weMessage supports most of iMessage’s basic features, including group chats, attachments, renaming chats, etc. Reactions and effects might come at a later date. Messages travel through Apple’s servers, so their security and privacy is ensured. On weMessage’s end, data is AES encrypted from weServer to the weMessage app and vice versa.Scott insists that weMessage makes no use of reverse engineering or doesn’t engage in malicious activity. All the tools he used were the very same tools Apple provides every app developer. But here is perhaps the biggest catch: even he doesn’t know if he’s in violation of Apple’s or Google’s terms. And both companies are prone to change policies or withdraw developer tools and API in response to a new, unforeseen, and unintended use. In this complex and convoluted world of license, terms of services, and policies, simply doing things innocently is often no longer enough.SOURCE: weMessage One of the most requested Apple services on Android has always been iMessage. Naturally, Apple is not too keen on yielding even an inch to its rival. Sure, it has conceded Apple Music, but that was more to bolster its iTunes business. iMessage is a totally different beast and is unlikely to have an official Android app. Enter weMessage, the latest attempt at a third-party solution, one that is innocent and pure yet still unlikely to last that long. When you learn how weMessage works, you might have a “duh!” moment since it doesn’t exactly do anything out of the ordinary. What does make it somewhat impressive is that it was all done by a lone 16 year old programmer by the name of Roman Scott. Kids these days!weMessage doesn’t do any magic, which is part of its appeal and why the developer believes it might not be taken down by either Apple or Google. At its most basic, it simply relays iMessage messages sent to Apple’s service and received on a Mac to an Android device. Therein lies the first catch: you need a macOS computer for this to work. The weServer simply uses the very same tools and API that Apple provides to ferry messages from Mac to Android.
In an interesting turn of events, Google Chrome appeared on the Windows Store today. Even though we never thought we’d see it there, it appears that Google is looking to attract some Windows Store adherents to its web browser. There are a few things that make this strange, especially when you realize that Google hasn’t published an actual app to the Windows Store. Instead of publishing the browser itself, the Windows Store download merely opens the Chrome download page from Google. When your download from the Windows Store completes, launching it will simply open a browser window where you’ll be prompted to download the Chrome installer. It’s certainly a weird way to handle things, and looking at some of the reviews on Chrome’s Windows Store listing, users aren’t too pleased about it.So, even though we’re seeing a listing for Chrome go live on the Windows Store today, it isn’t the actual browser that you’ll be downloading. The reason for this is likely laid plain right on the Windows Store page: Chrome won’t work with Windows 10 S, and until that changes (which it probably never will), Google probably doesn’t want to give direct access to Chrome through the Windows Store.Those who want to use Chrome will need to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. While that upgrade is free for now, it won’t stay that way forever. Not only that, but the upgrade to Windows 10 Pro is a one-way deal, meaning you can’t return to Windows 10 S after you apply the upgrade.We’ll see if anything about this Chrome listing changes, but don’t expect it to. Google hasn’t exactly thrown its support behind the Windows Store in the time since it launched, leaving users to access Google services through their browsers. While it would be nice to one day have something like a Windows 10 Gmail app, this Chrome listing doesn’t really make us hopeful that such an app is in the works.Update: Perhaps unsurprisingly, the listing for Chrome on the Windows Store has been taken down. We don’t know if Google or Microsoft is responsible for the take down, nor do we know if it’ll be replaced at a later date. We’ll keep an eye on it, though, and report back if anything new happens on this front. read more
The HP Tango will be available in October with a starting price of $149. Apps for Android and iOS are also available. If you want a fancy cover to go along with the printer, you can order the $199 HP Tango X instead, with covers available in Indigo Linen, Charcoal Linen, and, soon, Cork Currant. Everything these days are being made smart but the one thing in the office that hasn’t been upgraded that much is the humble printer. Sure, we’re supposed to cut down on paper waste these days and most printers do connect to your home or office and that’s pretty much it. In aiming to “reinvent” the printer, HP designed its new Tango printer around the one thing that everything else is these days: your smartphone. The HP Tango is perhaps the most app-centric printer in the market. Whereas most printers find their use connected to a PC or Mac, this one mostly takes its data from smartphones and lives untethered in your house or office. In fact, the Tango’s visual design makes it almost a part of the room’s decoration rather than just a piece of office equipment. It almost looks like an even larger Google Home Max.And it’s not just a one-way street either. The HP Tango can push notifications to your smartphone as well, especially when it’s running low on ink. Or better yet, you can have it automatically order a refill through HP’s Instant Ink subscription service. And just like any smart device these days, it can be controlled via voice through Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or even Microsoft Cortana. Oddly, no Apple Siri. Yes, you can already print from your smartphone, so what’s the big deal? Well, can you print from you’re phone while out and about, like at a safari? With the HP Tango and HP’s mobile apps, you can! Hopefully someone will be at home or at the office to receive the print. read more
While the 2016 Geneva Motor Show has been overshadowed by the announcements of supercars like the Bugatti Chiron and Lamborghini Centenario, Porsche also quietly announced a new model that 911 enthusiasts have likely been waiting their whole lives for. It’s a new 911 R, a throwback to the 1967 model of the same name, one of Porsche’s most iconic road-ready race cars. A combination of features from the GT3 RS and a body that’s not overwrought with giant spoilers or wings, this could be the purest distillation of Porsche there is for driving enthusiasts. The 911 R is powered by the GT3 RS’s engine; that means a 4-liter naturally-aspirated flat-six-cylinder, producing just under 500hp. But there’s no sign of the RS’s fixed rear wing, instead just the subtle retractable spoiler that comes on all standard 911s.But the best part might be the fact that not only does this new 911 R come with a six-speed manual gearbox — no flappy paddles in sight — but it’s the only option available on this special edition model. Combined with a weight of 1,370kg, making it the lightest 911 in the range, going from 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds, and a top speed of 201mph, it nearly matches the GT3 RS in all the areas that count.Also borrowed from the RS are a carbon-fiber hood, a magnesium roof, and rear-wheel steering, but as should be clear by now, the 911 R isn’t for those who care about setting lap times on the track, it’s for drivers who enjoy an engaging experience on the road.AdChoices广告Throwbacks to the 1967 classic include the white paint job with a choice of either red or green stripes, as well as houndstooth fabric pattern on the seats, and fabric door pulls, something only the true motor sport-bred 911s features. Sadly, this is yet another special edition from Porsche and it’s priced at over $190,000, making it pricier than the GT3 RS. Don’t worry about that number though, the fact that only 991 are being produced means it will be sold out before you can even blink. At least we can always dream about hitting the road in the closest thing ever to a perfect Porsche. VIA Top Gear Story TimelinePorsche Mission E gets go-ahead to battle Tesla for realPorsche CEO says nein to autonomous carsSnow-drifting Porsche’s best cars to test the Re-Fuel GoPro Battery2016 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Review read more
How much useful electronics can you cram in a 1.6 mm thin piece of plastic? It might not sound like much but it’s actually enough for Safedome to squeeze in not only a Bluetooth radio but also a system-on-chip (SoC) and lithium-ion batteries. Enough essentials for an ultra-thin tracker that you can easily slip inside your wallet, bag, phone case, and any other valuable item that has pocket or compartment.AdChoices广告But Safedome already has an even thinner 0.76 mm card, the thinnest in the world. What makes the Safedome Recharge different, as its name so plainly points out, is its rechargeable battery. That itself, however, is nothing new either. Tile, the trailblazer in this market, has new trackers with replaceable batteries, though those are thick chips rather than slim cards. A closer rival is Orbit, which also has a thin rechargeable card. That, however, uses a proprietary charging clamp you can’t use for anything else.The Safedome Recharge, in contrast, uses the industry-standard Qi wireless technology. So while the Safedome Recharge does include a wireless charger in its package, you can use any Qi wireless charger that you have as well. Set up charging stations at home or in the office. Or charge anywhere with the growing number of portable batteries with wireless charging support. It only takes an hour to fully charge a card, which then earns you up to three months of use. You can even use Safedome’s wireless charger to top up your own phone. How’s that for reusability and standards compliance?Using the Safedome Recharge is also just as easy as keeping it charged. Like any Bluetooth tracker, it keeps tabs on its location and alerts you when you’ve gone too far without it. When that happens, you can use the app to direct you to the card’s last known location, almost like Waze. If you’re sure it’s really somewhere within hearing distance, you can even ring it to pinpoint its exact location. Yes, the card even has room for a 75 dBm speaker. And if you misplaced your smartphone instead, a simple button on the card will ring your mobile to reveal its hiding place. You can also setup up zones to remind you of specific cards or not to remind you at all. At $59.95, the Safedome Recharge looks pricey at first glance, especially compared to a single $35 Tile Pro or a $39.99 Orbit Card. But do remember that you are also getting a Qi wireless charging pad that you can use for your smartphone as well. The Android and iOS apps are, of course, free to download on any phone but Safedome recommends models that support Bluetooth LE for best results. With the Safedome Recharge, you really have no reason to forget or leave things behind. Unless you forget to charge the card, of course. Fortunately, it will remind you of that as well. Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. SlashGear’s opinions, reviews, and other editorial content remain objective and are not influenced by the sponsorship. Sponsored Feature Bluetooth trackers are nothing new and you might think there’s no more room for innovation in that space. After all, how far can you take a piece of plastic with a Bluetooth chip inside? Quite far, if you ask Safedome. And not just far but also long-lasting. The maker of the world’s thinnest Bluetooth tracker has come out with the Safedome Recharge card. Not only is it thin, it’s also rechargeable. Even better, it’s wirelessly rechargeable! read more
The world’s moving towards turbochargers and Audi’s not immune to the change, and as a result, we have this new Audi-built 2.9-liter V6 twin-turbo engine. It’s at the heart of the 2018 Audi Sport RS 5 Coupe, described by Stephan Winkelmann, CEO of Audi Sport GmbH., as “the gran turismo among the RS models from Audi Sport.” That means “elegant aesthetics with high everyday usability,” something I got to test out in full on the roads of Andorra. The RS 5 embodies Audi’s new design language, spearheaded by Chief Audi designer, Marc Lichte. Other than the roof, hood, and trunk lid, the RS 5 Coupe doesn’t share any other body components with the regular A5 and S5 cars. The fenders are 0.6-inches wider on both sides, with larger air ducts and a shallower and wider honeycomb-insert grille. These design cues are all inspired by the Audi 90 IMSA GTO, though bolder “quattro” badging, the subtle boot deck-lid spoiler, and two signature oval tailpipes are very much modern Audi. The driver gets Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, the all-digital instrumentation binnacle first introduced in the TT a few years back and, since then, available as an option on other Audi offerings. On the 2018 RS 5 Coupe, in the US, it’ll be standard-fit, and get a few RS-specific features such as the rev/shift indicator. When in manual shift mode, as the engine comes close to the limit, the center tach flashes up yellow and red bars suggesting that you should shift up immediately. Other RS-exclusive data includes a G-meter, tire temperatures, and horsepower and torque details.In another first for the RS product line, there’s now a RS-specific mode for the head-up display (HUD). It provides basic info such as speed, engine oil temperature, and driving directions, but throws in the shift indicator lights too. It’s a nice – and useful – touch that differentiates the car from other models in the family. Speaking of the family, the kiddos riding in the back get almost an inch more legroom thanks to the 0.6-inch increase in wheelbase, while more compact sports seats also save space compared to the first-gen RS 5. All-in-all, Audi’s bringing its A-game, and taking on the likes of the Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe. Personally, I’d class the AMG as a fairly over-the-top muscle car, whereas the 2018 RS 5 Coupe is more refined both in how it looks and how it drives. It’s a true gran tourismo, designed and engineered for long road trips, while still endowed with everything you’d need to drive briskly should the opportunity arise. As for comparing the RS 5 with BMW’s M4, while some might be tempted to cross-shop, I’d consider both cars to be different beasts altogether. If you’re in the market for a sleek, capable long-distance cruiser with a sporty soul, keep an eye out for the RS 5 Coupe to arrive stateside in the first quarter of 2018. Pricing is yet to be confirmed for the US, but expect things to kick off from around $70k. Normally I wouldn’t write up a review of a first drive car, but this RS 5 Coupe drive was no typical program. The challenge started with choosing a car, though that proved to be a no-brainer given that the new halo color is Sonoma Green Metallic. Unlike the gray with black optics package, or red with aluminum exterior trim, the green and black optics took some time to grow on me. It’s a shade of green much darker than the brighter hue that helped distinguish the new RS 3 that we drove a few months back in Oman. That being said, a few hours in and out of the car driving towards Andorra, it grew on me. Would I buy the RS 5 Coupe in this color? I can’t quite say. For that matter, would I buy the RS 3 in the bright green? I’m not sure about that either. While they’re both unique for each car, I’m not sure how well they’ll age over time. The white was a great looking color option while the blue felt muted in a way that hid much of the new character lines. That leaves gray, and while it might seem like a too-safe choice in reality it looks absolutely gorgeous. Pair it with the US-only black optics exterior trim option and you’ve got a car that’s going to age exceedingly gracefully in the years ahead. Story TimelineAudi RS 5 Cabriolet pairs sun with sports performanceAudi RS 3 Sportback can hit 62mph in 4.3 seconds2015 Audi RS5 Coupe Sport limited edition has 75 unit runAudi RS 6 Avant performance and RS 7 Sportback performance are torque monstersMan vs Machine: My rematch against Audi’s new self-driving RS 7Audi RS Q3 performance rockets from naught to 62.1mph in 4.4 secondsThe Road to Daytona Rolex 24 in Audi’s RS7 Performance and S8 PlusAudi RS 3 Sedan, customer race car break cover in Paris2017 Audi S3 First Drive: The compact sports sedan gets fiercer2018 Audi RS5 Coupe goes BMW baitingThe 400 horsepower 2018 Audi TT RS just got a US price So, too, are the underpinnings. The 2018 RS 5 Coupe is built on the MLB EVO B9 platform, also found at the core of other Audi models including the Q7, A4, Q5, the A5 family, and even the new A8. Weight savings include 68 pounds from the new engine – codenamed EA389 – which is significantly lighter than the old V8, and 33 pounds from the bodywork; in total, it’s 132 lbs less than the outgoing model. The trim I drove was fitted with a carbon fiber roof, too, contributing an additional 6.6 lbs cut, but unfortunately that won’t make it stateside, possibly because it doesn’t play nice with the moonroof Audi thinks American buyers demand.Forget the carbon fiber, though, because this new engine is all about horsepower and torque: 450 HP and 600 NM (453 lb-ft.) respectively, with a wide peak torque range running 1,900 to 5000 RPM, and a 6,500 RPM redline. Fans of the last-generation V8 may miss that engine’s much higher 8,500 RPM limiter, mind. Still, there was never a time when I felt like I needed more grunt, regardless of the gear I was in. Audi claims a 3.9-second time for 0-62 mph, and while my opportunity to test this out wasn’t scientific, the RS 5 Coupe certainly felt more than capable of that. Tick the RS Dynamic Package, meanwhile, and you get an increase in a top speed to 174 mph, along with dynamic steering, quattro with sport differential, RS sport suspension plus with Dynamic Ride Control (DRC), and Audi Matrix LED headlights. Frankly, for somewhere in the ballpart of $3k I’d say it’s a must-have for any RS 5 Coupe buyer. Less essential, but no less desirable for all that, is the $6k Dynamic Plus Package which adds a massive pair of 15.7-inch carbon ceramic brakes up front, a carbon-fiber engine cover, and tire temperature and pressure display.As Audi’s range expands, it can be hard to keep track of how the difference cars compare. At first glance, for instance, it looks a little strange that the S5 has a slightly larger, 3.0-liter engine. While there’s 0.1-liters less displacement in the RS 5 Coupe, it does gain a whole extra turbo in the process. That, Stephan Reil, Head of Technical Development for Audi Sport, says was done for a number of reasons many of which would only appeal to hardcore engineers, but it basically comes down to burning a better mixture of air and injected fuel in the combustion chambers. “The heads remain the same, the roof of the compressor is the same,” Reil explains, “but the piston and piston geometry working in conjunction with the reduced bore results in a better burning scenario.” Maximum turbocharger boost is 0.95, and as a result the new engine is on par with the outgoing naturally aspirated 4.2-liter V8. It only managed its 450 HP peak between 5,700 and 6,700 RPM, after all. Admittedly, there’s more lost along the way than just two cylinders: there’s also the distinctive noise of a V8. Instead, as it did with the TT RS, RS 3, and A5, Audi added a sound actuator at the base of the windshield. Downshifts get the snap and crackle you’d hope for, while the pop of the exhaust still comes through the tailpipes, not through the speakers. Put bluntly, the magic behind what Audi has done to build this emotional connection to the new engine is nothing short of fantastic. It’s also allowed for more tonal tuning. “It’s not the same as we have it in the A-segment with the 5-cylinder, it’s a little louder,” Benjamin Holle, of Audi Sport RS 5 Marketing told me, “but this is a B-segment car, geared more toward adults.” To the casual listener, I suspect most won’t notice the lacking cylinders compared to the V8; it’s only the subtle vibrations that really give things away. “Ninety-Nine percent of what you hear comes from the engine and the exhaust,” Holle points out. “What we have for low rev sections, when you’re not driving too fast, there’s a sound actuator located sitting