South Korea's Lunar Orbiter Sends Photos of Earth, Moon

South Korea's first-ever lunar orbiter Danuri has sent black-and-white images of Earth and the lunar surface, including this photo taken on December 31, 2022. Handout / KARI/AFP
South Korea's first-ever lunar orbiter Danuri has sent black-and-white images of Earth and the lunar surface, including this photo taken on December 31, 2022. Handout / KARI/AFP
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South Korea's Lunar Orbiter Sends Photos of Earth, Moon

South Korea's first-ever lunar orbiter Danuri has sent black-and-white images of Earth and the lunar surface, including this photo taken on December 31, 2022. Handout / KARI/AFP
South Korea's first-ever lunar orbiter Danuri has sent black-and-white images of Earth and the lunar surface, including this photo taken on December 31, 2022. Handout / KARI/AFP

South Korea's first-ever lunar orbiter Danuri has sent black-and-white photos of the Moon's surface and Earth, the national space center said Tuesday.

Danuri -- a portmanteau of the Korean words for "Moon" and "enjoy" -- was launched on a SpaceX rocket from the United States in August 2022 and entered lunar orbit last month, The Associated Press said.

Its images -- taken between December 24 and January 1 -- show the lunar surface and Earth, and were shot from less than 120 kilometers (75 miles) over the Moon, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) said in a statement.

The images and videos will be "used to select potential sites for a Moon landing in 2032," it added.

Danuri is circling the Moon every two hours, the center said.

The orbiter will begin its scientific mission next month, which includes mapping and analyzing lunar terrain, and measuring magnetic strength and gamma rays.

It will also test experimental "space internet" technology by transmitting photos and videos to Earth.

President Yoon Suk-yeol has hailed Danuri's achievements as a "historical moment" in the country's space program.

South Korea has laid out ambitious plans for outer space, including landing spacecraft on the Moon by 2032 and Mars by 2045.



OpenAI Bids for Japan Business as It Opens Tokyo Office 

Journalists are silhouetted at OpenAI’s press conference about the opening of its first Asia office in Tokyo, Japan April 15, 2024. (Reuters)
Journalists are silhouetted at OpenAI’s press conference about the opening of its first Asia office in Tokyo, Japan April 15, 2024. (Reuters)
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OpenAI Bids for Japan Business as It Opens Tokyo Office 

Journalists are silhouetted at OpenAI’s press conference about the opening of its first Asia office in Tokyo, Japan April 15, 2024. (Reuters)
Journalists are silhouetted at OpenAI’s press conference about the opening of its first Asia office in Tokyo, Japan April 15, 2024. (Reuters)

Microsoft backed artificial intelligence startup OpenAI made a pitch for business in Japan on Monday as it opened its first Asia office in Tokyo.

"This is just the first step in what I hope will be a long-term partnership with the people of Japan, government leaders, businesses and research institutions," OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said in a video message.

The startup, which has caused excitement among consumers since the launch of its ChatGPT generative AI chatbot in late 2022, is looking to grow new sources of revenue globally.

Altman and Chief Operating Officer Brad Lightcap have hosted hundreds of Fortune 500 company executives in the United States and Britain this month to pitch for business, Reuters has reported.

Last year Altman said he was considering a Japan location after meeting Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. The startup has also opened offices in London and Dublin.

Japan hopes to take advantage of AI as it looks to compete with an increasingly assertive China, accelerate the shift to digital services and alleviate deepening labor shortages.

"We have a backlog of demand," Lightcap told reporters in Tokyo, adding that "we expect a meaningful contribution from Japan over time," without providing details.

OpenAI said it has a custom model optimized for the Japanese language and that Tadao Nagasaki, who was president of Amazon Web Services in Japan, is heading the Japan business.

While the country is seen as a laggard in the technology, local companies including telcos SoftBank and NTT are investing in large language models.

OpenAI's customers in Japan include automaker Toyota Motor, manufacturer Daikin Industries and local government.

