An unlikely naysayer has emerged as Tesla Inc.prepares to market the all-important Model 3 sedan to consumers: Elon Musk himself.
Two months before the electric-car maker plans to begin production of its first vehicle to sell for near mass-market prices, the chief executive officer told investors he’s concerned expectations are excessive. Tesla will be “anti-selling” the Model 3, offering no test drives or advertising for six to nine months, he said after reporting a first-quarter loss.
” We’re doing our best to clear up that embarrassment so people do not think that Model 3 is somehow superior to Model S ,” Musk, 45, said on a conference call Wednesday.” Model S will be better than Model 3, as it should be because it’s a more expensive car .”
The Model 3 is the linchpin in Musk’s plan to bring electric cars to the mainstream. Tesla is targeting output of a million autoes per year by 2020, a sharp rise from the roughly 84,000 the company produced in 2016. Reaching that ambitious targets will require ample sales of lower-priced vehicles like the Model 3 rather than the pricey luxury automobiles it’s offered so far.
Tesla fell the most intraday in more than two months and was down 4.6 percentage to $297.77 as of 10: 30 a.m. in New York trading. The Palo Alto, California-based company reported a quarterly loss, omitting some items, of $1.33 a share on Wednesday. Analysts had estimated a deficit of 82 cents a share.
Slated to start at about $35,000 before options or incentives, the Model 3 will be capable of driving approximately 215 miles between charges. The cheapest version of the Model S starts at around $70,000.
Model 3 will have less scope, acceleration, power and room than the Model S. But because the “3” moniker conjures the impression of a next generation to buyers used to upgrades — suppose Apple Inc .‘s iPhones — some existing clients erroneously believe the Model 3 will be a step up.
Tesla has ensure some impact on Model S orders as a result of the misunderstanding, according to Musk. While the company began to take action to correct this about a month ago,” that message has not filtered down to all of our customers .”
Musk’s comments and Tesla’s report of an virtually $50 million drop in client deposits” might indicate an Osborne effect in S/ X orders ,” Brian Johnson, an analyst at Barclays Plc, wrote in a note to clients, referring to the unintended outcome of announcing a future product.
Tesla first unveiled the Model 3 in March 2016 during a late-night party at the company’s design studio near Los Angeles. Thousands of fans stood in lengthy lines at Tesla stores to place $1,000 deposits for the vehicle. Musk hasn’t given an updated reservation count since the carmaker said it had taken about 373,000 as of May 2016.
The ” anti-sell ” strategy hasn’t had an effect on that number, according to the CEO.
” Our net reservations continues to climb week after week ,” he said.” No advertising. Anti-selling. Nothing to test drive. Still grows every week .”
SAN FRANCISCO Uber’s self-driving cars will continue to ply the streets of San Francisco despite growing threats of legal action by state officials if the company refuses to obtain proper permits.
Uber plans to defy the California Department of Motor Vehicles demand that it seek autonomous vehicle permits, because company executive Anthony Levandowski said Friday that the cars are not truly driverless and therefore not subject to the regulations.
“It’s hard to understand why the DMV would seek to require self-driving Ubers to get permits when it accepts that Tesla’s autopilot technology does not need them,” Levandowski said on a conference call with reporters. “We asked for clarification as to specifically what is different about our tech from the DMV, but have not received it.’
The state attorney general’s office responded with its own threat against the tech giant on Friday, saying the office will intervene if Uber fails to obey the regulations.
“If Uber cannot advise the undersigned that it will immediately remove its self-driving vehicles from California roadways, until it obtains the appropriate permit, as 20 other companies have done, the Attorney General will seek injunctive and other appropriate relief,” wrote Miguel Neri and Fiel Tigno, both supervising deputy attorneys general, in a letter to Levandowski.
A small fleet of Volvo SUVs and Ford Fusions using a form of autopilot began transporting passengers around the city on Wednesday, but there was always a human in the driver’s seat able to retake control, the company has said.
The DMV sent a threatening letter the same day to Uber warning the company that it was not in compliance.
“If Uber does not confirm immediately that it will stop its launch and seek a testing permit, DMV will initiate legal action,” the DMV’s letter to Uber reportedly said.
