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March 12, 2018 News of the Day: Trump Blocks Broadcom's Takeover of Qualcomm, Faraday Future Begins Winter Testing of its Beta Cars

Author: Eric Walz   

Trump Blocks Broadcom's Acquisition of Qualcomm

President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Monday blocking chipmaker Broadcom Ltd. from acquiring rival Qualcomm Inc., blocking a $117 billion deal that had been subject to U.S. government scrutiny involving national security.

The president based his decision on the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which reviews acquisitions of American firms by foreign investors. The decision to block the deal was unveiled just hours after Broadcom Chief Executive Officer Hock Tan met with security officials at the Pentagon in a last-ditch effort to salvage the transaction.

"There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that Broadcom Ltd." by acquiring Qualcomm "might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States," Trump said in the order released Monday evening in Washington.

Trump's order came after an investigation by CFIUS, which had said that Broadcom's acquisition would undermine Qualcomm's leadership in 5G wireless technology, opening the door for China's Huawei Technologies Co. to become the dominant player.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States said in a letter sent over the weekend and made public on Monday that the chipmaker had breached an order from the committee by racing to move its headquarters to the U.S.

Broadcom was seeking to diminish U.S. national security obstacles to the $142 billion bid for Qualcomm by redomiciling in the U.S., an unusual move it said on Monday would be completed by April 3.

Both companies have been working on 5G technology, which is set to transform the automotive industry by providing the low-latency, high-speed data transfer speeds necessary to support autonomous driving, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and other cloud-based, connected car technologies.

Faraday Future Begins Winter Testing of its Beta Cars

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Faraday Future, the struggling electric car startup headed by CEO Jia Yueting, has said its small fleet of test cars have begun cold weather winter testing, bringing the company's FF91 electric vehicle one step closer to possible production. Yueting was also former CEO of LeEco.

The company shared several photos of its FF91 electric vehicle on its social media accounts over the past several days.

Faraday has been struggling with financing and was barely able to meet its payroll when Yueting announced a surprise influx of over $1 billion in funding last December. Faraday's plans to construct a factory in Nevada to build the FF91 were abandoned last year, leading many to believe that the company might shutter. Now it appears Faraday is make progress on its intelligent, autonomous, electric vehicle.

Faraday's unique vehicle, the electric FF91, is equipped with three electric motors that produce 1050 horsepower. Faraday claims its lithium-ion battery cells achieve the world's highest energy density, nearly double that of a production automotive battery. This significant step forward in battery technology provides a significant increase in range. The FF91 is said to provide over 300 miles on a charge.

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Faraday Future's FF91 testing on snow

The South China Morning Post reported the FF91 may go on sale in China by the end of 2018. Dag Reckhorn, senior vice president of global manufacturing, said in a statement that the company remains "on an aggressive, yet workable timeline of year-end delivery for FF 91."

Faraday Future held a meeting this month for suppliers in Gardena, California in a bid to speed up production and deliver its first car by the end of the year.  Attending the meeting were major automotive suppliers, including Bosch, LG Chem, Fuji Technical & Miyazu, Velodyne, Ricardo, and Fanuc the company said.

At the supplier meeting, Yeuting who goes by the name YT, welcomed the participants and called the FF 91 a "new species" and "the third internet living space", the statement said.

Last year, Jia ignored an order by Chinese regulator's to return to Beijing and sort out financial woes at LeEco, saying that he needed to stay in the US to further Faraday's financing efforts to bring its electric car to market.

Faraday's plan to release the FF91 vehicle comes at a time when China's tech giants have poured money into Chinese EV start-ups including Xpeng, Byton and NIO, all of which are racing to develop and produce autonomous electric cars.

Toyota Providing 10,000 Connected Cars to Avis Budget Group Rental Fleet

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PLANO, Texas — Toyota Connected North America (TCNA), the global technology strategy business unit for Toyota, today announced a multi-year partnership with Avis Budget Group that will add 10,000 Toyota vehicles to Avis Car Rental's expanding fleet of connected cars.

