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Tesla set to begin deliveries of its new Model S Plaid

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Tesla Model S Plaid

Source: Tesla

Tesla was poised to start deliveries of its new Model S Plaid, a high-performance version of the company’s flagship electric sedan, on Thursday with a live stream event in Fremont, California.

CEO Elon Musk had promised that the Tesla Model S Plaid would deliver acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in under 2 seconds.

The company’s website says the tri-motor, all-wheel drive Model S Plaid also produces 1,020 horsepower, features a battery with an EPA-rated range of up to 390 miles and can hit a top speed of 200 miles per hour, if equipped with the proper wheels and tires. Those won’t be available until the fall, according to the fine print on the site.

The Model S Plaid interior also includes a steering yoke rather than a traditional steering wheel, a 17-inch center touchscreen display and separate 8-inch display in the rear for passengers’ entertainment, and processing power the company says is on par with modern gaming consoles like the PlayStation 5.

2021 Tesla Model S Plaid interior

Tesla.com

Fans expected Model S Plaid deliveries to begin early this year after Musk said the company had already embarked on production in January on a Tesla earnings call. Then, Tesla reported that Model S (and Model X) production dropped to zero in its first-quarter vehicle deliveries and production update.

Before Thursday’s heavily promoted delivery event, originally slated for June 3, Musk said on Twitter that Tesla also canceled the Model S Plaid plus variant which would have cost drivers around $150,000 and promised a tantalizing battery range of around 520 miles.

Musk said, in a pair of tweets hyping Model S Plaid before the deliveries kickoff: “Plaid+ is canceled. No need, as Plaid is just so good,” adding “0 to 60mph in under 2 secs. Quickest production car ever made of any kind. Has to be felt to be believed.”

On Thursday, the price of the Model S Plaid had increased by $10,000 to $129,990 — which compares with $79,990 for a long-range 2021 Model S, a dual-motor, all wheel drive version of the electric sedan boasting a battery range of 412 miles.

The Plaid moniker for Tesla’s high performance version of the Model S is a continuation of the company’s tribute to “Spaceballs” — the 1980s Star Wars spoof co-written, produced and directed by Mel Brooks. In “Spaceballs,” spacecraft accelerate from light- to ridiculous- then ludicrous-speed and finally into “plaid.” Earlier versions of Tesla vehicles featured Ludicrous mode, which Tesla first announced in July of 2015.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Thailand Covid, lack of tourism hit Thai baht

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Thai Baht banknotes and coins.

Artur Widak l NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Thai baht, once the strongest-performing currency in Asia before the pandemic, has been steadily falling in 2021 and is this year’s worst-hit currency in the region, according to Mizuho Bank.

The Japanese bank pointed to “uncharacteristic under-performance in the Thai Baht, rendering it the worst performer to date in 2021” in a note on Friday.

The Thai baht has plunged more than 10% against the U.S. dollar year-to-date, as of Monday morning, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

Thailand’s currency is the weakest-performing this year compared to other major Asia Pacific currencies, according to Refinitiv. Against the greenback, the Japanese yen is nearly 7% lower, the Malaysian ringgit declined by 5%, while the Australian dollar is down 4.43% year-to-date.

“At face value, THB as the unequivocal and significant laggard does not square with Thailand’s solid (albeit diminished) current account surplus or relatively low inflation,” wrote Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at the bank.

In 2019, before the Covid pandemic hit, there were concerns about the strengthening Thai baht, which was buoyed by its large trade surplus. A stronger currency makes the country’s exports more expensive, causing them to be less attractive in international markets.

Tourism decline hits Thailand

Still, the Asian currency’s underperformance this year cannot be solely blamed on the Covid pandemic, considering that the impact of the delta variant on the rest of the region is “far more dismal,” Varathan said.

Varathan pointed out the sharp decline in tourism numbers has actually multiplied the “Covid devastation” on Thailand’s economy.

They want to fully reopen by October. I think that’s probably too ambitious, probably not going to happen.