Uber compared its auto-driving technology to what’s found in Tesla’s luxury cars — yet Tesla is one of 20 automakers and other companies who have acquired permits from the DMV to experiment with driverless features.
Mayor Ed Lee on Thursday also ordered Uber to remove its self-driving cars.
As it has rapidly expanded, Uber has been unafraid to clash with city officials, such as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and other regulators who have tried forcing the company to accept standards similar to those imposed on taxi and limousine operators.
Bill Ford and his board needed an answer, and they needed it now: How was Mark Fields going to turn around Ford Motor Co.?
The answer: he wasn’t.
That was the sobering conclusion after a series of extraordinary meetings this month culminated Monday with an abrupt exit by Fields, whose nearly three-year tenure as chief executive left Ford struggling to keep pace with new technologies like self-driving cars and the relentless pressure from Wall Street to deliver profits now amid a slowing U.S. auto market.
It’s a stunning turnabout for Fields, a Ford insider who rose to the top only to lose the confidence of the board and investors over what has become one of the most pressing issues in the auto industry: how to navigate a new era of electrified, connected and self-driving cars. Even praising tweets from President Donald Trump over Ford’s plans to keep jobs at home weren’t enough to deflect mounting criticism.
Replacing the embattled CEO will be Jim Hackett, a turnaround specialist who’s been leading Ford’s moves related to self-driving cars and ride sharing. His ascendancy was swift: Ford’s board huddled Friday, with Fields agreeing to resign in a meeting with Bill Ford afterward.
“We need to speed up our decision-making, we need to invest our capital where we can create value, and we have to move decisively to address underperforming areas,” Bill Ford told reporters during a press conference Monday.
Fields’s demise had been brewing for about six weeks, as the CEO oversaw a company drifting with regards to operational issues like quality, morale and profits, all while lavishing ever more attention on the high-tech needs of tomorrow, said a person familiar with the internal deliberations.
Fields and Bill Ford also grew apart as the CEO encroached on what was once the executive chairman’s domain: mapping out the future of mobility in a changing world, said the person, who asked not to be identified without the authorization to speak publicly. Ultimately, failing to take care of business today cost Fields his future at Ford.
Hackett, 62, made an impact on the great grandson of founder Henry Ford during a visit to Silicon Valley last February. Bill Ford says executives there greeted Hackett, the former CEO of office-furniture maker Steelcase Inc., with hugs.
“A number of them said to me, my gosh, he’s one of the real original thinkers that we know and you guys are really lucky to have him,” Bill Ford told reporters. “To see Jim not only navigate that so well, but to be held in such high regard, it made an impression on me.”
Ford shares climbed 1.7 percent to $11.06 as of 1:07 p.m. in New York and rose earlier as much as 2.4 percent, the biggest intraday jump in a month. The stock had dropped 10 percent through the close Friday, trailing the gain for the benchmark S&P 500 Index.
Hackett joined Ford’s board in 2013 and in March of last year was appointed chairman of Ford Smart Mobility, the unit formed to accelerate the company’s foray into emerging mobility services. He was CEO of Steelcase from 1994 to 2014.
There are a number of holes in Ford’s U.S. lineup that are indicative of the second-largest U.S. automaker’s need to make faster moves. With sport utility vehicles and truck models in greater demand in the U.S., the company didn’t announce until January that it would revive the Ranger mid-size pickup and Bronco SUV models. Dealers will have to wait until 2020 for both to be in the lineup.
Ford’s profits have been suffering relative to GM’s because the company hasn’t invested as much in larger SUVs, said Eric Noble, president of the CarLab, a consulting firm in Orange, California. GM dominates the market with models including the Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban.
“They have given up tremendous market share almost exclusively to GM,” said Noble, who estimates GM makes about $20,000 apiece in profit on its big SUVs. Ford’s “neglect” of the Expedition and Navigator is “almost unforgivable at a time when SUVs are selling so well.”
Ford’s target for putting fully autonomous cars on the road also are a ways out. The company is targeting 2021 for when it’ll deploy a fully self-driving vehicle lacking steering wheels, gas or brake pedals into a ride-hailing or sharing service.
