I tested six-figure electric cars from Porsche and Mercedes. I’d buy one for its stunning quickness and the other for its opulent interior.

The Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 (top) and Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.
The Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 (top) and Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.

  • You don’t need to buy a Tesla if you want a fancy, electric four-door. 
  • Porsche sells the $86,700 Taycan and Mercedes sells the $102,000 EQS. 
  • I drove fully-loaded versions of both cars to see how they stack up. 

So you want to buy a luxurious electric car but can’t decide between the Porsche Taycan and the Mercedes-Benz EQS?

First off: Congratulations on being rich. 

Testing out the German cars showed me that both are fantastic options for getting around in fancy, zero-emission fashion. But each is great in its own way.

The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.
The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.

This comparison isn’t exactly apples-to-apples. The $209,000 Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo Porsche lent me is the highest-performance Taycan available and the hatchback edition. The $141,000 EQS 580 Mercedes provided is also the top-of-the-line model, but there is another, speedier version, the AMG-EQS, which is more comparable to the sporty Taycan.

Still, this showdown gave me a solid idea of what these cars bring to the table and how they stack up. 

How much do they cost?

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.

The Taycan starts at $86,700. The EQS comes in at around $102,000. 

What about range?

The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.
The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.

The Mercedes earns an impressive EPA rating of 350 miles in the base EQS 450+ configuration while the all-wheel-drive EQS 580 clocks in at 340 miles. The sedan’s blob-like shape may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it does cut down on drag, which helps with range. 

The Taycan’s range looks so-so on paper; the 2021 model I tested was rated for only 202 miles. (The 2023 Taycan maxes out at 246 miles, according to the EPA.)

But EPA estimates don’t always tell the full story. I observed a range closer to 250 miles, and Edmunds drove a 2020 Taycan 323 miles on a single charge. It pushed an EQS 450+ 422 miles. 

How do they drive?

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.

The Taycan is without a doubt the more entertaining car to drive. The 750-horsepower Turbo S is breathtakingly, incomprehensibly quick, promising to rocket to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds. Its steering is precise and it handles impeccably. The tradeoff is that it rides on the stiff side. 

The EQS delights in a whole different way by gliding ever so smoothly and quietly down the road. While the EQS 580 I drove lacks the brutal acceleration of the Taycan, it’s still pretty quick. 

How fast do they charge?

The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.
The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.

The Taycan promises some of the quickest charging times in the biz. When connected to a sufficiently powerful fast-charging station (270 kilowatts and up), the Taycan can recharge from 5-80% in 22.5 minutes. 

The EQS maxes out at 200 kilowatts and promises to recharge from 10-80% in 31 minutes. 

However, since the Mercedes has a bigger battery and more range, charging times in terms of mileage added in a given time period are similar. 

How do they stack up inside?

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.

The Mercedes smacks you right in the face with a plush, spacious interior filled with leather and high-end materials. High points include options for massaging seats all around and a 56-inch “Hyperscreen” display for folks who simply can’t get enough tech.

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.

The Porsche also has a long list of luxurious options, but it gives off a sportier vibe. You have to climb down into its tight driver’s seat, which hugs you and keeps you in place around turns. Its back seats are more cramped than the EQS’s ample back row. My test car also came with several touchscreens, but I found Mercedes’s tech easier to use. 

Verdict

The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.
The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.

The Taycan Turbo S blew me away with its ridiculous quickness and fantastic handling. It’s a driver’s car for people who care about having fun while they get from A to B. The EQS is equally awesome, but it’s all about cocooning passengers in a quiet, rolling business lounge. 

To sum things up: The Porsche is a car to drive; the Mercedes is a car to be driven in. 

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Former SpaceX engineer says she was sexually harassed and ‘misogyny is rampant’ at Elon Musk’s rocket company

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule on the launch pad in Florida.
A SpaceX rocket and capsule at Cape Canaveral, Florida, in early November.

  • A former SpaceX engineer published an essay claiming the company is “rife with sexism.”
  • Former SpaceX engineer Ashley Kosak said she experienced sexual harassment from colleagues.
  • SpaceX and Musk did not respond to a request for comment.

A former SpaceX engineer published an essay on Tuesday accusing Elon Musk’s rocket company of fostering an environment “rife with sexism.”

Ashley Kosak, a former Mission Integration Engineer at the space company, said she faced sexual harassment while employed by SpaceX and that supervisors and human resources officials failed to adequately address the alleged incidents.

On Tuesday, The Verge reported that four more former employees said they had experienced or witnessed sexual harassment while at SpaceX. In three of the alleged cases, the former workers told the publication that they did not feel HR’s response was adequate.

A SpaceX spokesperson, as well as the company’s CEO, Musk, did not respond to a request for comment from Insider.

In the essay, Kosak, who said she started working at SpaceX in 2017 as an intern and became an engineer in 2019, alleged that a fellow intern grabbed her backside while she was in the kitchen of the intern housing unit where they were both staying. She said she told a superior and another co-worker.

Kosak also said that in 2018 “a male colleague ran his hand over my shirt, from my lower waist to my chest” at a team-bonding event while she was an intern. She said she told her supervisors and reported the alleged behavior to HR in a meeting “but no one followed up,” leaving her to feel “powerless.”