Microsoft said last week it would invest $2.9 billion over two years in cloud and AI infrastructure in Japan, part of a wave of investment globally by US tech giants.


Apple Loses Top Phonemaker Spot to Samsung as iPhone Shipments Drop, IDC Says 

A worker waters a flower bed next to the logo of Samsung Electronics during a media tour at Samsung Electronics' headquarters in Suwon, South Korea, June 13, 2023. (Reuters)
A worker waters a flower bed next to the logo of Samsung Electronics during a media tour at Samsung Electronics' headquarters in Suwon, South Korea, June 13, 2023. (Reuters)
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Apple Loses Top Phonemaker Spot to Samsung as iPhone Shipments Drop, IDC Says 

A worker waters a flower bed next to the logo of Samsung Electronics during a media tour at Samsung Electronics' headquarters in Suwon, South Korea, June 13, 2023. (Reuters)
A worker waters a flower bed next to the logo of Samsung Electronics during a media tour at Samsung Electronics' headquarters in Suwon, South Korea, June 13, 2023. (Reuters)

Apple's smartphone shipments dropped about 10% in the first quarter of 2024, hurt by intensifying competition by Android smartphone makers aiming for the top spot, data from research firm IDC showed on Sunday.

Global smartphone shipments increased 7.8% to 289.4 million units during January-March, with Samsung, at 20.8% market share, clinching the top phonemaker spot from Apple.

The iPhone-maker's steep sales decline comes after its strong performance in the December quarter when it overtook Samsung as the world's No.1 phone maker. It's back to the second spot, with 17.3% market share, as Chinese brands such as Huawei gain market share.

Xiaomi, one of China's top smartphone makers, occupied the third position with a market share of 14.1% during the first quarter.

South Korea's Samsung, which launched its latest flagship smartphone lineup - Galaxy S24 series - in the beginning of the year, shipped more than 60 million phones during the period.

Global sales of Galaxy S24 smartphones jumped 8%, compared to last year's Galaxy S23 series during their first three weeks of availability, data provider Counterpoint previously said.

In the first quarter, Apple shipped 50.1 million iPhones, down from 55.4 million units it shipped same period last year, according to IDC.

Apple's smartphone shipments in China shrank 2.1% in the final quarter of 2023 from a year earlier.

The drop underscores the challenges facing the US firm in its third biggest market, as some Chinese companies and government agencies limit employees' use of Apple devices, a measure that mirrors US government restrictions on Chinese apps on security grounds.

The Cupertino, California-based company in June will hold its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), where it will highlight updates to the software powering iPhones, iPads, and other Apple devices.

Investors are closely watching for updates on artificial intelligence development at Apple, which has so far spoken little about incorporating the AI technology into its devices. The company earlier this year lost the crown as the world's most valuable company to Microsoft.


Race for AI Isn't Zero-sum, Says Amazon Cloud Boss

Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Adam Selipsky says there won't be one artificial intelligence platform to rule them all. Stephen Brashear / AFP
Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Adam Selipsky says there won't be one artificial intelligence platform to rule them all. Stephen Brashear / AFP
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Race for AI Isn't Zero-sum, Says Amazon Cloud Boss

Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Adam Selipsky says there won't be one artificial intelligence platform to rule them all. Stephen Brashear / AFP
Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Adam Selipsky says there won't be one artificial intelligence platform to rule them all. Stephen Brashear / AFP

