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GM confirms new electric truck and van for commercial customers

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General Motors plans to launch a new all-electric van called the EV600 by the end of this year. The first 500 vehicles will be sold to FedEx.

GM

General Motors on Wednesday confirmed that it will add two new electric vehicles to its commercial lineup in the coming years, outside of its recently launched BrightDrop business.

GM CEO Mary Barra said the automaker plans to add a full-size battery electric cargo van for Chevrolet as well as a medium-duty truck for service and utility vehicles such as school buses and bucket trucks.

“Both will complement BrightDrop and keep our commercial fleet market share growing,” Barra told investors Wednesday during an earnings call. “We’ll share more details about these products as we move forward.”

Barra did not disclose timing or other details about the vehicles. The company is investing in the products as part of a previously announced plan to increase spending on electric and autonomous vehicle by 30% to $35 billion through 2025. But the vehicles aren’t expected to launch until after that timeframe, according to a person familiar with the plans.

The medium-duty truck will be offered as a battery-electric vehicle with GM’s Ultium Cells as well as its Hydrotec fuel cells, Barra said. The van will “exceed the expectations” of its customers who have purchased small GM vans in recent years, she said.

The commercial market is expected to be a major growth area for EVs. Other start-up automakers like Amazon-backed Rivian as well as legacy automakers such as Ford Motor and Daimler have announced plans to enter the segment.

GM announced BrightDrop in January as a new wholistic EV commercial and logistics business, separate from its current commercial business that focuses on small vans and pickups.

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India slams UK’s new travel rules as ‘discriminatory,’ warns of retaliation

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Travelers at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.

T. Narayan | Bloomberg | Getty Images

India slammed the U.K.’s decision to exclude vaccinated Indian travelers from its new travel guidelines, calling it “discriminatory” and warning of reciprocal measures.

The British government will next month allow fully vaccinated travelers from a list of countries to skip quarantine upon arrival — but Indians who are fully vaccinated will still need to be quarantined.

The U.K. last week eased travel restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals from 17 countries and territories, including Japan and Singapore, saying they would not have to stay in quarantine for 10 days after arriving in England.

From Oct. 4, travelers from those destinations would have to show that they received a full course of one of the Covid vaccines currently approved in the U.K., at least two weeks prior to their arrival. The approved vaccines are: Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen.

India’s main vaccine is the one from Oxford University and British-Swedish pharma giant AstraZeneca — but it is manufactured locally by the Serum Institute of India under the name Covishield. It has been approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization.

If we don’t get satisfaction, we would be within our rights to impose reciprocal measures.

Harsh V Shringla

India’s foreign secretary

“The basic issue is that here is a vaccine, Covishield, which is a licensed product of a U.K. company, manufactured in India,” India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla said Tuesday at a press briefing. “We have supplied 5 million doses to the U.K., at the request of the government of the U.K. We understand that this has been used in their national health system.”

“Therefore, non-recognition of Covishield is a discriminatory policy and does impact on those of our citizens traveling to the U.K.,” he added.

Under the new rules, Indian travelers will be required to quarantine after arriving in England and must undergo three rounds of testing, regardless of their vaccination status. Many Indian nationals typically travel to the U.K. for work, study, leisure travel or to visit family.

India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, raised the issue “strongly” with U.K. Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss, according to Shringla.

“I am told that certain assurances have been given that this issue would be resolved,” he said.

Jaishankar tweeted that during his meeting with Truss in New York, he “urged early resolution of quarantine issue in mutual interest.”

Indian opposition lawmaker Shashi Tharoor said he pulled out of a debate engagement at the University of Cambridge due to the quarantine order.

“It is offensive to ask fully vaccinated Indians to quarantine, he said.

Another lawmaker, Jairam Ramesh, said the decision “smacks of racism.”

“We will have to see how it goes, but if we don’t get satisfaction, we would be within our rights to impose reciprocal measures,” Shringla added, without elaborating what some of those measures could be.

Government data showed India has so far administered more than 825 million vaccine doses in one of the world’s largest inoculation drives — roughly 15% of the country’s eligible population has received the two doses required to be considered fully vaccinated, according to online publication Our World In Data.