Euben Paracuelles

Chief ASEAN economist, Nomura

Thailand had only over 34,000 tourist arrivals as of May this year, compared with over 39 million in 2019, according to data from its tourism ministry as well as the World Bank.

The Southeast Asian nation relies heavily on tourism dollars for economic growth. Tourist spending accounted for about 11% of Thai GDP in 2019, before the pandemic.

Fewer tourists also mean lower demand for the Thai baht.

“The sheer force of this ‘tourism multiplier’ means that it remains the decisive drag on THB,” Varathan said.

“Further ‘variant risks’ and attendant rolling delays to tourism/travel resumption will continue to pose a clear and present threat to the THB,” he said, referring to new variants of Covid.

‘Very challenging’ to reopen to tourists

Thailand’s over-reliance on tourism is going to be “very challenging” for the country as it seeks to reopen up to tourists while still battling with the pandemic, Nomura’s Chief ASEAN Economist Euben Paracuelles said on Thursday.

The country’s attempts to reopen its tourism destinations have not gone well, he told CNBC.

In July, Thailand started a so-called “sandbox” pilot scheme in Phuket, where tourists can visit the holiday destination without quarantining. But just a week after it reopened, it recorded one case — a tourist from the United Arab Emirates. By the end of the first week, it had 27 new cases, according to the Associated Press.

“So to be able to open up, I think (it) will be a very big struggle and they have very ambitious targets, they want to fully reopen by October. I think that’s probably too ambitious, probably not going to happen,” Paracuelles said. “And because of Thailand’s over reliance on tourism, I think that’s where the drive and the recovery will be coming from the most.”

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Gen X workers may face the biggest unemployment crisis: Generation

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Gen X workers, who are-, may be bearing the brunt of a global unemployment crisis as the pandemic adds to existing challenges for older workers, according to a new report.

Rapid digital adoption during the pandemic has accelerated the automation of jobs and worsened underlying ageism, making it harder for mid-career workers to secure roles, according to the report from Generation, a non-profit employment organization.

In a global study entitled “Meeting the world’s midcareer challenge,” the firm found that entry-level and intermediate workers between the age of 45 and 60 face increased barriers due to biases among hiring managers, as well as reluctance among workers to learn new skills.

Generation’s CEO said the report had, for the first time, “put a number on ageism.”

It’s very clear that once you reach a certain age, it just becomes much harder to access a job opportunity.

Dr Mona Mourshed

CEO, Generation

“This is a demographic that is absolutely in need and it’s very clear that once you reach a certain age, it just becomes much harder to access a job opportunity,” Mona Mourshed told CNBC Make It.

Ageist misconceptions prevail

The study, which was conducted between March and May 2021, surveyed 3,800 employed and unemployed people from 18 to 60 years old and 1,404 hiring managers across seven countries.

Despite the varied international jobs landscape — from the U.S. to the U.K. and India to Italy — the findings were broadly the same: 45- to 60-year-olds are the most overlooked employee bracket. Indeed, for the past six years, mid-career individuals have made up a consistently high percentage of the long-term unemployed.

Most notably, the research found that hiring managers across the board considered those who are 45-years-old and above to be the worst cohort in terms of application readiness, fitness and previous experience.

Among their top concerns were a perceived reluctance among older workers to try new technologies (38%), an inability to learn new skills (27%), and difficulty in working with other generations (21%).

It comes in spite of evidence that older workers often outperform their younger peers. Indeed, almost nine in 10 (87%) hiring managers said their hires who are 45 years and above have been as good as — or better — than younger employees.

Mourshed said the findings highlight underlying biases at play in the workplace.

“It is often the case that like identifies with like when it comes to ‘isms,'” she said.

For instance, she explained, there is a tendency among hiring managers to opt for hires in their age group. Meanwhile, C.V.-based interviews can make it hard for candidates to demonstrate their skills, she added.

Re-engaging a lost workforce

Training could provide one solution to the issue. Still, the report also highlighted a reluctance to pursue training among jobseekers who are 45 years and above.

