Siemens workers vow fightback against Germany job cull

BERLIN: Hundreds of angry Siemens workers protested at the industrial behemoth's historic Berlin factory Friday, in the first revolt against a mass jobs cull that unions have vowed to resist with all their might.

“We are Siemens and we aren't going anywhere,” the crowd chanted, a day after the firm announced it would slash some 6,900 positions globally, mainly at its troubled power and gas unit.

Germany will account for almost half of the job losses.

Nearly 600 jobs will disappear in the German capital alone, including at the sprawling Dynamowerk site which, among other things, makes the huge gas turbines that have fallen out of favour as countries switch to renewable energy.

The demo was called by Germany's powerful IG Metall union, which has slammed the layoffs as “unacceptable” and pledged to put up fierce resistance.

“We will take to the streets and we expect the mobilisation to be spectacular because you can see the level of solidarity between the employees,” union member Kris told AFP, declining to give his last name.

“I can tell you that the mood in the meetings is very combative,” he added, sporting the union's red jacket emblazoned with the slogan “Siemens metal workers. We fight like bears”.

Siemens unveiled the layoffs as part of a major overhaul as it grapples with falling orders in a changing energy landscape.

But the “painful cuts” Siemens says are necessary have sparked outrage after the conglomerate — which also makes trains, wind turbines and medical equipment — only last week reported flourishing financial results.

Net profit for 2016-2017 rose by 11 percent year-on-year to 6.2 billion euros, it said.

As well as the layoffs in Germany, Siemens plans to close its sites in Goerlitz and Leipzig, both in the country's economically weaker former communist east.

Some 1,100 jobs are also set to go in the rest of Europe, while the United States will see 1,800 layoffs.

Martin Schulz, the leader of the Social Democratic Party that is set to go into the opposition after September's general election, called the job cuts an “outright scandal”.

“It's a slap in the face for all those employees who worked so hard for the company and its profits.” — AFP


(Video) Tesla’s all-electric semi truck aims to disrupt transport

HAWTHORNE, United States: After shaking up the auto world with its electric cars, Tesla is tackling a new frontier in “green” transportation with the unveiling of a futuristic all-electric semi truck.

Elon Musk, the South African-born inventor and entrepreneur, showcased the new vehicle Thursday in Hawthorne, California, site of Tesla's design bureau and the headquarters of the billionaire's aerospace company SpaceX.

With a sleek, aerodynamic profile, the Tesla Semi is billed as quicker and more economical than today's diesel-powered trucks.

“We designed the Tesla truck to be like a bullet,” said Musk, Tesla's co-founder and chief executive who aims to start production in 2019 with deliveries by 2020 — although some analysts expressed caution over Tesla's ability to meet its own timetable.

With four independent electric motors and a transmission that requires no shifting of gears, the Semi can accelerate to 100km per hour in five seconds — reaching that speed in 20 seconds while hauling a maximum 36,000kg load, much faster than a traditional diesel truck, Tesla says.

Most crucially, it can travel 800km between charges, more than double the length of most truck routes, 80% of which, according to Musk, are 250 miles or less.

“So it means you can go to your destination and back without recharging,” he said.

Tesla claims its Semi, which could be recharged at the firm's 1,000 free Supercharger stations worldwide, can save 20% over conventional transport rigs with fuel and insurance factored in — while delivering a “better experience” for truck drivers through its cab design.

With no front engine or gear shift to accommodate, the driver's seat is positioned in the centre of a panoramic windshield, with a dominating view of the road.

Instead of the traditional console, there are touch screens for navigation, music and traffic data.

Inside, the cab has enough head and legroom to stand up and walk around. The traditional second front seat is relegated to the back of the cab as a jump seat.

The Semi also uses some of the same navigation aids as Tesla's Model 3 sedan, such as cameras, and sensors designed to minimize blind spots, abrupt lane changes and emergency stops.

Bumps in the road?

But despite the truck's glitzy debut, some analysts warned it remains unclear if or when Tesla can deliver on its promises.

“We've come to expect very forward-thinking products from Tesla,” said Rebecca Lindland, analyst for the auto research firm Kelley Blue Book who said the Tesla Semi concept “makes a lot of sense” for vehicles with predictable routes like garbage trucks or school buses.

Lindland added however that Musk “is not great at keeping deadlines” and that “we need to add weeks, months or years” to his timetable.

Another concern is that Tesla is bleeding cash as it invests in new vehicles like the Model 3, a more affordable electric sedan.

The pace of production of the Model 3, for instance, is way behind target, peaking at 500 to 1,000 a week instead of a promised 5,000.

“Wall Street continues to be very tolerant of Elon Musk's strategy, as they consider it a tech company and not an automobile manufacturing company,” Lindland said.

“But there will come a time when investors won't be as tolerant and will need to start seeing profits.”

'Green' trucks

Joseph Spak of RBC Capital Markets said he was impressed by the truck, saying its specifications “exceeded expectations.”

“While Tesla has had challenges meeting deadlines, it does eventually get there,” Spak said in a research note. “As such, expect the topic of the electrification of (cargo trucks) and Tesla's disruption of that segment to step up.”

Tesla's Semi is arriving at a time when a variety of automakers — Daimler, Volkswagen, Nikola, Einride — are also developing electric truck prototypes, some equipped with autonomous driving functions and futuristic designs.

Experts note that heavy goods vehicles and buses already are being powered by alternative energy sources like hydrogen batteries or natural gas.

Tesla has not given out details on how much the trucks will cost or where they will be built. — AFP

Watch Tech Insider's video of the unveiling here :