The country’s home-made vaccine from Bharat Biotech, called Covaxin, has yet to be approved by the World Health Organization. It will likely to further complicate international travel plans for many Indian nationals.



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Evergrande crisis to hurt China economy: Li Daokui, ex-PBOC advisor

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Evergrande‘s debt crisis will slow down China’s economic growth, but will likely have minimal spillover on the country’s financial system, according to a former advisor to China’s central bank.

Evergrande is the world’s most indebted property developer with total liabilities of around $300 billion. The company has been struggling to pay its suppliers and warned investors it could default on its debts, with one key payment due as soon as this week.

“The impact is on the real economy because with the default of Evergrande, there’ll be [a] slowdown in developments of many projects,” Li Daokui, formerly an advisor to the People’s Bank of China, told CNBC “Squawk Box Asia” on Wednesday.

“So the real property market will have an impact on the GDP growth rate for the coming year because of slower finance for the whole sector,” said Li, now a professor at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management.  

He added that a default by Evergrande will have minimal effect on the Chinese financial system because there aren’t derivative instruments built on the company’s debt.

Derivatives are complex financial securities that derive value from an underlying asset, such as stocks and bonds. Traders use derivatives for various purposes including hedging a position and speculating on the underlying asset.

The Evergrande as we understand may not exist.

Li Daokui

former advisor to the People’s Bank of China

“I think it’s a bit too early to predict what’s the net impact [of the crisis]. I would say right now, by my rough calculation, 1 basis point on GDP growth … if the thing is under control from now,” said Li.  

The Asian Development Bank said Wednesday that it has maintained its growth forecasts for China at 8.1% for 2021 and 5.5% for 2022. That would be an improvement from the 2.3% expansion last year, when China became the only major economy to grow while most global economies were hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Read more about China from CNBC Pro

Will Evergrande be dissolved?

Defaults by Evergrande will likely slow down the progress of development projects around China, which will hit local economies in mainland China, said Li.

That could prompt local and provincial governments to step in with their own money to keep those projects going, the economist said.

Li also said he expects China’s central bank to add liquidity in targeted sectors to make sure the spillover from an Evergrande default “will not travel too far too quickly.”

Li predicted that in the medium- to long-term, the embattled company will likely be “dissolved” into four main groups: property development, finance, electric vehicles, and other commercial ventures.

“Each of these four sub-parts of Evergrande will be sold to individual companies or even to some local governments,” said Li. “The Evergrande as we understand may not exist.”

— CNBC’s Weizhen Tan contributed to this report.

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Flying cars could be commercially available in 2024: Tech firm CEO

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Flying cars could be commercially available in 2024, but regulations for managing the new form of air traffic will be a concern, according to the chief executive officer of a tech company.

Hugh Martin of Lacuna Technologies, which helps cities create transportation policies, said there’s a difference between when cars can fly and when they will be safe and reliable for navigating the skies.

“Depending on who you talk to, I think [2024] could be a time period,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Tuesday.

A number of auto companies have been developing aerial vehicles. They include Chinese electric car maker Xpeng and Fiat Chrysler.

Some people will be able to afford flying cars, but most will likely still travel on the road in electric vehicles or self-driving cars, he pointed out.

Vehicles that don’t have to lift off the ground can be safer and are able to carry more people, he said.

“Where I think they do have … an application though, is carrying the freight and packages,” Martin said. “I think that’s going to be a very big deal.”

Regulations

Cities are getting “increasingly concerned” about how to manage traffic for flying cars in future, Martin added.

Rules could include where the vehicles will be allowed to take off, land or travel, whether they can fly at any time or only during allocated hours, and how far apart the cars must be from each other.

“That’s going to take a long time to get figured out,” he said.

In the U.S., he said the Federal Aviation Administration and NASA are working with drone and air taxi providers to consider what air traffic will look like in future.

“Instead of having one airport per major city, you’ve … now got thousands of airports scattered around the city,” he added.

— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal and Michael Wayland contributed to this report.

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