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Tesla surges past $500 on back of analyst upgrade, China momentum



Today in regular trading, shares of American electric car manufacturer Tesla surged past the $500 mark.

Tesla, perhaps the most famous electric vehicle company in the world, has had a tumultuous last 12 months on the public markets. The company’s shares have traded as low as $176.99 in the past 52 weeks, and, as has high as $507.50 today.

The company is worth $507.28 per share at the moment, valuing Tesla at $91.38 billion according to Google Finance. As is often pointed out, Tesla is worth more than Ford and General Motors combined. In a slightly more exotic formulation, Tesla is worth just under 64 times as much as Aston Martin.

What’s going on?

Why is Telsa surging? We presume that it’s not the latest from Musk, that “Teslas will soon talk and make fart noises,” according to CNBC. (At least we hope not.)

Instead, an investor upgrade this morning could be the key reason for the company’s gains today. As IBD points out, the new target from Oppenheimer is over $600 per share.

That’s today’s runup explained. The morning’s rally, however, is tied to the company’s rising growing operations in China and global delivery figures.

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China’s automotive market is moribund and shrinking at the moment, and the Chinese government’s incentives for electric cars have fallen. Small issues, it appears, for Tesla bulls. (Tesla’s success allowed NIO to go public, a China-based electric car company; another is hoping to follow in its footsteps.)

Since delivering its first China-produced cars earlier this month, Tesla shares have shot higher. After cracking $400 in early December, Tesla is now up another 20%.

There is more good news to point to at Telsa, like its recent car delivery results. As TechCrunch’s own Kirsten Korosec reported earlier this month:

Tesla said Friday that it delivered 367,500 electric vehicles in 2019 — 50% more than the previous year — a record-breaking figure largely supported by sales of the cheaper Model 3. More than one-third of those deliveries — about 112,000 vehicles — occurred in the fourth quarter. The electric automaker reported production also grew 10% from the previous quarter, to 105,000 vehicles.

That said, the company’s detractors point to mix shift harming year-over-year revenues, and lower-margin cars taking over its sales volume. Maybe.

Today, however, the longs have it and shorts are eating their, well, pants.

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An Origin Story, Smart Headlights, and Other Car News




The future comes in fits and starts, and we buckled up and went through a few this week. Cruise, General Motors’ self-driving unit, hosted a big party in San Francisco to launch Origin, an electric six-seat, steering wheel-free vehicle that it says is the future of shared autonomy. The vehicle will go into production…sometime, and we still have plenty of questions. Our reporters also learned about little vehicle tweaks coming down the pike that might make your life a bit better: smart headlights that won’t blind your fellow drivers, and a system from Hyundai that might cancel out some of the more unpleasant sounds of the road.

Plus, we looked at what it might take to make public transit better for women everywhere, and why you might not see emotional support rabbits on your next flight. It’s been a week; let’s get you caught up.

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Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week

Superstar Bike Lover of the Week

The Lakers’ LeBron James has teamed up with Lyft and the YMCA to offer 16-to-20-year-olds access to Lyft-operated bike-share programs, including New York’s CitiBike, the Bay Area’s Bay Wheels, and Capital Bikeshare in Washington, DC. LeBronb has long been a low key bike commuter, and has been known to cycle to games.

Stat of the Week: 61%

The share of total miles ride-hail vehicles traveled without a passenger in the car in 2018, according to an estimate released by the California Air Resources Board last month. The report also estimated that the ride-hail fleet—Uber, Lyft and others—emitted 50 percent more CO2 than the statewide vehicle fleet average, even though the cars are generally newer, include fewer light trucks and are more fuel efficient than those in the statewide fleet.

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New Safety Gizmos Are Making Car Insurance More Expensive




American car insurance rates are going up up up. In the last decade, they climbed 29.6 percent to an average of $1,548 in 2019 from $1,194 in 2011. The surge, detailed in a new report from insurance shopping site The Zebra, outpaced both inflation (by far) and the increase in average car prices (more narrowly). And it came even as the rate of crashes has fallen year over year.