right in front of the windscreen to get some vibration to get into the windscreen for low rev speed to create a sportiness impression for the interior.” It’s hard to think of Audi and not have Audi quattro all-wheel drive come to mind. In the case of the RS 5 Coupe, that means up to 60-percent of the torque to the rear wheels in normal driving, but as much as 85-percent shifted to the front should road conditions demand it. The rear wheels are also managed by the rear sport differential, which actively varies how much torque each gets: that maximizes traction, while the wheels can individually brake to improve cornering. The latter proved entirely noticeable in action slicing down the side of the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain.The new engine is mated with a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, adding an extra gear compared to the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic from the outgoing car. Now, it’s a fun gearbox to shift yourself, but no less effective when you let the transmission do its thing, leaving you to focus on the road ahead. For a good portion of the drive, Auto mode was more than enough for everyday driving. Compared to the regular S5 there’s a 0.3-inch drop in ride height, while the three-stage adjustable steel springs and shocks are managed by Audi’s ΩDynamic Ride Control system. One thing I noticed in Dynamic mode is, at speeds under around 60 mph, there’s a fair amount of vertical motion, the RS 5 Coupe riding a little like a sine wave. Switching to Individual mode, and setting everything to Dynamic bar the steering – which I left in Automatic or Comfort – proved to be a quick workaround. Otherwise, though, the driving dynamics of the new RS 5 proved more than rewarding. Smooth throttle response paired with neatly weighted steering help make this second-gen RS 5 Coupe one of the best gran touring two-doors money can buy. It’s on the heavy side, mind, so I didn’t expect to be able to throw it around like you would, say, a TT RS or the RS 3. Not to say it can’t be nimble, but the combination of tight switchbacks, straight line acceleration, and wide and fast sweeping turns demonstrated that there’s little that can unsettle the car, the steering, or the new engine.Riding on the 20-inch tires which will be standard for the US market, it’s hard not to hear the road noise; that just comes with the territory on wheels that big. Still, given that the road conditions decidedly weren’t the best in Andorra, the fact that so little road or wind noise made it through into the cabin was impressive. As for that cabin, if you opt for Sonoma Green Metallic paint it comes with black Nappa leather with matching stitching color in a honeycomb pattern. They’re combined with open-weave carbon fiber, while Audi gets the usual kudos for the authenticity of its materials at all the key touch points. Case in point are the climate control buttons: their brushed aluminum feels classy, and the touch-sensitive levers add a whole new dimension of sophistication that delights in daily use. read more
The same goes for Pandora, where you’ll see your recently played stations as well as the service’s recommendations for early morning music. Like with Spotify, users will be able to select from playlists, albums, recommendations, or specific songs.Of course, the same restrictions for YouTube Music and Pandora accounts apply. Namely, the option won’t be available for markets that don’t have YouTube Music yet. On Pandora’s side, only Premium subscribers will be able to search and select specific tracks and albums. Of course, you could always try to change your alarm tone every day, but that would be ridiculously tedious. Especially if the favorite music you want to wake up to isn’t even stored on your phone. Few Clock apps integrate with music streaming services but, fortunately, Google’s got your back.Once the latest Google Clock 6.1 app has been installed or updated on your Android phone, adding an alarm will inform you that a new “Wake up to music” option is available. The only requirement is that you have the service’s app installed. While all Android clock apps have a built-in selection of alarms, some prefer to personalize what they wake up to each day. Over time, however, you may become desensitized to that all too familiar sound. Fortunately, Google’s Clock app for Android does over a pinch of spontaneity and randomness by letting you select a Spotify playlist or album. With the latest version 6.1 update, you can also do the same with Pandora and YouTube music as well. ⏰ Go ‘head and ring the alarm! ⏰ Now YouTube Music Premium works with the Clock app from @Google. Wake up *or snooze* to your favorite tracks every morning → https://t.co/kzr47LKTRy pic.twitter.com/Xv0gFsq7PQ— YouTube Music (@youtubemusic) February 28, 2019 read more
Volvo 360c Gallery As a result, while the Swedish automaker may have a reputation for focusing on safety above all else, it’s keen to add “innovator” to that legacy, too. Speaking in Gothenburg, Sweden, at the unveiling of the 360c, Volvo’s top execs gave an unflinching assessment of the state of transportation in general and autonomy specifically. Unexpectedly, though, that started up in the air, not on the ground. Turns out, Mårten Levenstam, senior vice president of product strategy and business ownership at Volvo, really hates air travel. So much so, in fact, that he’s contemplating a whole new business opportunity for Volvo: disrupting short haul flights. “Typically for me it’s one hour to get to the airport, then one lousy hour at the airport getting through security,” Levenstam explains of his frustration. “Then maybe another hour’s flight, if it’s a short haul. And then one more hour home again.”That’s four hours in total; a period of time, Levenstam argues, within which you could probably drive the same distance. “From a consumer point of view it makes perfect sense to get rid of short haul flights,” he suggests, “because it’s a poor experience.” Currently, the downside to that idea is that your four hour road trip would require manually driving the car. Even with modern features like adaptive cruise control and steering assistance, that’s a far more hands-on experience than sitting back in your airplane seat and munching a bag of mini pretzels as you’re flown from A to B. That’s where autonomous vehicles come in. “We have never been in a place where we can do more things compared to now,” Levenstam suggests, pointing to the rapid convergence of electrification, autonomous driving, and connected vehicles. The real problem, he says, is on the human side. City planners aren’t thinking ahead to a self-driving ecosystem; those in charge of infrastructure aren’t giving sufficient thought to things like dedicated autobahns for high-speed driverless EVs, which could be delivered power through the road as they whip between hubs. That’s before you get to the confusing and fragmented regulatory environment. “I think everybody now is stuck in their corner,” Levenstam says, “including politicians.” The current fears around just how safe autonomous vehicles are – and how safe they can be – before they’re deployed at scale is a distraction, he argues. “I think we’re framing that in the wrong direction,” he counters. “Right now, you’re calling the NHTSA to get these vehicles approved. I think you should call the Food and Drug Administration.”As he sees it, autonomous car regulations should operate much in the same way that new drugs are approved. When pharmaceutical companies launch a new medication, it goes through technical trials before getting the green-light for broader use. So, too, would driverless vehicles. “I think that’s a good way to think of autonomous cars,” Levenstam says. “It’s not a good way to say ‘deploy them when they are safe’ – that’s naive.”For Volvo particularly, Levenstam sees this as a potential new business opportunity. Just as Airbus and Boeing supply planes to the airlines, so the automaker could supply self-driving vehicles that would be used as “road planes.” Each would, in effect, be a luxury pod that would navigate between locations, replacing short-haul flights – and the need to physically go to an airport first – while the passenger was cosseted inside. All the same, there are legitimate questions around just how practical Volvo’s ideas might be in reality. For a start, it’s unclear just how many air travelers are potential “road plane” clientele. Even with the lower upfront and operating costs of an EV versus an aircraft, it’s unlikely that taking a sleeper 360c from New York to Washington DC would be a low-cost option. That could mean a few former occupants of the first class cabin moving into a driverless car, but whether it would have an impact on the number of people who typically travel in coach is questionable. Even if it did, the increase in traffic on road infrastructure would be significant. One of the reasons short-haul flights still make sense for airlines is economy of scale: 100 or more people in the same vehicle in the air, rather than 100 people each in their own, autonomous craft on the ground.Levenstam is upfront that his vision is more than just about Volvo positioning itself as the auto industry evolves. “My point is not really that this will happen – I think it will,” he says, “but really to talk about other changes we think will happen.” It needs buy-in at every step, from passengers through to those responsible for the logistics of transportation, to regulators and planners. No one company can make that journey alone. Volvo, though, is keen to be instrumental in how it’s navigated. While the 360c may be a concept, and a non-functional one at that, the automaker is simultaneously pushing ahead with its working autonomous platforms. Currently it supplies test cars to Uber, for instance, based on the XC90 SUV. The ride-sharing firm then adds its own autonomous hardware and software. Volvo’s upcoming SPA2, however, the next-generation architecture which will underpin future vehicles, is built from scratch to be ready for autonomous driving. That means built-in redundancy for key systems, along with space for sensors and compute power from partners like NVIDIA. “We are working very completely with engineering on this