Baby Boomers Are Getting Too Old for Sports Cars

Baby boomers are starting to outgrow their midlife crisis years, and thats bad news for automakers who want to sell sports cars.

It was a sign of things to come this month when Ford Motor Co. idled its Mustang plant for a week as sales for the year fell 9 percent. Other sports cars have faded at a similar rate, and even stalwarts like the Chevrolet Corvette and most Porsche models are slumping.

While there are still plenty of buyers who love the passing lane, automakers face a pesky reality. Men born between 1946 and 1964, who buy most sports cars, are cruising past their peak spending years. And as age 70 beckons, folding up like an accordion to get into the front seat of a speedy roadster is hardly the prescription for an aching back. Some are even turning to high-powered versions of luxury sports utility vehicles.

Boomers are starting to age out of sports cars, said Eric Noble, president of the CarLab, a consulting firm in Orange, California. When you get into your 60s, comfort becomes more important. Sports cars are not going away, but the market will get smaller.

The generational handoff wont help sports cars much either, Noble said, because there are fewer Generation Xers, or those about 35 to 50 years old. And the boomer children — the millennial generation — arent yet earning enough money to buy Mustangs, which start at $24,915, let alone a Corvette Z06 that can sell for more than $100,000, Noble said.

Ford will probably sell more than 100,000 Mustangs this year, but through July about 25 percent have gone to car-rental agencies and other corporate fleets, according to IHS Markit, which tracks vehicle registrations. Even with that many cars going to fleet buyers, sales are off.

This year, about 40 percent of Mustang buyers were baby boomers, down from 50 percent in 2013. The good news is that consumers in their 20s and 30s now make up 22 percent of Mustang buyers, compared with 15 percent three years ago, said Mark Schaller, marketing manager for the Mustang. But the buyer pool has shrunk.

We are seeing some older boomers move out, Schaller said. The Mustang is a life-stage vehicle.

Corvette, Camaro

Ford isnt alone in seeing declines. Sales of the Camaro and Corvette are down 11 percent and 14 percent, respectively, this year. Part of Camaros drop is because General Motors Co. sells fewer of them to fleet buyers. Retail sales fell only 1 percent.

I dont have one reason why its down, said Todd Christensen, marketing manager for the Camaro and Corvette. Boomers are still buying them, for sure.

Christensen said Chevy is hoping to spark Corvette sales with the new Grand Sport version of the car, which offers more sporty attributes than the base model, such as high-performance suspension, brakes and tires. It comes with an attractive price, too. The Grand Sport starts at $65,000, which is about $14,000 cheaper than the high-performance Z06 model.

Chevy is also trying to market the Camaro to younger buyers by promoting its smaller, cheaper 2-liter turbo engine in a package with high-performance parts that make the car handle like more expensive versions, Christensen said.

Lifestyle Shift

Porsche may be seeing a similar shift, said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with, a car-shopping website. Coupes are no longer seen as cooler than a four-door car or SUV, she said. And with luxury brands like Porsche and Mercedes selling sporty-driving SUVs, the well-heeled can make a more practical purchase and still have some fun behind the wheel.

A car that fits someones lifestyle and is still sporty is a better option than a true sports car, she said.

That makes sense when you look at Porsche. This year and in 2015, the brands passenger car sales have fallen by 8 percent. At the same time, the Macan SUV has grown by 30 percent this year and is now Porsches top seller. Company spokesman Christian Koenig said the sales decline is due to replacement of the 911 and Boxster sports cars, which caused shortages of inventory, and the announcement of a new Panamera coming in January. Porsche believes the new sports cars will once again juice sales, he said.

We dont really see a decline, Koenig said. Sports car sales in the U.S. has been a rock-solid business.

Research shows that car buyers, especially 20-somethings, still like sporty cars, according to Noble of the CarLab. They especially favor classics from the 1970s, the golden age of muscle cars. They just cant afford them yet. And boomers want something comfortable but sporty.

Spirited Driving

Thats why sales of BMWs M edition and the Mercedes AMG are up, he said. Both are high-horsepower versions of existing models. BMW M-edition sales are up 2 percent this yea. AMG sales are down among pre-existing models. Add in the new SUVs, and the performance line is up about 60 percent to almost 16,000 vehicles this year, said Branden Cote, AMG manager for Mercedes-Benz U.S.