“They are throwing a lot of things at the wall,” Joe Spak, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, wrote of Ford in a report Monday. “They are doing a lot. Some of it may be smart. But the overall communication hasn’t been great. A simpler message may be needed.”
Mark Truby, who’s been overseeing Ford’s communications in Asia, will take over the department and succeed Ray Day, who plans to retire from the company next year.
Fields came under pressure from Ford’s board this month ahead of an annual shareholder meeting, where investors excoriated management for a poorly performing stock price. Ford shares fell 37 percent during Fields’s almost three-year tenure, dropping the company’s market capitalization to below Tesla Inc. The automaker announced a salaried-worker buyout program last week to show it was moving to cut costs.
In addition to changing CEOs, Ford also will shuffle the direct reports beneath Hackett. Europe chief Jim Farley is adding responsibility for the Americas and Asia Pacific regions and overseeing the Lincoln luxury brand.
Joe Hinrichs, who had been leading the Americas, has been appointed president of global operations and will oversee areas including product development, manufacturing, labor, quality, purchasing and sustainability. Marcy Klevorn will take over Ford Smart Mobility after serving as chief information officer since January.
At Grand Rapids, Michigan-based office furniture maker Steelcase, Hackett was recognized for predicting the office landscape would shift away from cubicles to an open-space environment and transformed the traditional manufacturer of office furniture.
He led a major reorganization that involved deep cuts in Steelcase’s workforce, including personally dismissing the best man from his wedding, according to Automotive News. After Steelcase, Hackett served as interim athletic director of the University of Michigan at a time of turmoil and hired head coach Jim Harbaugh to return the football team to its winning ways.
While leading an overhaul of Ford’s business model to take on self-driving cars from the likes of Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo and Uber Technologies Inc, Fields warned the cost of investing in new technologies would reduce profits last year and this year before rebounding in 2018.
Ford’s first-quarter adjusted earnings fell 42 percent, while GM appears on pace for another record annual profit. Net income at Ford plunged 38 percent last year.
“While it may be too late this cycle to stop the slide in Ford’s earnings, we don’t think it’s too late to recast strategy and reposition the firm for the next decade,” Adam Jonas, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, wrote in a report Monday.
After almost a decade of research, Google's autonomous car project is close to becoming a real service.
Now known as Waymo, the Alphabet Inc. self-driving car unit is letting residents of Phoenix sign up to use its vehicles, a major step toward commercializing a technology that could one day upend transportation.
For the service, Waymo is adding 500 customized Chrysler Pacifica minivans to its fleet. Waymo has already tested these vehicles, plus other makes and models, on public roads, but only with its employees and contractors inside. By opening the doors to the general public with a larger fleet, the company will get data on how people experience and use self-driving cars — and clues on ways to generate revenue from the technology.
"We're at the point when it's really important to find how real people, outside the Google environment, will use this technology," said John Krafcik, Waymo's chief executive officer. "Our goal is that they will use this for all their transportation needs."
Waymo is letting people across parts of the Phoenix metropolitan area apply for the service as part of an "early rider program." Initial users will be able to book Waymo's minivans using an app, but won't have to pay. Dollars will flow eventually, Krafcik said, yet he declined to share details. The company is signing up hundreds of people with diverse backgrounds and transportation needs.
Google is a pioneer in autonomous cars, launching its research program in 2009. After mostly ignoring the project for several years, the auto industry has recently rushed to catch up, pumping billions of dollars into similar technology and engineering talent. A bevy of newcomers have joined too, including some founded by former Waymo engineers, making the field incredibly competitive before anyone has made money.
"We expect today’s announcement to be just one of a series of technological, strategic and commercial initiatives by Alphabet to position Waymo as a strong competitor to established ride sharing firms," Adam Jonas and other analysts at Morgan Stanley wrote in a note to investors on Tuesday.
Uber Technologies Inc. has emerged as a particularly bitter rival. Last year, autonomous vehicles run by the ride-hailing giant began picking up paying customers in Pittsburgh. Earlier this year, it started doing the same in Tempe, a town in the eastern part of the Phoenix metro area. (Waymo is currently suing Uber over the technology.) Yet Waymo insists its business model will be broader than Uber's.
