full months of sales, according to a report from Morgan Stanley on Thursday. The car trailed behind Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y in February.

While Ford has only sold 6,614 units of the new SUVs to date, Tesla’s share of the US electric-car market fell to 69% in February, down from 81% in the prior year, an earlier Morgan Stanley report dated March 3 found. What’s more, the Mustang accounted for nearly all of Tesla’s market-share losses, the bank said.

Ford’s first-quarter vehicle sales were up over 23% year-over-year, the automaker said Thursday, with electrified vehicle sales rising 74%, thanks mainly to the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid sales.

Tesla’s first quarter numbers are expected to be released as soon as Thursday afternoon.

Despite the new competition – of which Ford is far from the only source – Morgan Stanley’s analysis found that Tesla’s US sales are still on the rise, with more car buyers continuing to look into purchasing an electric vehicle. EV sales in the US climbed 34% in February from the previous year, while traditional internal-combustion-engine-car sales dropped 5.4%.

One-fifth of the Mustang Mach-E’s sold in February were in California, Ford said, a key market for the industry. In 2019, the state accounted for nearly half of Tesla’s Model 3 sales.

So far, the Mach-E appears to be a success. The car was awarded SUV of the year by the North American Car, Truck, and Utility Vehicle of the Year Award in January, and early testers – including other Wall Street analysts – also gave it positive marks. JPMorgan said the vehicle could challenge Tesla inasmuch as Ford has more history and brand recognition.

“We do not aim to argue that one vehicle is necessarily superior to the other (many consumers will continue to prefer the Model Y’s greater availability of semi-autonomous driving features and Tesla brand, while others will be attracted to the Mach-E’s styling and availability of a $7,500 federal tax credit),” they said.

In March, Tesla CEO Elon Musk seemed to compliment Ford’s role in the electric-car market.

“Tesla & Ford are the only American carmakers not to have gone bankrupt out of 1000’s of car startups,” he tweeted in response to a reporter’s post about the high-risk nature of the automobile industry. “Prototypes are easy, production is hard & being cash flow positive is excruciating.”

Some experts doubt Tesla can stay on top forever

Early Tesla investor and former board member Steve Westly told CNBC that competition was encroaching on the electric-car company from all sides.

“Tesla is not going to be king of the hill in electric forever,” he told CNBC last month.

Other car companies have also begun to crowd the market, from electric-car startups like Lucid Motors, Fisker, and Rivian to more established car companies like General Motors and Volkswagen.

In February, a J.D. Power survey of new car buyers found that many people looking to buy electric cars were considering companies outside of Tesla.

“One could argue this indicates that, while Tesla’s appeal is clearly formidable, it’s not absolute and could be displaced by a worthy alternative,” said Stewart Stropp, senior director of automotive retail at J.D. Power, in the survey.

Despite doubts as to the future of Tesla’s role in the EV market, Tesla’s shares have risen more than 650% in the past year in a vote of confidence from investors. The company’s revenue increased in 2020 from $24.6 billion to $31.5 billion, but it missed Wall Street’s fourth-quarter projections by 20%.

The company is working to compete in the market. The carmaker plans to design a $25,000 car and has expanded its manufacturing plants into China, building a Shanghai Gigafactory.

China is likely to remain a key market for Tesla and the industry at large. In 2020, Tesla doubled its revenue there.

“China is the linchpin of growth for EV market,” Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush, told clients in March. “We believe China could see eye-popping demand into 2021 and 2022 across the board, with Tesla’s flagship Giga 3 footprint a major competitive advantage.”

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Elon Musk says the new Cybertruck design won’t have any door handles

Tesla Cybertruck
The original design for the Tesla Cybertruck.

  • Elon Musk teased on Twitter that the updated Cybertruck would come without door handles.
  • The original design had the same handles as other Tesla production cars.
  • Musk said earlier in the month that more information would be available about the vehicle in April.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Elon Musk hinted on Twitter that the Tesla Cybertruck will not have any door handles, which would be one of the most concrete design changes to the electric truck aside from the slight reduction of the vehicle’s overall measurements.

The original prototype of the Cybertruck had the same door handles as other Tesla models.

Handles on Tesla’s cars are already unique, as they remain flat against the car until the car key comes close to the vehicle, or if an individual pushes against a corner of the door handle when the car is already unlocked.

While Musk did not give any details on the technology that the car company may use to make a vehicle without door handles, Tesla has been studying self-opening and closing doors for a number of years.

Tesla’s Model X has had self-opening and closing doors since 2015, as well as “self-presenting” doors that open as the driver approaches the car.

The upcoming Tesla Roadster introduced a swiping button to open the door, so Musk could be referring to a similar setup for the Cybertruck.

The Cybertruck has been the subject of much anticipation and has been teased by Musk for several years, even before the truck made its official debut in November 2019.

Last fall, Musk said the Cybertruck’s latest design would be unveiled within a matter of months, though the photos were never released. He has previously mentioned that small changes were expected to the vehicle’s overall measurements.

In March, Musk said on Twitter the company would know more about the vehicles availability by the spring.