Based in Plano, Texas, Toyota Connected North America (TCNA) was established in 2016 to drive Toyota's global efforts for a connected, intelligent mobile society. Avis Budget Group will utilize Toyota's proprietary Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) to enable greater operational and rental fleet efficiency while creating a more seamless rental experience for customers.

"At Toyota Connected North America, we are leveraging the power of data science to develop and deliver new mobility services that create new value for businesses and customers alike," said Zack Hicks, chief executive officer and president, Toyota Connected North America. "Toyota's mobility services platform will provide Avis Budget Group with enhanced connectivity and visibility into their fleet, and bring travelers increased control and convenience over their rental experience."

The Toyota vehicles will deliver increased benefits to Avis customers by tapping into Toyota's proprietary MSPF, a suite of advanced software and connected services that support mobility businesses.

The platform's telematics data API (application programming interface) will enable customers to receive real-time rental information via the Avis mobile app, which includes virtual odometer readings and fuel levels, and will assist them in locating the vehicle.

The connected services provided by the telematics interface will also allow for greater fleet management capabilities, improve informatics, and enable shorter vehicle check-in and check-out processing times.

Toyota's MSPF is already being used to support a range of businesses and test programs, including car share programs, usage-based car insurance pricing, and fleet management.

Servco Pacific Inc., the distributor of Toyota vehicles in Hawaii, is currently using MSPF to launch a new Honolulu-based car share business through an application developed and managed by Toyota Connected North America that supports driver identification and authentication, plus payment and fleet management.

In addition, Getaround, a San Francisco-based, peer-to-peer car-sharing company, is leveraging MSPF and connected car technology to allow drivers to seamlessly and securely rent, locate and drive Toyota vehicles with a Smart Key Box (SKB) that lets users lock and unlock vehicles and start the engine via a smartphone.

Toyota Connected North America (TCNA) was established in 2016 to drive Toyota's global efforts for an intelligent mobile society.

Germany & China Warn That U.S. Tariffs on Steel Will Disrupt Global Trade

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BERLIN — Germany denounced moves by President Donald Trump to impose tariffs on U.S. metal imports, saying Europe needed a united response to the threat and echoing criticism from China that it risked undermining the global trade system.

Trump set import tariffs last Thursday of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium, which take effect in 15 days, though Washington opened the way to some exemptions the following day after pressure from allies.

"Trump's policies are putting the order of a free global economy at risk," German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries told Reuters on Sunday in an emailed statement.

"He does not want to understand its architecture, which is based on a rule-based system of open markets. Anyone, who is questioning this, is jeopardizing prosperity, growth and employment."

Just hours earlier in Beijing, Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said any trade war with the United States would only bring disaster to the world economy.

U.S. industries processing steel and aluminium have also criticized the tariffs as landing them with higher costs.

Europe is the biggest exporter of steel to the United States, accounting for nearly 5 million tons of total annual imports of about 35 million, and Brussels has warned Trump it would impose countermeasures if hit.

But the European Union and Japan on Saturday urged the United States to grant them exemptions, with Tokyo calling for "calm-headed behavior."

In the event of any EU retaliation, Trump has threatened to also hit Europe's carmakers with import tariffs.

Such a move would be particularly harmful for Germany, Europe's largest economy and a cornerstone of its auto industry, since the U.S. is one of its carmakers' main markets, and cars and vehicle parts are Germany's biggest source of income for goods exports.

Bernhard Mattes, head of Germany's VDA car association, told Handelsblatt business daily that policymakers must avoid a trade war at all costs, noting that BMW and other German automakers were also among the biggest U.S. exporters in the sector.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that, if talks to secure exemptions failed, Brussels would impose countermeasures.

"We have been building a global trading system for decades. European prosperity and millions of jobs depend on it -- and Europe will not to stand idly by if someone puts the order of free world trade at risk," Vestager added.

Zypries added that Europe needed to avoid being divided by Trump's offer to exempt allies such as Mexico and Canada.

Eric Walz
Originally from New Jersey, Eric is an automotive and technology reporter specializing in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. Eric has over fifteen years of automotive experience and a B.A. in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the automotive industry and beyond. He has worked on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology. Outside of work, Eric likes to travel to new places, play guitar, and explore the outdoors.
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