As Google races with Microsoft and OpenAI to create world-changing generative artificial intelligence, some critics see Amazon as lagging behind.
"I respectfully disagree" with that viewpoint, said Adam Selipsky, Amazon's cloud chief, in an interview with AFP.
Tech giants like Microsoft, Google and Meta have made headlines talking about their own foundational models, or those of their close partners, that are key to AI and its ability to produce written works, images, videos or even computer code from simple user prompts.
But "there is simply not going to be one model to rule them all," argued Selipsky.
AWS, Amazon's industry-leading cloud branch, is already seeing customers "needing multiple models for multiple different use cases," he explained.
He cited the capabilities of various AI models available on the AWS Bedrock platform, such as Meta's Llama and Claude from Anthropic, as well as some from Mistral in France and Amazon's own Titan brand.
Generative AI is regarded in Silicon Valley as poised to revolutionize the way people get jobs done.
And cloud computing companies, which have massive computing power, troves of data and AI expertise, now host generative AI models. They are in a prime position to capitalize on the new technology -- but they have a lot to lose if they don't cough up the latest innovations.
25 years of AI
A pioneer of e-commerce, Amazon also dominates the cloud. AWS had 31 percent of the cloud computing market at the end of 2023, according to Stocklytics.
But rivals Microsoft and Google are gaining ground with their cloud businesses, with 24 percent and 11 percent market share respectively.
Thanks to a $13 billion investment in ChatGPT-maker OpenAI, Microsoft is "in the driver's seat" of an ongoing cloud revolution, according to Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.
Microsoft and Google compete with their in-house, AI-infused digital assistants to help with creating content -- emails, presentations, ads -- and applications (especially chatbots).
AWS is less known to the public and its digital assistant Alexa is not yet as conversational as ChatGPT.
But Amazon has been in the AI business for more than 25 years, said Selipsky. "If you go back to personalization on the retail website in 1998 -- we called it personalization, but it was AI."
The Seattle firm has long had thousands of people working on the technology and has pivoted some of them to the new frontier of generative AI, Selipsky said.
"We've moved rapidly on new generations of our (AI) chips like Trainium, and building Amazon Bedrock, and getting it adopted quickly and coming out with exciting applications on top of the models, like Amazon Q", an AI assistant, he said.
Selipsky, who took command of AWS in 2021, replacing Andy Jassy, who stepped into the chief executive role vacated by founder Jeff Bezos, was confident Amazon would remain a leader in cloud computing.
Clients eye AI programs
As proof, he points to AWS customers and partners, including Nvidia.
The high-profile chipmaker recently announced it is building a "supercomputer" on AWS using Nvidia's own high-performing processors, the ultra sophisticated and coveted GPUs.
Most notably, Amazon has invested $4 billion in Anthropic, an OpenAI rival that is also backed by Google. The start-up will use AWS and its Trainium chips to build AI models and help "improve our technology," said Selipsky,
When asked about exciting aspects of generative AI, Selipsky cited examples of ramped up productivity for its clients.
AWS user pharmaceutical giant Pfizer estimates that it will launch more powerful drugs faster, achieving as much as a billion dollars in annual savings due to AI, according to Selipsky.
Airlines and other industries are already using generative AI to power chatbots that interact with customers.
And while chatbots can make mistakes, companies reason that "human beings don't give 100 percent accuracy either," Selipsky said. "And in many cases, the models are actually outperforming the accuracy and the usefulness of live agents."
AWS cut hundreds of jobs this month, particularly in sales and marketing, to better focus on AI and other priorities.
But Selipsky was adamant that AI has not replaced any of the cloud platform workers.
"AWS has thousands of job postings online today, and yesterday, and the day before, and we will also have (them) tomorrow," he added.


Software Giant Salesforce in Advanced Talks to Buy Informatica

FILE PHOTO: A banner celebrating the Informatica IPO on the front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, US, October 27, 2021.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A banner celebrating the Informatica IPO on the front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, US, October 27, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo
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Software Giant Salesforce in Advanced Talks to Buy Informatica

