Boots & Sabers

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Category: Technology

EV Sales Rising, But Still Small Fraction of Sales

Interesting stats in this story.

Ford’s overall 2023 sales are lower than the industry’s sales growth, which auto data firm Motor Intelligence reports topped 15.6 million last year — marking a 12.3% increase from 2022 and the segment’s best performance since more than 17 million vehicles in 2019.

 

“In a year of challenges, from a labor strike to supply issues, our amazing lineup of gas, electric and hybrid vehicles and our fantastic dealers delivered solid growth and momentum. We have the products that customers want,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said in a release.

 

Electric vehicle sales came in at 72,608 for the year, up 18% from 2022 and boosted by nearly 26,000 EVs sold during the fourth quarter.

EV sales are increasing at a faster rate than overall sales, but percentages are deceptive when being based on such a small number. Overall, EV sales were still only about 3.6% of Ford’s sales despite them pushing it hard. It’s telling that the quote from Ford’s CEO leads with “GAS, electric and hybrid…”

AVs “unlikely to be profitable anytime in the foreseeable future”

Innovation is hard and expensive. This is the trial and error of capitalism. When government decides to weigh in and force something that is economically unviable, it retards the system’s ability to innovate.

But there’s growing concern across the industry, not just with GM and Cruise, about the viability of autonomous vehicles, or AVs, as a business instead of as a niche science project.

 

“AV technology, while they’ve made a lot of progress with it, is unlikely to be profitable anytime in the foreseeable future, certainly not this decade,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal research analyst at Guidehouse Insights. “If they need to make cuts, robotaxis seem like the obvious place to do that.”

 

Some Wall Street analysts are holding out hope that GM and Barra can turn Cruise around and eventually refocus on growing the business, as the Detroit automaker takes a more hands-on approach with the company. Several are expecting updates at an investor event in March.

 

“The plan to pause Cruise operations and reduce spending on Cruise in 2024 are only first steps. Once again, we expect these concerns to be addressed and cured at the capital markets day in early 2024 but expect skepticism to remain in the interim,” Morgan Stanley analyst John Murphy said in a Nov. 29 investor note.

 

If GM can’t turn the operations around, Cruise would join a list of its past defunct growth businesses, partnerships and investments since 2016.

EV Solution? Carry a Generator.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

DETROIT (AP) — One of the biggest reasons people cite when saying they won’t buy an electric vehicle is range anxiety, the fear of running out of juice on the road with nowhere to recharge.

 

Stellantis’ Ram brand may have an answer for that, especially for people who need a truck to haul or tow things. It’s called the Ramcharger, a pickup that can travel 145 miles (235 kilometers) on electricity, with a 3.6-liter V6 gas-powered engine linked to a generator that can recharge the battery while the truck is moving.

Victims of AI

We are going to see more of this.

A sleepy town in southern Spain is in shock after it emerged that AI-generated naked images of young local girls had been circulating on social media without their knowledge.

The pictures were created using photos of the targeted girls fully clothed, many of them taken from their own social media accounts.

 

These were then processed by an application that generates an imagined image of the person without clothes on.

 

So far more than 20 girls, aged between 11 and 17, have come forward as victims of the app’s use in or near Almendralejo, in the south-western province of Badajoz.

 

[…]

 

The suspects in the case are aged between 12 and 14. Spanish law does not specifically cover the generation of images of a sexual nature when it involves adults, although the creation of such material using minors could be deemed child pornography.

Another possible charge would be for breaching privacy laws. In Spain, minors can only face criminal charges from the age of 14 upwards.

Some good questions. Clearly, the girls are victims. But is it child porn if the images are fake? What is the appropriate legal sanction, if any, for taking a public image of someone and manipulating it? If the boys had done this by drawing or painting, is it morally different than using AI to create the images? Is it a crime to draw an imagined image of a naked person – adult or child? Our legal infrastructure in the age of AI is woefully behind. The action is clearly disgusting and morally reprehensible, but how should the law deal with it?