“Some of the men who work at SpaceX hug women without consent, stare at women while they work, and interpret every company-related social event as an opportunity to date (or hit on) women in the office,” Kosak wrote.

She said that coworkers messaged her on Instagram to ask her out and that she once received a 4 a.m. call from a coworker. She said a different coworker came over to her house and “insisted on touching me even when I repeatedly requested we stay professional.”

Kosak said in the essay that she reported “each incident of sexual harassment I experienced to HR” but “nothing was done.” She said that she was told a company training would be held, but that “matters of this nature were too private to openly discuss with the perpetrators.”

Kosak said in the essay that she attributes the work environment at SpaceX to Musk’s leadership.

“Elon Musk’s behavior bears a remarkable similarity to the behavior of a sadistic and abusive man who had previously been part of my life,” Kosak wrote, saying Musk makes promises, but continually “shifts the goalpost” and pushes people to “the brink of burnout.”

“Elon uses engineers as a resource to be mined rather than a team to be led,” Kosak said in the essay.

The engineer said that after repeatedly making reports to HR, she submitted her complaints to an anonymous Ethics and Compliance tipline, which she said she later realized was a Microsoft form that did not preserve her anonymity. Kosak said she then met with COO Gwynne Shotwell and Head of HR Brian Bjelde, who she said told her they had not been made aware of her complaints and asked for her to submit a list of proposed solutions.

Shotwell and Bjelde did not respond to a request for comment from Insider, but The Verge obtained an email that was sent out by Shotwell over the weekend, reiterating the company’s stance against harassment. The COO reportedly said the company plans to perform a third-party audit of its HR practices.

“We also know we can always do better,” the email reportedly said.

Kosak said her psychiatrist eventually recommended she take a step back from work due to “frequent panic attacks” and “heart palpitations.”

“As I took a week’s medical leave to recover, I received a frantic cadence of calls from HR,” she wrote. 

Kosak resigned in November and has since begun working at Apple, according to her LinkedIn page.

Kosak is not the first person to express concern regarding the work environment at Musk’s companies. Last year, a former SpaceX intern filed a discrimination lawsuit against the company, alleging her decision to report alleged sexual harassment to HR cost her the opportunity for a full-time job. The lawsuit has since been privately resolved and dismissed, The Verge reports.

Over the past four weeks, eight Tesla factory workers have sued Musk’s electric car company, alleging Tesla ignored sexual harassment.

The former SpaceX engineer’s essay also comes only a few months after engineers at Jeff Bezos’ space venture, Blue Origin, expressed similar concerns, alleging the company had a “toxic” and “sexist” work culture.

“The last I heard, new SpaceX interns would receive training on how to better report their harassment,” Kosak wrote in the last lines of her essay. “The harassers, on the other hand, have still not been held to account.”

Do you work at SpaceX or Blue Origin? Reach out to the reporter from a non-work email at gkay@insider.com

Read the original article on Business Insider

The F-150 Lightning electric pickup owes its breakout success to the humble electric cargo van. Ford’s head of EV explains the strategy.

100 People Transforming Business
Ford E Transit
Ford’s E-Transit is helping electric vehicles go mainstream.

  • Ford unveiled its all-electric E-Transit cargo van last year.
  • Many kinds of businesses, including online delivery companies like Amazon, use cargo vans.
  • Ford says the E-Transit helps the companies save money and access power while being sustainable.
  • Visit Insider’s Transforming Business homepage for more stories.

By transforming its cargo van, Ford strategically laid the path to the all-electric version of its bestselling F-150 pickup truck. The company’s 2022 E-Transit van helped serve as a beta test for the public’s acceptance of an electric Ford vehicle.

With the E-Transit, Ford figured out how to overcome skepticism and exceed enterprise buyers’ expectations. The E-Transit’s 24,000 reservations were a turning point for corporate adoption of electric vehicles, even before Ford rolled out the F-150 Lightning to rave reviews. Ford has raised its investment in its EV division to $30 billion.

The E-Transit’s launch is another step in the US automaker’s transition away from gas-powered vehicles. Henry Ford’s mass-produced Model T essentially killed the first electric car; he offered much lower prices and greater availability with his assembly line. More than 100 years later, the company is applying that mainstream mindset to its EVs.

A common, essential enterprise vehicle

After nearly three decades at Ford, Darren Palmer, its general manager of EVs, knew the impact of its bestselling enterprise vehicle. “If we electrified that one,” he told Insider, “it would make a big difference to a lot of people’s lives and to the environment.”

A variety of businesses, including those in home improvement, tourism, and logistics, use transit and cargo vans. Ford introduced its all-electric 2022 E-Transit last year. The first ones rolled off the assembly line on November 22.

Ford E Transit
A Ford E-Transit on a construction site.

The launch was quiet, especially compared with that of the F-150 Lightning. But it’s already a success, Palmer said. “It quietly will become one of the leading electric vans in the in the world this year in North American and Europe,” he said.

A strategic blueprint

Palmer, who’s tasked with leading Ford’s overall strategy and development of the company’s EVs, said the E-Transit’s launch required winning over existing customers. Companies increasingly have sustainability goals, but corporate buyers had questions about electric charging systems, battery repairs, and overall costs.