car,” Henrik Green, senior vice president of product and quality, says. Volvo envisages a modular business model, where partners could choose to use Volvo’s entire stack – including autonomous software from Zenuity, the joint-venture Volvo began in early 2017 with safety tech firm Autoliv – or could mix and match, depending on if they wanted to supply their own sensor suite, their own software, or indeed both. The SPA2 autonomous driving-ready – or AD-ready – platform should be ready in the next decade, Green says. The timeline for actual autonomous driving beyond that is more vague, and hinges in no small part on how eager Volvo’s business partners turn out to be to get driverless technology on the road. However it’s delivered, there’s no doubt that Volvo – and the Geely Group in general – isn’t sleeping on self-driving’s potential. “Compared to a few years ago we have significantly multiplied the number of engineers that work on autonomous driving,” Green points out. That includes Volvo’s own engineers, and those at Zenuity. Importantly, it’s also willing to share. Maybe not the nuts and bolts of its driverless products, no, but – much in the way that Volvo offered its three-point seat belt technology to the rest of the industry back in 1959 – its broader research and findings, in the hope that collectively the industry will more rapidly work out autonomy’s kinks, refine its safety, and hopefully ensure inter-compatibility between vehicles from different brands. “There is no single player who will crack all the [parts] of this situation,” Green points out. Levenstam agrees: it’s not just a Volvo without a steering wheel, or a taxi without a driver, he insists, despite short-sighted interpretations of self-driving cars being just that. “We ware seeing one of the biggest changes in mobility right now,” the strategist underscores, “and I think we fail to see that.” Volvo’s “road planes” are, it’s true, unlikely to be plowing up and down dedicated driverless autobahns any time soon. Nonetheless, the automaker is determined. It doesn’t plan on waiting around for someone else to invent the technology – or, for that matter, to corner the market in it. Air travel is dire, autonomous car development is split into poorly-communicating silos, and the goal of cutting road fatalities and making better use of infrastructure simply isn’t the priority it ought to be. That, at least, is how Volvo sees the state of play in the self-driving world, and while the striking new 360c concept car may be a very visible expression of its focus on autonomy, arguably it’s its ambitions for co-development and exploring new businesses that are more dramatic. Story TimelineVolvo promises self-driving tech you can snooze while using in 2021Volvo Car Mobility Launches MSix Volvo 360c features we really need in production cars read more
What you’re about to see is a set of smartphones made by Hasan Kaymak, 3D rendered to perfection. These concepts cover the iPhone 11 (assuming that’s the name that’ll be chosen by Apple) and the iPhone 11R, because we’re already ahead of ourselves, why not go the extra mile? Why not go ahead and make some design choices of your own?Above and below are the futuristic iPhone designs Kaymak posted to his portfolio site. These images take the otherwise relatively bland-looking non-popping images of the leaked iPhone 11 design and make them POP! Early design concept looks at the iPhone 11 had some of us shocked. Why would Apple put several cameras in a square box-like configuration? Why would Apple allow that box to overlap the Apple symbol lower on the machine in a non-flattering way? If what Kaymak did with those early leaks turns out to be closer to the truth, I see what the designers of this Apple hardware had in mind. It makes sense now.AdChoices广告The shine of the different sorts of materials make the 3D layers of this design dance. The colors and angles used by Kaymak make the devices desirable. They’re fresh, new, and put in the most flattering of poses. What Kaymak did was not just an exercise in exploring the future of Apple smartphone design, it was an effort to take Apple’s own presentation of devices up a notch. Now, if only we could convince Apple to make one of their next phones in Slime Green, I’d be joyful! Today I happened upon the work of an artist by the name of Hasan Kaymak, and I’ve seen the next iPhone in a couple different iterations. The dangers in seeing leaked hardware are many – one of them is discovering the industrial design of a device in an unflattering light. Apple’s been suffering from this situation for about a half-decade – but, lucky them, there are top-notch next-gen designers out in the wild looking to make a name for themselves in taking leaked concepts and making them look glorious. read more
If you aren’t sure about the difference between a Chevy Bolt and Volt, you’re not alone.The decision by General Motors to give the company’s two plug-in electric vehicles such similar names was bound to create confusion. “Did you say Bolt or Volt?” is a common refrain among EV shoppers.To add more confusion, mainstream consumers are uncertain about the differences between a hybrid like the Volt and an electric vehicle like the Bolt. But it’s precisely this technological distinction that distinguishes the two vehicles, as follows:The Chevrolet Bolt (with a B) is a pure electric vehicle. The only source of the Bolt’s propulsion is an electric motor. To “fuel” a Bolt, you plug it in to charge its battery pack. You never go to the gas station because the Bolt doesn’t have an engine, gas tank, or a tailpipe.The Chevrolet Volt (with a V) is a plug-in hybrid. It has two power plants. The Volt uses both a battery to power an electric motor and a gas tank to power an internal combustion engine. Sometimes the Volt works and feels like an electric car and other times it functions as a regular gasoline vehicle. Volt drivers plug in their cars on most days but only visit a gas station a few times a year. Electric Driving Range238 miles53 miles Interior Space94.4 cubic feet90.2 cubic feet Battery Size60 kilowatt-hours18.4 kilowatt-hours Starting Price (before incentives)$36,620$33,220 Onboard Charger7.2 kilowatts7.2 kilowatts Chevy BoltChevy Volt Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on October 18, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News Drivers of the Chevrolet Volt almost never go to a gas station. But the gas engine is available for long trips.Both cars are among the most efficient vehicles on the road. For practical purposes, the big difference between the two vehicles is the size of their battery packs. In this case, size does matter. The battery pack size is the main factor that determines how far you can go on electrons. While the Bolt has a much larger battery pack and can go nearly 240 miles on a charge, when its battery is depleted, you have to stop and recharge. On the other hand, when the electric juice runs out on a Volt after about 50 miles, the onboard gasoline engine fires up and runs until you have a convenient opportunity to plug it back in.How Far Can You Go on Electricity?The Chevy Bolt’s 60 kilowatt-hour battery pack provides an estimated 238 miles of range.Bolt: The Bolt can store an ample 60 kilowatt-hours of energy. It has an EPA-estimated driving range of 238 miles on a single charge. Considering that American commuters, on average, drive about 40 miles per day, the Bolt can provide several days of service before needing to be charged. Nonetheless, most Bolt drivers plug in every night before they go to sleep so they can wake up the next morning with a full battery pack capable of those 238 miles of driving.The EPA rates the Bolt’s efficiency at the equivalent of 119 miles per gallon, in combined city/highway driving. But the most important number to consider is its 238-mile range, which is extraordinary for an affordable electric car that only costs around $30,000 after the federal government’s $7,500 tax credit is considered.The Volt’s 18.4 kilowatt-hour pack stores enough to cover more than 50 miles of driving purely on electricity.Volt: At 18.4 kilowatt-hours, the Volt’s battery pack is pipsqueak compared to what’s in the Bolt. That’s the point. With a plug-in hybrid like the Volt, the idea is to provide just enough energy storage for a single day’s needs, and then to rely on gasoline for road trips. The Volt is estimated by the EPA to travel 53 miles purely on electricity. After that, the Volt uses gasoline from an 8.9-gallon tank to power a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The Volt’s total combined driving range of electricity and gasoline is 420 miles.The Volt’s EPA combined city/highway efficiency rating is the equivalent of 106 miles per gallon. That’s when the Volt is operating as an electric car. When the 18.4 kilowatt-hour battery is depleted, and the car starts working like a conventional no-plug hybrid, its efficiency falls to 42 mpg, which is still quite thrifty on fuel.Winner: Chevy BoltThe Bolt’s 238 miles of driving range beats the Volt’s 53 miles.Which Car Is More Fun To Drive?The Chevy Bolt reaches 60 miles per hour in about 6.5 seconds.Bolt: Many consumers don’t realize electric cars are very quick off the line. The Bolt sprints from 0 to 60 miles per hour in a brisk 6.5 seconds. It completes a quarter-mile in about 15 seconds. The Bolt’s top speed is governed to 91 miles per hour. The EV’s powertrain provides 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque via a one-speed automatic transmission.With the heavy battery pack positioned beneath the cabin floor, the Bolt has a lower center of gravity than the Volt, which gives the car a solid feel. When you shift the Bolt into Sport mode, it adds even more driving excitement. And there’s a Low gear setting that maximizes the regenerative braking so the car slows down to a stop without needing to use the brake pedal. The combination of Sport mode and Low create both an enjoyable and efficient driving experience.The 0-60 mph performance of the Volt is about 7.5 seconds.Volt: Car publications, such as Edmunds and MotorTrend, peg the Volt’s zero-to-60 performance at about 7.5 seconds. Its 101-horsepower, 1.5-liter engine and its pair of electric motors combine to produce 149 horsepower