FILE PHOTO: A banner celebrating the Informatica IPO on the front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, US, October 27, 2021.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A banner celebrating the Informatica IPO on the front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, US, October 27, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Customer relations software maker Salesforce is in advanced talks to acquire Informatica, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday, in the latest sign of increased deal-making in the technology sector.
A deal could be announced soon, said the source, who requested anonymity as the discussions are confidential.
The price being discussed is below Informatica's current share price of $38.48, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the talks between Salesforce and Informatica.
Salesforce and Informatica did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Private equity firm Permira, which along with the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) holds a controlling stake of over 75% in Informatica, declined to comment. CPPIB could not be reached for comment.
Founded in 1993, Informatica offers subscription-based data management services over the cloud and also helps to automate tasks for more than 5,000 active customers.
Based in Redwood City, California, its customers include Unilever and Deloitte, according to its website.
Informatica's shares have risen nearly 43% so far this year, valuing the company at about $11.35 billion.
The company was taken private in 2015 for about $5.3 billion by a consortium that included Permira and CPPIB.
Six years later, Permira and CPPIB took Informatica public again and its shares were listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
If the deal goes through, it would be the biggest for Salesforce since it acquired workplace messaging app Slack Technologies in 2020 for nearly $28 billion.
Salesforce's dealmaking strategy came under scrutiny in early 2023, when activist investors, including ValueAct Capital and Elliott Management, questioned the company's strategy and pushed the management for changes.
In response, Salesforce implemented cost-cutting and increased share buybacks. It also disbanded its M&A board committee.
Salesforce has been a prolific acquirer. In 2019, it bought data analytics platform Tableau Software in an all-stock deal valued at $15.7 billion.
As part of the current enthusiasm for artificial intelligence sweeping through the technology sector, several large deals have been signed.
In January, design software company Synopsys agreed to buy smaller rival Ansys for about $35 billion. Hewlett Packard Enterprise struck a deal in January to buy networking gear maker Juniper Networks for $14 billion.
Technology accounted for the largest share of merger and acquisitions during the first quarter, jumping more than 42% year-on-year to about $154 billion, according to Dealogic.


Musk, Argentine President See Eye-To-Eye on Boosting Free Markets, Lithium

Billionaire Elon Musk reacting- File Phot/Reuters
Billionaire Elon Musk reacting- File Phot/Reuters
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Musk, Argentine President See Eye-To-Eye on Boosting Free Markets, Lithium

Billionaire Elon Musk reacting- File Phot/Reuters
Billionaire Elon Musk reacting- File Phot/Reuters

Billionaire Elon Musk and Argentina's libertarian president promised to work together on Friday to promote free markets as well as potential lithium projects after the two likeminded men met in Texas, home to the tycoon's Tesla electric car company.

The chief spokesman to President Javier Milei said the pair visited Tesla's Austin headquarters and discussed a variety of topics, from the need to boost declining birthrates worldwide to pursuing technological development while defending "liberty."

Musk, one of the world's richest men, has previously showed his admiration for Milei's full-throated embrace of private enterprise and his distain for what he sees as socialist excesses.

In comments to local media, Argentina's incoming ambassador to the United States, Gerardo Werthein, noted that Musk and Milei also discussed lithium, the ultra-light metal seen as key for the rechargeable batteries needed for future fleets of electric vehicles.

"We talked about the investment opportunities in Argentina in lithium... We're very committed not only to exporting raw materials but also to adding value," said Werthein in comments published by newspaper La Nacion.

"(Musk) said he wants to help Argentina," added Werthein.

Milei also offered his support for the dispute over Musk's social media platform X, previously Twitter, playing out in Brazil, according to the statement from Milei's spokesman Manuel Adorni, which was posted on X.

Last Sunday, a Brazilian Supreme Court judge opened an investigation into Musk after the billionaire said he would reinstate X accounts that the judge had ordered blocked.


US Lawmakers Angry After Huawei Unveils Laptop With New Intel AI Chip

In this Oct. 14, 2020, file photo, a man wearing a face mask to protect against the coronavirus walks past a billboard advertising Chinese technology firm Huawei at the PT Expo in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)
In this Oct. 14, 2020, file photo, a man wearing a face mask to protect against the coronavirus walks past a billboard advertising Chinese technology firm Huawei at the PT Expo in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)
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US Lawmakers Angry After Huawei Unveils Laptop With New Intel AI Chip

In this Oct. 14, 2020, file photo, a man wearing a face mask to protect against the coronavirus walks past a billboard advertising Chinese technology firm Huawei at the PT Expo in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)
In this Oct. 14, 2020, file photo, a man wearing a face mask to protect against the coronavirus walks past a billboard advertising Chinese technology firm Huawei at the PT Expo in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

Republican US lawmakers on Friday criticized the Biden administration after sanctioned Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei unveiled a laptop this week powered by an Intel AI chip.