AI Mimics Dead Loved Ones

No. It strikes me that people would be far better off working through their grief than pretending that their loved one is alive through a bot. Death is the natural end of us all and it is unhealthy to pretend that it doesn’t exist.

What does the future of grief and loss look like? An AI company called You, Only Virtual is creating chatbots modeled after deceased loved ones, with its founder, Justin Harrison, telling “Good Morning America” that he hopes people won’t have to feel grief at all.

 

You, Only Virtual scans text messages, emails and phone calls shared between an individual and the deceased person to create a chatbot that composes original written or audio responses mimicking the deceased person’s voice and modeling the relationship and rapport that the two shared in life.

The company, founded in 2020, hopes to offer a video-chat option later this year, “and ultimately provide augmented-reality that allows for interaction with a three-dimensional projection,” GMA reported.

EVs Aren’t the Savings You Think

Heh.

However experts are warning that it takes an average of six years to break even on a purchase – and it can take up to a decade for the premium to pay off.

 

Customers are also taking to social media to express their regret at their EV purchase, with difficulties tracking down charging spots and unexpected costs. So how long does it really take to save money on an electric car – and is it worth the price?

 

[…]

 

When it comes to fuel, electricity is generally cheaper than gas. On July 7, the average cost of gas in the US was $3.53 a gallon.

 

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the cost of charging an EV is equivalent to filling up a gas tank at roughly $1 per gallon.

 

Gas prices also tend to be more volatile than electricity prices, which have historically been more stable.

 

[…]

 

The calculator estimates that the electric car owner will save $1,404 a year charging their vehicle rather than filling up on gas.

 

By dividing the price premium on the EV by the estimated annual savings on fuel, it would take over eight years to break even on the purchase.

The article shares stories from EV buyers who have buyer’s remorse. I say shame on them for not doing more homework before buying their cars. I’ll say the same thing I’ve said for years… EVs can be an excellent option for some people and a terrible option for others.

EV discussions have become common with people I know. I’ll give two examples of people who have Teslas and love them. Both are high-income people where the purchase price was not much of a factor. It’s more about the experience.

The first person lives in the Bay Area. He rarely drives for more than a couple of hours a day and has a charger in his garage. He commented that he can’t remember the last time that he charged in public. When he travels, he will generally fly if it is more than a 3 or 4 hour drive. He loves his Tesla and raves about the lack of maintenance required (oil changes, etc.) The Tesla simply has fewer moving parts to maintain. He did comment that it burns through tires rather quickly, but that’s a minor inconvenience.

The other person lives in Colorado. The person is single and travels a lot. The person likes his Tesla, but is annoyed by a few of the aesthetic features like the gull wing doors and the long windshield. This person works from home and doesn’t drive much, but occasionally goes on a long trip. In a recent example, the person drove from Colorado to Tulsa to Austin and back home. The travel time took twice as long as it would have in a gasoline car because of the time needed to charge. And in one example riding through the panhandle of Texas, the car almost ran out of charge before sliding into a station. To compensate, the person slowed way down. Overall, the person was annoyed with the travel time, but as a single person without a pressing reason to get back home, the extra time of travel was just that – an annoyance.

In both circumstances, the people like their EVs and are willing to put up with the inconveniences, and, more importantly, can afford to put up with the inconveniences.

In my own case, we do not own a garage or driveway in which to charge an EV. We would have to rely on public chargers. Also, we regularly take cross-country road trips (4 to 6 times a year) where we need to make the transit in a day or two to work around my work schedule. Owning an EV would be incompatible with our lifestyle.

This is where I would like the national conversation to progress. EVs are not morally or economically superior to gasoline vehicles (GVs). They are simply a different technology designed to complete the same task of personal transportation. The choice should center around lifestyle and preference instead of being some political or ethical talisman.