and 294 pound-feet of torque.The second-generation Volt, which was introduced in 2016, operates more like a traditional hybrid than the first-gen model, finding the best combination of electric and gas power for maximum efficiency and performance, depending on the driver’s inputs and road conditions. Even when the battery is depleted, the Volt could pull power from the electric motor to exclusively operate the car under 15 miles per hour. Similarly, the gas engine could contribute torque when power is needed, even though the battery pack is not yet depleted. The Volt’s driving manners are also hybrid-like because it uses a smooth continuously-variable transmission (CVT), whereas the Bolt deploys a more responsive single-speed all-electric transmission.Winner: Chevy BoltThe Bolt reaches 60 mph about one second faster than the Volt.Charging Times for The Bolt and VoltUsing a quick charger, the Bolt can add 90 miles of range in about 30 minutes.Bolt: Plugging in an electric car takes about 10 seconds. After you pull into your garage or driveway, you simply reach for the connector from a wall-mounted 240-volt charging unit and place it in the Bolt’s inlet on the driver-side front panel. This assumes that you have access to a home charging station, which commonly costs a few hundred dollars to purchase and install. With the Bolt’s 7.2-kilowatt onboard charger, you can add about 25 miles of driving range in one hour. When charging at home, the cost for the equivalent of a gallon of gas is about one dollar, although it varies depending on where you live.The Bolt has a big, 60 kilowatt-hour battery pack. On the rare days when you arrive home on an empty battery, it would take a full overnight charge of eight to nine hours to restore all 238 miles of driving range. But in a typical day of driving of about 40 miles, it takes less than two hours to restore the full supply of energy. It’s possible – but not advisable – to rely on a regular 110-volt charge that only adds about four miles of driving range per hour.Chevy also offers an optional $750 fast-charging port for the Bolt. This could be helpful for road trips because it allows you to add about 90 miles of range in around 30 minutes from certain types of public chargers. The fast charger can be extremely helpful for a trip of 300 to 400 miles. But even with the fast-charging port, road trips require planning a route with highway-based charging stations that use the CCS standard.The 2019 Volt has a 7.2-kW charger that fully charges the car in about 2.5 hours.Volt: The beauty of a plug-in hybrid like the Chevy Volt is that it eliminates so-called range anxiety. If the Volt’s 18.4-kWh, 53-mile battery pack gets depleted, just spin over to a gas station and fill ‘er up. You can travel coast to coast using the Volt’s 42-mpg gas engine, just like you would take a road trip with an internal combustion car.However, for nearly every day of the year, you can charge up at home, thereby avoiding the need to go to a gas station or spew emissions from the tailpipe. Many Chevy Volt owners say they visit a gas station only two or three times a year.The 2019 Chevrolet Volt offers the same 7.2-kilowatt charging speed as the Chevy Bolt. Considering that the Volt’s battery is less than one-third the size as what’s on the Bolt, you can refill the pack with a 240-volt source in less than 2.5 hours. If you have can charge during the day, then your Volt’s battery is even less likely to run out of energy, so you can stay in electric mode longer. The 7.2-kW system is standard on the Volt Premier. It’s optional on the Volt LT, though, which otherwise would take twice as long to charge using a 3.6-kW charger.Given the Volt’s relatively small battery pack and backup gas engine, the quick-charging capability is unnecessary.Winner: Toss-up.The Bolt and Volt use the same 7.2-kW charger so the rate of restoring range is the same.Comparing Passenger and Cargo SpaceThe Bolt’s interior space measures 94.4 cubic feet, which is four more cubes than the Volt’s space.Bolt: The Chevrolet Bolt is a tall, upright compact hatchback. But it’s interior space measuring 94.4 cubic feet is bigger than you might expect. It has an upright, SUV-like high driver position with excellent visibility.The five-seat Bolt EV comfortably seats two adults in the back – or three people can squeeze in with reasonable space for short trips. Because there’s not a tunnel running down the center of the floor, the middle seat in the back has good foot room. However, the cushions are somewhat flat.With all the seats up and in use, there are 16.9 cubic feet of cargo space. The Bolt offers 60/40 folding seats to create more space. Knock down all the seats for an SUV-like 56.6 cubic feet of cargo space.Volt: The Chevy Volt is a low-slung, sedan-like compact. Its length is 180.4 inches compared to the Bolt’s more stubby 164 inches. The Volt’s wheelbase is also nearly four inches longer. However, the Volt’s 90.2 cubic feet of passenger volume is four cubes smaller than the Bolt, and you feel it. The Volt’s cabin is also lower to the ground with a height measurement of 56.4 inches compared to the Bolt’s 62.9 inches.The Volt nominally has five seats, but the middle rear seat is very tight because of the battery tunnel. Thick roof pillars also compromise driver visibility some drivers. The Volt offers a modest 10.6 cubic feet of cargo space, significantly less than what the Bolt provides. When you fold down the Volt’s seats, the cargo area expands to an estimated 30 cubic feet. (GM doesn’t provide the exact number.)Winner: Chevy Bolt.The Bolt looks smaller from the outside but provides more interior space than the Volt.The Price For a Bolt Versus a VoltThe Volt has a lower entry-level price than the Bolt.Bolt: The Bolt EV is available in two trim levels: the base LT at $36,620 and the Premier trim for $40,905. Most shoppers will qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit, as well as some state and local incentives depending on where you live. The two trim levels use the same powertrain and differ mostly on cabin and safety features.The Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier includes leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, and a heated steering wheel, as well as Surround Vision (for a bird’s-eye view of the car’s surroundings), blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and rear parking sensors. The LT is well equipped with a 10.2-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Proximity-key entry and push-button start, a Backup camera, and 4G LTE with mobile Wi-Fi. A Comfort and Convenience package can be added for $550, bringing heated seats and a heated steering wheel. The $500 Driver Confidence package, meanwhile, provides blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.The Bolt starts as low as $29,995, after the federal tax credit (excluding destination charges).Volt: The base Chevy Volt LT begins at $33,220, a few thousand dollars less than the Bolt’s starting price. The upper-trim Volt Premier at $37,570 also beats the sticker for the Bolt Premier. The Volt Premier adds an eight-speaker Bose audio system, leather upholstery, heated front seats, and automatic parking assist. Volt customers also have the option of the Driver Confidence and Comfort packages available on the Bolt.The Volt starts as low as $26,595 after the federal tax credit (excluding destination charges).Winner: Chevy VoltThe Volt costs less than the Bolt.Bolt vs. Volt: By The Numbers **Note: Our apologies for the red font in the graphic above. We are currently experiencing some technical TablePress issues.All things considered, the Bolt wins the battle over its sibling plug-in car.As you can see, the two vehicles might have nearly identical names but they are quite different. Nonetheless, based on all their respective features, we can declare an overall winner and the best car for different types of drivers.Best Overall: BoltThe Chevrolet Bolt’s combination of long-distance electric driving, fun behind the wheel, and creature comforts give it a decisive edge over the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid. However, until there is ubiquitous fast-charging along major highway routes, the Volt is a better choice for drivers who frequently take to the open road for long journeys, don’t have access to a 240-volt charger, or those who tend to worry about driving range.Best for Drivers Taking Frequent Long-Distance Road Trips: VoltBest Value Especially If You Can Charge Throughout the Day: VoltBest If You Want to Entirely Dump the Pump: Bolt Source: Electric Vehicle News 0 – 60 MPH6.5 seconds7.5 seconds read more
Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on March 23, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle News Video: Tesla Model Y Post-Event In-Depth Discussion & Analysis Plugged In: The $35,000 Tesla Model 3 & Some Tesla Chaos: Video Plugged In: First U.S. Kona Electric Delivery, Hyundai EV Strategy After selling about 11,000 Kona EVs in November and December combined, Hyundai only registered a total of a little over 5,000 Kona EV sales in January and February.Why is that? There’s clearly enough demand. California dealerships are charging over MSRP, and many European markets report a year waiting long wait to get one. Hyundai’s decision to limit Kona EV sales to only the ten ZEV states in the US has definitely upset many Kona EV fans.We also talk briefly about Tesla’s recent flurry of changes and announcements, and whether or not we think that’s a problem for the company. Check out the video and let us know in the comments what topics you’d like to see discussed in next week’s show. Kona sales drop and Tesla continues to make several changes.Each week on the Youtube channel E For Electric, Alex and I discuss some of the important electric vehicle news we’ve covered during the week. One of the main topics discussed in this week’s “Plugged In” video is the abrupt drop in sales for the Hyundai Kona EV.Plugged In With Tom Moloughney Source: Electric Vehicle News read more
Source: Charge Forward China has announced its plans to reduce subsidies for electric cars sold in the country, as has been expected for some time. more…The post China reduces electric car subsidies appeared first on Electrek.
