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Huawei now selling more consumer devices than telco equipment

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(Image: CNET)

Huawei has released its annual results for 2018, with the Chinese giant reporting a 25 percent increase in net profit to 59 billion yuan ($8.7 billion) on revenue of 721 billion yuan, a 20 percent increase from last year.

Broken down by division, the company’s consumer business is now contributing the most in sales, growing 45 percent during the year to 349 billion yuan, while the sale of equipment to telcos was down 1.3 percent to 294 billion yuan. Huawei enterprise services contributed 10 percent of the company’s revenue in 2018, posting 74 billion yuan, an increase of 24 percent year-on-year.

By region, China made up 52 percent of sales, contributing 372 billion yuan, an increase of 20 percent on 2017; the fastest growing region was EMEA, which saw a 24 percent jump in sales to 204 billion yuan; not far behind was the Americas, however it represents the company’s smallest sales region, growing only 21 percent to 48 billion yuan; while the remainder of the Asia Pacific excluding China saw sales increase 15 percent to 82 billion yuan.

Huawei said it allocated 14 percent of its revenue to research and development and boasted about the 5,400 patent applications to the World Intellectual Property Organization during the year, making it globally the company with the most filings. As of December 2018, Huawei had 87,800 patents granted to it, with 11,150 of those patents being registered in the US.

The company has long claimed that it had an advantage in its 5G technology thanks to being able to integrate 5G base station with microwave.

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(Image: Huawei)

“Through heavy, consistent investment in 5G innovation, alongside large-scale commercial deployment, Huawei is committed to building the world’s best network connections, rotating chair Guo Ping said in the annual report. “Throughout this process, Huawei will continue to strictly comply with all relevant standards to build secure, trustworthy, and high-quality products.”

Yet during 2018, Huawei found itself on the wrong side of decisions by the US, Australia, and New Zealand to ban or limit the extent that Huawei carrier equipment could be used.

On Thursday, Huawei suffered a security-related setback when the board overseeing the use of its equipment in the United Kingdom said there were new risks in using Huawei equipment.

“Overall, the Oversight Board can only provide limited assurance that all risks to UK national security from Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s critical networks can be sufficiently mitigated long-term,” the board said.

It also added that no progress had been made on the faults reported last year.

In Huawei’s annual report, Guo reiterated that security and user privacy were the “absolute top” of the company’s agenda.

Earlier this month, the Chinese giant announced that it was suing the United States government to overturn a ban on federal government entities in the country doing business with it.

Also: Huawei ban sees TPG end rollout of Australian mobile network 

“The US government has long branded Huawei a threat. It has hacked our servers and stolen our emails and source code,” Guo Ping said at the time. “Despite this, the US government has never provided any evidence supporting their accusations that Huawei poses a cybersecurity threat.

“Still, the US government is sparing no effort to smear the company and mislead the public about Huawei. Even worse, the US government is trying to block us from the 5G markets in other countries.”

The company is currently facing a 10-count indictment alleging the company conspired to steal intellectual property from T-Mobile and subsequently obstructed justice, in addition to separate 13-count indictment against the company and its CFO Meng Wanzhou.

“The company denies that it or its subsidiary or affiliate have committed any of the asserted violations of US law set forth in each of the indictments, is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms Meng, and believes the US courts will ultimately reach the same conclusion,” Huawei said in January.

The US Department of Justice is alleging that Huawei offered bonuses to employees for stealing information, before clarifying to its US employees that such behaviour would be illegal.

Explaining Australia’s ban on Huawei, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the ban instituted in August was not done at the behest of another nation or for protectionist reasons, but because it defended Australia’s sovereignty and as a “hedge against changing times”.

“It is important to remember that a threat is the combination of capability and intent,” Turnbull said earlier this month.

“Capability can take years, decades to develop. And in many cases won’t be attainable at all. But intent can change in a heartbeat.”

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Biden EV plan “the largest mobilization of public investment” since WW2

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The US government plans to replace its fleet of vehicles with electric alternatives, part of a huge public investment in equipment that President Biden says will be the largest since World War II. The goal was announced today, as Biden discussed the Buy American Executive Order and strategies to strengthen American manufacturing and create jobs in the US.

“The federal government also owns an enormous fleet of vehicles,” Biden said during the press conference, “which we’re going to replace with clean electric vehicles made right here in America, creating millions of jobs, a million autoworker jobs, and clean energy, and vehicles that are net-zero emissions. And together this will be the largest mobilization of public investment in procurement, infrastructure, and R&D since World War II.”

Certainly, there’s no shortage of vehicles being used across the government’s various departments. Each year, those departments are required to submit records on owned, leased, and commercially leased vehicles in their fleets. For 2019, civilian agencies owned more than 158,000 vehicles, while military agencies owned more than 62,000 vehicles.

The biggest fleet, however, is used by the US Postal Service. In the 2019 figures, it reported owning more than 224,000 vehicles. Tallied across all the agencies, there’s more than 445,000 owned vehicles on the books, and more than 200,000 leased in some form, with total costs of around $4.4 billion.

Typically, domestic vehicles already far outweigh the use of foreign passenger vehicles and trucks in use by the US government. Indeed, of the roughly 645,000 strong fleet in 2019, only around 6-percent were foreign-made. However, should even a small percentage be replaced with electrified vehicles, that could represent a huge shift in emissions.

