COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

01 April 2021 | Sakenuus
Google, BMW, Volvo, Samsung sign up to WWF

Google, BMW, Volvo and Samsung SDI are the first global companies to have signed up to a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) call for a moratorium on deep-sea mining, the WWF said yesterday.

In backing the call, the companies commit not to source any minerals from the seabed, to exclude such minerals from their supply chains, and not to finance deep seabed mining activities, the WWF said in a statement.

Deep-sea mining would extract cobalt, copper, nickel, and manganese key materials commonly used to make batteries from potato-sized nodules which pepper the sea floor at depths of 4-6 kilometres and are particularly abundant in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the North Pacific Ocean.

“With much of the deep-sea ecosystem yet to be explored and understood, such activity would be recklessly short-sighted,” WWF said in a statement.

The moratorium calls for a ban on deep seabed mining activities until the risks are fully understood and all alternatives are exhausted. - Nampa/Reuters

BMW got its timing right on electric cars

BMW has timed its shift to electric cars well and its upcoming products will upend the perception the German carmaker is behind on electrification and could make its stock compete with the likes of Tesla Inc, its top executive said.

“There is a perception that we took a break, but we actually didn’t take a break,” Chief Executive Oliver Zipse told Reuters as part of a series of boardroom interviews entitled “Delivering Net Zero”.

Carmakers are racing to develop electric cars amid tightening CO2 emission standards in Europe and China and BMW says it expects half of its sales to be fully-electric models by 2030.

Zipse told Reuters that BMW’s sustainability plans include reducing its CO2 emissions from the entire lifespan of its vehicles from raw materials and production process to their use on the road by a cumulative 200 megatons by 2030, or seven times the annual emissions of London.

BMW on Tuesday said it has signed a 285 million-euro (US$335 million) contract with US-based Livent, which will supply the German carmaker with lithium, a key ingredient in battery cells, from 2022.-Nampa/Reuters

BlackBerry misses Q4 revenue estimates

Canada’s BlackBerry Ltd missed Wall Street estimates for fourth-quarter revenue on Tuesday, even as the company said sales of its QNX car software showed improvement.

US-listed shares of BlackBerry, which sells security software to companies and governments as well as infotainment software to carmakers, fell nearly 4% in extended trading.

Demand for the company’s QNX car software, used by automakers such as Volkswagen and Ford Motor, had been under pressure due to a slow recovery in the US auto industry amid a global semiconductor shortage and pandemic-related weakness.

“This has been an exceptional year to navigate, however we are pleased with QNX’s continued recovery, despite new challenges from the global chip shortage,” said Chief Executive Officer John Chen.

BlackBerry was also one of the so-called “stonks” that received major attention from investors after a social-media driven retail short squeeze frenzy. The term “stonk” is used to describe stocks with convoluted prospects that are popular with retail traders on online forums. - Nampa/Reuters

Aurora, Volvo are latest partners

Global heavy truck manufacturers are lining up technology partners to help build out self-driving systems for long-haul freight that could see widespread commercial service well before self-driving robotaxis.

The latest alliance was announced Tuesday between Sweden’s Volvo Group and California-based Aurora Innovation, building on a working relationship that dates back several years, the partners said.

Analysts expect more such partnerships, as relatively young technology firms such as Aurora connect their autonomous vehicle systems knowledge with the deep manufacturing experience of legacy companies such as Volvo Trucks

“You can’t go at it alone in autonomy,” said Grayson Brulte, president consultancy Brulte & Company. “The trucking industry is a completely different personality” than the passenger vehicle business, with different requirements.

Most of the larger truck manufacturers have turned to self-driving tech partners, driven in part by a chronic shortage of drivers and a boom in e-commerce, fuelled by the global pandemic. -Nampa/Reuters

Microsoft targets 50 000 jobs with LinkedIn

Microsoft Corp said on Tuesday that it aims to place 50 000 people in jobs that require technology skills as part of a broader push being undertaken with its professional networking website LinkedIn to help workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic move into new fields.

The effort started last year as pandemic-related business closures hit service workers much harder than technology workers and other white-collar employees who could work from home.

LinkedIn made free many of its paid digital skills training courses, covering topics such as software development, data analysis and financial analysis.

LinkedIn said it will extend the free courses until the end of this year. Microsoft and LinkedIn had aimed to get 25 million people to try the courses and said Tuesday that the figure hit 30.7 million, most from the United States but with many from almost every other part of the world.

“I wasn’t expecting 91 participants from Antarctica,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a blog post announcing the results. - Nampa/Reuters

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