What does a high-performance SUV look like? The AMG GLS63 is a seven-passenger, three-ton vehicle that comes with a 577-horsepower engine and starts at $124,000. It also comes with an Airmatic suspension that the driver can lower to the ground if he wants to zip in and out of a tight turn. Thats the kind of sports car that is fueling growth of Mercedess AMG line, Cote said.

Boomers are coming out of pure sports cars, but theyre not willing to sacrifice pure driving, Cote said. The idea of a sports SUV was incomprehensible 10 years ago. Theyre not giving up spirited driving; theyre going to a different type of sporty driving.

Watch Next: Baby Boomers: Savers or Spenders

Baby Boomers: Savers or Spenders?

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Tesla Shock Means Global Gasoline Demand Has All But Peaked

After fueling the 20 th century automobile culture that reshaped cities and defined modern life, gasoline has had its day.

The International Energy Agency forecasts that global gasoline intake has all but peaked as more efficient cars and the advent of electric vehicles from new players such as Tesla Motors Inc. halt demand growth in the next 25 years. That change will have profound outcomes for the oil-refining industry because gasoline accounts for one in four barrels consumed worldwide.

Electric automobiles are happening, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in an interview in London, adding that their number will rise from little more than 1 million last year to more than 150 million by 2040.

The cresting of gasoline demand shows how rapidly the oil scenery is changing, casting a shadow over an industry that usually forecasts decades of growth ahead. Royal Dutch Shell Plc, the worlds second-biggest energy company by market value, shocked rivals this month when a senior executive said overall oil demand could peak in as little as five years.

The IEA doesnt share Shells pessimism. While the agency foresees a gasoline peak, it still forecasts overall oil demand growing for several decades because of higher intake of diesel, fuel oil and jet fuel by the shipping, trucking, aviation and petrochemical industries.

For Philip Verleger, president of the consultant PKVerleger LLC in Colorado and a veteran oil-market analyst, the IEAs outlook is one of the most optimistic outcomes for the global industry.

Refiners across the globe can only hope that this forecast turns out to be right — because all the shows are today that consumption is going to begin falling not in 2030, but probably in 2020, told Verleger. Its the best news a dying patient is to be able to get.

The projections are part of the analysis the Paris-based IEA did for its World Energy Outlook 2016 flagship report. The agency forecast that gasoline demand will fell to 22.8 million barrels a day by 2020 from 23 million barrels a day last year. By 2030, consumption will rebound slightly, reaching a peak of 23.1 million barrels a day, before falling again toward 2040.

The forecast is more pessimistic than the one released a year ago, when the IEA ensure robust demand growth from now until 2030.

Gasoline has been the worlds selection to power automobiles. From the 1950 s onward, when Henry Fords dream that every middle-class American could own a car became reality, gas station jump up next to drive-through restaurants and strip mall and transformed the landscape of America and economies across the globe.

Now, however, vehicle companies — most obviously Tesla, but also incumbents such as General Motor Co ., BMW AG and Nissan Motor Co. — are putting their money, and reputations, behind electric vehicles. With technology improving — especially for batteries — prices are falling. Tax breaks, particularly in China, are helping sales.

Global gasoline demand grew by virtually 20 percent between 1990 and 2015 despite competition from diesel in Europe, where the ga benefited from tax breaks. In the next 25 years, gasoline intake will fell 0.2 percent, according to the new IEA computations. While the number of passenger vehicles will double to 2 billion by 2040, the amount of oil we use for autoes will be lower than today, Birol said.

The biggest victim is likely to be refiners, which have spent billions of dollars over the last two decades to maximize gasoline output at the expense of other fuels. Birol said the changes in fuel-demand growth over the next 25 years will have major implications for the industry, which are likely are gonna have to re-tool their plants.

Diesel Ascendant

Demand for gasoline is likely to be much more affected than heavier gasolines — the refineries configuration will be affected, ” he said.

As gasoline demand sputters in advanced economies, middle distillates, gasolines used to power trucks and planes, will continue to see growth in the next decade as economies expand. And new international rules will require that the heavy, dirty fuels currently used for marine transit be replaced with lower-sulfur diesel in 2020.

Refiners would be wise to target distillates such as diesel in lieu of gasoline as they grapple with fading intake, told Michael Wojciechowski, vice president of Americas oil and refining marketplaces research at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. in Houston.