Looking for an electric car that won’t break the bank when it comes to insurance? Well, you’ve come to the right place then.Though driving an electric car saves money in terms of lower operating and maintenance costs than a conventionally powered vehicle, insurance premiums tend to be higher. In a study conducted by the personal finance website NerdWallet.com, auto insurance quotes for electric cars were found to be 21 percent higher, on average, than comparable gas-powered models.More EV News 2. KIA SOUL EVAverage annual premium: $1,663. Due for a 2020 model-year redesign, the current Kia Soul EV remains affordable and practical, with a roomy interior and many available upscale features, though its 111-mile operating range is a bit short by today’s standards.1. SMART EQ FORTWOAverage annual premium: $1,486. The tiny Smart EQ ForTwo may only seat two riders, have limited trunk space, and a comparatively brief 58-mile range on a charge, but it’s cheap to own and insure. Auto insurance for the convertible version is only nominally pricier at an average $1,688. Choosing A Home Electric Car Charger: Here’s Some Advice Source: Electric Vehicle News Electric Cars With The Best Resale Value For 2019 Updated Look At Electric Car Tax Incentives & Credits As is the case with other auto segments, some vehicles are inherently more expensive to cover than others. Models that fare the best in terms of claims history, including the cost of physical damage the car both incurs and inflicts upon other vehicles in a crash and the severity of personal injuries involved, tend to enjoy the lowest rates. Does that mean EVs are less safe or more accident-prone than other vehicle types? Not at all.WHAT AFFECTS EV INSURANCE RATESThe key here is the fact that EVs generally cost more to repair after getting into a wreck than conventionally powered rides. Less-expensive vehicles tend to be cheaper to repair, and will reach a lower threshold before being “totaled” after an accident. EVs tend to cost more to restore after getting into a crash because of their pricey battery packs and other factors.Take, for example, the Kia Soul EV, which starts at around $35,000, compared to the base gas-powered Soul (with an automatic transmission) at just over $19,000. The gas version’s premiums cost an average $1,442 a year, while the EV costs an average $1,663 annually, according to the rate calculator at Insurance.com.By that yardstick it should come as no surprise that most expensive EVs to cover are the priciest. Not only is the Tesla Model S the electrified ride that suffers the highest national average insurance rates at an annual $3,300, it’s among the costliest-to-cover vehicles in the industry. And that’s for the base model that starts at around $80,000. You can expect to pay a lot more for the top trim level with the available Ludicrous Mode with a sticker price over $115,000. The Tesla Model X SUV comes in at a close second at an annual average premium of $3,042. According to a separate source, Tesla’s Model 3 costs a yearly average of $2,814 to cover.The average among all 2019 models, according to Insure.com, is $1,812. We’re featuring the five EVs among this year’s crop of models in the above slideshow that enjoy auto insurance rates at or below the average annual cost. (Some newer EVs, like the electric versions of the Hyundai Kona and Kia Niro, are not yet included in the website’s database.)The rates quoted here and in the slideshow are national averages based upon a hypothetical low-risk driver. Insurance premiums can vary significantly from one motorist to another based on personal factors like gender, age, your credit rating, and driving record. Rates are also dependent on where you live, with those living in densely populated urban areas paying more than those who live in sleepier rural areas. They also fluctuate from one state to another based on regulations and court decisions governing insurance companies. For example, a BMW i3 will cost an average $3,235 to insure if you live in Michigan, but only $1,252 a year if you reside in Maine.CUTTING YOUR COSTSBut insuring an electric vehicle needn’t bust one’s budget. The best way to insure you’re paying the lowest possible rates is to compare costs among multiple carriers. The cost difference can amount to several hundred dollars per year, depending on the model and provider. This is especially important if your driving record or other personal criteria is at issue. Each insurance company uses its own actuarial formulas to determine a given motorist’s rates, with some charging more or less based on his or the aforementioned risk factors.On top of that, be sure you’re getting every obtainable discount for which you’re entitled. Providers typically give policyholders a break for bundling car and homeowner’s or renter’s coverage, for driving less than a set number of miles per year, taking a driver safety course, and for using a device that monitors your driving habits and the number of miles traveled.Also, if you’re on a budget, keep in mind that late-model used EVs are both cheaper to purchase and insure. A two-year-old Tesla Model S will cost an average of $641 a year less than it takes to cover a new one. Check out the selection of nationally available pre-owned electric.5. CHEVROLET BOLT EVAverage annual premium: $1,883. The Chevrolet Bolt EV, with a 238-mile range on a charge, is at about average among all vehicle in terms of its insurance premiums, according to the website Insure.com.4. AUDI E-TRONAverage annual premium: $1,845. Surprisingly for a model that’s just being released, Insure.com has average insurance premium data for the new Audi e-tron, and apparently it’s less than one might think. With a starting price near $80,000, the sporty e-tron is estimated to deliver a 248-mile range with a full battery.3. NISSAN LEAFAverage annual premium: $1,727. With an operating range of 150 miles (and a new Plus model coming later this year that can run for 226 miles at a time), the popular Nissan Leaf winds up being cheaper than the average new vehicle to insure. Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on April 1, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle News read more
The X1 xDrive25e with a 9.7 kWh battery and all-wheel drive will go more than 50 km (31 miles) in all-electric mode under the NEDC test cycle.Source: Electric Vehicle News
Double standard (sports edition), recent sentencing activity, and scrutiny alerts. It’s all here in the Friday roundup.Double Standard (Sports Edition)A public official wants tickets to a high-profile sporting event. So, through his aides, he asks the entity hosting the event for free tickets. The entity obliges because it needs the public official’s support in a variety of contexts.A prudent FCPA practitioner would spot the “red flags” as the free tickets (mostly certainly something of value) could be viewed as a way to curry favor with the public official. Indeed, the competent FCPA practitioner will recall that several FCPA enforcement actions have been based, in whole or in part, on free tickets to sporting events.However, the public officials in the above example are not “foreign officials,” they are current U.S. officials who want tickets to high-profile college sporting events.Bribery? Silly you for even mentioning the “b” word. This is the US of A.For the latest edition of the double standard, see this Wall Street Journal article titled “Why Tickets Come Easy on Capitol Hill.”Why do interactions with “foreign officials” seem to be subject to different standards than interactions with U.S. officials? Why do we reflexively label a “foreign official” who receives “things of value” from private business interests as corrupt, yet generally turn a blind eye when it happens here at home? Is the FCPA enforced too aggressively or is enforcement of the U.S. domestic bribery statute too lax? Ought not there be some consistently between enforcement of the FCPA and the domestic bribery statute?As you contemplate these questions, just remember in the words of the DOJ – “we in the United States are in a unique position to spread the gospel of anti-corruption”For additional reading, see here for the recent article “The Uncomfortable Truths and Double Standards of Bribery Enforcement.” In addition, for approximately 50 other posts highlighting double standards, see this subject matter tag.Sentencing ActivityVicente GarciaThe DOJ announced:“Vicente Eduardo Garcia, 65, … was sentenced to 22 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer of the Northern District of California. On Aug. 12, 2015, Garcia pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). On July 15, 2015, Garcia and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) entered into a settlement of the parallel SEC investigation in which Garcia agreed, among other things, to pay disgorgement of $85,965 plus prejudgment interest. For this reason, the United States did not request, and the court did not order, forfeiture in the criminal action.”For the specifics of the underlying actions, see this prior post.Garcia’s sentencing memo contains a section titled “Why Vicente Did It.” It states:“Vicente participated in the bribery scheme here for two reasons: first, to get $150,000 that Advanced [a Third Party] owed him and, second, to secure the Panamanian government as a new customer for his employer SAP.Vicente’s did not start his business dealings with the Panamanian government intending to commit a crime. But Vicente ultimately did conspire to bribe Panamanian officials.He has cooperated with authorities since FBI and IRS agents confronted him at his offices. Other than this instance, Vicente’s business dealings have all been above board and legal.However, here, once the Minister of Technology made clear to Vicente and his colleagues that for Advanced to receive the contract he would require a bribe, Vicente, rather than refuse, acceded and assisted in the scheme—a decision that he deeply regrets. Though not an excuse, he rationalized it at the time as a way to correct his failure in trying to run his own business.”Vadim MikerinThis previous post highlighted the FCPA enforcement action against Daren Condrey, an owner and executive of a Maryland Transportation Company, for allegedly bribing Vadim Mikerin, an alleged foreign official employed by an alleged Russian state-owned / controlled entity.As highlighted in the prior post, Mikerin was also criminally charged and pleaded guilty to money laundering offenses. Earlier this week, the DOJ announced that Mikerin was sentenced to four years in prison and order to forfeit approximately $2.1 million dollars.As noted in the release, Condrey awaits sentencing.Jose HurtadoIn 2013 and 2014 the DOJ brought FCPA and related charges against various individuals associated with broker dealer Direct Access Partners in connection with alleged improper payments to Maria Gonzalez (V.P. of Finance / Executive Manager of Finance and Funds Administration at Bandes, an alleged Venezuelan state-owned banking entity that acted as the financial agent of the state to finance economic development projects).Recently Jose Hurtado was sentenced to three years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and consented to a $11.9 million forfeiture .Previously:Ernesto Lujan was sentenced to two years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and consented to a $18.5 million forfeiture.Tomas Clarke was sentenced to two years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and consented to a $5.8 million forfeiture.Benito Chinea was sentenced to four years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and consented to a $3.6 million forfeiture; andJoseph DeMeneses was sentenced to four years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and consented to a $2.7 million forfeiture.Scrutiny AlertsSociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A.Santiago, Chile based Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (SQM), a company with shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, recently issued this release stating:“[The] Company’s Board of Directors met … to receive and review a report presented by the U.S. law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP (the Report) for SQM’s AdHoc Committee, which was appointed by the Company’s board in a meeting held February 26, 2015.