Autos: GM and Ford shift to an electric future
General Motors “outlined a fundamental shift in its vision” for the future of the auto industry this week, announcing a plan to vastly increase its fleet of all-electric vehicles, said Bill Vlasic in The New York Times. America’s largest automaker said it plans to build 20 new all-electric models by 2023, including two in the next 18 months. Although electric vehicles are currently just 1 percent of the U.S. car market, China and several European countries have announced that they will eventually ban gasoline-powered cars, which has “set off a scramble by the world’s car companies to embrace electric vehicles.”
GM’s rival Ford also announced plans this week to develop electric vehicles— 13 new models over the next several years, said Phil LeBeau in CNBC.com. Alongside that push, Ford will shift its focus away from passenger cars and sedans to its more profitable and popular SUVs and pickup trucks, which this year composed 76 percent of Ford’s sales in the U.S. Balancing that dual focus—electric cars of the future and the big vehicles of today—could prove challenging. “The decision to change is not easy,” said new CEO Jim Hackett. But past approaches “are really no guarantee of future success” as the car industry transforms.
Finance: Former Equifax CEO faces questions
Equifax’s former CEO Richard Smith was grilled by U.S. lawmakers this week over the company’s massive data breach, which exposed sensitive data for more than 140 million Americans, said Hamza Shaban in The Washington Post. Smith, who retired from Equifax last week with an $18 million pension, began his appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Committee with an apology before asserting that an employee at Equifax was to blame for the breach, saying the person failed to observe security warnings and patch vulnerabilities. Smith declined to name the individual or say if he or she remained employed.
Economy: GDP shows solid growth
The U.S. economy just got “upgraded,” said Martin Crutsinger in the Associated Press. The Commerce Department last week revised its estimate for GDP growth in the second quarter to an annualized rate of 3.1 percent, the fastest pace in two years. Consumer spending, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of economic activity, helped fuel the upward revision, growing at a solid 3.3 percent between April and June. “But growth is expected to slow sharply this quarter in the wake of a string of devastating hurricanes.”
Aviation: Airline closure strands 110,000 passengers
Britain’s fifth-largest airline collapsed this week, leaving 110,000 passengers marooned in Europe and North Africa, said The Economist. Low-cost carrier Monarch Airlines, which specialized in vacation packages to the Mediterranean, is the biggest U.K. airline failure ever. Founded in 1968, Monarch has faced stiff competition in the no-frills European flight market. The British government has organized more than 30 planes to repatriate vacationers stranded abroad; another 860,000 customers will lose their booked flights.
Tech: All 3 billion Yahoo accounts breached
Yahoo’s colossal data breach from 2013 was much worse than first reported, “affecting all of its 3 billion user accounts,” said Robert McMillan and Ryan Knutson in The Wall Street Journal. The figure is three times the number of accounts that Yahoo said had been affected when it revealed the breach in December. Yahoo’s new parent, Verizon, reported this week that it discovered the breach’s full extent after receiving “new information from outside the company,” but declined to explain what the information was. In March, the Justice Department indicted four men, “including two Russian intelligence officers,” in connection with a 2014 Yahoo breach that affected 500 million accounts.