“Diesel seems to be almost like a utility fuel going forward, Wojciechowski told. Its got its ability to meet a lot of strategic objectives for refiners.

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Here’s why Tesla is delaying its Semi unveiling until next month

Elon Musk is delaying the unveiling of the hotly anticipated Tesla Semi to focus on the Model 3 and increase Powerwall production for Hurricane Maria-ravaged Puerto Rico.

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Initially set to be unveiled Oct. 26, Tesla will now reveal the battery-powered truck on Nov. 16.

Known for delays and supply shortages, Tesla appears to be having trouble building enough Model 3s, the $35,000 mid-sized sedan it first announced in 2014. Musk previously said he wanted to go through “production hell” and crank out 500,000 units annually by the end of 2018. Supply “bottlenecks” suggest the company isn’t on target to meet that goal.

The other reason for delaying the semi truck is to help Puerto Rico recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, which knocked out the island’s entire power grid offline. Three weeks later, only 9 percent of the island has access to electricity.

Musk said on Twitter on Friday that he could use Tesla’s Powerwall energy storage systems to fix Puerto Rico’s fragile power grid. His hopeful claims were answered by the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, whoinvited Musk to chat.

Earlier this month, Tesla said it would send hundreds of batteries to the island.

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Genovation’s Electric Corvette Priced From $750,000


Genovation, an engineering skunkworks based in Rockville, Maryland, is working on an electric Chevrolet Corvette called the Genovation Extreme Electric (GXE). The company made headlines earlier in 2016 after initially setting the standing mile record for a street-legal electric car and then the land speed record.

Those records were set using a prototype, based on a C6 Corvette, but now Genovation has given us a first look at the production model thats due in late 2019. The relatively small crew at Genovation estimates it will require another two years of development before production can start.

The GXE will rely on the current C7 Corvette Grand Sport as its donor but will feature some unique visual treatments to ensure it stands out. Youll notice the revised front bumper and round taillights. Genovation says it chose the Corvette as the donor due to its lightweight frame but also as a nod to American engineering.

More auto news from Motor Authority

The company plans to build just 75 GXEs in total, each priced from $750,000. Thats certainly steep but theres currently no electric car offering performance that comes close to what the GXE offers. Power comes from two electric motors each delivering 660 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. Theyre positioned at either end of the car to create a 50:50 weight distribution, and uniquely they send their drive to the rear wheels only.

Genovation isnt providing details on the battery but said owners can expect 130 miles of range in normal driving. Genovation is also yet to provide us with performance numbers but its prototype was clocked hitting a top speed of 205.6 mph.

With the money raised from sales of the GXE, Genovation plans to develop a more affordable, Audi TT-like electric sports car dubbed the G2.

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Obama: The Feds Must Guarantee Self-Driving Cars Work for Everybody

President Obama hasn’t spent much time behind the wheel lately, and he expects more Americans to enjoy the same privilege before long. As autonomous vehicles make their way into society, he says, the federal government must ensure everyone shares in the benefits of this emergingtechnology.

“The technology is essentially here,” Obama, the guest editor of WIRED’s November issue, says in a lengthy interview with Editor-in-Chief Scott Dadich and Joi Ito, director of MIT’s Media Lab.

Ford promises a fleet of autonomous vehicles by 2021. GM and BMW are chasing a similar date. Lyft says the majority of its rides will be in self-driving cars in five years. Uber launched the country’s first autonomous taxi service in Pittsburgh last month. And Google’s robo-cars have racked up 2 million miles of driving on public roads.

Autonomous vehiclespromise enormous benefits. Car crashes kill more than 30,000 Americans and 1.25 million people globally eachyear. Some 94 percent of those collisions stem fromhuman error. Self-driving cars won’t get drunk, angry, or tired. They aren’t distracted by phones. They won’t endlessly circle the block looking for parking.

“We have machines that can make a bunch of quick decisions that could drastically reduce traffic fatalities, drastically improve the efficiency of our transportation grid, and help solve things like carbon emissions that are causing the warming of the planet,” Obama says.

