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ACCAN proposes automatic payments to users for missed appointments and repairs

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The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has put forward a recommendation that consumers should receive automatic compensation when a telecommunications provider misses an appointment or is unable to resolve an outage within a determined timeframe.

“Payments for connections and repairs outside the maximum timeframes should be automatic by both the network provider and retail service provider”, ACCAN wrote in a submission to Part B of the Consumer Safeguard Review conducted by the Department of Communications.

“If a wholesale network provider has connected a customer after the maximum timeframe it should automatically trigger a payment to be made against the retail service provider’s account. Likewise, the retail service provider should automatically make a payment to the customer.

“Automatic compensation requires systems and processes for payments and will not rely on customers knowing their rights or being informed by a provider with no incentive to do so.”

The department said it is conducting the review as current reliability regulations only apply to fixed voice services, and not to broadband networks. Any action from the review is expected to commence after the National Broadband Network is completed in 2020.

Among the proposals put forward in the review are: Mandatory rules to cover how consumers and small business are connected to fixed networks, including appointments; providers needing to focus on keeping consumers connected if timeframes cannot be met; the publishing of network reliability metrics by infrastructure providers whose services are onsold to consumers; and, the collection and publication of data from wholesalers and retailers by the Australian Communications and Media Authority relating to fixed connections, repairs, and appointments.

ACCAN agreed with a department proposal to have consumers be paid AU$100 for a missed appointment, but said that this should only be the starting point.

“We believe that the frequency of missed appointments should be monitored and the regulator should have the flexibility to recalibrate the compensation (penalties) in response to circumstances,” the submission said.

“The Department’s proposal for mandatory timeframes with significant penalties for non-compliance is absolutely necessary.”

Consumers should be able to exit contracts if they suffer from recurrent faults, ACCAN said, however it did concede that if the problem is with a wholesaler, changing retailers may not fix the issue.

On the topic of usable data, ACCAN put forward the idea for telcos to measure network reliability on a suburb-like level, and for that information to be accessible online.

Making public its submission yesterday, the Communications Alliance struck out at one of the department’s proposals, that consumer safegaurds are best delivered through direct regulation.

“Consumer safeguards are best delivered through competition, and regulation should only be used where competition is not delivering,” the Comms Alliance said in an all-bold statement.

Part A of the Consumer Safeguards Review, which focused on complaints handling, saw the Australian government decide against abolishing the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, following consultation that showed strong support for the external dispute resolution (EDR) scheme.

“[There was] near universal support from both consumers, industry, and other industry Ombudsman schemes for EDR in the telecommunications sector to continue being provided by the TIO, but acknowledgement that improvements could be made to the TIO Scheme,” the review said.

“The review suggests that it would be appropriate to implement reforms to the current TIO scheme rather than establish a new EDR body at this time. This approach would see the existing EDR arrangements maintained, but further reformed and enhanced.”

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Hertz massive Tesla Model 3 EV order sends interest rocketing

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Hertz today made a whopper of an announcement, revealing that it will be ordering 100,000 Teslas over the next year and adding those EVs to its fleet. Not only that, but Hertz will also install several thousand chargers at its network of locations around the US and Europe. With this move, Hertz says that it will “offer the largest EV rental fleet in North America and one of the largest in the world.”

Specifically, Hertz said today that it would purchase 100,000 Tesla Model 3s and those cars will start being available at airport and neighborhood locations across the US and Europe in November. At first, Hertz says its EV fleet will only be available in major markets within the US and “select cities” in Europe, but it seems the company is looking to expand availability rather quickly.

By the end of 2022, Hertz says it plans to have these Tesla Model 3s available in 65 markets, expanding further to 100 markets by the end of 2023. In all, Hertz plans to install 3,000 Tesla superchargers at various locations in the US and Europe as well. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this announcement sent Tesla’s stock on something of a surge this morning, but even more important is the impact this could have on the public perception of electric vehicles.

Hertz says that EVs will comprise more than 20% of its global rental fleet when the order is complete. In addition to placing this order, Hertz has also hired NFL star Tom Brady for an ad campaign centered around renting, driving, and charging these Tesla Model 3s. On Hertz’s website, we see that charging will be included in EV rentals, but only for a limited time. Beyond February 1st, 2022, it sounds like renters will have to foot the bill for charging.

It’s an ambitious plan, but in today’s announcement, Hertz cautions that the order of 100,000 Tesla Model 3s may be impacted by factors outside of its control. Specifically, the company is talking about the global semiconductor shortage, which could impact the production of computing hardware for some time to come. In any case, look for the option to rent a Tesla Model 3 to start popping up at Hertz locations next month.