The current reporting does not break down the vehicles by drivetrain type – beyond a separate category for low-speed electric vehicles (LSEV) – so it’s unclear how many might already be battery-electric or hybrids.

Still, it’s only in recent years that there have been viable options for replacing mainstream vehicles with zero-emission alternatives, and even then some categories are still awaiting production EVs. Ford and Chevrolet are both preparing electric pickup trucks, as is Tesla, and several American automakers are working on electric SUVs and sedans.

Startups like Rivian and Canoo are developing both passenger cars and SUVs and electric delivery vehicles, while Ford has an e-Transit in the pipeline, an all-electric version of its best-selling van. Earlier this month, GM announced a new brand, BrightDrop, to focus on electric logistics.

“The dollars the federal government spends on goods and services are a powerful tool to support American workers and manufacturers,” the White House said today. “Contracting alone accounts for nearly $600 billion in federal spending. Federal law requires government agencies to give preferences to American firms, however, these preferences have not always been implemented consistently or effectively.”

Full details of today’s executive order are yet to be published in the Federal Register by the government.

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Arcimoto is planning a tilting electric three-wheeler and it sounds epic

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Get ready for the electric vehicle market to lean over, with Arcimoto announcing it’s acquired a tilting trike specialist to use the tech in future EV three-wheelers. Based in Oregon, Arcimoto currently offers all-electric vehicles for public and business use, with its FUV – or “Fun Utility Vehicle” – available to preorder from around $18k.

Today’s deal sees Arcimoto snap up Tilting Motor Works, which offers a leaning kit for motorcycles. Its TRiO system can adapt existing bikes, promising to keep their natural lean but adding stability with a second front wheel. It’s currently offered for Harley-Davidson, Honda, and Indian models, priced at $14k plus installation.

Now, TRiO will be used for future Arcimoto trikes. The system will allow the EVs to lean into corners for more engaging driving dynamics, as well as lock upright when at a stop. The extra front wheel aids in traction too, Tilting Motor Works says, as well as improving braking; the company will continue to offer its kits for traditional motorcycles as well.

Arcimoto’s current FUV supports two occupants, sitting one behind the other. It has a 75 mph top speed from dual electric motors, and a range of 102 miles of urban driving; the doors are detachable, and rather than a steering wheel inside there are handlebars with heated grips. Currently, the company is taking preorders in Florida and on the west coast of the US.

It’s not the only vehicle Arcimoto has in mind, however. Late in 2020, the company showed off its latest prototype, a three-wheeler it called the ROADSTER. Roofless, and with a chopped-down windshield, it promises a more traditional take on the electric trike segment.

Electric drive and three wheels is arguably where some of the most interesting experiments are taking place in mobility right now. Last month, for example, we took the ElectraMeccanica Solo EV out for a spin, a single-seat electric trike that aims to reboot commuting. Based on the fact that almost 90-percent of Americans typically drive alone, it trades cabin space and seating for much cheaper running costs.

What it doesn’t do, however, is tilt. For an example of that, you have to look to something like Toyota’s i-ROAD, a distinctive electric three-wheeler that could lean into corners according to how aggressively you steered. Offered in select locations in Japan, and part of Toyota’s aggressive electrification push for the next few years, the i-ROAD was never officially offered in the US.

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Lotus teases sports car future as Elise, Exige and Evora face the axe

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Lotus is preparing a huge shake-up, with the iconic British sports car company confirming it’s axing three of its most memorable models to pave way for an all-new line-up. 2021 will be the end of the line for the Evora, Exige, and Elise, Lotus said today, dropping a new teaser about just what is intended to take their place.

We’ve already seen one element of that plan, in the shape of the beastly Evija hypercar. Announced in mid-2019, it promised to tap electrification for its potency, something Lotus demonstrated in action at its public debut in October last year.

Not everyone will be able to afford – or even find a spot on the waiting list for – a $2m+ EV behemoth. For that audience, Lotus has confirmed a new series sports car range, with the Lotus Type 131 expected to go into prototype production later this year.

It’ll be built at the automaker’s Hethel, Norfolk facility in the UK, which will undergo a $127m+ investment and see around 250 more engineers and manufacturing recruits added to the payroll. Helping foot the bill are shareholders Geely and Etika, which took ownership of Lotus in September 2017.

You can’t accuse Lotus of not making the most of its outgoing range. The first-generation Elise made its debut all the way back in 1995, a new model for Lotus but epitomizing its ethos of reducing weight in the name of increasing engagement. Though never the most powerful sport car, it nonetheless carved out a lingering reputation across several generations for its purity behind the wheel.

The Exige, meanwhile, arrived in 2000. A coupe to the Elise’s convertible, it built on the platform with race-focused technology to maximize performance. Come 2008, the Evora gave Lotus an entrant for the super-sports sector, tempering some of the automaker’s notorious focus on paring back creature comforts with a more luxurious, GT-minded approach.

The Type 131 range – part of what Lotus is calling its Vision80 strategy – will include at least three new models, replacing the Elise, Exige, and Evora. “Our renowned team of engineers, designers and technicians who are working on the new cars are acutely aware of the legacy from the Elise, Exige and Evora,” Matt Windle, executive director of engineering at the automaker, says. “Indeed, many were around when Elise was being developed.”

Earlier in 2020, rumors suggested Lotus could reboot the classic Esprit name for a new model. The new Esprit, it was hinted, could use a hybrid V6 powertrain, combining gas and electric power, though unlike James Bond’s car it would be unlikely to turn into a submarine.

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