TikTok to Enforce Climate Change Orthodoxy

Look at them get in line when threated by a ban. And you’ll notice that TikTok still isn’t banned…

Controversial social media app TikTok announced Friday that it would begin removing “climate change misinformation” from its platform.

 

“On April 21, we will begin to ramp up enforcement of a new climate change misinformation policy which removes climate change misinformation that undermines well-established scientific consensus, such as content denying the existence of climate change or the factors that contribute to it,” the company said in a statement ahead of Earth Day on Saturday. “As we do for all misinformation policies, we will work with independent fact-checking partners when applying this policy to help assess the accuracy of content.”

Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly

Progress. This is what innovation looks like. Trying. Learning. Trying again. Unfortunately, this is why NASA fell behind. Public and political pressure made them afraid to fail.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX company’s mammoth new rocket, Starship, has exploded on its maiden flight.

No-one was hurt in the uncrewed test that lifted off from Texas’ east coast on Thursday morning local time.

 

After two to three minutes into the flight, the rocket – the biggest ever developed – started to tumble out of control and was soon destroyed by onboard charges.

 

Mr Musk has said his company will try again in a couple of months.

SpaceX engineers still class Thursday’s mission as a success. They like to “test early and often” and are not afraid to break things. They will have gathered a mass of data to work towards the next flight. A second Starship is almost ready to take flight.

“Congrats @SpaceX team on an exciting test launch of Starship! Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months,” Mr Musk tweeted.

Finland Opens New Nuclear Reactor

This is the way.

OL3’s operator Teollisuuden Voima (TVO), which is owned by Finnish utility Fortum and a consortium of energy and industrial companies, has said the unit is expected to meet around 14% of Finland’s electricity demand, reducing the need for imports from Sweden and Norway.

 

The new reactor is expected to produce for at least 60 years, TVO said in a statement on Sunday after completing the transition from testing to regular output.

 

“The production of Olkiluoto 3 stabilises the price of electricity and plays an important role in the Finnish green transition,” TVO Chief Executive Jarmo Tanhua said in the statement.

 

Construction of the 1.6 gigawatt (GW) reactor, Finland’s first new nuclear plant in more than four decades and Europe’s first in 16 years, began in 2005. The plant was originally due to open four years later, but was plagued by technical issues.

Biden To Force EVs on Americans

This is insane. EVs are perfectly fine for some people in some scenarios. I’d consider one as a second car, but I take too many road trips to make it sensible as a primary vehicle. Americans aren’t stupid. We know how to evaluate a new product and see if it will work for us. Americans are exceptional at adopting new things when we like them. Biden’s overlordship is just making cars inaccessible for the middle and lower classes.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday unveiled the toughest rules to date for automobile emissions in an effort to push more Americans to purchase expensive electric vehicles.

 

The strict new pollution limits would require 67% of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2032 to be electric, which is about 10 times as many as are currently sold and is far above the president’s previous commitment to have EVs make up 50% of cars sold by 2030.

 

But Americans aren’t quite sold on the deal, according to a new Gallup poll released on Wednesday, citing the high cost of EVs as the main reason for not purchasing one.

And it’s worth noting that the EV car craze is a boon for China. They sure are getting a great return on their 10% for the big guy at our expense.

Here me out… SAILS

We’re going back to wood ships with sails for international trade. It’s “progress.”

To get on track to reach net zero emissions by 2050, international shipping will have to reduce its emissions by 15% by 2030. So far, emissions from the industry have been going more or less consistently in the other direction.

 

One way to reduce emissions from shipping is to introduce a very old technology: sails. Wind is a clean source of propulsion that is often in abundance at sea. Some shipbuilders are taking this inspiration from the past extremely seriously, and even making the structure of the ship out of wood.

Meta Follows Twitter

There is something unsettling about these companies monetizing identity. Where will it lead?

For $11.99 a month on the web and $14.99 a month on iOS, users on Meta’s Instagram and Facebook platforms will be able to submit their government ID and get a blue verification badge. The service will be introduced in Australia and New Zealand this week, and more countries will follow, Zuckerberg said.