"Yes, self-driving technology makes sense for ride-sharing," said Krafcik, a former executive at Hyundai Motor Co.'s U.S. operations and Ford Motor Co. "It also makes sense for personal car ownership." Transportation to and from transit hubs and logistics also made his list. In Phoenix, Krafcik said participants will use the autonomous minivan fleet every day, at any time, to go anywhere within an area twice the size of San Francisco.
Last year, Waymo inked a deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV for 100 Pacifica vans outfitted with Waymo's software and tailored hardware. Waymo added the fleet to the to 70 other cars it is testing in California, Texas, Washington and Arizona, which it entered in 2016. Since Google started its program, those vehicles have racked up nearly 3 million test miles on public roads, primarily to refine the autonomous software and ensure the system could handle rare but potentially dangerous edge cases.
Waymo has faced criticism for not launching a commercial service sooner. This was especially true last year when it lost several top engineers, and Uber launched its limited test service. Krafcik has often responded by pointing to safety concerns and technical obstacles to deploying fully driverless cars.
The Phoenix service answers some of these concerns. It's a clear move beyond the research phase that focuses on passenger experience and business model development. Waymo's staff has worked on new displays and controls to get people comfortable being inside self-driving cars. The Phoenix passengers will be the first to see these tools in action.
"This move is likely meant to make up for Alphabet’s significant disadvantages in automated vehicle miles/data harvesting," the Morgan Stanley analysts wrote. "The quest for dominance (or relevance?) in autonomous cars hinges upon harvesting and analyzing hundreds of billions of miles of real-world driving."
Waymo's almost 3 million miles are high quality, but the quantity pales in comparison to Uber with more than 100 million total miles per day, Tesla Inc.’s electric fleet at over 5 million miles per day, and Toyota Motor Corp.’s global vehicle fleet, which covers about 2.7 billion miles a day, they noted.
Waymo is still moving cautiously. Chosen users for the Phoenix service will sit in passenger seats, and Waymo will put contractor or employee testers in the driver seat — although Krafcik said the goal is to remove them eventually.
The company has quietly been testing the service with a handful of Phoenix residents for two months. From those trials, he noted one behavior trait when no one has to drive. "People have a better opportunity to bond and connect inside the vehicle," he said.
Ford Motor Co. investors, unlike the Tesla Inc. faithful, don’t pay much attention to production numbers. If they did, they’d be particularly pleased with the factory in Louisville, which has recently been cranking out about 1,100 Ford Escape SUVs every day, more than any other model from a single North American plant.
Tesla’s ongoing struggle to meet its own production targets comes into stark relief when one takes a glance around the rest of the auto industry. The numbers that Tesla is stretching for, upon which the fate of the company hang and Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk is personally cheerleading his workers to hit, are relatively modest. Despite all the sturm and drang, the bar is low.
According to monthly production reports compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence, current Model 3 production is roughly on pace with the Dodge Journey crossover, a drab workhorse of rental car stables. Ford is making far more of its Transit vans, and customers don’t have to languish on a waiting list for one of those. On a ranking of vehicle models produced at a single North America facility, Tesla’s coveted Model 3 would finish about 70th.
“The market is realizing maybe GM and Ford aren’t a bunch of idiots,” said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Kevin Tynan. “Maybe this stuff is really hard.” Ford, he noted, is particularly good at making cars because it’s been doing so—by laboring over which worker stands where—for 115 years.
Tesla is also paying a lot of people to be so inefficient. The most productive assembly plant in North America at the moment, Nissan Motor Co.’s factory in Smyrna, Tenn., has about 8,000 workers turning out roughly 1,700 vehicles per day—that’s about 5 workers per vehicle. Honda Motor Co.’s plant in Alliston, Ont., gets even more bang for its buck: almost 1,200 vehicles a day from 4,200 workers—roughly 3.5 people per car.
Using about 10,000 workers in the last week of March, Tesla cranked out 2,020 Model 3s at its Freemont, Calif., plant. That’s 289 vehicles per day, or 35 employees for every Model 3 coming off the line.