Businesses that use cargo vans — like contractors, automotive shops, and restaurants — can have low profit margins. And a report from the Fuels Institute found that the total ownership cost and the payback period were key factors for businesses considering EVs for their fleets.

But Ford’s pitch focused on the costs of not switching to electric.

“We do not want you to get into a position that you regret,” Palmer recalled telling the buyers. “If your competitor buys electric vans and you don’t, in less than a year they will be able to undercut you so greatly that you won’t even have a profit margin left in that business.”

Ford said the E-Transit could enable buyers to offer lower prices and outperform their competitors. And it highlighted that its EVs were priced comparably with gas-powered vehicles after factoring in government incentives; the E-Transit started at under $45,000.

“All excuses have gone,” Palmer said.

Desirable features beyond existing offerings

Palmer compares his work at Ford with a key moment in the technology industry. Flip phones were incredibly popular in 2006, but then Apple released the iPhone in early 2007. Smartphones offered new features, like a touchscreen, an internet browser, and GPS.

Ford positions its hybrid and all-electric vehicles as offering features that its gas-powered ones can’t, like the ability to become mobile generators. Ford says the E-Transit has up to 2.4 kilowatts available to recharge tools. People have used hybrid F-150s to help save a wedding and provide power during the blackouts in Texas last winter.

“They powered their home, they powered everybody’s laptops and phones and looked after their neighborhood,” Palmer said.

Palmer said that while there would be future use cases for gas-powered and hybrid vehicles, his view is EVs like the ones from Ford are only going to get more popular.

Once vehicle owners transition to EVs, he said, “they will never look back.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

A major RV maker now has more than $18 billion in backlogged orders and says its dealers may not be fully restocked until 2023

Thor Industries manufacturing plant in Indiana in 2018
A Thor Industries manufacturing plant in Indiana in 2018.

  • RV maker Thor Industries has a $18.07 billion order backlog.
  • Demand for RVs has remained strong since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • CEO Bob Martin says it may continue restocking its dealerships into 2023.

Famed RV maker Thor Industries now has an $18.07 billion order backlog as of October 31 as demand for tiny homes on wheels continues to remain strong through the COVID-19 pandemic, the company said in its 2022 first-quarter earnings report on December 8.

Thor Industries — which owns brands like Jayco and Airstream — first saw rising sales in May and June of 2020, especially from first-time RVers, Bob Martin, Thor’s president and CEO, told Insider in May 2020. Since then, interest has yet to taper off: The RV maker achieved $3.96 billion in net sales in the first quarter of 2022, a 56% increase compared to the same time last year.

Thor has now reported record net sales for three successive quarters despite labor, cost, and supply chain “challenges,” which it predicts it’ll still continue to face, Martin said in the earnings report. However, the RV maker has been “pretty much sold out for the next year” as dealers have “virtually no inventory,” Martin told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Mad Money” in June.

“Independent dealer sentiment remains positive and consumer demand for our RV products remains strong,” Martin said in the earnings report. “The dealer restocking process will still take a number of quarters to complete and could possibly extend into calendar 2023.” 

To alleviate this backlog, Thor Industries acquired Airxcel, an RV parts manufacturer. Martin called this acquisition a “key piece” in Thor’s efforts to bolster its supply chain.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A-10 pilot reveals what it was like trying to land an attack aircraft that was literally falling apart around her

Capt. Taylor "Petrie" Bye standing in front of her A-10 attack aircraft
Capt. Taylor “Petrie” Bye standing in front of her A-10 attack aircraft

  • In spring 2020, Capt. Taylor Bye’s A-10 attack aircraft started falling apart on a training flight.
  • She had to land with no cockpit canopy, panels falling off, and landing gear up.
  • Bye recently spoke to Insider about the experience and what it was like getting back in the air afterwards.

The last thing any pilot wants to see is their plane falling apart while they are trying to fly it, but that was the nightmare scenario US Air Force A-10 attack aircraft pilot Capt. Taylor “Petrie” Bye found herself in last year.

On April 7, 2020, a routine training flight suddenly was anything but when the 30 mm GAU-8/A Avenger cannon on Bye’s A-10C Thunderbolt II malfunctioned during a gun run at Grand Bay Range at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia.

Problems with the powerful gatling gun triggered a series of catastrophic failures that ultimately forced her to land her plane with no cockpit canopy, missing panels, and landing gear up.

This 75th Fighter Squadron pilot recently talked to Insider about the skillful flying and impressive crash-landing, for which she received not one but two prestigious service awards.

‘Never been so focused on a landing in my entire life’

An A-10C Thunderbolt II sits on the runway after making an emergency landing April 7, 2020 at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia
Bye’s A-10 sits on the runway after making an emergency landing on April 7, 2020 at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.

When Bye attempted to fire the cannon on a strafing run, she heard a troubling pop. Then a light came on warning her that the gun was “unsafe.” Concerned, she quickly climbed to a safer altitude to assess the situation.

Looking over the gauges that relay critical aircraft health information, “everything showed me that my jet was still flying and functioning like normal,” she said, adding that her “immediate response was, ‘Ok, good, I’m not going to fall out of the sky.'”

But while the plane could fly, it was not in great shape. Further assessments with the help of her wingman found that some exterior panels were either missing or hanging off the aircraft, indicating that the gun malfunction had caused damage.