Still, it’s unclear how federal, state, and local regulators will policethe machinesandensure the underlying technology issafe. Obama points to the “trolley problem,” the idea that if an autonomous vehicle must choose between killing one person and killing manypeople, it bases that decision on software written by humans.“It’s a moral decision,” Obama says. “And who’s setting up those rules?”As cars use deep learning to teach themselves to drive—and thus whom to kill—such questions get stickier.

The answer, so far, is the government, but with a lighter touch than usual. In September, US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx outlinedhow the feds plan to deal with autonomous vehicles. The DOT promisesto consider automakers’ views, and to remainflexible because the technology is so new.

“The way Ive been thinking about the regulatory structure as AI emerges is that, early ina technology, a thousand flowers should bloom,” the president says.

Still, he doesn’t advocate a completely laissez fleurs approach. As the technology matures, the government should ensure robo-cars don’t benefit some at the expense of others, he says. “Otherwise, we may find that it’s disadvantaging certain people or certain groups.”Those disparities could emergeas restricted access to safer and cheaper transportation for some, and as job losses for others. More than four million Americans earna living driving. Some of those jobs will be replaced.Many won’t.

“Historically weve absorbed new technologies, and people find that new jobs are created, they migrate, and our standards of living generally go up,” Obama says. But self-driving cars, and artificial intelligence as a whole, will affect more people than perhaps any preceding technology.

And there, the president calls for change beyond regulation. “The social compact has to accommodate these new technologies,” he says, “and our economic models have to accommodate them.”

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A $20 Million Aston Martin Tops the Auction List at Pebble Beach

If you’re a true vintage-car obsessive, this could be your year.

Official estimates for the Pebble Beach auctions this week have set sales totals at $290 million, down 14 percent since 2016. It’s the third consecutive drop since a record $403 million in 2014.

Not only are classic vehicles taking longer to sell in general, according to early reports by Hagerty Insurance, it’s more difficult to find highly desirable cars in the first place. Over the past 12 months, auction sell-through rates for vehicles worth more than $250,000 has fallen 8.5 percent, to a five-year low.

Though the soft market might make it more difficult for speculators and pure investors to find what they want, it’s a boon for real enthusiasts.

“It’s a much more selective market right now,” said David Brynan, senior specialist for Gooding & Co. “Over the past few years, for really exceptional cars, the sales are really strong in any price category. People are paying for quality.”

Pretty Young Things

An attendee places a bid for a 1972 Ferrari SpA 365 GTB/4 Daytona vehicle during the Gooding & Co. auction at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in Carmel, Calif.
Photographer: David Paul Morris

The auctions will begin on Friday in Carmel, Calif., surrounding the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, which takes place on Sunday. Million-dollar Ferraris and racing Porsches will line up on the golf club’s 18th fairway opposite classic Jaguars, Rolls-Royces, and Aston Martins. The annual show draws wealthy car-lovers to the Monterey Peninsula from all over the world—often, people attending the concours on Sunday have just purchased an expensive collectible Saturday night. 

While multimillion-dollar cars such as Steve McQueen’s blue-and-orange 1970 Porsche 917K will dominate the headlines, the key spot to watch this weekend is that of a group of vehicles valued at less than $100,000: Ford Broncos from the 1970s, Chevrolet 3100 trucks from the 1950s, and the odd BMW 2002 or two.

“That group is booming,” says Jonathan Klinger, spokesman for insurer Hagerty. “That is where you’re seeing older millennials (35 years or so) get in for the first time, so from that standpoint the market is healthy. It’s not the same [older, moneyed] people churning over the same cars.”

Elsewhere, the 1954-1965 Alfa Romeo Giulietta and 1957-1970 Lancia Flaminia have increased in value over the last year, with little sign of slowing down. Likewise, the late 1980s BMW M6 and early ‘70s BMW 3.0CSL have heated up as the interest in older Porsche models has cooled. (Tellingly, the generation of 1999-2005 Porsche 911 was the only one skipped over in the 2012–2015 boom in Porsche popularity and remains strongly desired, according to Hagerty data.)

And, at last, two 1989-1994 Nissan Skylines will be offered this week. They’re expected to sell well because the strict 25-year import rule banning them in the U.S., leading to pent-up demand, has now lifted

The Necessary Soft Landing

Photographer: Tim Scott ©2017 Courtesy of RM

The downshift in overall sales isn’t for lack of funds among buyers. It’s more closely related to the fact that, without a few double-digit-million-dollar cars on offer, the overall sum will be lower. This year in Monterey, for example, 94 cars are valued at more than $1 million, down from 104. Just five cars are valued above $10 million, half last year’s figure.

