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What do Tesla’s woes mean for competitors?
June 03, 2024

Tech Brew

It’s Monday. Tesla’s had a bit of a rough go of it of late, between losing its title as the world’s top seller of EVs to its cratering stock price (among other things). But what do all these misfortunes add up to for other companies in the EV game? Tech Brew’s Jordyn Grzelewski sought answers.

In today’s edition:

Jordyn Grzelewski, Patrick Kulp, Kelcee Griffis, Annie Saunders

FUTURE OF TRAVEL

Move over

A Tesla Supercharger Mariusltu/Getty Images

This year started off on an inauspicious note for Tesla.

The Elon Musk-led company lost its title as the world’s top EV seller to Chinese EV maker BYD.

Then in Q1, Tesla reported its first YoY sales decline since 2020, as well as drops in profit and revenue, amid waning EV demand and growing competition.

The hits and perceived missteps kept coming: Mass layoffs and executive resignations. The rocky rollout of the long-awaited Cybertruck. The revelation that the Department of Justice is investigating whether Tesla committed securities or wire fraud related to the company’s claims about its self-driving vehicle tech, which is also under scrutiny from federal auto safety regulators.

Musk disappointed Wall Street by nixing hotly anticipated plans for an affordable EV in favor of focusing on his robotaxi ambitions. Tesla’s stock is down about 30% year to date.

But perhaps most puzzling of all was the news in April that Tesla had laid off nearly all of its Supercharger team—500 employees who worked on the company’s industry-leading EV charging business. The move immediately halted work on numerous charging station projects—a sign of the cuts’ broader implications for the buildout of EV charging infrastructure across the country. (Tesla later hired back some of the employees.)

Basically, it’s been a rough year for Tesla. The upshot, according to industry experts, is that competitors—from traditional automakers to EV startups to charging providers—now have a clear chance at stealing some of Tesla’s thunder.

Keep reading here.—JG

   

FROM THE CREW

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GREEN TECH

Small biz, big opportunity

image of dollars on a green square with a pink background The_burtons/Getty Images

If your small business or startup is thinking about taking on a climate-related project, there’s a good chance the federal government might kick in some cash.

The White House announced a new guidebook last week that maps out the government-wide web of grants and other entrepreneurial funding opportunities that have sprung up since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, among other appropriations.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) also announced it’s nixing a cap on the number of 504 loans a company can take out if the money is going toward certain clean-energy projects. Businesses were previously limited to three such loans, which can range up to $5.5 million each.

The goal of both announcements is to help level the playing field for startups and small businesses, which might not have the resources of a bigger corporation when it comes to identifying and taking advantage of these types of federal programs.

“There’s been historic levels of investments that we’ve seen under the Biden-Harris administration,” SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman told Tech Brew. “For small businesses, navigating the federal programs across the board is always challenging.”

Keep reading here.—PK

   

CONNECTIVITY

Final checkpoint

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel speaks at a White House event focused on affordable internet. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

An internet subsidy program that connected 23 million households took its last breath over the weekend—without the immediate prospect of resuscitation from Congress.

The Affordable Connectivity Program, a pandemic-era initiative that offered qualifying households up to $30 a month toward their internet bills, and up to $75 per month for tribal residents, ceased to exist as of Saturday. The milestone comes after the program halved subsidy amounts in April and after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) froze new enrollments in February.

As Tech Brew previously reported, the program found success in connecting many Americans who had never had home internet before. In an FCC survey, a vast majority of users reported that, without the ACP, they wouldn’t be able to afford internet at all, or would need to change their current plan.

The ACP’s wind-down date led to calls for lawmakers to find a solution—any solution—to renew the program’s funding.

“For the past 16 months we have been raising the alarm on the risk of the Affordable Connectivity Program running out of funds. Well, the day is upon us,” Angie Kronenberg, president of competitive network group Incompas, said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that the overwhelming collective support for the program was not met with swift action.”

Keep reading here.—KG

   

TOGETHER WITH RHYMETEC

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BITS AND BYTES

Stat: $459 million. That would be the economic impact if the internet in the US went down for one hour, according to a report from cloud cost intelligence platform CloudZero. “The sheer volume of economic activity reliant on the internet makes the US particularly susceptible to the financial fallout of an outage,” CloudZero wrote in a blog post.

Quote: “The lesson to learn from all this is that we, as consumers, should resist the hype and take a slow, cautious approach to AI. We shouldn’t be spending much cash on any underbaked tech until we see proof that the tools work as advertised.”—Brian X. Chen, a New York Times technology columnist, in a review of OpenAI’s GPT-4o

Read: Why AI search blew up in Google’s face (New York)

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