Bye began making preparations to land the plane, which is when she discovered another problem. Part of the plane’s landing gear was inoperable, making a safe landing impossible.

“When it happened, I didn’t panic. I didn’t freak out. I didn’t fear for my life because I knew that I had the training,” she recalled. “My adrenaline was up. I could tell my heart was racing. And I consciously knew that it was a severe situation, but there wasn’t ever panic.”

“I think my body just went into survival mode,” she said, explaining that the extensive emergency response training that all Air Force pilots receive kicked in, helping her remain calm in a difficult situation.

After going over possible options with support personnel, Bye made the decision to belly land the plane, something the aircraft was built to be able to do if necessary but is still a risky move.

In that moment, the cockpit canopy on Bye’s aircraft suddenly separated with what she described as a loud pop followed by an even louder rush of wind that sounded like roaring thunder. As Bye lowered her seat to shield herself from the wind blast, she knew that she needed to act.

“It is time to get this jet on the ground,” Bye remembered saying over the radio, her mind made up. “My jet was literally falling apart around me,” she recalled, adding that she “didn’t want anything else to come off.”

Capt. Taylor Bye, 75th Fighter Squadron pilot and chief of standardization and evaluation, poses on the flight line at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, May 5, 2021
Bye, 75th Fighter Squadron pilot and chief of standardization and evaluation, poses on the flight line.

Though the Air Force does not train its pilots to do this, Bye was not completely unfamiliar with this kind of landing. Not only did she know another pilot who made a gear-up landing, but during her first operational assignment as an A-10 pilot at Osan Air Force Base in South Korea, she belly-landed a jet in a simulator.

That said, pulling something like that off in a simulated training environment is quite different from having to do it in the real world, when life and limb are on the line.

“When I made the decision, I knew it was just like, this is game time,” Bye remembered thinking at the time. “I have to do this, and I only get one shot at it.”

“I’ll be honest with you, I have never been so focused on a landing in my entire life,” she said, recalling “there was hardly anything familiar about that approach and landing.”

She received guidance from her wingman, director of operations, and others, helping her avoid various potential hazards, but nothing really looked or felt the way it normally would, making landing a challenge.

“About to touch down, that was the first time I realized that it was actually a pretty dangerous and severe situation,” she said.

It wasn’t until she was back on the ground though that it crossed her mind that “something absolutely terrible could have happened,” she said. In flight, there simply wasn’t time for that kind of thinking.

Observers told Bye that when her plane touched down, sparks went flying. Unsure if the fuel lines were still intact, she got out as fast as possible once the aircraft slid to a stop, executing emergency egress procedures.

Back on the ground after that rough landing, “it took me a while actually to process what was happening,” Bye said. “My adrenaline was still up for like the rest of the day, and I did not really sleep because I was just trying to process it,” she recalled, “but it didn’t really hit me initially.”

“It didn’t really truly hit me until almost a year later when I was unfortunate enough to listen to the tape,” she said, explaining that “hearing my voice when my canopy blew off actually caused a significant emotional event. I was like, ‘Wow, that was actually kind of traumatic.'”

‘Meant to be in the Air Force’

Taylor Bye standing next to a training aircraft
Bye stands next to a training aircraft.

When talking to Bye about her military service, it is very clear that this 29-year-old pilot from North Carolina is all in for the US Air Force, but her first choice, which was inspired by her grandfather’s service in World War II, was actually the Navy.

“I wanted to fly an F-14 Tomcat, and I wanted to take from of a carrier,” she said, recalling learning about the jet from a recruiter. “It is a very classic, like ‘Top Gun’-type pipe dream, but that’s what originally got me started wanting to fly.”

Aside from the fact the Navy stopped flying Tomcats, swapping them out for Hornets, there was another problem. “The Navy did not want me,” Bye said. “It turned out I wasn’t meant to be in the Navy. I was meant to be in the Air Force.”

Bye commissioned into the Air Force in 2015 straight out of the United States Air Force Academy, where she first flew.

The first aircraft she flew was a small Cirrus SR22, but “flying did not come natural,” Bye said, explaining that although the program offered cadets the opportunity to fly solo, she “did not show the skill required” to do so during that program.

Her first ever solo flight was in a DA20 in Colorado during Air Force pilot training, and the experience, she said, “was so much fun.”

“It was so cool to be in the Rockies and getting to fly around by myself. It was so surreal and gave me so much confidence,” she said. “It is so funny saying that now because I fly solo every day, but back then, when I hadn’t done it before, it was just, I don’t know, my adrenaline had never been higher in my life.”

Bye’s interest in the A-10 began when she was a student at the United States Air Force Academy Preparatory School, where she first learned about this “awesome” jet “that was just like a tank killer.” Later, at the academy, a professor who had worked as an engineer at Edwards Air Force Base in California when the aircraft was first going through testing furthered that interest.

But what really sold her on the jet was a mentor, now a senior leader at Moody who flew and still flies the A-10 today. “He told me so many war stories,” she said. “And the ones that stuck out to me were when he got to talk with the guys on the ground that he helped protect.”

“The rush of emotions I felt listening to him, I was just like ‘Yep, that is what I want to do,'” Bye said. “Like shooting the gun is cool, but supporting the men and women on the ground who are in a lot more of harm’s way than I am, that was how I wanted to serve.”

