SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has booked a ride to suborbital space with Virgin Galactic, according to media reports.
Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group, made just such a trip on Sunday (July 11), flying on the first fully crewed spaceflight of Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity space plane. It was the fourth spaceflight overall for the six-passenger, two-pilot Unity, which is on track to start full commercial operations in early 2022, provided a few additional test flights this fall go well.
Branson told The Sunday Times that Musk has put down a $10,000 deposit to reserve a seat on a future suborbital flight, and a Virgin Galactic spokesperson confirmed the news to The Wall Street Journal. (The most recently stated full ticket price is $250,000.) It’s unclear when Musk’s flight will lift off.
“Elon’s a friend, and maybe I’ll travel on one of his ships one day,” the 70-year-old Branson told The Sunday Times. (SpaceX’s Crew Dragon goes all the way to Earth orbit, and the company’s in-development Starship system is designed to take people and payloads to the moon, Mars and beyond.)
Musk was on hand to witness Branson’s flight, which lifted off from Spaceport America in New Mexico, Virgin Galactic’s commercial hub. In the hours before Sunday’s early-morning flight, in fact, Branson tweeted out a picture of himself standing next to a shoeless Musk.
“Big day ahead. Great to start the morning with a friend. Feeling good, feeling excited, feeling ready,” Branson wrote in the tweet.
Another billionaire is set to fly to suborbital space next week. Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos will ride on the first crewed spaceflight of his company’s New Shepard vehicle, which is scheduled for July 20, the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Also flying with Bezos are his brother Mark, pioneering aviator Wally Funk and the still-mysterious auction winner who paid $28 million for the seat alongside them.
Musk is the world’s richest or second-richest person (behind Bezos), depending on which day that evaluation is made, so he’s certainly wealthy enough to sample various suborbital offerings. (Blue Origin has not disclosed ticket prices, but they’re expected to be in the low six figures.) Given the longstanding rivalry between Musk and Bezos, however, it’d be something of a surprise if we see the SpaceX chief clamber into New Shepard anytime soon.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.
Credit Suisse top energy stock picks include two Canadian companies – The Globe and Mail
Daily roundup of research and analysis from The Globe and Mail’s market strategist Scott Barlow
Like Scotiabank Monday, Credit Suisse analyst Manav Gupta thinks now is the time to add energy stocks.
Mr. Gupta also provided a list of top picks which includes two Canadian stocks,
“We continue to believe that in a post Russia-Ukraine conflict world, we are short of crude oil, refined products and natural gas. We estimate global oil market was undersupplied by ~1.5MMb/d in 2Q 22 and will remain undersupplied by ~0.8MMb/d in 2H 22 and this will continue to support higher prices in the near-term. While IEA still believes markets will be somewhat balanced in 2022/2023, in our opinion, IEA is overestimating supply growth from certain regions (including OPEC) and still underestimating total global demand… World is short of refining capacity and we expect US refiners will likely be one of the biggest beneficiaries of that as European peers struggle to source replacement of Russian barrels … Our favorite names… also highlight investment cases for our favorite names. Integrated oil – XOM, CVX, SU [Suncor Energy Inc.] and CVE [Cenovus Energy Inc.]. Upstream – COP, OVV and CHK. Midstream – LNG, PAA and TRGP. Refiners – VLO, MPC, DINO, PSX and VTNR.”
Wells Fargo strategist Chris Haverland details what I think is the biggest short term equity market risk – earnings downgrades,
“After growing by 9% in the first quarter of 2022, S&P 500 Index earnings are expected to have grown by 5.7% in the second quarter of 2022 … It would be the slowest quarter for growth since the fourth quarter of 2020… The energy, industrials, and materials sectors should lead the way with energy earnings expected to growth by a remarkable 205%. Excluding the energy sector, overall S&P 500 Index earnings are expected to contract by 2%… Forward guidance will be key as many companies continue to deal with rising input prices, a tight labour market and continued global supply chain constraints.”
“WF on Q2 earnings” – (research excerpt) Twitter
The longer-term outlook for copper stocks is bright because of electrification, but it would be hard to tell that as miners and the commodity price continue to fall. The RBC research team discussed the trend,
“The North American Base Metals have almost fully caught up to the copper price and are now down 6% year-to-date (copper -11.7% ytd) but are still outperforming the broader market (S&P 500 -18.7% ytd, TSX -9.4% ytd). The North American Base Metals stocks are trading at an 18% discount to NAV, above trough levels around a 40% discount but near the historical avg. discount of 22% (see page 6). While the volatility could continue, we believe this pull back creates an opportunity to add high quality names which stand to benefit from the positive copper fundamentals in the coming years.
Diversion: “9 Invasive Plants You Should Rip to Shreds” – Gizmodo
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Price cap on Russian oil could shake up the market – CNN
London (CNN Business)Europe and the United States have barred the import of Russian oil to cut off a crucial revenue source for the Kremlin. But the plan to pile pain on President Vladimir Putin, forcing him to reconsider his war in Ukraine, hasn’t worked.
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Review: Cadillac is making a comeback and the all-electric Lyriq SUV is set to play a key role – The Globe and Mail
As many auto manufactures have struggled during the past few years between the pandemic and a chip shortage, Cadillac is seeing success.
“Cadillac in Canada has been on a roll for the last few years. 2020 was the best year in our history from a sales perspective, said Shane Peever, managing director of Cadillac Canada during the recent test-drive event for the all-electric Lyriq compact SUV in Park City, Utah. “And then we did it again in 2021″ for back-to-back sales records.