[…]SQM previously informed the relevant authorities and markets that this Committee had been formed and that it had hired the professional services of Shearman & Sterling LLP to investigate and analyze the possible liability for SQM under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), a United States of America law that applies to the Company as an issuer of securities in the U.S. market. The Chilean law firm Grupo Vial / Serrano Abogados and the international forensic services firm FTI Consulting, Inc. assisted Sherman & Sterling.The investigation specifically analyzed: (a) Whether the Company had made any payment defined as corrupt for FCPA purposes. (b) Whether the Company had breached the accounting provisions of the FCPA.The Company’s Management was fully cooperative and transparent during the investigation. Among other procedures, investigators collected more than 3.5 million documents and selected approximately 930,000 for review. In addition, 24 individuals were interviewed, including members of the board prior to April 2015, as well as SQM’s senior executives and other relevant employees. A forensic analysis of the Company’s accounting since 2008 was also conducted. Interviews were also requested from Mr. Patricio Contesse G.—former CEO of SQM—and Mr. Patricio Contesse F.—former director of SQM, but they declined.After close to nine months of investigation, Shearman & Sterling, assisted by Grupo Vial / Serrano Abogados and FTI Consulting, informed the Committee that for FCPA purposes: (a) payments were identified that had been authorized by SQM’s former CEO, Mr. Patricio Contesse G., for which the Company did not find sufficient supporting documentation; (b) no evidence was identified that demonstrates that payments were made in order to induce a public official to act or refrain from acting in order to assist SQM obtain economic benefits; (c) regarding the cost center managed by SQM’s former CEO, Mr. Patricio Contesse G., it was concluded that the Company’s books did not accurately reflect transactions that have been questioned, notwithstanding the fact that, based on the amounts involved, these transactions were below the materiality threshold defined by the Company’s external auditors determined in comparison to SQM’s equity, revenues, expenses or earnings within the reported period; and (d) SQM’s internal controls were not sufficient to supervise the expenses made by the cost center managed by SQM’s former CEO and that the Company trusted Mr. P. Contesse G. to make a proper use of resources.Throughout this process, SQM has taken and will continue to take the proper measures to strengthen its corporate governance and internal controls in order to correct the issues identified in the Report. The measures that have already been adopted include: (i) dismissing Mr. P. Contesse G. from his position as SQM’s CEO; (ii) filing corrected tax returns with the Chilean Internal Revenue Service; (iii) creating SQM’s Corporate Governance Committee, which is comprised of three of its directors; (iv) separating and strengthening the team and responsibilities of the Internal Audit and Compliance departments, both of which report to SQM’s board of directors, while the latter also reports to the Company’s CEO; (v) hiring KPMG, the auditing firm, to review SQM’s payment process controls; (vi) improving the Company’s payment process controls and approvals; and, (vii) reformulating SQM’s Code of Ethics.Lastly, after acknowledging receipt of the Report, the directors expressed that the Company will continue to cooperate with authorities and adopt the appropriate measures to improve its corporate governance and internal controls.”SNC LavalinOne reason SNC Lavalin has been pouting about Canada’s lack of deferred prosecution agreements is because of the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction.On that front, the company recently announced:“[The Company] has signed an administrative agreement with Public Services and Procurement of the Government of Canada (PSP) under the Government of Canada’s new Integrity Regime. The administrative agreement allows companies – that have federal charges pending against them – to continue to contract with or supply the Government of Canada“This is another example of our commitment to move forward. I thank PSP for recognizing SNC-Lavalin’s significant efforts and dedication to continuous improvement in ethics and compliance, which have allowed us to meet the difficult criteria of the new Integrity Regime. I am proud of our ethics and compliance program that is an integral part of the way we work every day, here in Canada and globally. Our clients and partners have recognized our concrete actions, efforts and accomplishments over the past three years,” stated Neil Bruce, President and CEO, SNC-Lavalin. “This agreement is a milestone that allows us to continue to be an important contributor to the Canadian economy. It protects the public, and is good for our employees, clients, investors and all of Canada.”The administrative agreement is due to the federal charges filed against three of the company’s legal entities in February 2015, which SNC-Lavalin contests. SNC-Lavalin confirms that, provided the company complies with the terms of the administrative agreement, it will be able to continue to bid on and win contracts to provide procurement goods and services to all Canadian government departments and agencies, in Canada and abroad, until the final conclusion of those charges.”*****A good weekend to all. read more
The last week of December has traditionally been an active week for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement. However, with the partial government shutdown there was an open question what would happen with the end of 2018.Yesterday, the SEC answered that question by announcing two enforcement actions: (i) a $2.5 million action against Brazil-based Centrais Elétricas Brasileiras S.A. (Eletrobras); and (ii) a $16 million action against Polycom.This post highlights the Electrobras enforcement action and another post will highlight the Polycom enforcement actionIn summary fashion, this administrative order finds:“These proceedings arise out of Eletrobras’s violations of the internal accounting controls and record-keeping provisions of the FCPA.As described below, former officers at Eletrobras Termonuclear S.A (“Eletronuclear”), Eletrobras’s majority-owned (over 99%) nuclear power generation subsidiary, engaged in an illicit bid-rigging and bribery scheme involving the construction of a nuclear power plant (“UTN Angra III”) from approximately 2009 until 2015. These officers used their influence at Eletronuclear in favor of a bid-rigging scheme among certain private Brazilian construction companies. The officers also misused their official positions in authorizing unnecessary contractors and inflating the cost of Eletronuclear’s infrastructure project. In return, the construction companies involved in the scheme agreed to pay, and did pay, the former Eletronuclear officers approximately $9 million.Eletronuclear paid invoices related to the inflated contracts in the ordinary course of its business because Eletrobras had failed to devise and maintain a sufficient system of internal accounting controls from 2009 through 2015. The corruption scheme at Eletronuclear caused misstatements in Eletrobras’s books and records because Eletronuclear recorded payments made to UTN Angra III contractors, a percentage of which was used for bribes, as money legitimately spent to acquire and improve assets.”Eletrobras is described as “a Brazilian power generation, transmission and distribution company based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil” with common and preferred shares registered with the SEC and traded on the New York Stock Exchange. According to the order: “The Brazilian federal government currently owns a 51% stake in Eletrobras and appoints seven of Eletrobras’s eleven board members.”Under the heading “Former Officers at Eletronuclear Received Bribes in a Bid-Rigging and Bribery Scheme,” the order finds:“Several Brazilian government officials, the former Eletronuclear president, and other Eletronuclear officers received bribes from Brazilian construction company executives engaged in a bid-rigging and bribery scheme involving UTN Angra III. The scheme ultimately benefited certain construction companies, at least two Brazilian political parties and Brazilian government officials, and several now former officers at Eletronuclear.Specifically, construction company executives agreed to pay 2% of the UTN Angra III contract value to officials associated with two of Brazil’s largest political parties (1% each). The former Eletronuclear president also received approximately $4.1 million relating UTN Angra III. Finally, other former Eletronuclear officers collectively received approximately $4.9 million.In return, the former Eletronuclear officers used their influence over the UTN Angra III prequalification, budgeting and procurement processes to, among other things, authorize unnecessary contractors, and inflate the cost of Eletronuclear’s infrastructure project. The improper payments made by the construction companies to Brazilian officials were funded, in part, using inflated contract prices or sham invoices that contractors involved in the UTN Angra III scheme submitted to Eletronuclear for payment.”Under the heading “Eletrobras’s Compliance Policies and Internal Accounting Controls were Insufficient or Ineffective,” the order finds:“Eletrobras’s anti-corruption policies or procedures and accounting controls relied, in part, on general or boilerplate prohibitions that did not apply to all employees or were ignored. For example, Eletrobras adopted a code of ethics in 2005 to ensure that competiveness and profitability did not override ethical behavior. However, Eletrobras’s code of ethics only applied to the holding company and made no mention of the subsidiaries and special purpose entities.In 2009, Eletrobras began anti-corruption training for a small number of its workforce. The company also approved a code of conduct for