The decrease comes because classic cars of this caliber are a finite resource. The market topped out in 2014, when many high-profile, high-priced cars—a 1964 Ferrari GTB/C Speciale, say—finally came out of long-term ownership and were sold. Renewed in long-term ownership, they may not return to market for at least a decade.

“The sky is not falling,” says Jonathan Klinger, the spokesman for Hagerty. “This is just a wait-and-see market favoring buyers versus sellers. And from an economic standpoint, there are a lot of people who are fairly optimistic about buying. Just look at the stock market.”

Balance their absence with the relative strength of the euro versus the dollar and the fact that this year, pure investors and speculators have other, potentially more lucrative, places to put their money: real estate, energy, commodities. It all leads to the generally cooler numbers this year.

Klinger calls it a “soft landing” from 2014.

“It goes along with what the rest of the market is right now,” he says. “We are basically back to 2013 levels, and as we had been saying at that time, this is what we needed to happen.”

If the buying momentum had continued rising after 2014, it would have become unsustainable, he says. “If it is a market driven by speculators, then you start to worry. And that’s not the case here.”

Potential Top Sellers

Attendees look at cars to be sold during the Gooding & Co. auction at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
Photographer: David Paul Morris

Not that there won’t be primo cars for sale in Carmel—by a long shot.

Although only five cars are listed for more than $10 million across the Gooding, Bonhams, Sothebys, Mecum, Russo and Steele, and Worldwide Auctioneer sales—last year, Gooding alone had four cars take more than $10 million apiece—Hagerty predicts that the top-10 expected big sellers will each take more than $5 million. And that’s just fine, auctioneers say.

“We are better off having fewer cars, or less valuable ones, without having unrealistic expectations that would hurt things,” says Gord Duff, the global head of auctions for RM Sothebys.

Three of those top 10 are from perennial blue-chip-favorite Ferrari, but a 1956 Aston Martin DBR1, offered by RM Sotheby’s, is expected to fetch $20 million and leads the group. The car is special because it was the first of five DBR1 made and won Aston Martin the 1959 title at Le Mans. That was the same year it won the 1,000-kilometer contest of Nuerburgring, Germany, piloted by the successful racing champion Stirling Moss.

“We are very bullish going into Monterey,” Duff says. “Will the numbers be down this year compared to previous years? Yes, they will. The value of a few key cars we had last year, we just don’t have this year. But we do have that $20 million Aston.”

All told, Sothebys will offer 10 Aston Martins, 18 Porsches, and 29 Ferraris over the course of the weekend. Gooding will offer 27 Porsches and 26 Ferraris. A full 12 percent of all marques offered this year among all auction houses are Ferraris this year, the largest percentage of any brand. It’s the first time in 10 years Ferrari has been the most common brand sold.

So if you love Ferrari—and who doesn’t?—this could be your year, too.

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    Experts tell sex in self-driving automobiles is inevitable

    When vehicles make it possible to go hands-free, experts tell we might be going more hands-on. Self-driving vehicles will eventually reach the streets in droves, and many automobiles now on the road have semi-autonomous functionality. Letting autoes drive themselves frees up drivers to do other thingslike eat breakfast, put one over mascara, and yes, even have sex.

    Already drivers are exploiting self-driving auto features. In October, three men drove a Tesla Model S P8 5D from California to New York in only 57 hours and 48 minutes, with Tesla’s autopilot feature on for 96 percentage of the drive. And one driver filmed his Tesla driving on autopilot from the back seat of the vehicle.

    Barrie Kirk, cofounder of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence, says more sex in vehicles is just a natural progression of human behavior.

    As self-driving vehicles become more popular and features like autopilot are implemented, behaviours people engage in that are potentially unsafe or distracting will increase because of their comfort level with the technology.

    “Its human nature, ” Kirk said in an interview. “Once people get really comfortable with the technology and youve got two people in close proximity to each other, and one is supposed to be watching whats happening and being ready to take over the driving if it is necessary, but if these people engage in sexuality, which will happen more than it does now … that does compromise the persons ability to take over if the working group an emergency and the computer says to take over.”