In 2020, Cadillac sold 12,066 vehicles in Canada; in 2021, that rose to 12,743. And momentum appears to be building thanks to its first all-electric vehicle. In fact, if you want a 2023 Lyriq, you’re out of luck – it’s already sold out. More than 3,300 have been preordered in Canada, with production to begin in August. Cadillac is now accepting orders for the 2024 models with dual electric motors, 500 horsepower and all-wheel-drive. No other pricing or feature details are available.
Our test vehicle was a rear-wheel-drive Lyriq with a 12-module, 100 kilowatt-hour battery pack and a one-motor system that produces 340 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, and has an estimated range of 502 kilometres. It rides on GM’s new Ultium battery architecture – it’s the same battery technology used in the GMC Hummer EV and all GM EVs moving forward. It’s less expensive, more powerful and uses less cobalt than the batteries found in the Chevrolet Bolt.
With 457 kilometres of range to start, I travelled along highways, twisty mountain roads and through quaint little villages. The Lyriq felt smooth, composed and responsive. In sharp corners, it was surprisingly well-balanced. The default setting for the one-pedal felt overly sensitive and somewhat jarring, slowing down the vehicle abruptly and making my driving partner nauseous. Thankfully, you could turn off the system easily using an icon on the massive 33-inch curved LED display. Cadillac’s so-called “Regen on Demand” system, accessed via a paddle shifter on the left side of the steering wheel, also improves efficiency by allowing the driver to adjust the regenerative braking level and control how quickly the vehicle slows down or comes to a complete stop. The pressure-sensitive paddle was a bit finicky at first, but once you got the hang of it, it created a more engaging drive and added an extra eight kilometres of range.
After several hours and nearly 120 kilometres, the range dropped 145 kilometres – not bad considering we blasted the air conditioning in the blazing 27-degree heat, turned on the ventilated front seats, pumped up the tunes on the AKG 19-speaker audio system, and drove it like a gas-powered vehicle.
When stopped, the Lyriq garnered attention and compliments constantly from pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers. No surprise – it looks sharp. Designers faced challenges creating a new, memorable brand identity for Cadillac now that it has no engine. “For so long, the car’s design and face were defined by that big grille and the patterns and shapes that went into it. Now, everybody is rethinking, how do you have a clean brand identity that still feels unique in the marketplace,” said Tristan Murphy, interior design manager of the Cadillac Lyriq.
For Murphy, the solution was simple – it was in the lighting. “What really separates the Lyriq [from the competition] is the whole light-up animation. We took lighting to a whole other level where it’s not just about lighting the road and being functional, but being part of a beautiful walk-up sequence,” said Murphy. It’s stunning to witness – walk up to the vehicle with key fob in hand and the front lights come to life, starting with Cadillac’s trademark centre crest and working outward to the slim, vertical LED headlamps before ending with the rear taillights. The lighting theme also extends inside with 26 customizable colour choices to alter the mood in the cabin.
Removing the engine eliminated other constraints for designers, too. With no transmission tunnel, for example, it opened up the floor plan and allowed for smart storage solutions including a spot to store your purse, within arm’s reach. The bin is lined elegantly in juniper blue; the pattern is repeated above in a jewelrylike drawer perfect for hiding smaller items like cellphones or wallets. Intricate laser-etched patterns on the dark-ash wood highlight the craftsmanship and attention to detail in the cabin.
The Lyriq will be built at GM’s Spring Hill manufacturing facility in Tennessee and delivery for Canadian customers is expected later this summer.
2023 Cadillac Lyriq
- Base price: $69,898 (including Destination and Freight Charges)
- Motors: one motor (2023); dual electric motors (to come for 2024)
- Battery Pack: 100.4 kilowatt hours (rear-wheel drive); not announced (all-wheel drive)
- Charging capability: Level 2 (240-volt) 6-10 hours; DC fast-charger, 122 kilometres in 10 minutes
- Horsepower/torque (lb-ft): 340/324 (rear-wheel drive); 500/not announced (all-wheel drive)
- Claimed Range: 502 km (rear-wheel drive); not announced (all-wheel drive)
- Alternatives: Tesla Model Y, Audi Q4 e-tron, Jaguar I-Pace, Genesis GV60
Even though the Lyriq is electric, it still looks like a Cadillac. The new face is dramatic and bold with striking lighting details at the front and rear. I’m not a fan of the flush door handles, which make opening the door a two-step process – push the electronic button on the handle and grab the shark fin accent a few inches above.
In true Cadillac fashion, the cabin is upscale with a massive curved 33-inch LED display to access many items from the audio and navigation systems to the glove box compartment and ambient lighting choices. Many functions can also be controlled using a rotary dial on the centre control, but I prefer using the touch screen or better yet, Google’s personal assistant – it’s fast and works well.
The Lyriq is more engaging to drive than many competitors. Climbing up mountains was effortless and along sweeping roads it was sure footed. The ride was also whisper quiet with little road or wind noise in the cabin. The 2024 all-wheel-drive model is expected to tow up to 3,500 pounds.
The Lyriq is loaded-to-the-nines with safety technology and driving aids such as adaptive cruise control, advanced parking assist and Super Cruise, GM’s semi-autonomous hands-free driver assistance system. It also has Google with Google Maps and a personal voice assistant, wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto, a built-in WiFi hot spot, and over-the-air software update capabilities.
Many competitors have front trunks, but the Lyriq doesn’t. No biggie – the rear cargo is large with 793 litres of space. The rear seats fold down with the touch of two buttons in the cargo area. Drop the seats and the cargo expands to 1,723 litres.
Cadillac is making a comeback and the Lyriq will certainly help thanks to innovative design cues, long driving range and posh, tech-friendly interior.
The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.
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