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News & Views

AxiOnline: Get your motor running
In this week’s AxiOnline Elon Musk is taking Tesla on a road trip to China, while Apple IP is most certainly not. We mee...
In this week’s AxiOnline Elon Musk is taking Tesla on a road trip to China, while Apple IP is most certainly not. We meet the former Uber executive who’d had enough and see why Microsoft’s iPad killer probably hasn’t got enough.   Elon Musk’s Tesla is aiming to double production with the opening of a new electric car factory in Shanghai. Last month the firm sacked nine percent of its workforce, and until very recently had missed or postponed Model 3 production goals since it started building the car in late 2017. The new factory will make 500,000 cars per year. China is the place to be for car firms, more than 28 million vehicles were sold last year making it the largest market in the world. The country aims to have 100 percent electric vehicles by 2030, so it’s rich pickings for anyone in the game. This would no doubt have been a consideration not far from the mind of one Xiaolang Zhang, a former Apple employee that the firm claims was stealing IP intent on moving to Chinese autonomous vehicle start-up Xiaopeng Motors. The IT giant hired Zhang in 2015 to develop software and hardware for its self-driving vehicle project, but having visited his native country earlier this year he came back to the US and informed his boss he was planning to move home, whereupon his boss promptly told security to take a look at his activities. He was arrested at San Jose airport, has been charged by the FBI for stealing trade secrets, and faces up to 10 years in the slammer. Sticking with automotives and tricky human resources issues, Liane Hornsey, chief people officer at Uber, has resigned after just 18 months on the job. During her time at the firm it faced a barrage of allegations about sexual harassment, gender and racial discrimination, not to mention being threatened with having its licence revoked by Transport for London because it was not “fit and proper”. In an email to staff Hornsey said she’d “been thinking about this for a while”. Which is hardly surprising given the uphill battle she was faced with. Another firm facing an uphill battle is Microsoft in its battle with Apple for tablet-domination. The Redmond firm has announced a direct challenger to the iPad, in the form of a smaller, lighter and cheaper Surface Go 2-in-1 Windows 10 tablet. The thing is, everyone who wants a tablet already has one. At the start of this year IDC said shipments for tablets fell 6.5 percent on the previous year, and Apple is the market leader by some distance having 27 percent, up from 24 percent a year previous. With Samsung and Lenovo both seeing sales drop. While the Surface Go is undoubtedly a nice piece of kit, it doesn’t do much more than the Surface. And while it’s half the price of its bigger sibling – it’s nowhere near being the cheapest tablet on the market. So, if anything, Microsoft looks in danger of cannibalising revenue on its own products. Some other figures set come tumbling down this week are the number of people following you on Twitter. The platform is clamping down on “problematic” accounts of the sort that have been hijacked in order to spread misinformation. Twitter keeps track on account behaviour, if it spots a sudden change in that behaviour and shuts down the account and contacts the owner. If the owner doesn’t log on and reset the password it stays shut. So when your following starts dropping this week you can reassure yourself that you’re just as popular as ever, and you’ll no longer have to read misinformation in your feed.