“This new feature is about increasing authenticity and security across our services,” Zuckerberg wrote in the post.

 

Meta has historically granted verification to notable users like politicians, executives, members of the press and organizations to signal their legitimacy. The company’s new subscription service is similar to Twitter’s revamped service called Twitter Blue, which also grants users a verification badge if they pay a monthly fee.

Hackers Target Home Devices

It amazes me how many people take so little interest in securing devices like these. They seem to think that they are not able to be hacked. Here’s a rule of thumb… if it’s online, it can be hacked. If it’s not online, it can still be hacked, but the hacker needs physical access.

‘Digital burglaries’ where hackers virtually enter households via smart doorbells and webcams to snoop and steal are becoming more common, experts have warned.

 

Everything from thermostats to webcams, speakers and doorbells provides a way for cyber criminals to spy on families and steal data and money.

 

Experts told DailyMail.com that hackers regard the devices as easy prey, and use them for everything from theft to stalking to screaming abuse at victims through their own doorbells.

 

 

 

 

 

Researchers Find Efficient Way to Extract Hydrogen from Seawater

I have much more optimism about widespread commercial use of hydrogen engines for energy than I do wind or solar. This is the kind of technology that should invite more investment.

Researchers at the University of Adelaide announced this week that they made clean hydrogen fuel from seawater without pre-treatment. Demand for hydrogen fuel, a clean energy source that only produces water when burned, is expected to increase in the coming years as the world (hopefully) continues to pivot away from fossil fuels. The findings could eventually provide cheaper green energy production to coastal areas.

 

“We have split natural seawater into oxygen and hydrogen with nearly 100 per cent efficiency, to produce green hydrogen by electrolysis, using a non-precious and cheap catalyst in a commercial electrolyser,” said Professor Shizhang Qiao, the team’s co-lead. Seawater typically needs to be purified before electrolysis splits it into hydrogen and oxygen. The team says its results, using cobalt oxide with chromium oxide on its surface as the catalyst, had similar performance to a standard process of applying platinum and iridium catalysts to highly purified and deionized water.

Compared to freshwater, seawater is an abundant resource, and the ability to extract hydrogen fuel from seawater without pre-treatment could save money. However, even if successfully scaled, it would likely only be practical for coastal communities with plenty of seawater — not so much for Iowa or Kansas.

Fueling Electric Vehicles Now More Expensive Than Gas Vehicles

Heh.

No longer needing to buy gasoline is one of the most convincing selling points for potential electric vehicle customers. It’s easy to conclude that owning an EV and recharging at home is cheaper than using a car powered by an internal combustion engine. The conclusion is correct if a driver switches powertrains between luxury vehicles, like going from a Porsche Macan to an electric Porsche Taycan.

 

However, a recent report from the Anderson Economic Group (AEG) found that fueling costs from mid-priced ICE-powered vehicles are lower than similarly priced electric vehicles. Combustion drivers pay about $11.29 per 100 miles on the road. EV drivers who charge up at home spend about $11.60 per 100 miles. The price difference is more dramatic for those who mainly recharge at stations. Frequent charging station users pay $14.40 per 100 miles.

Biden’s Whale-Killing Machines

What a mess.

State leaders and the Biden administration have homed in on the industry because the power of offshore winds can produce a rare round-the-clock source of greenhouse-gas-free electricity – and one difficult for future administrations to undo once turbines are in the ground. The administration set a goal for 30 gigawatts of new power from offshore wind by 2030. That is about 3 percent of what the country needs to get to 80 percent clean electricity by that time, according to estimates from a team led by University of California at Berkeley researchers.

 

The industry paid more than $5 billion to the federal government for the right to build off the coast as the Biden administration made a large number of leases available last year. Some of the world’s largest energy companies, including BP, Shell, Equinor and Duke Energy, now plan to spend billions more constructing thousands of skyscraper-size turbines off America’s shores that will produce enough juice to power roughly 7 million homes, according to the American Clean Power Association, a renewable-energy trade group.