Making a car, of course, requires a lot more than warm bodies. Managing supply chains and workflow is even more critical. The Bayerische Motoren Werke AG complex in Spartanburg, S.C., works with 235 different suppliers, and four out of five cars it screws together receive some level of specified customization. Tesla’s new machine, in comparison, comes in just three trims.
Achieving such precision takes time and practice. Automakers usually go through a preproduction process that can take up to nine months. During this time, engineers calibrate the massive sentient robots’ arms to get the body panels fitting tightly and figure out the minutia that make the difference between an assembly line running smoothly and stopping frequently. Every detail is studied from where the fenders should be stacked to how many bolts should be piled in a rolling tray that accompanies a vehicle down the assembly line.
In its haste to produce the Model 3, Tesla skipped this page of the traditional automaker’s playbook. Given the rush, the company’s production stumbles are understandable to those familiar with making cars. Investors and lenders, of course, may have less sympathy (and patience).
“Making cars is actually a horrible business,” Tynan said. “It’s hard, it’s expensive, it’s slow, and there’s not much margin there. It’s really an incredible undertaking.”
Self-driving cars developed by Waymo need less human backup than rivals — though General Motor Co .‘s vehicles are improving fast.
The Alphabet Inc. unit’s cars drove in autonomous mode for more than 352,000 miles on California public roads last year, and technologists took control merely 63 hours, according to a report filed to the nation. Waymo and GM both disengaged their self-driving systems less than once per 1,000 miles during testing.
California’s annual reports are a rare and incomplete snapshot of how self-driving cars are coming along for the automakers, suppliers, tech giants and startups in the heatedly contested space. Other nations have lured companies to exam by opting against involving such disclosures. And engineers also are racking up countless test miles on closed ways and in labs using video game-like simulation.
Waymo’s 0.18 disengagements per 1,000 miles compares with 0.8 for GM, which improved from a rate of about 18 during the year-earlier period. The companies’ 2017 reports to California’s Department of Motor Vehicles span the 12 months ending in November.
GM’s self-driving Chevrolet Bolts are equipped with systems designed by its San Francisco-based Cruise Automation unit. A spokesman for the carmaker declined to comment on its report.
Cruise Chief Executive Officer Kyle Vogt wrote in an October blog entry that GM is testing in dense urban environments including San Francisco to set its cars through tougher challenges, while other companies stick to easier-to-navigate suburban streets.
” Our vehicles encounter challenging( and often absurd) situations up to 46 times more often than other places self-driving cars are tested ,” Vogt wrote.” Perhaps for this reason , nobody else is regularly testing self-driving vehicles in SF .”
Waymo, which began testing in San Francisco this month, doubledits total miles driven by logging about 2 million more last year. The company almost halved the amount of autonomous driving on public roads in its home state from 2016. It’s expanded testing elsewhere including Texas, Washington and Arizona, where it’s planning to begin a commercial service subsequently this year.
Other companies reported more frequent disengagements over fewer miles than Waymo or GM. Silicon Valley startup Zoox Inc. reported 14 disengagements during 2,244 miles of autonomous, a rate of more than more than six per 1,000 miles.
Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, reported 824 manual or automatic disengagements over about 1,088 miles of driving.
Tesla Inc . didn’t exam any vehicles in autonomous mode as defined by California law. The company utilizes simulation, lab and exam tracks around the world and its customer’s vehicles test out autonomous tech utilizing a” shadow mode” that generates data for its Autopilot system.
Let’s do the gag first: Hydrogen’s the ga of the future, they say. And it always will be.
Because for all the upsides–combining zero emissions driving with the ease of refueling in just a few minutes–hydrogen fuel cells have gotten approximately nowhere. It’s the chicken and egg thing: No one wants to buy a auto without a refueling infrastructure to back it up, and no one wants to build those hydrogen stations without customers to serve.
Now, a startup truck manufacturer has big plans to change that by taking a lesson from Elon Musk, and providing both pollo and heuvo . And, if it can convince truckers to try out a new kind of driving, it mightfinally delivers the future of hydrogen that always seems to be in transit, never arriving.
Last week, the Nikola Motor Company( rhymes with Ricola ) unveiled the Nikola One, an 18 -wheeler powered by a 320 -kWh battery( Tesla’s most capable car get 100 kWh) with a hydrogen gasoline cell generator that keeps it charged on the road. Tanked up, the truck will have up to 1,200 miles of range, along with the performance benefits of electric propulsion, likepiles of torque and a low center of gravity.