The United States placed Huawei on a trade restriction list in 2019 for violating Iran sanctions, part of a broader effort to hobble Beijing's technological advances. Placement on the list means the company's suppliers have to seek a special, difficult-to-obtain license before shipping to it, Reuters reported.

One such license, issued by the Trump administration, has allowed Intel to ship central processors to Huawei for use in laptops since 2020. China hardliners had urged the Biden administration to revoke that license, but many grudgingly accepted that it would expire later this year and not be renewed.

Huawei's unveiling Thursday of its first AI-enabled laptop, the MateBook X Pro powered by Intel's new Core Ultra 9 processor, shocked and angered them, because it suggested to them that the Commerce Department had approved shipments of the new chip to Huawei.

“One of the greatest mysteries in Washington, DC is why the Department of Commerce continues to allow US technology to be shipped to Huawei" Republican Congressman Michael Gallagher, who chairs the House of Representatives select committee on China, said in a statement to Reuters.

A source familiar with the matter said the chips were shipped under a preexisting license. They are not covered by recent broad-cased restrictions on AI chip shipments to China, the source and another person said.

The Commerce Department and Intel declined to comment. Huawei did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The reaction is a sign of growing pressure on the Biden administration to do more to thwart Huawei's rise, nearly five years after it was added to a trade restriction list.

In August, it shocked the world with a new phone powered by a sophisticated chip manufactured by sanctioned Chinese chipmaker SMIC, becoming a symbol of China's technological resurgence despite Washington's ongoing efforts to cripple its capacity to produce advanced semiconductors.

At a Senate subcommittee hearing this week, Kevin Kurland, an export enforcement official, said Washington's restrictions on Huawei have had a "significant impact" on it access to US technology. He also stressed that the goal was not necessarily to stop Huawei from growing but to keep it from misusing US technology for "malign activities."

But the remarks did little to stem frustration among Republican China hawks following the news about Huawei's new laptop.

"These approvals must stop," Republican congressman Michael McCaul said in a statement to Reuters. "Two years ago, I was told licenses to Huawei would stop. Today, it doesn’t seem as though the policy has changed."


Huawei Teases Launch of New Smartphone, High-End Model Anticipated

A logo for Huawei is seen during the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in Paris, France, March 20, 2024. (Reuters)
A logo for Huawei is seen during the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in Paris, France, March 20, 2024. (Reuters)
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Huawei Teases Launch of New Smartphone, High-End Model Anticipated

A logo for Huawei is seen during the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in Paris, France, March 20, 2024. (Reuters)
A logo for Huawei is seen during the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in Paris, France, March 20, 2024. (Reuters)

Chinese tech giant Huawei has started allowing customers to register their interest in an upcoming smartphone model it has yet to describe, stoking anticipation that the latest version of its high-end P series phones is on its way.

The company jumped back into the premium smartphone market last year with its Mate 60 series, a launch celebrated by state media as a triumph over US sanctions on the firm. The launch has also been blamed for a steep decline in Apple's iPhone sales in China.

Speculation has built up in recent months that Huawei will soon launch the P70, which is expected to, like the Mate 60, contain an advanced China-made chip.

Huawei's P series has advanced cameras and is known for its sleek design, while the Mate series, also high-end, emphasizes performance and business features.

A Thursday product launch for a smart car model and laptop did not mention phones, disappointing legions of fans who complained online. But on Friday, checks made by Reuters at three Huawei stores in Beijing found that interested buyers could register to receive information about a phone without making a deposit.

Registered customers will be notified about the phone's specs and colors in due course, sales staff said.

Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Mate 60, notably launched during a trip by US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to China, did not involve any prior advertising or disclosure of specifications, prompting some users and companies to tear down the phones as they sought to work out its capabilities.

"Huawei kills two birds with one stone," Will Wong, an analyst with research firm IDC, said of this tactic. He noted that the firm could maintain a lower profile amid US-Sino trade tensions while generating an air of mystery and excitement over the launches.

Archie Zhang, a smartphone analyst at Counterpoint Research, noted that the availability of stock has been a significant constraint for the Mate 60 and would likely be so for the P70 as well.

Huawei has had to slow production for Mate 60 phones due to production constraints and the need to prioritize manufacturing of artificial intelligence chips, sources have said.


Elon Musk Says Tesla Will Unveil Robotaxi in August

Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
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Elon Musk Says Tesla Will Unveil Robotaxi in August

Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File

Elon Musk revealed Friday that Tesla will pull back the curtain on a robotaxi this summer, news that comes as adoption of self-driving vehicles hits speed bumps over safety concerns.
The billionaire boss of the electric car maker did not provide details, saying only in his post on X that the "Tesla Robotaxi unveil" will come on August 8.
Tesla shares rose more than three percent in after-market trades following the post, after finishing the day down, AFP said.
Musk has long boasted of work Tesla is doing on its systems for electric cars to drive themselves.
Tesla models with FSD (Full Self-Driving) "will be superhuman to such a degree that it will seem strange in the future that humans drove cars, even while exhausted and drunk!" he said in a post on X in March.
Musk has also said that owners of Tesla vehicles with FSD will be able to have their cars serve as robotaxis, rather than remain idly parked.
Despite its potential, rollout of self-driving vehicles in the United States has been tentative and rocky so far as both regulators and the public voice safety concerns.
San Francisco has been a testing ground for the technology.
Robotaxis from Google's Waymo in the city have been targeted by vandals opposed to autonomous vehicles, while GM-owned Cruise indefinitely suspended its robotaxi service at the end of October after several accidents sparked a crackdown by California regulators.
Tesla's "autopilot" feature has also come under scrutiny, facing accusations the marketing of the feature oversold its actual capabilities.
Tesla's robotaxi reveal came on the heels of a Reuters report that the company had abandoned Musk's long-touted plan to manufacture an electric car model selling close to $25,000 to drive adoption in the mass market.
Musk fired off a post denying the report.
Tesla this week reported sharply lower first-quarter auto sales amid an underwhelming demand outlook for electric vehicles, while legacy players including Toyota rode improved US inventories to higher sales.
Musk's auto giant reported global deliveries fell 8.5 percent in the quarter, reflecting in part a weak sales market in China, where it faces heavy competition from local electric vehicle makers.
Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the quarterly results "an unmitigated disaster."


Bumpy Ride for Electric Cars in Europe

Sales of plug-in 'zero emission' vehicles have stalled in Europe. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
Sales of plug-in 'zero emission' vehicles have stalled in Europe. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
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Bumpy Ride for Electric Cars in Europe

Sales of plug-in 'zero emission' vehicles have stalled in Europe. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
Sales of plug-in 'zero emission' vehicles have stalled in Europe. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File