“As a cocky cadet, I was just like, ‘Yeah, I want to go fast. I want to blow things up.’ But that was really when I found what I wanted my career to be, just serving the men and women on the ground,” she said. 

The A-10 was first introduced in the 1970s and is the first Air Force plane that was specifically built for close-air support missions and engaging ground targets, including tanks and other armored vehicles. In conflicts, the A-10 has been a saving grace for troops on the ground.

Bye said that she still gets excited about dropping weapons, firing the plane’s powerful cannon, and flying, even if she sometimes wishes her slower-moving close-air support plane could fly a little bit faster, but that essential support mission is “absolutely” what she loves most about the jet.

‘Can’t imagine flying anything else’

Bye sitting in the cockpit of an aircraft
Bye sitting in the cockpit of an aircraft

The unfortunate incident in spring 2020 could have easily shaken Bye’s confidence in herself as a pilot, as well as in her jet of choice, but she was back flying a week after the accident.

“When it first happened, I, of course, started Monday night quarterbacking myself, asking: What could I have done better? What did I do wrong? Did I cause it to happen?”

As these questions swirled around, Bye reached out to other pilots in her community who had been through stressful events, and they provided the support and reassurance she needed.

Bye is the only female A-10 pilot in her squadron, but, she explained, “it is not very often that I actually think about the fact that I’m the only woman. I’ve been incredibly blessed with the people that I work with, and I never feel isolated.”

Talking about when she first got back into a plane after the incident, Bye said, “I was nervous in the sense of like, I did not want that to happen again, but it also built my confidence so much.”

“I was like, ‘Bring it on. If I can land gear up, I can handle whatever this flight is going to bring,'” she said. “I’m not saying I wasn’t nervous. I definitely was nervous, but it wasn’t enough to keep me out of the cockpit.”

She also said that the unusual incident gave her added confidence in the A-10, a tough jet built to take a beating.

“That situation actually just showed me how reliable the jet is,” Bye said, explaining, “Yes, something went wrong, but it was still reliable. The jet was put together well enough that I was able to land it in the condition it was in. If anything, it gave me more confidence in the jet.”

She said that she still loves the A-10, telling Insider, “I can’t imagine flying anything else.”

In November, Bye flew her mishap A-10, tail No. 995, for the first time since the Air Force maintenance and repair teams finished putting it back together.

Reflecting on her many unique experiences, she said, “I didn’t know that I would love flying, but I love it. I think being a fighter pilot is absolutely the coolest job in the world.” 

Read the original article on Business Insider

These are the world’s 5-star global airlines according to passengers — see the full list

United Airlines and Delta Air Lines aircraft at Los Angeles International Airport.
United Airlines and Delta Air Lines aircraft at Los Angeles International Airport.

  • The Airline Passenger Experience Association has determined the world’s five-star global airlines.
  • 23 carriers made the cut; the rankings were based on passenger surveys collected over nearly 1 million flights.
  • The top airlines, including Delta, American, and United in the US, represent 22 countries worldwide.

The Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) revealed the global airlines that received 5-star ratings from passengers, with 23 carriers across nearly two dozen countries making the list. 

APEX, which is one of the world’s largest international airline associations, dropped its 2022 airline ratings honoring carriers that excel in things like seat comfort, the food and beverage service, and inflight entertainment. APEX explained that the ratings are based on airline passenger surveys that rated nearly 1 million flights across 600 worldwide carriers on a five-star scale. 

After collecting the surveys, which were conducted in partnership with TripIt, APEX “verifies, validates, and independently certifies the customer data” through a professional third-party auditing organization. According to the association, only a handful of airlines receive the prestigious five-star rating, and the honor is not easy to achieve. 

“Only verified five-star ratings from passengers help airlines reach this highest level requiring the vast majority of their independently verified customer ratings to be five-star,” APEX said in a press release. “For example, APEX requires four times the number of five-star votes to counteract a single one-star vote. This provides tremendous power to customers when they are disappointed by their customer experience as airlines rely upon feedback to further improve their in-flight product and airline service.”

Of the 23 global carriers that ranked highest by passengers, three were from the US, including Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and United Airlines. However, Asian carriers made up a majority of the top list, will 11 airlines representing the continent.

Here’s a closer look at the 24 five-star global carriers. The airlines are listed alphabetically.

Aeroflot Russian Airlines

Aeroflot aircraft.
Aeroflot.

Aeroflot is Russia’s flag carrier and was founded in 1923. The airline has a robust domestic and international network serving destinations in North America, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Aeromexico

Aeromexico Flight from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico — Aeromexico Flight 2021
Aeromexico.

Aeromexico is Mexico’s flag carrier and was established in 1934. The airline has a robust domestic and international network serving destinations in North America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.

Air Canada

Air Canada Boeing 767
Air Canada.

Air Canada is the national carrier of Canada, having been founded in 1936. The airline is the largest carrier in the country and operates in North America, South America, Central America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

American Airlines

Flying American Airlines to Europe during the pandemic — American Airlines New York-Madrid Flight 2021
American Airlines.

Dallas-based American Airlines was formed in 1936 and is the largest carrier in the world. The company has a strong domestic and international route map with flights across the US, as well as to Europe, Asia Pacific, Central America, and South America.