Tributes pour in for beloved broadcaster best known for covering John Woodens UCLA basketball teams
Dick Enberg, a Hall of Fame broadcaster known as much for his excited calls of “Oh my!” as the big events he covered during a 60-year career, died on Thursday. He was 82.
Enberg’s daughter, Nicole Enberg Vaz, confirmed the death to the Associated Press. She said the family became concerned when her father didn’t arrive on Thursday on his flight to Boston, and he was found dead at his home in La Jolla, a San Diego neighborhood, with his bags packed.
His daughter said the family believed Enberg died of a heart attack but was awaiting official word. “It’s very, very, very shocking,” said Vaz, who lives in Boston. “He’d been busy with two podcasts and was full of energy.”
Enberg’s wife, Barbara, was already in Boston and expecting his arrival. The family “is grateful for the kind thoughts and prayers of all of Dick’s countless fans and dear friends”, according to a statement released by Enberg’s attorney, Dennis Coleman. “At this time we are all still processing the significant loss, and we ask for prayers and respectful privacy in the immediate aftermath of such untimely news.”
Enberg got his big break with UCLA basketball and went on to call Super Bowls, Olympics, Final Fours and Angels and Padres ball games as well as Rams football games.
He retired from his TV job with the Padres in October 2016, capping a six-decade career punctuated with countless calls of “Oh my!” in describing big plays. He also was well-known for his baseball catchphrase of “Touch ’em all!” for home runs.
“Dick was an institution in the industry for 60 years and we were lucky enough to have his iconic voice behind the microphone for Padres games for nearly a decade,” Padres owners Ron Fowler and Peter Seidler said in a statement. “On behalf of our entire organization, we send our deepest condolences to his wife, Barbara, and the entire Enberg family.”
Raised in Armada, Michigan, Enberg’s first radio job was actually as a radio station custodian in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, when he was a junior at Central Michigan. He made $1 an hour. The owner also gave him weekend sports and disc jockey gigs, also at $1 an hour. From there he began doing high school and college football games.
During his nine years broadcasting UCLA basketball, the Bruins won eight NCAA titles. Enberg broadcast nine no-hitters, including two by San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum against the Padres in 2013 and 2014.
He said the most historically important event he covered was “The Game of the Century”, Houston’s victory over UCLA in 1968 that snapped the Bruins’ 47-game winning streak.
“That was the platform from which college basketball’s popularity was sent into the stratosphere,” Enberg said just before retiring from the Padres. “The 79 game, the Magic-Bird game, everyone wants to credit that as the greatest game of all time. That was just the booster rocket that sent it even higher … UCLA, unbeaten; Houston, unbeaten. And then the thing that had to happen, and Coach Wooden hated when I said this, but UCLA had to lose. That became a monumental event.”
Enberg’s many former broadcast partners included Merlin Olsen, Al McGuire, Billy Packer, Don Drysdale and Tony Gwynn. He even worked a few games with Wooden, whom he called “The greatest man I’ve ever known other than my own father.”
Enberg called Padres games for seven seasons and went into the broadcasters’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015 as the recipient of the Ford C Frick Award.
John Ireland, the radio voice of the Los Angeles Lakers, tweeted that “If there was a Mount Rushmore of LA Sports Announcers, Dick Enberg is on it with Chick Hearn, Vin Scully and Bob Miller. Rams, Angels, UCLA, NBC, and so much more. Was the first famous announcer I ever met, and he couldn’t have been nicer. Definition of a gentleman.”
Enberg won 13 Sports Emmy Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Emmy. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and UCLA named its Media Center in Pauley Pavilion after Enberg this year.
At half-time of a UCLA game in February, former Bruins stars Bill Walton and Jamaal Wilkes presented Enberg with a No8 jersey, signifying the number of championships he called. “That’s not going to happen again,” Enberg said before the game. “Who was looking over me? To be able to come in and ride the Wooden Wave.”
“Kindest, most proactive possible treatment of newcomers in this business, for the length of his career,” broadcaster Keith Olbermann said of Enberg on Twitter. “What a terrible loss.”