At Tesla’s third quarter earning call in January, Musk said the vehicle could hit the streets as soon as the end of 2021.

“We’re no longer iterating at the design center level…We’ve got the designs fixed,” Musk said. “We’ll soon order the equipment necessary to make the Cybertruck.”

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Consumer Reports says Tesla’s cameras inside its cars, which transmit video footage of passengers, could pose a privacy risk

Elon Musk
  • Several Tesla models record and transmit video of drivers and passengers via in-car cameras.
  • Tesla cars have up to 9 cameras encompassing both the outside and inside of the car.
  • Consumer Reports said the in-car camera opens drivers up to serious privacy concerns.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Several Tesla vehicle models, including the Model 3 and Model Y, record and transmit video footage of drivers and passengers via in-car cameras. The cameras are designed to help Tesla develop its full-self driving software, but present a serious privacy risk, according to Consumer Reports.

John Davisson, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), told Consumer Reports the footage opens Tesla drivers up to a whole host of privacy concerns, including the potential for outside parties to gain access to the data for malicious purposes, as well as Tesla itself using the data for its own gain.

“It may later be repurposed for a system that is designed to track the behaviors of the driver, potentially for other business purposes,” Davisson told Consumer Reports.

Jake Fisher, senior director of Consumer Reports’ auto-test center, told Insider the most concerning aspect of their investigation into the cameras was that Tesla was not being entirely transparent about how the cameras were being used.

“Tesla could be using these cameras to stop crashes and they’re using it for studies, to help Tesla develop more things,” Fisher told Insider. “Tesla is the only automaker that has hardware that could help stop crashes, but isn’t using it for the driver’s safety.”

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter that Tesla has used the in-car cameras to remove its full self-driving software from drivers that “did not pay sufficient attention to the road.”

Musk confirmed the company was using the in-car cameras to determine eligibility for the FSD software, when asked by another Twitter user.

Other car companies, including BMW, Ford and General Motors have elaborate driver monitoring systems, but they have focused the systems on driver safety over collecting data. Consumer Reports notes the car companies do not record, save or transmit the data and use infrared technology to identify a driver’s eye movements or head position instead of video cameras.

While Tesla does not use the in-car cameras to alert the driver to potential safety concerns, the company does use a real-time driver-engagement tool via steering wheel inputs that analyze the amount of pressure put on the wheel to keep drivers alert.

Consumer Reports said the steering wheel inputs can be easily tricked. “Just because a driver’s hands are on the wheel doesn’t mean their attention is on the road,” said Kelly Funkhouser, program manager for vehicle interface testing at Consumer Reports. Fisher told Insider in-car cameras could help save a lot of lives.

Tesla drivers can opt-out of sharing the in-car videos via their control settings and the Cabin Camera is disabled by default. According to Tesla’s site, the camera will only turn on before a crash or automatic emergency braking (AEB) activation.

China has also expressed concern regarding cameras on Tesla cars. In March, China banned Tesla cars in military complexes due to concerns about the company monitoring drivers via the car’s cameras.

In response, Musk said on Twitter that the company would be shut down if it was spying on Chinese officials.

While Tesla’s Model 3 made the Consumer Reports’ “Top Picks” list last year, the publication removed its recommendation for the Model S, citing issues with its suspension and electronics. Consumer Reports also criticized Tesla’s Model Y in November for body hardware and paint issues.

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A Ford executive took aim at Tesla, calling its self-driving software ‘vaporware,’ as competition between Tesla and the Mustang Mach-E heats up

Mustang Mach E GT Performance Edition 03
Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition.

  • A Ford executive took to Twitter to compare Tesla’s Model Y with Ford’s electric car.
  • The Mustang Mach-E will soon have similar self-driving features as Tesla offers for $10,000.
  • The new electric SUV is already starting to cut into Tesla’s sales.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Ford executive took to Twitter on Sunday to call Tesla out on its “full self-driving” software, which is currently in beta.

Mike Levine, the automaker’s North America product communications manager, called Tesla’s software vaporware.

“Return those $10K full-self driving deposits,” he wrote on Twitter. “Mach-E customers drive away with a car. Tesla customers drive off with vaporware.”

Levine referenced a recent report from the Associated Press, comparing the Mach-E to Tesla’s Model Y.

The executive was responding to a tweet about dealers tacking on additional fees to the Mustang Mach-E.

“Any Mach-E customer who sees a dealer adding a markup can reach out to me,” Levin wrote. “I’ll help them find another dealer. Good luck reaching out to Tesla to get your FSD.”

Recent data shows that just months after its full release, Ford’s Mustang Mach-E has already begun to cut into Tesla’s sales. In February, Tesla’s share of the US electric-car market fell to 69% from 81% the previous year due to interest in the Mach-E, according to a report from Morgan Stanley.

Ford is also looking to get into autonomous cars. In March, the automaker announced that its new Active Driver Assist program would be available for the Mustang Mach-E later this year for a $600 activation fee.

The software enables hands-free driving and would have level 2 autonomy, similar to Tesla’s current self-driving capabilities.

This is not the first time Tesla’s self-driving software has been criticized

After Tesla’s beta software was released, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said: “No vehicle available for purchase today is capable of driving itself.”