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific Boeing 747
Cathay Pacific.

Established in 1946, Cathay is Hong Kong’s flag carrier with service across four continents, including Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North America.

China Airlines

China Airlines.
China Airlines.

China Airlines is the state-owned national carrier of China and was founded in 1959. The company is based in Taipei, Taiwan and has a domestic and international network operating in Asia, North America, Canada, Europe, Australia, and the Pacific.

Delta Air Lines

Touring Delta Air Lines' new terminal at LaGuardia Airport  — Delta Hard Hat Tour 2021
Delta Air Lines.

Delta Air Lines is the US’ oldest airline still in operations, having been founding in 1925. Along with being a five-star airline, the Atlanta-based company was also given APEX’s Passenger Choice Award for best WiFi. Delta operates a huge domestic and international network spanning six continents and up to 300 destinations worldwide.

El Al

El Al.
El Al.

Founded in 1948, El Al is the flag carrier of Israel and operates to Europe, the America, Africa and Asia. The airline holds the record for the most passengers carried on a commercial flight when it airlifted 1,088 Jews from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Israel aboard a Boeing 747, according to the Guinness Book of World Records

Emirates

Emirates Airbus A380
Emirates.

Emirates was founded in 1985 and is one of the world’s fastest-growing carriers with over 260 planes and flights across six continents. The Dubai-based company is one of the two national carriers of the United Arab Emirates and operates the world’s largest fleet of Airbus A380s. Emirates was also given an APEX Passenger Choice Award for best entertainment and named a “World Class” airline.

Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner "Greenliner" — Dubai Airshow 2021
Etihad Airways.

Founded in 2003, Etihad is the youngest airline on APEX’s list and is the second national carrier of the UAE alongside Emirates. The Abu Dhabi-based airline has a rapidly growing international network across Middle East and to Africa, Europe, Asia, North America, and Australia, as well as a robust cargo division.

EVA Air

EVA Air
EVA Air.

EVA is the second-largest airline in Taiwan, behind China Airlines, and is a younger airline compared to others on the list, having been founded in 1989. The carrier operates domestic flights throughout China and international routes to Southeast Asia, Australia, Europe, Canada and the US. APEX also honored EVA this year with Passenger Choice Award for best cabin service.

Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines
Japan Airlines.

Japan Airlines was founded in 1951 and is one of two flag carriers of Japan. The Tokyo-based carrier operates an extensive network across Japan as well as in Europe, Canada, the US, and Australia. Japan Airlines also received recognition as one of APEX’s “World Class” airlines.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

KLM is the world’s oldest airline in service still operating under its original name, having been founded in 1919. The company is based at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and is the Netherlands national carrier with flights across five continents. KLM was also named a “World Class” airline by APEX.

Korean Air

Korean Air Airbus A380
Korean Air.

Korean Air is the second South Korean carrier to make the five-star list, alongside Asiana Airlines, and was founded in 1969. The Seoul-based airline has a strong international network serving destinations across Europe, North America, Australia, Asia, and the Middle East. The company also operates one of the world’s largest cargo divisions.

Lufthansa

Lufthansa aircraft.
Lufthansa.

Lufthansa was formed in 1953 and is Germany’s flag carrier. The company has a robust network via its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich and flight extensively in Europe as well as the Asia Pacific, Middle East, North America, South America, and Africa.

Qatar Airways

The front of a Qatar Airways plane.
Qatar Airways.

Qatar is one of the younger airlines on the list, having been establish in 1993, and is based in Doha, Qatar. The company offers flights to Middle East, Africa, the Asia Pacific, Europe, South America, and North America, and is known for its impressive inflight product. Qatar was named one of APEX’s ‘World Class’ airlines and also given the Passengers Choice Awards for best seat comfort and best food and beverage.

Saudia

Saudia Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner at Guangzhou airport (CAN) in China
Saudia.

Founded in 1945, Saudia is the flag carrier of Saudi Arabia and operates a network spanning five continents. The company was also named a “World Class” airline by APEX and praised for its meal service. Saudia is one of the few airlines in the world with inflight chefs to personalize dishes for premium passengers.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines Boeing 737-8 aircraft
Singapore Airlines.

Singapore Airlines was founded in 1972 and is the flag carrier of Singapore. The company was the launch customer for the Airbus A380 and operates an extensive network across Asia, North America, Australia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Singapore is one of APEX’s “World Class” airlines.

Swiss International Air Lines

Swiss International Air Lines.
Swiss International Air Lines.

Swiss was established in 2002 after the bankruptcy of Swissair and is now the the national airline of Switzerland. The company has its main hub in Zurich, but also has a focus on Geneva, and operates flights without Europe and to Asia, North America, and Africa.

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines.
Turkish Airlines.

Founded in 1933, Turkish Airlines is the national carrier of Turkey and one of APEX’s “World Class” airlines. The company is based in Istanbul and offers over 250 routes to destinations in Europe, Africa, North America, South America, and Asia.

United Airlines

United Airlines Boeing 737
United Airlines.

United Airlines is a US-based carrier headquartered in Chicago and was formed in 1926. The company operates a large fleet serving cities in Central America, South America, Asia, Australia, Europe and Africa. United was the first carrier worldwide to operate a passenger jet using 100% sustainable aviation fuel and has been an industry leader in environmental efforts.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic.
Virgin Atlantic.