    But these distractions can prove dangerous, especially during what Kirk refers to as “phase one” of autonomous vehicle growth, when human drivers are still required.

    Tesla’s autopilot safety features note there should be a human being behind the wheel at all times to take over in case something is wrong with you, and Volvo’s semi-autonomous vehicles augment the driving experience, adding automated driving features that still require a driver to control.

    Distracted driving is an issue autonomous vehicles hope to solve. According to Volvo’s chief executive Hkan Samuelsson, driverless automobiles will decrease car collisions by 80 percentage by 2035. Currently, one in four collisions are caused by people utilizing mobile devices, including teens who take selfies with Snapchat’s speed filter.

    “Having sexuality in a driverless vehicle seems like a pretty wacky concern, but its actually good foresight by Barrie Kirk. After all, much of the reason automobile companies and governments are so hopeful about driverless vehicles is because distracted driving has built car travelling so dangerous in the first place, ” Paul Mackie, communications director at the transportation research organisation Mobility Lab, said in an email. “Once driverless vehicles are fully on the roads, there is no doubt many, many lives will be saved. And if that means more texting, sleep, and having sexuality in those vehicles as they move down the highway, well, we as a society will be much better for it.

    Increased sex in cars seems like a quirky outcome of the rise of autonomous vehicles, though fans of the 1996 movie Crash may have totally seen this coming. It’s just one more activity we’ll be able to engage in while computers pay attention to the road.

    Personally, I was skeptical of Kirk’s initial claims, so I decided to run my own informal poll. Eighty-one percent of respondents to my Twitter poll said they would have sex while riding in a driverless car.

    We can’t rely on computers to drive us around yet, so until vehicles are fully-autonomous and don’t come with a disclaimer that human drivers are still needed, sex, and any other activity, can be dangerous to engage in. Ultimately, though, such activities will be commonplace, and Kirk even predicts retailers will begin selling “car curtains” to hide what’s going on in the back seat.

    “These autoes will have enough artificial intelligence to deal with any and every contingency, ” Kirk said. “In fact, some of the concept cars are already out there have the front seats turned around so occupants can face each other. You can talk, have a meal, or you can have sex. Those autoes are being designed with a whole different lifestyle inside the vehicle.”

    For now, don’t bang in your Tesla while it’s on autopilot, as your steering wheel still needs your full attention. But soon, it may be totally chill to partake in lascivious commuting, once our automobiles have full control of every possible action.

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    ‘Solo’ is a serviceable Star Wars story

    In the trailer for Solo

    For those with even a passing familiarity with the Star Wars universe, it’s about as low stakes as cliffhangers get. Chewbacca will be fine. He’s made it to 190, and by all accounts, he survives well into the sequel trilogy, several cinematic decades later. It’s a bit silly, as far as these things go, but it also just might be the perfect setup for the film.

    Solo is, by its very nature, low stakes. The fate of the galaxy is never at play, nor are the destinies of any of its familiar faces. In many ways, it’s a slight film, so far as the grandiosity of epic space operas are concerned, and for the most part, its filmmakers seem perfectly content to operate within those parameters.

    Fans of the franchise were understandably skeptical in the lead up to release. It never bodes particularly well when a film’s directors are fired so late in the game. And while we may never get a straight answer as to why Chris Miller and Phil Lord were unceremoniously dumped by Disney toward the end of filming, rest assured that the unamicable parting of ways between the two sides is never peeks through the film’s shiny veneer.

    If you should ever find yourself in charge of a major film studio, looking to deliver the latest entry in the world’s premier film franchise on time and in one piece, you can do a heck of a lot worse than Ron Howard. The man behind Apollo 13 and those Dan Brown movies is Hollywood’s leading auteur when it comes to delivering a film right down the middle of the road. 

    However you might have ultimately felt about The Last Jedi, the movie was downright giddy in its attempts to subvert the series’ tropes. Solo, on the other hand, revels in them — at least as much as a film can that isn’t directly tied to the Skywalker saga and the never-ending tug of war between Jedi and Sith.

    Like The Phantom Menace before it, the anthology entry is downright obsessed with tracing the origins of every available nook and cranny of the original trilogy. But where the prequels had a much larger mythology to explore, Han’s story is decidedly more narrow. As such, the film is content to offer the origins of elements you almost certainly never wondered about.