Electric cars are a key part of Europe's green transition plans but the road ahead remains littered with obstacles with 10 years to go before a crucial milestone.
Despite the fact that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned in the European Union as of 2035, sales of plug-in "zero emission" vehicles have stalled in the region in recent months, AFP said.
The market share for electric cars has shrunk from 14.16 percent last year to 12 percent or less since the start of this year, a drop attributed mainly to Germany's decision to abruptly halt subsidies for electric car purchases on Europe's biggest market at the end of 2023.
Sigrid de Vries, director general of the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA), expressed "concern".
Fewer than 30 percent of Europeans say they plan to buy an electric vehicle (EV), according to the ACEA, and more than half refuse to pay more than 35,000 euros ($37,750) for a car, a price level offering few EVs.
The "2035 deadline... is really just around the corner, especially when you talk production cycles," de Vries told an EV conference last week in Lillestrom, Norway.
"We need to go from 15 percent (zero-emission cars) to 100 percent in about just around 10 years," she said.
At the end of 2023, EVs passed the "tipping point" of five percent -- considered the point of mass adoption -- in 31 countries around the world, according to the Bloomberg news agency.
But only two-thirds of the EU's 27 member states have surpassed this level.
Cars are Europeans' primary mode of transport, and account for 15 percent of Europe's CO2 emissions.
Making vehicles emissions-free is therefore essential if the EU wants to meet its climate commitments.
Norway, a non-EU member -- and also a major oil and gas producer -- is a leader in EV adoption.
Led by Tesla, electric vehicles accounted for 90 percent of new car registrations in Norway in the first quarter thanks to generous tax incentives.
The country aims to reach the 100 percent mark by 2025.
Carmakers like Volkswagen and Volvo have already ended sales of their combustion models in Norway.
See-sawing sales
Elsewhere, the industry's electrification is largely sluggish.
Britain has pushed back by five years its ban on the sale of new combustion cars, now expected in 2035, and many see this target as unrealistic to reach in Europe.
But Nissan, one of the first traditional carmakers to roll out a plug-in with its Leaf model, says sales that yo-yo are not a concern.
"It see-saws and it will always be like that," Guillaume Pelletreau, Nissan's vice president of electrification and connected services, told AFP.
"There was a really strong start to the wave of electrification in the past two years and now we are starting to normalize the process a bit," he said.
"We see nonetheless a clear upwards trend."
Volkswagen, Stellantis and Renault plan to introduce new, less expensive electric models in coming months, but they are also relying on their hybrid models to boost sales.
One of the main hurdles cited by industry experts is the difficulty to roll out the necessary EV infrastructure quickly and broadly.
More than half of the EU's charging stations are found in just two countries: Germany and the Netherlands, according to the ACEA.
In Spain for example, where people replace their cars only every 14 years on average, 65 percent of owners park them in the street, making charging a challenge, said Isabel Gorgoso, head of "new mobility" at energy group Cepsa.
"If you think about Norway 10 years ago, then you have Spain now," she said.
Other obstacles cited are the heaps of EU regulations for carmakers -- up to nine new ones per year -- and ever-changing national policies, which could be exacerbated further by rising support for Europe's populist movements, which are generally climate-skeptic.
"With high-stake European elections around the corner, what happens in the next few months could really determine the fate of Europe's vehicle industry," de Vries said.


US and Japan Announce Joint Partnership to Accelerate Nuclear Fusion

US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida listen to translation during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, US, April 10, 2024. (Reuters)
US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida listen to translation during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, US, April 10, 2024. (Reuters)
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US and Japan Announce Joint Partnership to Accelerate Nuclear Fusion

US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida listen to translation during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, US, April 10, 2024. (Reuters)
US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida listen to translation during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, US, April 10, 2024. (Reuters)

The United States and Japan announced a joint partnership to accelerate development and commercialization of nuclear fusion, the US Department of Energy said on Wednesday.

The partnership was announced as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was in Washington for a summit with President Joe Biden.

US Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk and the Japan Minister of Education, Sports, Science and Technology Masahito Moriyama, met in Washington on Tuesday to discuss fusion.

The partnership is intended to focus on addressing scientific and technical challenges of delivering commercially viable fusion.

Scientists, governments, and companies have been trying for decades to harness fusion, the nuclear reaction that powers the sun, to provide carbon-free electricity. It can be replicated on Earth with heat and pressure using lasers or magnets to fuse two light atoms into a denser one, releasing large amounts of energy.

Unlike plants that run on fission, or splitting atoms, commercial fusion plants, if ever built, would produce little long-lasting radioactive waste.

The two countries will also agree to support sustainable aviation fuel in a statement from the summit, two sources with knowledge of the talks between the countries said.