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce said flowers will be placed on Friday on Enberg’s star on the Walk of Fame.
New video shows that former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith may have been involved in a hit-and-run collision moments before he was gunned down Saturday night.
Fox 8 reports that surveillance footage obtained from nearby New Orleans businesses shows a car matching the description of Smith’s Mercedes SUV possibly bumping into a Hummer matching the description of the vehicle driven by Cardell Hayes.
The station reported that the video shows the Hummer appearing to try and pull over to the side of the road. By contrast, the Mercedes drives into the opposite lane of traffic and keeps going. The Hummer then takes off after the Mercedes.
The footage was taken a block and a half from the intersection where police say Hayes, a former semi-pro football player, rear-ended Smith’s SUV, pushing it into a Chevrolet Impala carrying Smith’s acquaintances. Hayes then opened fire. Smith was killed by bullets to the back and torso. His wife was wounded in the leg.
A defense attorney for Hayes, John Fuller, said Monday that his client had been rear-ended moments earlier by a hit-and-run driver, and called 911 to describe the car he was following before he ran into the back of Smith’s Mercedes. It remains unclear whether the car he was pursuing was the Mercedes, the Impala or some other unrelated car.
Hayes, 28, was being held on $1 million bond after police arrested him on a charge of second-degree murder. He was in court Monday as arrangements were made for a new lawyer to eventually replace Fuller, who will soon begin work as a temporary judge. Prosecutors now have 60 days to decide how to proceed.
Police plan to add a charge accusing Hayes of shooting Racquel Smith, spokesman Tyler Gamble said Monday.
Fuller insisted outside court Monday that Hayes will be vindicated once the full story emerges. Someone “besides my client” was behaving in a threatening manner, he said, though he wouldn’t say who. “My client has been pilloried, convicted and tried” by news media and social media, he added.
In court, he got an order to preserve ballistic evidence. He wouldn’t say whether he believes two guns were fired.
Questions remain about what exactly happened that night. Police haven’t released the accounts of Racquel Smith, the passengers in the other cars, nor any other witnesses.
Gamble said the investigation prevents him from saying whether Hayes called 911 to report a hit-and-run accident.
Spin, a company focused on bringing the stationless bike sharing model to the U.S. after its continued success in Asia, is launching in South San Francisco today (as it planned to last month), making it the first ever to get official city approval in the Bay Area to launch a dockless bike share program. Spin already launched in Seattle earlier this year, and will now put an initial fleet of 125 bikes into active use in South San Francisco during a two week pilot, with plans to grow to around 500 or more bikes after that.
Spins bikes are solar-powered for their onboard electronics and locks, have built-in GPS for locating via the app, unlock by scanning a QR code with your phone and self-lock at the end of trips for a simple rental experience. The bikes are going to be seeded in South San Francisco at 22 locations initially, and then distribution will be managed when necessary by a local team employed by Spin, which will also be watching usage patters to figure out how best to deploy them in the future.
Spin raised $8 million in Series A funding in May, and has already deployed fleets in Dallas and Seattle, with a small pilot also operating in Mountain View. Its one of many startups vying for supremacy in the emerging North American dockless bike share market, which also includes companies like Social Bicycles, LimeBike, Canadian startup Dropbike and more.
Chinese dockless bike sharing is a huge funding driver, with most of the attention focused on Mobile and Ofo. The success of these has inspired a lot of fresh activity in the space in North America recently, and now it looks like this could lead to an eventual international clash, as Mobile has announced its intentions to grow internationally with its latest new funds raised.
Dock-free bike sharing has big advantages in terms of cost of infrastructure vs. dock-based bike sharing (like Ford GoBike, freshly launched in the Bay Area, too). It also can adapt more easily to changing demand patterns, since the fleets can be redistributed at will. The model comes with challenges though: theft and vandalism are an ever-present concern, and its not yet clear how those factors will affect the models overall efficacy in different parts of North America.
Spins city-blessed entry into the Bay Area is definitely a win for the startup, however, since the tech heavy region is likely to be fairly rife with early adopters. Spin also plans to roll out to more cities before the end of this summer.