Elon Musk’s Tesla adds ‘Model Y’ SUV to line-up

Tesla introduced a new electric sports utility vehicle slightly bigger and more expensive than its Model 3, pitched as an electric car for the masses. (AFP)
Updated 15 March 2019
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Elon Musk’s Tesla adds ‘Model Y’ SUV to line-up

  • The all-electric Model Y has a starting price of $39,000 for a version with a 230-mile (370-kilometer) range
  • Musk said the Model Y has “the functionality of an SUV but it will ride like a sports car”

HAWTHORNE, United States: Tesla introduced a new electric sports utility vehicle slightly bigger and more expensive than its Model 3, pitched as an electric car for the masses.
Tesla chief executive Elon Musk showed off the “Model Y” late Thursday at the company’s design studio in the southern California city of Hawthorne, and the company began taking orders online.
The all-electric Model Y has a starting price of $39,000 for a version with a 230-mile (370-kilometer) range. A long-range version of the SUV capable of traveling 300 miles (483 kilometers) on a single charge was priced at $47,000.
Deliveries were expected to begin late next year for the higher-priced Model Y vehicles, with the standard-range version likely get to buyers by spring of 2021, according to Tesla.
Musk said the Model Y has “the functionality of an SUV but it will ride like a sports car” accelerating from stand-still to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.
Model Y featured a “panoramic glass roof” and could seat seven people, according to Musk.
Entry-level SUVs are a hot segment of the vehicle market.
“Even though the Model Y will debut with promises of grandeur, if there are any chinks in Tesla’s brand armor, this vehicle will expose them,” said Edmunds executive director of industry analysis Jessica Caldwell.
“Tesla is about to learn exactly what it means to go head-to-head with the German automakers.”
While Tesla has a devoted fan base, with people at the Thursday event shouting enthusiastically for Musk, the Model Y will be competing with attractive SUVs that titans such as BMW, Mercedes and Audi are bringing to market, according to Caldwell.
The latest addition to the Tesla line-up comes shortly after the California-based company rolled out its lowest-priced Model 3, an electric car designed for the masses, at a base price of $35,000, with deliveries promised in one month.
At that price, the Model 3 is less than half the cost of most Tesla on the road and may be eligible for tax incentives which could further lower ownership costs.
“If Tesla truly wants to be a mainstream brand, it’s going to have to figure out how to sell cars to people besides young men in California,” Caldwell said.
Tesla has a sound foundation for the Model Y to be a “turning point,” since it has an enviably young base of buyers for a luxury brand and the Model X has had strong appeal to women, according to Caldwell.
The new vehicles suggest Tesla has been able to overcome production bottlenecks to ramp up production to meet demand, and moving toward Musk’s goal of making electric vehicles widely available.
Tesla this week reversed course on its decision to move most of its sales online, saying it will keep many of its showrooms open — but will need to hike prices to do so.
Tesla made the announcement on February 28 that it would begin selling its mass-market Model 3 at the promised $35,000 price, and close most of its retail locations to cut costs.
But the company said that after review, it had decided to keep some of its showrooms, although the specifics were not disclosed.
Tesla said the price hikes would start on March 18 for “the more expensive variants of Model 3, as well as Model S and X.”
“To be clear, all sales worldwide will still be done online, in that potential Tesla owners coming in to stores will simply be shown how to order a Tesla on their phone in a few minutes,” the statement added.


Foreign investors hope India dials back policy shocks after Modi win

Updated 24 May 2019
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Foreign investors hope India dials back policy shocks after Modi win

  • Modi’s pro-business image and India’s youthful population have lured foreign investors
  • After Modi’s win, about a dozen officials of foreign companies in India and their advisers said they hoped he would ease his stance and dilute some of the policies

NEW DELHI: Foreign companies in India have welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election victory for the political stability it brings, but now they need to see him soften a protectionist stance adopted in the past year.
Modi’s pro-business image and India’s youthful population have lured foreign investors, with US firms such as Amazon.com , Walmart and Mastercard committing billions of dollars in investments and ramping up hiring.
India is also the biggest market by users for firms such as Facebook Inc, and its subsidiary, WhatsApp.
But from around 2017, critics say, the Hindu nationalist leader took a harder, protectionist line on sectors such as e-commerce and technology, crafting some policies that appeared to aim at whipping up patriotic fervor ahead of elections.

Opinion

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“I hope he’s now back to wooing businesses,” said Prasanto Roy, a technology policy analyst based in New Delhi, who advises global tech firms.
“Global firms remain deeply concerned about the lack of policy stability or predictability, this has sent a worrying message to global investors.”
India stuck to its policies despite protests and aggressive lobbying by the United States government, US-India trade bodies and companies themselves.
Small hurdles
Modi was set to hold talks on Friday to form a new cabinet after election panel data showed his Bharatiya Janata Party had won 302 of the 542 seats at stake and was leading in one more, up from the 282 it won in 2014.
After Modi’s win, about a dozen officials of foreign companies in India and their advisers told Reuters they hoped he would ease his stance and dilute some of the policies.
Other investors hope the government will avoid sudden policy changes on investment and regulation that catch them off guard and prove very costly, urging instead industry-wide consultation that permits time to prepare.
Protectionism concerns “are small hurdles you have to go through,” however, said Prem Watsa, the chairman of Canadian diversified investment firm Fairfax Financial, which has investments of $5 billion in India.
“There will be more business-friendly policies and more private enterprise coming into India,” he told Reuters in an interview.
Tech, healthcare and beyond
Among the firms looking for more friendly steps are global payments companies that had benefited since 2016 from Modi’s push for electronic payments instead of cash.
Last year, however, firms such as Mastercard and Visa were asked to store more of their data in India, to allow “unfettered supervisory access,” a change that prompted WhatsApp to delay plans for a payments service.
Modi’s government has also drafted a law to clamp similar stringent data norms on the entire sector.
But abrupt changes to rules on foreign investment in e-commerce stoked alarm at firms such as Amazon, which saw India operations disrupted briefly in February, and Walmart, just months after it invested $16 billion in India’s Flipkart.
Policy changes also hurt foreign players in the $5-billion medical device industry, such as Abbott Laboratories, Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson, following 2017 price caps on products such as heart stents and knee implants.
Modi’s government said the move aimed to help poor patients and curb profiteering, but the US government and lobby groups said it harmed innovation, profits and investment plans.
“If foreign companies see their future in this country on a long-term basis...they will have to look at the interests of the people,” Ashwani MaHajjan, an official of a nationalist group that pushed for some of the measures, told Reuters.
That view was echoed this week by two policymakers who said government policies will focus on strengthening India’s own companies, while providing foreign players with adequate opportunities for growth.
Such comments worry foreign executives who fear Modi is not about to change his protectionist stance in a hurry, with one offical of a US tech firm saying, “I’d rather be more worried than be optimistic.”