Tesla opens ‘Gigafactory,’ 1st Europe plant
BERLIN — Electric car manufacturer Tesla is opening its first European factory Tuesday on the outskirts of Berlin in an effort to challenge German automakers on their home turf.
The Texas-based company says its new “Gigafactory” will employ 12,000 workers and produce 500,000 vehicles a year.
Tesla began building the vast plant less than three years ago, before it received official permits to do so. Had those permits not been issued, the company would have had to level the site.
Environmental campaigners have warned that the factory could affect drinking water supplies in the region.
Tesla has dismissed those warnings. The company refused most media access to the site and the ceremony Tuesday.
Suez Canal transit fees to rise in May
CAIRO — Egypt will increase transit fees for vessels, including oil-laden tankers, passing through Suez Canal, one of the world’s most crucial waterways.
The Suez Canal Authority said March 22 on its website it will add 15 percent to the normal transit fees for oil-laden and petroleum products-laden tankers, up from current 5 percent. It said the increases will take effect starting May 1, and could later be revised or called off, according to changes in global shipping.
The new increase are amendments to surcharge hikes imposed in March on vessels passing through the waterway, the canal said.
The canal said surcharge fees for chemical tankers, and other liquid bulk tankers will be hiked to 20 percent, up from 10 percent, while laden and ballast dry bulk vessels will have their surcharges increase to 10 percent.
Vessels carrying vehicles, general cargo, and heavy lift vessels, as well as multi-purpose vessels, will see a 14 percent increase, according to the canal.
Ballast crude oil and oil products tankers transiting the Canal are still required to pay a surcharge of 5 percent of normal transit fees, it said.
On its website, the canal said the increases come “in line with the significant growth in global trade … and the waterway development and the enhancement of the transit service.”
About 10 percent of global trade, including 7% of the world’s oil, flows through the Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean and Red seas.
Toyota to idle output at Indiana plant
PRINCETON, Ind. — Toyota Motor Corp. will pause production at its southwestern Indiana assembly plant for five days in April because of supply chain disruptions.
The Japanese carmaker said will idle its Princeton plant on April 1, 8, 14, 15 and 18.
On those days, Toyota employees will have the option of reporting for work to perform various tasks at the plant, using a paid time-off day, or taking unpaid time.
“Toyota’s North American plants continue to face intermittent production delays due to many supply chain disruptions. To minimize the impact, our teams are working diligently to do everything possible to lessen the inconvenience to our customers and suppliers,” the company said.
The plant has a workforce of about 7,200.
The Princeton plant assembles the hybrid Sienna minivan, the Highlander/Highlander hybrid SUV and the Sequoia full-size SUV.
GM recalls SUVs over bright beams
DETROIT — General Motors is recalling more than 740,000 small SUVs in the U.S. because the headlight beams that can be too bright and cause glare for oncoming drivers.
The recall announced March 22 comes after U.S. safety regulators turned down a request from the automaker to avoid the recall.
The company is recalling GMC Terrain SUVs from the 2010-2017 model years. Documents posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said reflections caused by the headlight housings can illuminate some areas with too much light. The agency said this can reduce visibility for other drivers, increasing the risk of a crash.
GM hasn’t come up with a repair yet. The company expects to notify owners by letter starting April 23.
Brake leak triggers Ford F-150 recall
DETROIT — Ford is recalling nearly 215,000 pickup trucks and large SUVs in the U.S. and Canada because brake fluid can leak, causing longer stopping distances.
The recall covers the F-150 pickup from 2016-2018, as well as Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs from 2016-2017. All have 3.5-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engines.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in documents released March 22 that fluid can leak from the brake master cylinder. That can increase brake pedal travel, requiring greater effort and longer stopping distances.
Documents say dealers will replace the master cylinder and front brake booster if needed. Owners are to be notified by letter starting April 25.
BuzzFeed cutting jobs, news editors leaving
NEW YORK — BuzzFeed is shrinking and shifting the focus of its Pulitzer prize-winning news division as the digital media company, best known for its lighthearted lists and quizzes, strives to increase its profitability.
The New York-based company is offering voluntary buyouts in its high-profile, 100-person newsroom and some top editors are leaving. They include Mark Schoofs, the editor in chief of BuzzFeed News, and deputy editor in chief Tom Namako, who announced a move to NBC News Digital on Tuesday. Ariel Kaminer, the executive editor for investigations, is also leaving.
BuzzFeed News is unprofitable but has won awards, including its first Pulitzer last year, and its staff has been regularly poached by traditional news organizations. A spokesman said about 35 employees were eligible for the buyouts, but the company doesn’t expect all of them to take one.
Buyouts will be offered to news staffers on the investigations, inequality, politics and science teams, as BuzzFeed focuses more on big breaking news and lighter content.
Beyond the newsroom buyouts, the company also said it is cutting 1.7 percent of its staff. In a filing with regulators, Buzzfeed said it had 1,524 employees, so the cuts would amount to roughly 25 workers.
Dubai airport to shut 1 runway for overhaul
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai’s main airport, the world’s busiest for international travel, will overhaul one of its two runways for 45 days, starting in May, the operator said March 22. The closure will likely lead to flight reductions ahead of the traditional start of the summer season.
The shutdown of the northern runway — part of a project to upgrade the airfield to ensure “safety and efficient operations” — will begin on May 9 and last until June 22, the airport said.
To reduce delays and disruption, some carriers will redirect flights to Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central, the Gulf city’s second airport. The operator said it alerted all airlines to “plan for flight reductions and schedule planning accordingly.”
The runway last underwent such extensive repairs in 2014, while the southern runway was similarly refurbished in 2019.
Dubai International Airport is home to Emirates, the region’s largest carrier that has played a key role in positioning the emirate as a major global aviation hub.
Alibaba raises buyback to $25B to boost slumping stock
BEIJING (AP) — Alibaba Group, the world’s biggest e-commerce company, increased a share buyback to $25 billion from $15 billion on Tuesday to prop up a stock price that has fallen by more than half since the ruling Communist Party tightened control over tech industries by launching regulatory crackdowns.
The increase is a “sign of confidence in the company’s continued growth,” Alibaba said. The company said it has paid out $9.2 billion so far in the buyback announced earlier.
Alibaba’s U.S.-traded shares have fallen 56%, wiping out hundreds of billions of dollars of stock market value, since the ruling party launched anti-monopoly and data-security crackdowns in 2019. Alibaba has been fined and a planned stock market debut by Ant Group, an online finance company spun off from Alibaba, was postponed.
Alibaba’s Hong Kong-traded shares were trading 4.8% higher on Tuesday.
Chinese leaders tried last week to stop the stock market slide by promising support for technology companies but gave no details of possible initiatives.
The ruling party has expressed concern private sector tech giants such as Alibaba and Tencent Holding are too independent and might use their market dominance to suppress competition and hurt economic growth.
Alibaba earlier reported profit for the final quarter of 2021 fell 74% from a year earlier to 20.4 billion yuan ($3.2 billion). Revenue rose 10% to 242.6 billion yuan ($38 billion).
Alibaba Group: www.alibabagroup.com