Top Stories

January 05, 2017

Technology & Innovation

Tesla fires up battery production at Nevada gigafactory

Automaker and energy storage company, Tesla, has officially started production of its high performance lithium ion batteries at its new gigafactory in Nevada. The facility will almost double the world’s annual supply of lithium ion batteries by 2018. The company announced on Wednesday that in partnership with electronic corporation, Panasonic, production had begun at the gigafactory on the first battery cells for use in Tesla’s energy storage products and the new Model 3 electric car, its first electric vehicle (EV) designed for the mass market. In a statement it said, “Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy through increasingly affordable electric vehicles in addition to renewable energy generation and storage… By bringing down the cost of batteries, we can make our products available to more and more people, allowing us to make the biggest possible impact on transitioning the world to sustainable energy.” However, Tesla also admitted that it missed its forecasts for its electric vehicle deliveries for 2016 following production delays. (Business Green)


Ford announces major electric vehicle push which will add 700 US jobs

Car maker, Ford has detailed seven of the 13 new global electrified vehicles it plans to introduce in the next five years including the iconic Mustang and a plug-in hybrid Transit Custom van in Europe. The automaker also announced plans to invest $700 million to expand its assembly plant in Michigan into a factory that will build high-tech autonomous and electric vehicles along with the Mustang and Lincoln Continental. The expansion will create 700 direct new jobs. The moves are part of a $4.5 billion investment in electrified vehicles by 2020, offering customers greater fuel efficiency, capability and power. “Ford is committed to being a leader in providing consumers with a broad range of electrified vehicles, services and solutions that make people’s lives better,” said Ford president and CEO Mark Fields. (Sustainable Brands)


Japanese company replaces office workers with artificial intelligence

At Fukoku Mutual life Insurance, more than 30 employees are being laid off and replaced with an artificial intelligence system that can calculate payouts to policyholders. The firm believes it will increase productivity by 30 percent and see a return on its investment in less than two years and said it would save about 140m yen (£1 million) a year. The system is based on IBM’s Watson Explorer, which possesses “cognitive technology that can think like a human”, enabling it to “analyse and interpret all of your data, including unstructured text, images, audio and video”. The technology will be able to read tens of thousands of medical certificates and factor in the length of hospital stays, medical histories and any surgical procedures before calculating payouts, according to the Mainichi Shimbun. According to a 2015 report by the Nomura Research Institute, nearly half of all jobs in Japan could be performed by robots by 2035. (Guardian)

Corporate Reputation

Apple removes New York Times apps from its store in china

Apple, removed news apps created by The New York Times from its app store in China late last month. The move limits access to one of the few remaining channels for readers in mainland China to read The Times without resorting to special software. The government began blocking The Times’s websites in 2012, after a series of articles on the wealth amassed by the family of Wen Jiabao, who was then prime minister. China’s main internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China, did not respond to faxed questions about why these measures have been taken. The cyberspace administration says on its website that apps cannot publish “prohibited” information. Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, has said that the company complies with all local laws. Farzana Aslam, associate director of the Center for Comparative and Public Law at the University of Hong Kong noted that Apple requires governments to submit subpoenas, search warrants or other legal documents. (The New York Times)


China to invest £292bn in renewable power by 2020

China will invest 2.5 trillion yuan (£292 billion) into renewable power generation by 2020. According to the National Energy Administration, the investment will create more than 13 million jobs in the sector. Renewable power capacity including wind, hydro, solar and nuclear power would contribute to about half of new electricity generation by 2020. The investment reflects Beijing’s continued focus on curbing the use of fossil fuels, which have fostered the country’s economic growth over the past decade, as it ramps up its war on pollution. Last month, the National Development and Reform Commission, said in its own five-year plan that solar power will receive 1 trillion yuan of spending. That is equivalent to about 1,000 major solar power plants, according to experts’ estimates. The NEA’s job creation forecast differs from the NDRC’s in December that said it expected an additional 3 million jobs, bringing the total in the sector to 13 million by 2020. (Guardian)

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