Bloomberg - Evening Briefing - Dark days for Elon

Bloomberg Evening Briefing

Elon Musk oversaw the creation of a 2016 video that exaggerated the abilities of Tesla’s driver-assistance system Autopilot, even dictating the opening text that claimed the company’s car drove itself, according to internal emails viewed by Bloomberg. Musk wrote to Tesla’s Autopilot team in October 2016 to emphasize the importance of a demonstration drive to promote the system, about which he made a big announcement a week later. In a call with reporters and blog post at the time, Tesla said all of its cars would ship with hardware necessary for full self-driving capability. Musk and Tesla went on to make claims about those capabilities—capabilities that have yet to materialize and claims that have triggered federal civil and criminal investigations.

Elon Musk Photographer: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Meanwhile over in San Francisco federal court, Musk’s lawyers are arguing that the billionaire made a “split-second decision” back in 2018 to tweet that he was “considering” taking Tesla private—a post including Musk’s now-infamous “funding secured” claim—because he’d just read a news report that Saudi Arabia was investing heavily in his company. Tesla shareholder lawyers alleged the tweet was just one of several “lies” that cost investors millions of dollars. A jury will decide who is telling the truth, and whether Musk defrauded investors of billions of dollars when they bet on a tweet that turned out to be false. 

Here are today’s top stories

And while Tesla’s epic stock-price collapse tended to dominate headlines in 2022 (that is when Musk’s antics with regard to Twitter, the elections and everything else weren’t), for some smaller electric-vehicle companies, the market rout has been even worse.

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is best known as an annual excuse to marvel at outlandish gadgets. But Dirk Hilgenberg, head of Volkswagen AG’s software unit, came to this year’s show for a different kind of product: software engineers. It turns out that some of those tens of thousands of people unceremoniously fired last year (and now this year) by recession-fearing Silicon Valley giants are just what the auto industry is looking for.

The US Treasury is beginning the use of special measures to avoid a payments default, after the federal debt limit was reached Thursday. The department is altering investments in two government-run funds for retirees, in a move that will give the Treasury scope to keep making federal payments while it’s unable to boost the overall level of debt.

Where is Joe Biden? This was the low-grade grumble at the traditionally self-important gathering of masters of the universe in Davos this week. And not only did the leader of the world’s largest economy skip the ball, so did his Vice President, Treasury Secretary and Secretary of State. At least Joe Manchin showed up.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg

Capital One has long said it’s investing in cloud technology that would allow it to improve its so-called efficiency ratio, a key measure of profitability that shows how much it costs to produce a dollar of revenue. This week, some of that effort appeared to come to fruition as the bank fired more than a thousand people.

Meme stock and retail investor darling Mullen Automotive is ostensibly in the business of making electric cars, Chris Bryant writes in Bloomberg Opinion. For now though, its most plentiful product is its own shares

The corridors of power in both business and politics were designed by and for men, Beth Kowitt writes in Bloomberg Opinion. That’s why it can be seen as particularly devastating when a woman like New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern decides she’s had enough. But rather than a concession, Kowitt says Ardern’s departure is an exercise in power.

Jacinda Ardern speaking at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 23 in New York City. Photographer: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Bloomberg continues to track the global coronavirus pandemic. Click here for daily updates.

 What you’ll need to know tomorrow

Airlines Declare a Bunk-Bed War at 40,000 Feet 

Battling to win customers on the prized trans-Pacific route to New York, Qantas Airways and Air New Zealand plan new features to make air travel more comfortable, including full-sized bunk beds and dedicated stretching zones. The two airlines are going head-to-head on 16-hour direct flights from Auckland to New York as more efficient planes make such routes viable. The reward is a lucrative corner of a global travel market. 

Skynest bunks Source: Air New Zealand Ltd.

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