Virgin was established in 1984 by billionaire Richard Branson and is based in London, England. The company flies to destinations in North America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia and is partially owned by Delta Air Lines, which currently holds a 49% stake.

Xiamen Airlines

Xiamen Airlines.
Xiamen Airlines.

Founded in 1984, Xiamen is a privately-owned Chinese carrier that operates flights across China, Asia, Europe, North America, and Australia with a fleet of over 200 planes. The company is the only operator in China to be profitable for 33 consecutive years, according to the carrier.

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Elon Musk thinks investors should pay less attention to his tweets

Photo by BRITTA PEDERSEN:POOL:AFP via Getty Images
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

  • Elon Musk told Time that he doesn’t think his tweets have much of an impact on the markets.
  • “Markets move themselves all the time, based on nothing as far as I can tell,” he said.
  • But there are several examples of Tesla stock rising or falling immediately following a Musk tweet.

Elon Musk doesn’t think his tweets have the power to move markets. 

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO and world’s richest person said as much in a profile in Time — Musk was named the magazine’s Person of the Year for 2021 for his commitment to the environment and to space exploration.

In an interview with Time’s Molly Ball, Jeffrey Kluger, and Alejandro de la Garza published Monday, Musk discussed his Twitter habit, a pastime that makes him easily the most famous CEO on the planet and probably the most adored and most criticized in equal measure. 

But it’s also a habit that has landed him in hot water with the US government: In 2018, Musk faced the ire of the Securities and Exchange Commission over a tweet claiming he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420 per share — the share price being a drug reference and a joke to impress his then-girlfriend, Grimes. The tweet sent Tesla’s share price skyrocketing 14%.

The SEC filed suit against Musk, accusing him of making “false and misleading statements” — Musk and Tesla later settled, agreeing to pay $20 million apiece without admitting guilt. Musk also stepped down as chairman of Tesla’s board, and Tesla was required to appoint a new committee that would oversee Musk’s communications.

But Musk told Time that he doesn’t think he bears much responsibility for what happens after he tweets.

“Markets move themselves all the time, based on nothing as far as I can tell,” Musk told Time. “So the statements that I make, are they materially different from random movements of the stock that might happen anyway? I don’t think so.”

But there are several examples of Tesla’s stock moving following a Musk tweet. Last month, Tesla shares dipped after Musk tweeted that the company hadn’t yet signed a deal with Hertz, despite the car-rental firm announcing it had ordered 100,000 Tesla Model 3 sedans, the largest-ever electric vehicle purchase.

Also last month, Tesla dropped 7% after Musk asked his Twitter followers whether he should sell 10% of his Tesla stock — 3.5 million people voted in the poll in 24 hours.

And when Musk tweeted in May 2020 that he thought Tesla’s stock price was “too high,” shares of the automaker dropped by about 9%. 

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A leader of Uber’s doomed self-driving car project now runs her own startup. Here’s what she says the industry should be doing today.

100 People Transforming Business
Raquel Urtasun
Backed by $83.5 million in Series A funding, Raquel Urtasun is leading Waabi in developing self-driving technology for long haul trucking.

  • Raquel Urtasun used to work on self-driving tech at Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group.
  • But earlier this year, she founded her own self-driving business: Waabi.
  • Here’s what Urtasun says the industry needs to do to move forward.
  • Visit Insider’s Transforming Business homepage for more stories

Earlier this year, Raquel Urtasun founded Waabi, a self-driving startup headquartered in Toronto. She was once known as chief scientist at Uber’s now defunct self-driving program. But now, backed by $83.5 million in Series A funding, Urtasun is leading Waabi in developing self-driving technology for long haul trucking. She’s taking an approach different from that she’s experienced throughout her career, and is driving her company with artificial intelligence. 

Urtasun spoke with Insider about her approach to this elusive technology, the key lessons she’s learned throughout her career, and how the industry can improve its approach to self-driving.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

What have you learned from Waabi and your career? 

Pursuing a passion is something that is very hard but at the same time it’s extremely rewarding. I think the thing that has been very useful as a lesson learned is to really persevere and to never give up. No matter how difficult something looks, everything is possible. That’s something I have applied to the creation of Waabi, and has really enabled us to create and build this company super, super fast. 

One of the things that I learned is that, if you look at the industry in self-driving today, we’ve seen some meaningful progress, but we’re very far from commercial deployments at scale.

What we’re doing at Waabi is utilizing all the lessons learned over the past two decades, to really look at self-driving 2.0, look at self-driving with a 2021 lens. 

Do you have advice for anyone looking to make a name for themselves in the industry?

In general, every time that you start something from scratch, you need to build everything. So I think this is one of the challenges, but actually, if you have already a vision of the technology that you want to build and you know exactly what it is, you can actually execute on developing this technology fast. The choice of doing this in a different company, a new company versus doing it in a very large company is, it’s an incredible accelerator and it’s actually much simpler to do so by really starting everything from scratch. 

Be different, think different, and be creative. Don’t lose your creativity, your diversity, just because everybody’s thinking the same way. 

Where can the self-driving industry improve?