    Why, for example, does Solo call Chewbacca “Chewie?” Or how about the fact that Lando pronounces “Han” differently that practically everyone else in the series? All of these questions, and more, are answered. If Solo winked at the camera any more, it would be flying with its eyes closed.

    But Howard and a capable cast weave those elements into a largely enjoyable experience. In an era of blockbusters with ensemble casts 100 actors deep, Solo feels lean. It’s one part western and one part heist film, never requiring you to think too hard, instead just letting the film wash over you. In those moments when planned courses of action do get complex, however, never fear — there’s bound to be someone on screen explaining their plan.

    Alden Ehrenreich is capable in the unenviable role of filling Harrison Ford’s massive shoes. Like the film itself, the actor plays it down the middle. He’s charming, but not overly so, and while Solo falls into some of the Episode I traps of excessive exposition, his Han is almost instantly more fleshed out than the young Anakin. From the opening scenes, which play like a cross between Oliver Twist and Blade Runner, it’s clear that Han Solo came into this world fully formed.

    Donald Glover, for his part, clearly revels in the role of Lando Calrissian — a character like Solo himself, that is seemingly inextricable from its originating actor. But there’s a overwhelming joy in watching him inhabit the role it seems he’s been waiting his entire life to play — a force of chaotic-good cloaked in a velvet cape and goatee.

    Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s L3-37, however, is undoubtedly the film’s breakout character. The bipedal droid presents a moral center of a kind in a film without otherwise populated by ethically ambiguous characters. A strong-willed crusader for robotic rights, L3-37 is easily the film’s most entertaining addition to the canon, as well as a sly thumb in the eye of fanboys who have turned their backs on a more inclusive Star Wars universe.

    Droid aside, however, those concerned that the most recent films has strayed too far from the films of their youth will find plenty to like in Solo. It’s a perfectly middle of the road adventure that’s unlikely to end up at either the top or bottom of anyone’s list of Star Wars films.

    To paraphrase Han, “I’ve got a perfectly okay feeling about this.”

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    DC sniper Lee Boyd Malvo’s life sentence thrown out

    A federal district court magistrate has overruled the sentence of Lee Boyd Malvo, one of the two people convicted in D.C.-area Beltway sniper assaults nearly 15 years ago, according to a ruling released Friday.

    Malvo was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the sniper-style attacks perpetrated around the region in October 2002 along with John Allen Muhammad. Ten people were killed and three others were shot during a three-week period.

    Malvo appealed to the court saying he should not have been sentenced to life without parole because he was 17 years old at the time of the murders and he based his appeal on the Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. Alabama.

    The decision in the Supreme Court case ruled adolescents are constitutionally different from adults for the purposes of sentencing “because adolescents have diminished culpability and greater prospects for reform, ” which makes them “less deserving of the most severe punishments.” Judge Raymond Jackson agreed and ordered the overrule of the sentence.


    Malvo was convicted in one trial in Virginia and entered an Alford plea in another. He had previously filed two motions for writs of habeas corpus that failed.

    Malvo’s case has been remanded back to Spotsylvania County Circuit Court to issue a new sentence.

    Muhammad and Malvo utilized a rifle to shoot over a dozen people from a modified trunk of a Chevrolet Caprice in random attacks in Maryland, Virginia and D.C.

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    Apple reports slowdown in iPhone marketings and first revenue decline in 13 years

    Apple shares fell on Tuesday afternoon after the company reported a nearly 13% fall in quarterly marketings, the first time revenue at the worlds most valuable publicly traded company has declined in 13 years.

    As of publication time, shares were down more than 7% without appearing to hit bottom. Revenue was predicted by Apple itself to fall between $50 bn and $53 bn it came in on the low objective of that scope, with a final tally of $50.6 bn, a 13% drop.

    Apple said the deterioration would continue, predicting revenue between $41 bn and $43 bn for the June quarter.

    The company had warned investors to brace for impact. The iPhone accounts for virtually 2/3 of Apples revenue and the company sold 16% fewer iPhones than it had during the same period in 2015 and constructed 18% less fund from them. The total tally for the device was $32.9 bn from 51.2 m phones sold the year previous Apple brought in $40.3 bn from 61.2 m phones.

    Despite the pause in our growth, our results reflect excellent execution by our squad despite strong macroeconomic headwinds in most of the world, told Tim Cook, Apples CEO.