its subsidiaries in 2010 that required all employees, including employees at its subsidiaries, to observe Eletrobras’s ethical principles that prohibited, in part, support or contribution to political parties or campaigns for elective office. Additionally, Eletrobras’s ethical principles required the selection and hiring of suppliers based on specific criteria including legal, technical, quality, cost and timeliness. However, many accounting controls designed to promote these ethical principles, such as certain contractual measurement criteria requiring that payments to suppliers be proportional to the worked performed, were ignored or circumvented.Many of these efforts were ineffective because of significant material weaknesses in Eletrobras’s internal control over financial reporting that were not remediated for many years. For example, from 2009 through 2015 Eletrobras disclosed in its annual reports material weaknesses related to its ability to maintain an effective control environment, adequately perform risk assessments, and effectively maintain and operate controls with respect to its accounting for property, plant and equipment. Many of these material weaknesses, including the failure to maintain effective controls to ensure the completeness, accuracy, validity, and valuation over the purchase and payments of goods and services, contributed to the bribery scheme flourishing undetected for years.Additionally, Eletrobras failed to devise and maintain a sufficient system of internal accounting controls in part because of weaknesses that allowed employees at the subsidiary level to ignore prohibitions against direct payments to subcontractors and allow the payment of upfront costs for work not performed. This occurred against a backdrop where Eletrobras’s compliance policies and procedures were not specifically tailored to the inherent risks associated with Eletrobras’s business operations.”Under the heading “Eletrobras Improperly Accounted for Expenses Relating to the UTN Angra III Project,” the order finds:“In order to effectuate the bid-rigging and bribery scheme described above, the former Eletronuclear officers involved used their influence and official positions to, among other things, authorize certain contractors, services and expenses connected to the scheme. Pursuant to this scheme, the construction companies overcharged Eletronuclear under construction contracts and contracts to provide goods and services, and used the overpayment to fund the bribes to the executives and political parties. From about 2009 until 2015, the former Eletronuclear officers caused Eletronuclear to approve and pay invoices from contractors involved in the bid-rigging and bribery scheme relating the UTN Angra III project. At least 28 invoices were from a contractor used as a conduit for the bribes paid to the former Eletronuclear president.These inflated contract prices and sham invoices were recorded by Eletronuclear as legitimate expenses for goods or services in connection with UTN Angra III and consolidated to Eletrobras. As such, Eletrobras’s books and records did not, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the company’s assets.As a result of the conduct described above, Eletrobras violated [the books and records provisions] by improperly recording, as legitimate expenses, the payment of invoices related to contracts with inflated prices that derived from the bid-rigging and bribery scheme. Eletrobras also violated [the internal controls provisions] by failing to devise and maintain a sufficient system of internal accounting controls.”Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Electrobras agreed to cease and desist from future FCPA violations and agreed to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty. Under the heading “Eletrobras’s Remedial Efforts,” the order states:“In determining to accept the Offer, the Commission considered remedial acts promptly undertaken by Respondent and cooperation afforded the Commission staff. Eletrobras’s cooperation included sharing facts developed during the course of an internal investigation by its board and voluntarily producing and translating documents. Eletrobras’s remediation included disciplining employees involved in the misconduct, enhancing its internal accounting controls and compliance functions, remediating material weaknesses identified in its annual reports with the Commission, and adopting a new anti-corruption policies and procedures.” FCPA Institute – Boston (Oct. 3-4) A unique two-day learning experience ideal for a diverse group of professionals seeking to elevate their FCPA knowledge and practical skills through active learning. Learn more, spend less. CLE credit is available. Learn More & Register read more
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Remember me Twenty-five agents of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission invade Houston next week to conduct dozens of financial examinations of broker-dealers and investment advisors that either haven’t been audited in many years or, in many instances, ever. The SEC is launching a weeklong Houston initiative in an effort to raise the agency’s profile by holding open door educational seminars and meet-and-greet opportunities with senior SEC leaders, as well as conducting as many as 40 intensive in-person examinations . . .You must be a subscriber to The Texas Lawbook to access this content. Username Password Not a subscriber? Sign up for The Texas Lawbook. Lost your password? read more
May 23 2018A new study demonstrates that awake video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (AVATS) – a minimally invasive procedure that is done under local anesthesia and sedation – is a safe and effective alternative for patients with poor lung function and lung cancer who would normally be precluded from having surgery due to its risks. The study was presented at the 2018 American Thoracic Society International Conference.”Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) is a well established procedure, but patients with poor pulmonary function often cannot have it because it is risky for them to go under general anesthesia,” said study author, Ara Klijian, MD, of Sharp Grossmont Hospital, La Mesa, California and Scripps Mercy Hospital, San Diego. “I extended the VATS procedure so that it is done under local anesthesia with sedation. This enabled me to do a variety of procedures including lobectomies, esophageal surgeries, decortications and other types of thoracic surgery, with better outcomes.”Related StoriesImplanted device uses microcurrent to exercise heart muscle in cardiomyopathy patientsFight for Sight poll: Brits put their eyesight at risk through unsafe contact lens habitsCommon cold virus strain could be a breakthrough in bladder cancer treatmentOver the last 5 years, Dr. Klijian has performed more than 500 AVATS procedures without significant mortality or morbidity. In the current study, 246 patients with lung cancer had the AVATS procedure. Dr. Klijian demonstrated that patient safety was not compromised, that patients had a lower length of stay (1.6 days for patients who had a lobectomy, or removal of a lung) and better patient satisfaction.Patients receiving the AVATS procedure typically have multiple chronic health conditions, as described in the abstract below, and poor lung function, which would typically increase the risk of surgical complications.”By eliminating the need for endotracheal intubation and the comorbidity associated with general anesthesia, the AVATS procedure brings new, previously considered inoperable patients into the surgical arena,” Dr. Klijian said. “My long-term data have shown that this approach has better outcomes than traditional lung surgery with this select group of patients. It also reduces risks of hospital-acquired infection, as outpatient postoperative care minimizes the use of catheters.”In the AVATS and VATS procedures, a tiny camera (thoracoscope) and surgical instruments are inserted into the chest through small incisions in the chest wall. The thoracoscope transmits images of the inside of the chest onto a video monitor, guiding the surgeon in performing the procedure.The availability of the AVATS procedure is expected to increase, as Dr. Klijian has presented the technique and trained a number of other surgeons. Source:http://www.thoracic.org/ read more
Jun 28 2018Arterial stiffness is one of the early signs of cardiovascular disease, and arterial stiffening has been observed in children. A recent study suggests that an easy-to-use, non-invasive method can produce reproducible estimates of arterial stiffness in adolescents aged 16-19 years. The results of the study, conducted at the University of Jyväskylä, were published in the journal Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging. The study investigated the short-term reproducibility of aortic pulse wave velocity as a measure of arterial stiffness and of augmentation index as a measure of peripheral arterial tone among 55 Finnish adolescents aged 16-19. The study also investigated the effects of cardiorespiratory fitness and body fat percentage on the reproducibility. Arterial stiffness and peripheral arterial tone were measured with a non-invasive, oscillometric pulse wave analyzer, cardiorespiratory fitness using a maximal cardiopulmonary exercise test on a cycle ergometer, and body fat percentage through bioelectrical impedance analysis.Related StoriesCutting around 300 calories a day protects the heart even in svelte adultsTeam approach to care increases likelihood of surviving refractory cardiogenic shockNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerAortic pulse wave velocity was highly reproducible, and cardiorespiratory fitness or body fat percentage had no effect on the reproducibility of aortic pulse wave velocity. However, the augmentation index exhibited poorer reproducibility than aortic pulse wave velocity in young people. Reproducibility of the augmentation index was decreased, especially among adolescents with higher cardiorespiratory fitness or a lower body fat percentage.”The results of our study are promising, as most devices used to assess arterial stiffness require highly skilled assessors. In particular, our findings on the good reproducibility of this method used to measure arterial stiffness may provide new possibilities, not only in research settings, but also in standard health care,” says Dr Eero Haapala from the University of Jyväskylä. “However, although our results are positive, more research is needed on the long-term reproducibility and ability to predict health later in life.”Cardiovascular diseases, which often have their origin in childhood, are remarkable clinical, public health, and economical problems. Arterial stiffening is one of the most important risk factors for these diseases, and increased arterial stiffness has been linked to elevated risk of heart attack and reduced brain health. Brisk physical activity and high cardiorespiratory fitness have been associated with more flexible arteries already in children and adolescents. Source:https://www.jyu.fi/en/current/archive/2018/06/pulse-wave-analysis-provides-reliable-information-on-heart-health-in-young-people read more