COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

12 January 2021 | Business

Tesla hunts for design chief

Tesla Inc is searching for a design director in China, part of efforts to open a "full-function" studio in Shanghai or Beijing and design electric cars tailored to Chinese consumer tastes, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

The US carmaker's human resources managers, as well as several head-hunters, have been trawling the industry over the past four months, the sources said.

They are looking for "bi-cultural" candidates with 20 or more years of experience who are familiar with Chinese tastes and can bridge the gaps between China and the United States, they added.

Some candidates have been interviewed by Tesla's global design chief Franz von Holzhausen, according to the people, though it was not clear how many potential candidates had been approached by the company and recruiters.

The carmaker's plans for the design studio are not fully developed, and the sources believe Tesla will likely wait for more clarity on strained US-China relations under a new US president before making a final decision on the move and all its details. - Nampa/Reuters

Apple, Hyundai set to sign a deal

Hyundai Motor and Apple Inc plan to sign a partnership deal on autonomous electric cars by March and start production around 2024 in the United States, local newspaper Korea IT News reported on Sunday.

The report follows a statement on Friday from Hyundai Motor that it was in early talks with Apple after another local media outlet said the companies aimed to launch a self-driving electric car in 2027, sending Hyundai shares up nearly 20%.

Hyundai Motor declined to comment on the report on Sunday, and reiterated Friday's comments that it has received requests for potential cooperation from various companies on developing autonomous EVs. Apple had no immediate comment.

An updated version of the IT news report removed details, including production location and capacity and the timeframe for signing the agreement and launching the pilot vehicles.

The previous version said the companies planned to build the cars at Kia Motors' factory in Georgia, or invest jointly in a new factory in the United States to produce 100 000 vehicles around 2024. – Nampa/Reuters

Judge overseeing Google case to sell mutual funds

The federal judge hearing the US Justice Department’s antitrust case against Google directed his financial advisers to immediately sell mutual funds he owns that hold stock of the search engine’s parent Alphabet Inc.

Separately, Google said in a brief court filing that it would not ask for the case to be thrown out at an early stage based on procedural issues. The company said its initial response to the October complaint, which was joined by a dozen state attorneys general, would be filed by Feb. 15.

Judge Amit Mehta in Washington said he learned that some mutual funds held by him and his wife contain Alphabet stock and directed their sale.

Mehta said “neither my wife nor I directed the purchase of these particular funds, they were recommended to us, and we consented to their purchase.”

Mehta said he does not believe he is required to recuse himself, but said any objections to him continuing to oversee the case could be filed no later than Jan. 20. – Nampa/Reuters

Airbus backs jet output targets

Airbus stuck to ambitions for a partial recovery in jet production later this year, amid speculation that it may have to delay the move as Europe faces new coronavirus lockdowns.

Airbus has said it wants to be in shape to raise benchmark A320-family output by 18% to 47 jets a month by July, but the goal has already slipped to the fourth quarter, according to analysts, with some saying it could slip further.

“It looks like the rate of 47 is slipping to the right,” said one supply chain source. Another supplier said the rate was beyond reach for 2021.

Asked about the output plans at a news conference on annual deliveries, Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said current plans pointed to an increase in the second half of the year, but noted “a lot of uncertainties” because of the coronavirus crisis.

Chief Operating Officer Michael Schoellhorn last month told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper that output “could rise a little later or flatter” than previously anticipated. – Nampa/Reuters

Ford, Toyota, Nissan, FCA to cut production

Ford Motor Co, Toyota Motor Corp, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Nissan Motor Co Ltd said they would cut vehicle production this month due to a shortage of semiconductors, becoming the latest automakers hit by a chip crunch as demand rebounds from the coronavirus crisis.

Automakers and electronic makers are facing a global shortage of chips as consumer demand has been bouncing back from the coronavirus pandemic, causing manufacturing delays.

Credit Suisse analyst Daniel Levy said in a research note that the chip supply issues may limit near-term auto production for the industry, but industry officials said they are prioritizing production of higher-profit vehicles.

Major auto chip suppliers such as NXP Semiconductor said auto production rebounded faster than expected from the pandemic, leaving them struggling to catch up.

Meantime, chip manufacturing capacity has been stretched thin globally as laptops fly off shelves for working from home, and PCs and gaming consoles sell heavily, leading chip firms such as Nvidia Corp to warn of supply constraints. - Nampa/Reuters

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