Soon after the software became available, there were several videos on Youtube showing the car missing medians and traffic lights.

Tesla launched the software beta in October and has since offered it as a $10,000 add-on. Tesla plans to release a more advanced version as a subscription offering this summer.

As a luxury car brand, Tesla’s self-driving software is designed to allow cars to park themselves, change lanes, and identify stop signs as well as potential obstructions. The program still requires a licensed operator. Similarly, Tesla’s autopilot system assists drivers by braking and steering for them when enabled.

At least three drivers have died while using Tesla’s Autopilot. The software has also been associated with several accidents. Just last week, a Tesla car that authorities said was using the autopilot feature crashed into a police car in Michigan. It was the second accident believed to be related to the software in Michigan this month.

Tesla’s self-driving plans are a large focus because it could help it compete with Ford’s Mach-E, as the two are set to go head-to-head.

Ford’s electric SUV release has been largely successful. The car was awarded SUV of the year by the North American Car, Truck, and Utility Vehicle of the Year Award in January, and early testers – including other Wall Street analysts – also gave it positive marks. JPMorgan said the vehicle could challenge Tesla inasmuch as Ford has more history and brand recognition.

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Kia just gave us our first full look at its sleek new EV6 electric car

Kia's EV6
Kia’s EV6

Kia released the first full images of the interior and exterior design of its new electric car – the EV6 – on Monday.

The images were shown off ahead of the electric car’s online world premiere later this month.

The car has a crossover-inspired design and represents the next generation of electric cars for Kia. The EV6 has a sleek and more rounded design that rides lower to the ground than other Kia cars.

Kia says the car’s design represents the company’s shift toward electrification.

Kia EV6
Kia EV6

“We strongly believe EV6 is a compelling and relevant model for the new EV market,” Karim Habib, Kia’s senior vice president and head of global design center, said in a press release. “With EV6 we aimed to create a distinctive, impactful design by using a combination of sophisticated, high-tech features on pure and rich volumes, while providing a unique space as a futuristic EV.”

The EV6 was built on its parent company Hyundai’s Electric-Global Modular Platform. The car is the second one to be built based off the platform, after Kia unveiled its Ioniq 5 in February.

The car’s interior is simple but high-tech. The inside boasts a curved high-definition audio visual and navigation screen.

The E-GMP platform helps give drivers and passengers more space, according to Kia. The slim seats and curved screen, which is designed to give the driver an immersive view, adds to the car’s spacious interior.

Kia EV6
Kia EV6

“We want our products to deliver an instinctive and natural experience that improves the daily lives of our customers,” Habib said.

Kia said the company based the car’s design off its new design philosophy, “Opposites United.”

The car company has not yet released any specs for the EV6, but the car will likely be similar to the Ioniq 5, as they were both built of the E-GMP platform.

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Apple could reportedly make the Apple Car without a big-name automaker as negotiations hit speed bumps

Tim Cook
  • Apple may not pursue a partnership with a big automotive company, Bloomberg reports.
  • The company could use a contract manufacturer to assemble its cars, while sourcing its own parts.
  • Foxconn and Magna International could be likely partners for an Apple Car, per Bloomberg.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Apple is considering working with a contract manufacturer to find its own car pieces and assemble them, a strategy that wouldn’t involve a partnership with an automotive company, according to a new Bloomberg report from Mark Gurman and Gabrielle Coppola.

If it decides to go that route, the tech company would be employing a similar strategy to its approach to iPhone manufacturing, and one that would leave out big-name car companies, which Apple has been talking to in recent years.

Over the past few months, there has been a lot of speculation regarding which company Apple could choose to partner with in the development of its first car, which is codenamed Project Titan.

In December, Reuters reported Apple was planning to release an electric self-driving car by 2024, but Apple car speculation dates back to 2014.

This year, Apple’s talks with major automakers appear to have reached a stalemate so far, but Bloomberg says contract manufacturers Foxconn and Magna International are top contenders for a potential Apple car partnership.

Apple has been in talks with several companies including Hyundai and Kia. Bloomberg reports the company even met with Ferrari last year, but that the talks didn’t lead anywhere. A deal with a major automaker would require Apple to convince a big-name car company to manufacture a product that could end up being a major competitor to the carmaker’s own offerings, which Bloomberg reports has been a tough sell.

If the tech company employed a similar tactic to its iPhone manufacturing process, it would be able to avoid building its own factories and would be able to source its own material, all while avoiding relying on a potential competitor.

Magna was reported to have been in talks with Apple when the company first expressed interest in creating a car years ago. The manufacturing company also assembles cars for several car companies, including BMW.

On Tuesday, BMW’s Chief Financial Officer Nicolas Peter told Bloomberg that he’s not worried about competing with Apple.

If the tech company launched an electric car it could cut into other automaker’s margins, including Tesla. The car, entitled “Project Titan” would allow Apple a slice of a $10 trillion market, according to Morgan Stanley.

In January, analysts at Morgan Stanley said an Apple car could also potentially bring financial ruin, especially if the company follows its current business model, which is more vertically integrated than many other car companies.

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