More than half (57%) of entry-level and intermediate-level job seekers expressed a resistance to reskilling, while just 1% said training increased their confidence when looking for work. Often, that is due to negative experiences of education, conflicting personal duties, and lack of available programs and financial support for mid-career workers, said Mourshed.

Given that it is 2021, intergenerational workforces must be a reality.

Dr Mona Mourshed

CEO, Generation

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More money chases Indian tech start-ups as investors shun Chinese names

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Zomato food delivery partners is seen on a road in Kolkata , India.

Debarchan Chatterjee | NurPhoto | Getty Images

At a time when investors are selling Chinese technology stocks, more money is chasing Indian start-ups.

Shares of food delivery app Zomato soared as much as 82% in their debut Friday on the National Stock Exchange of India. The initial public offering was priced at 76 rupees per share, or a little more than $1 per share. The stock opened more than 50% higher, valuing the company at about 910 billion rupees or $12.2 billion.

Jayasankar Venkataraman, head of equity capital markets at Kotak Investment Banking, said before trading started that the IPO was oversubscribed for institutional and retail investors.

“I think Zomato’s successful IPO might open the floodgates,” said Anirudh Suri, founding partner of the India Internet Fund. Suri has invested in 20 start-ups across India.

Tech giant Uber sold its India food delivery business to Zomato last year in an all-stock transaction that gave the U.S. company a stake. Zomato’s other prominent backers include Indian internet company Info Edge, Alibaba-affiliate Ant Group and Singapore state investor Temasek.

Sources told CNBC that after listing in India, Zomato has plans to make its debut in the U.S.

As to which companies will be next to go public, Suri said he’s betting on Paytm, which claims among its backers Japan’s SoftBank, Ant Group and Berkshire Hathaway.

India payments company Paytm recently filed its IPO paperwork with a goal of raising $2.2 billion in its public debut this November.

Overall, Indian start-ups raised $12.1 billion in funding in the first six months of the year, compared with the $5.3 billion raised during the same period last year, according to Venture Intelligence.

What’s behind the recent pivot to India?

Somesh Dash, general partner at venture capital firm IVP, said that investors are waking up to the idea that China no longer has the best growth story in town.

“China doesn’t have a lot of young people. India does. What the Indian economy presents is a growing middle class and a dynamic workforce: one of the largest populations in the world. It’s very attractive from a longer-term perspective,” Dash said.

Stock picks and investing trends from CNBC Pro:

Amit Anand, co-founder of exchange-traded fund company NextFins, expects Indian tech IPOs to price at a premium multiple compared with Chinese companies, citing growth in internet penetration.

“Investors recognize the long runway for internet penetration. E-commerce penetration in India is 7% versus 25% in China. Smartphone penetration in India is about 30%, less than half of China’s 60%,” said Anand, who formerly worked for Axial Capital.

Anand and his partners at NextFins launched the Nifty India Financials ETF on the belief that investors will want more exposure to India’s secular growth story, especially as internet and smartphone penetration continue to rise. INDF’s assets have tripled since the beginning of the year and are up 50% since June.

“Investors are betting that as these people enter the workforce, they will consume more and need financial products like credit cards, mortgages and auto loans. That’s why e-commerce and fintech companies have been the primary recipients of venture capital investment in India,” noted Anand. With more tech companies going public in India, he now has plans to launch an ETF focused on Indian tech stocks.

“The tech indices in India currently track the large outsourcing companies; there is no way for investors in either India or the U.S. to target faster-growing internet companies,” he said.

Some of the country’s unicorns, those companies worth $1 billion or more, continue to raise additional rounds, capitalizing on the strong interest in India tech. Hotel start-up Oyo, backed by SoftBank, raised an additional $660 million. E-commerce platform Flipkart raised $3.6 billion at a mega-high valuation of $37.6 billion, the largest fundraise for an Indian company. Key investors include the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Walmart.

Like China, data privacy issues do exist in India. Last week, Indian regulators banned Mastercard from issuing new credit cards to customers in the country after not complying with data privacy rules. Key question venture investors are trying to answer are whether India’s government will carve out its own path or follow China’s lead on the topics related to regulation and overseas listings.

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