Aggrieved drivers have plenty of directions to point their fingers. Vehicle theft is on the rise, and extreme weather fueled by climate change can destroy swaths of vehicles in short order. Hurricane Harvey wrecked up to 1 million cars in the Houston area in 2017. And while crash rates have dropped, they’ve been buoyed by increasing urbanization and a strong economy, which put more drivers—many of them distracted by smartphones—in tighter spaces.

A more surprising, counterintuitive culprit isn’t the wider world or the person behind the wheel, but the car itself. It turns out that new features designed to keep vehicles in their lanes and out of trouble are contributing to rising insurance rates.

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That’s because the sensors that power those systems make cars much more expensive to fix when they do crash. Dent a steel bumper, and a few hammer blows gets you back on the road. Smash one on a new car, and it could mean replacing a radar, camera, and ultrasonic sensors, then calibrating them so they work properly. Replacing a cracked windshield now comes with the extra cost of having someone readjust any cameras that look through the glass. “Technology is playing a bigger role than ever in pricing,” says Nicole Beck, The Zebra’s communications chief. “It’s not actually making it cheaper for people.”

While some studies have shown the effectiveness of emergency braking, insurance companies haven’t yet seen enough evidence to justify a break in rates for most of these features. That’s not to say lane keeping, parking assist, and the rest don’t work. They’re all relatively new, and the actuaries aren’t yet confident that their benefits outweigh the extra costs they incur to repair. Complicating the picture is the fact that each automaker offers its own version of each feature, and that drivers may not keep the systems engaged.

“A lot of the developments so far have mixed results,” says Tom Karol, general counsel for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies. “It’s not really been proven out yet, in terms of benefits.” Which is why, according to the report, drivers who go for electronic stability control, which keeps cars from spinning out of control, save just $8 a year. Those who pay for blind spot warning, driver alertness monitoring, lane departure warning, night vision, or parking assistance systems save nothing at all.

Still, at least one company sees the upside of sensor-driven driver assistance. “They absolutely lower the frequency of crashes,” says Alex Carges, the chief actuary at The Root, an insurance startup that determines rates based on how people drive, using accelerometer and GPS data from their phones.


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Elon Musk on road to $50bn payout as Tesla’s value passes $100bn




Under pay scheme, founder must build electric carmaker into $650bn company by 2028

The Tesla founder, Elon Musk, has taken the first step to becoming $50bn (38bn) richer after the value of the electric car company surged past $100bn.

Musk, already a multibillionaire with a net worth estimated at about $30bn, secured approval in 2018 for a pay deal that would dwarf existing records for renumeration if it was paid out in full.

Under the scheme corporate governance experts have described as staggering, Musk must build Tesla into a $650bn company over the next 10 years.

Hitting this landmark would make Tesla one of the worlds most valuable tech companies worth more than seven times the combined value today of automotive powerhouses Ford and General Motors .

Provided Tesla also hits ambitious revenue and profit targets, and assuming Musk remains its chief executive, such growth would also trigger payments in stock worth about $50bn over the course of the scheme.

At the time the deal was agreed in March 2018, Tesla was valued by the stock market at $54.6bn. Its share price has nearly doubled since then, breaking the $100bn barrier on Wednesday.

Improved sentiment about Tesla on Wall Street is partly down to a surprise third-quarter profit of $143m, which bolstered hopes that the company could end its habit of making significant losses.

If Musk can keep the stock market value at above $100bn on average over the next six months, he will be entitled to the first of up to 12 stock payouts, worth around $350m each.

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The pay deal is staggered so that he receives further awards for every $50bn Tesla increases in stock market value, up to a maximum of $50bn in shares if the company achieves a valuation of $650bn by 2028.

That is still some way behind trillion-dollar companies such as Apple, the first to reach the Wall Street milestone, and Googles parent company, Alphabet.

Tesla supporters have argued that the way the pay plan is structured will help keep Musk focused on the company at a time when he is also increasingly involved in SpaceX, his space exploration company, and other ventures.

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