 

The nation’s first large-scale project began construction off the coast of Massachusetts a little more than a year ago, and surveying vessels are now charting the East Coast for the next wave of construction. That work is happening in the same area where a die-off of humpback whales began seven years ago and where scientists and federal officials are now working to prevent the North Atlantic right whale, one of the world’s most endangered marine mammals, from going extinct.

 

“We have an unprecedented amount of whales dying here at the same time there is this industrial activity taking place on a scale that has never before happened in these waters,” said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, a local nonprofit. “Why is this not being investigated? Why are these companies getting a pass?”

 

Achieving the Biden administration’s target would require the installation of thousands of the machines, which will tower as high as three Statues of Liberty stacked on top of one another when their blades reach for the sky. The blades alone can be the length of a football field.

 

But it has been slow going. There are only seven working offshore wind turbines in the entire United States at the moment. In Europe, there are more than 5,000. China also has thousands.

I doubt that the turbines are really killing whales, but it shows how difficult it is to get anything big done in America nowadays.

Lights Stuck On in School for Five Months

Ope.

One of the cost-saving measures the school board insisted on was a “green lighting system” run on software installed by a company called 5th Light to control the lights in the building. The system was designed to save energy — and thus save money — by automatically adjusting the lights as needed.

 

But in August 2021, staffers at the school noticed that the lights were not dimming in the daytime and burning brightly through the night.

 

“The lighting system went into default,” said Osborne. “And the default position for the lighting system is for the lights to be on.”

 

Osborne said they immediately reached out to the original installer of the system only to discover that the company had changed hands several times since the high school was built. When they finally tracked down the current owner of the company, Reflex Lighting, several more weeks went by before the company was able to find somebody familiar with the high school’s lighting system, he said.

Sweden Finds Huge Rare Earth Mineral Deposit

Wow. If true, this eliminates a major geopolitical lever that China currently has.

Swedish government-owned mine operator LKAB on Thursday announced the discovery of a major rare earth mineral deposit in the northern city of Kiruna, potentially significantly reducing reliance on China for electric vehicle components.

 

The deposit, the largest such discovery in Europe, is equivalent to more than 1 million metric tons of rare earth oxides, according to LKAB.

 

“This is the largest known deposit of rare earth elements in our part of the world, and it could become a significant building block for producing the critical raw materials that are absolutely crucial to enable the green transition. We face a supply problem. Without mines, there can be no electric vehicles,” LKAB President and CEO Jan Moström said in a statement.

 

The discovery could be a game-changer for Europe, which currently has no rare earth mining operations and is entirely dependent on Chinese imports for the metals, which are used in the manufacture of wind turbines and electric cars. As of 2020, 99 percent of rare earth imports to the European Union came from China.

Flights Grounded

The basic functions of government are breaking down.

All US domestic flights have been grounded for several hours because of a glitch with the flight control system.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says there is a problem with the system that alerts pilots to potential hazards on flight routes.

 

It is working to restore it but says no flights will take off until at least 0900 ET (1400 GMT).

 

In a statement, the FAA said some functions were beginning to come back online, and would give updates later.

It was not immediately clear if the outage would impact international flights.

 

US President Joe Biden has been briefed about the outage, and the White House said there was no evidence of a cyberattack “at this point”.

In a tweet, the White House Press Secretary said the President had called for a “full investigation into the causes”.

The FAA said the problem lies with its Notice to Air Missions System.

Meta Settles

Remember this? Given the Twitter files, it almost seems quaint now.

Facebook owner Meta has agreed to pay $725m (£600m) to settle legal action over a data breach linked to political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

The long-running dispute accused the social media giant of allowing third parties, including the British firm, to access Facebook users’ personal data.

 

The proposed sum is the largest in a US data privacy class action, lawyers say.

Meta, which did not admit wrongdoing, said it had “revamped” its approach to privacy over the past three years.

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