Oftentimes people get confused. They think that “if I use AI somewhere, I have an AI-first approach.” This is something that needs to be demystified. Meaning that, yes, we see the deployment of AI, but it has, really, a secondary role. It’s used to perform a small task. In order to really solve this very difficult problem, we need a holistic approach. 

This is for me, one of the biggest accelerators that I’ve seen. Everything is just focused on: We all have the same goal and it’s to really bring this technology to life, because it’s really going to change the world as we know it today.

What else is important for people in the industry to keep in mind?

There’s a need for accountability and transparency in this industry. We’ve seen a lot of promises. We should talk more about truly what the technology is, what is difficult for the system to handle, and then showcase from a scientific perspective also how the technology works. This is something that I intend Waabi to really be leading in the industry, and I think it’s extremely important so that you earn the trust of both the regulators but also of the people that are going to leverage this technology.

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Elon Musk says he and his family are vaccinated but that mandates for the masses are an ‘erosion of freedom’

Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

  • Elon Musk and his eligible children are vaccinated against COVID-19. 
  • But Musk told Time he’s against vaccine mandates: “People do risky things all the time,” he said.
  • Musk previously expressed doubts about the COVID-19 vaccine and resisted shelter-in-place measures. 

After downplaying the coronavirus and expressing skepticism about vaccines, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that he and his eligible children have gotten the COVID-19 jab. 

“The science is unequivocal,” Musk said in an interview with Time published on Monday in conjunction with him being named as the magazine’s 2021 Person of the Year.

He doesn’t think the government should enforce vaccine mandates, however. The unvaccinated are “taking a risk, but people do risky things all the time,” he said. “I believe we’ve got to watch out for the erosion of freedom in America.”

The Biden administration has imposed a vaccine mandate on US businesses with more than 100 employees, but the rule has been blocked by courts. In New York City, employees of private companies need to have received at least one shot by late December. 

Such measures have received vocal pushback, particularly from the unvaccinated population, but polls show that most Americans are supportive of the requirements. 

Musk has made it clear before he’s no fan of big government imposing restrictions on people and businesses in the name of fighting the pandemic. When California forced nonessential businesses to close, Musk fought publicly with officials and eventually reopened Tesla’s California factory in defiance of their rules. 

In April 2020, an exasperated Musk slammed shelter-in-place measures as “fascist” and “breaking people’s freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong and not why they came to America or built this country.” 

He’s also voiced doubts about the coronavirus vaccine and shared anti-vaccine content online. In a September 2020 interview with The New York Times, Musk said he and his family did not plan to take a vaccine when it was made available. In April, he tweeted and quickly deleted an edited cartoon that depicted Bill Gates as the mastermind behind the pandemic and vaccine rollout. 

For more than a year, conspiracy theorists have pushed the idea that Gates planned the pandemic and the vaccine to implant microchips into people. 

After taking heat for doubting the vaccine, Musk clarified his view in an April tweet: “To be clear, I do support vaccines in general & covid vaccines specifically. The science is unequivocal.”

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Rivian’s first electric pickup truck, the $67,500 R1T, is MotorTrend’s Truck of the Year

[EMBARGO 9/28 DNP] Rivian R1T
The Rivian R1T.

  • The all-electric 2022 Rivian R1T is MotorTrend’s Truck of the Year. 
  • The R1T pickup truck is the very first consumer model from electric-vehicle startup Rivian.
  • Rivian started shipping out the rugged R1T in September. 

MotorTrend on Monday named the R1T, the first consumer model from electric-vehicle startup Rivian, its 2022 Truck of the Year. 

It’s never a bad time to win an industry award, but Rivian snagged the “Golden Calipers” at a pivotal time for its business. The Amazon- and Ford-backed startup went public last month and is working diligently to prove to investors that it’s a legitimate automaker and a worthy challenger to Tesla, which has dominated the EV market for a decade. 

“The Rivian R1T is a monumental achievement and astonishes with a quality of design, engineering, materials, and technology unmatched in trucks today, while providing a driving experience like that of a high-performance luxury car,” said Ed Loh, MotorTrend Group’s head of editorial.

[EMBARGO 9/28 DNP] Rivian R1T
The Rivian R1T.

Rivian launched deliveries of the R1T in September, three years after revealing a prototype to the world at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. The $67,500 all-electric pickup aims to be a rugged, more outdoorsy alternative to Tesla’s cars and SUVs. It features four-wheel drive, a slew of interesting features, and tremendous off-road capabilities, all wrapped in a sleek, luxurious package. 

It’s the first electric pickup to hit the road in the modern electric era, beating out upcoming battery-powered trucks from Ford, General Motors, and Tesla. Rivian plans to start delivering an SUV based on the same underpinnings, the R1S, next year. 

The Rivian R1T electric pickup truck's interior.
The Rivian R1T has a sleek interior with a prominent touchscreen.

In doling out its annual award, MotorTrend judges new or sufficiently revamped trucks across six key areas: safety, efficiency, value, advancement in design, engineering excellence, and performance of intended function. Rivian beat out three other finalists to win this year’s title: the 2022 Ford Maverick, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, and the 2022 GMC Hummer EV, which is set to start reaching customers this month. 

In November, MotorTrend gave its Car of the Year award to EV startup Lucid Motors for that company’s first vehicle, the $169,000 Air luxury sedan.

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