    Much of the falloff was attributable to the struggling Chinese economy. The nations consumer technology sector is in flux, as is the yuan. Still the second-largest market in the world for Apple products behind the US, the Chinese segment of Apples dismal report declined by more than a quarter of its value. The business built $18.4 bn in China in the second one-quarter of 2015; in the previous three months it made $12.5 bn.

    Annette Zimmerman, research director at tech research and advisory company Gartner wrote last month that the problem was not Apples alone, pointing out that the entry price of a smartphone in the developing world was still a roadblock, even among very inexpensive devices.

    Vendors were not able to reduce the price of a good enough to use smartphone lower than $50, Gartner wrote.

    Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke of strong macroeconomic headwinds but still said the future is bright. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images

    Earnings were released around 4.25 pm EST, when Apple shares hovered around $104 a share. Half an hour subsequently, the stock price had declined 7.8% to under $97 and falling.

    Despite, the sales lessening and alerting about its growth, Cook said the future of Apple is very bright and promised that the company has some amazing inventions in the pipeline. One of those new products should be the iPhone 7, which, based on rumors from Apples supply chain, could have a new various kinds of headphone port, be dust-proof and waterproof and may even have a altogether redesigned home button.

    It is the first time Apples marketings have fallen since 2003. Back then, the iPhone didnt exist. Apple was still selling Power Mac computers and had sold only 600,000 iPods. It was the year iTunes was launched, which revolutionized the music business.

    The iPhone came out in 2007, followed by the iPad, and both were constantly updated with new, much-anticipated iterations which sold in their hundreds of millions around the world, sending the companys marketings to ever higher levels.

    A year ago Apple sold $58 bn of gadgets – or virtually $650 m a day – in the first three months of the year. Two one-thirds of that revenue came from iPhones and sales were powered by the new iPhone 6.

    Apples chief financial officer Luca Maestri said it was difficult for the company to match sales it achieved with the launch of the new larger version. The iPhone 6 is an anomaly, and so it creates a so difficult comparing for us, he said.

    Questions are being asked about whether 2015 will turn out to have been the year of peak iPhone.

    Some analysts believe the sales reverse is because of the soaraway success of the iPhone 6, and its bigger stable mate the 6 Plus.

    With screens measuring 4.7 and 5.5 inches, the two phones, launched in September 2014, were the largest the company had ever released. The 6 Plus was Apples first foray into the world of so-called phablets: hybrid devices, smaller than a tablet but larger than a conventional smartphone, which had proved especially popular in Asian markets.

    They were a huge success, with the two models selling four million in their first 24 hours. Last September Apple pushed the bar even higher, with the launching of the iPhone 6S. But keeping up the pace of sales was always going to be a big ask.

    The phenomenally successful iPhone 6: will 2015 have been the year of peak iPhone? Photo: Michaela Rehle/ Reuters

    Cook devoted the the first hints of a downturn back in January. He blamed the phenomenal success of the initial iPhone 6, which has been so popular it sold out, forcing some customers to delay their purchases. That artificially boosted marketings in the next quarter, attaining it harder to keep on transgressing records.

    Morningstar analyst Brian Colello, however, reckons the latest iPhone just isnt very exciting. Fewer customers had incentive to trade up for the latest iPhone this year if they bought an iPhone 6 simply over a year ago.

    Apple has been the master of invention, but real innovation is now proving tough. The Apple Watch, its first new product without co-founder Steve Jobs at the helm, has been underwhelming. Apple wont release marketings figures for the device, instead lumping it together with the Apple TV, iPod, and accessories. Combined, that entire category is less than a tenth the size of the iPhone.

    Analyst John Kirk, of Techpinions, told: Those impatient for Apple to reinvent the world on an annual basis simply ignore the reality that iteration on existing tech products is the norm and significant change is the rare exception.

    But Apple does have big projects underway. Its probably the worst-kept secret in Silicon Valley that the company is working on an electric car, poaching engineers from Tesla and scouting for test locations in California. And its also been hiring technologists and filing patents that also indicate its working on a virtual reality device of some sort.

    In the meantime it is still piling up money. It now has a money mountain of $233 bn; more than all the foreign currency reversals across the world and more than the Czech Republic, Peru and New Zealand make in gross national product( GDP) a year.

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