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Bently Mulliner to unveil new bespoke collections at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show

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Bentley Mulliner has curated three new bespoke design collections for its American clientele. The Mulliner Nauticus Collection will debut at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show this October 27 to 31, 2021. The Nauticus Collection includes four Continental GT V8 Convertible models dressed in a fancy yachting theme.

The Continental GT Nauticus Collection has Aegean Blue and Ghost White paint with custom 22-inch Aegean Blue polished wheels. Wearing Bentley Mulliner’s carbon fiber Styling Specification, each Nauticus Bentley also gets a carbon front splitter, side skirts, rear spoiler, and rear diffuser. Also, the interior is resplendent in Brunel, Linen, and Portland leather in bespoke color splits, while the center console is home to open-pore chevron light veneers.

“This timeless classic further highlights the infinite possibilities and abilities in which to blend art and technology into a unique emotion and experience,” said Peter Brandt, Holmann Automotive Vice President and General Manager of Bentley Fort Lauderdale. “The individuality and distinctiveness of the Mulliner design aesthetics perfectly align with our pursuit of creating unique customer experiences.”

Meanwhile, Bentley of Manhattan commissioned the Mulliner Skyline Collection for the Flying Spur, Continental GT Convertible, and Bentayga luxury SUV. As expected, the Skyline Collection draws inspiration from the breathtaking skyscrapers of the Big Apple.

All members of the Mulliner Skyline Collection will wear a unique Onyx black paint applied by hand and robots, said Bentley. Other noteworthy features include 22-inch black and silver alloy wheels, darker exterior trim, LED welcome lighting, and premium silver interior trim.

Last but not least is the Mulliner Miami Collection, inspired by Miami’s colorful lifeguard stations and pulsating art scene. The collection includes the Flying Spur, Bentayga, and Continental GT finished in bright Orange, Blue, and Lime Green paint. Inside, Bentley’s Miami Collection gets two-tone painted piano veneers, Klein Blue leather upholstery, and bespoke quilting, among many others.

“Our dealers are very involved in each of their local markets and communities with appreciation to maximize the ability to promote Bentley’s craftsmanship,” said Mike Rocco, Vice President of Sales & Operations for Bentley Americas. “The opportunity to expand inventory offering to customers and present a truly unique experience through the Personal Commissioning Guide is remarkable.”

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Vazirani Ekonk is possibly the world’s lightest electric car

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Indian electric automaker Vazirani is not as mainstream as Tesla and other legacy EV makers, but what will soon change with the launch of Ekonk performance EV. The Ekonk is a low-drag performance concept that signifies the birth of Vazirani’s assault in the burgeoning EV category. The name ‘Ekonk’ is a derivative from Indian scriptures representing the divine light, “where for the first time design and innovation comes together,” said the company.

From the looks of it, the Ekonk is a dedicated performance contender, and it’s doing it the old school way: By shedding weight. Vazirani claims Ekonk is the world’s lightest electric car, and losing pounds in an EV is hard to do without losing a wheel or two. Tipping the scales at around 1627 pounds (738kg), the Ekonk is almost as lightweight as other three-wheeled EVs like the Arcimoto (590 kg) and Daymak Spiritus (620 kg).

In addition, Ekonk is lighter than the Aptera solar EV (816 kg), and it has four wheels instead of three, so Vazirani may be up to something here. How did they do it? “Biomimicry – studying how animals and humans use breathing to regulate their body temperatures – combined with some ancient Indian manufacturing techniques resulted in the invention of the DiCo technology,” said Chunky Vazirani, CEO of Vazirani.

Vazirani’s proprietary DiCo battery cooling technology “allows the batteries to cool directly with the air, as opposed to needing liquid cooling,” adds Vazirani. The carmaker adds DiCo is the first solid-state direct cooling system that utilizes nanoparticle technology to enhance the range and performance of any EV.

The automaker did not mention the battery capacity, but it did say Ekonk can rush to 60 mph from a dead stop in 2.5-seconds and has a top speed of 192 mph. Also, we have no idea how many motors are hiding underneath Ekonk’s aerodynamically optimized body shell, but Vazirani claims 722 horsepower and mountains of torque.

Additionally, Ekonk is a proper driver’s car. Vazirani said Ekonk has no driver aids, with just the electric motors and the wheels separating the driver from the road. It’s not a bad-looking thing, either, but the absence of a fixed or foldable roof means this car is a genuine track toy. If you don’t like a speedster, Vazirani also has the Shul hyper EV (with two doors and a roof) with the same DiCo battery cooling technology.

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