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Facebook sales at risk as Starbucks bails, GM plans review – Financial Post

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Facebook Inc. fielded criticism from a growing number of consumer companies over harmful content on its sites, with Starbucks Corp. and Diageo Plc pulling back on ad spending and General Motors Co. planning to review its social media marketing strategy.

Starbucks and Diageo followed Unilever, Coca-Cola Co. and several other companies in saying they will cut ad spending, part of an exodus aimed at pushing Facebook and its peers to limit hate speech and posts that divide and misinform.

On Monday, the pullback continued. Britvic Plc, which supplies a wide range of soft drinks, said it will pause advertising on Facebook and Instagram for July. GM said it’s “reviewing and reinforcing” its marketing guidelines, and Patreon Inc. said it’s removing all ads on Facebook and Instagram. The Clorox Co. said it will stop advertising spending with Facebook through December.

While a single advertiser can do little to hurt a company that generated $17.7 billion in revenue last quarter, the rising tally creates peer pressure on other brands, and civil rights groups say they expect more corporations to join a boycott. Combined with a pandemic-fuelled economic slowdown, the threat to Facebook is deepening.

“Given the amount of noise this is drawing, this will have significant impact to Facebook’s business,” Wedbush Securities analyst Bradley Gastwirth wrote in a research note. “Facebook needs to address this issue quickly and effectively in order to stop advertising exits from potentially spiraling out of control.”
Shares gained 1.9 per cent Monday at 1:36 p.m. in New York, after dropping 8.3 per cent on Friday. Unilever, one of the world’s largest advertisers, said it would cease spending on Facebook properties this year, eliminating US$56 billion in market value and shaving the net worth of Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg by more than $7 billion. Shares closed at US$216.08 Friday after reaching a record US$242.24 the preceding Tuesday.

Facebook was already bracing for weakness in the second quarter, which ends this week. Chief Financial Officer Dave Wehner said in an April earnings call that he saw the “potential for an even more severe advertising industry contraction.”

The number of coronavirus cases has surged in the intervening months, prompting many parts of the country to slow or roll back reopening efforts and giving advertisers added justification to rein in spending. Facebook’s sales will rise 1 per cent in the June period, followed by a 7 per cent increase in the third quarter, analysts predict, by far the smallest quarterly growth increases since the company went public.

Advertiser boycotts in July could cost Facebook more than $250 million in the third quarter if 25 per cent of its top 100 buyers pause spending, and as much as $500 million if 50 per cent of the top advertisers stop, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Jitendra Waral.Zuckerberg announced changes Friday designed to appease critics, but the Anti-Defamation League, one of the groups calling for the boycott, called the amendments “small.”

Some analysts have said the financial impact of recent exits will be limited, citing past advertiser revolts. Even so, this exodus is distinct in key ways, Bernstein Securities analyst Mark Shmulik wrote in a research note Saturday. There’s heightened pressure to publicly demonstrate that brands stand with civil-rights groups, he said.

“The current environment is very different,” Shmulik wrote. “It is very visible who is and isn’t participating in the boycott where brand silence [equals] being complicit.”

Bloomberg.com

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China's imports and exports grew in June – MarketWatch

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China’s imports and exports rose in June from a year earlier, mainly reflecting improving demand at home and abroad as the country largely brought the coronavirus pandemic under control and some developed countries began reopening.

China’s imports rose 2.7% in June, reversing a 16.7% slump in May, the General Administration of Customs said Tuesday. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal expected June’s imports to drop 10.0%.

Exports edged up 0.5% in June, compared with a 3.3% decline in May, customs data showed. June’s exports were also better than economists’ median forecast of a 4.3% decline.

China recorded a trade surplus of $46.42 billion last month, much smaller than May’s $62.93 billion surplus and below the $59.30 billion surplus economists expected.

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Why the 2021 Ford Bronco Has Independent Front Suspension – RoadandTrack.com

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Hardcore off-roaders and Jeep fans swear by the solid axle. They say the durability, articulation, and simplicity of a live-axle setup can’t be beat. Yet slowly, the solid front axle has died out. Aside from the Wrangler, no new passenger vehicle is sold in the U.S. today with a solid front axle. And now we know the new Ford Bronco won’t change that.

The Bronco instead opts for an independent front suspension, like pretty much every other truck or SUV out there. It’s easy to see why: Independent front suspension gives you more wheel control, reduces unsprung weight, and increases steering precision.

Ford

But the new Bronco isn’t just about about the on-road experience. And independent front suspension has some drawbacks for off-roaders. Most IFS designs offer less suspension travel than a solid axle, making it harder to maintain traction on uneven surfaces and keep all four wheels on the ground

According to Gavin McGee, a vehicle dynamics engineer for the Bronco, Ford considered a solid front axle. But beyond the fact that the increased unsprung weight tends to make for an uncomfortable ride, there were other dynamic concerns. A big one is wheel control, which suffers on a live-axle vehicle. Because both wheels are tied together, a bump on one side affects the other. That creates a wobbly ride, especially at speed, as the suspension can’t keep up with cascading impacts. On high-speed washboard surfaces or desert conditions, independent suspension allows for greater control.

Perhaps more importantly, independent front suspension allows for more precise, responsive steering. Solid-axle vehicles mostly use recirculating ball steering systems, an ancient design. Independent suspension allows for more modern steering systems, which should help give the Bronco better high speed behavior than the Wrangler, and more precise steering feedback at all speeds.

Lastly, McGee says Ford has mitigated a lot of the off-road compromises of independent front suspension. One of the key things that reduces the flexibility of an independent suspension setup is the stabilizer bar, which links the two front wheels together to reduce body roll. The Bronco has an available electronic disconnect on its front stabilizer bar, allowing way more travel—on an RTI ramp, which measures a 4×4’s suspension flex, a Bronco Badlands goes from a score of 560 with the stabilizer bar connected to 700 when disconnected.

Finally, while independent suspension used to mean limited wheel travel, Ford says the Bronco’s suspension has 17 percent more travel than the Wrangler. You can also get Bilstein position-sensitive dampers on every trim of the Bronco, which get stiffer toward the top end of their travel. That means more on-road comfort around town with better composure in challenging high-speed terrain. Combined with the inherent advantages of independent front suspension, the new Bronco should easily feel more refined and stable than the Wrangler, especially in the on-road driving where most owners spend the majority of their time.

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First Look: 2021 Ford Bronco – Driving

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I haven’t driven it yet, but here’s my early verdict: The new Ford Bronco looks buckin’ cool.

The Bronco was introduced for 1966 as a direct competitor to Jeep. Ford interviewed Jeep owners to see what they didn’t like about their vehicles, and engineered those improvements into the Bronco. Ford says it did the same this time, once again to try and out-wrangle the Wrangler.

The original Bronco was later joined by the smaller Bronco II, and now alongside it is the milder Bronco Sport. The first Bronco also came as a pickup truck, but so far, there’s no official announcement of one to tackle Jeep’s Gladiator.

The Sport hits showrooms later this year, while the bigger Bronco arrives in the spring of 2021, in two- or four-door configurations. You can reserve any of them right now for $100.

The Bronco will range from $40,199 to $61,994, ranging from the base two-door to the top-trim four-door. The Sport starts at $32,199 and tops out at $40,199; for that price, will you take a loaded Sport or a base Bronco two-door?

The Bronco sits on a fully-boxed frame and it’s meant to be modular. Ford says with a wrench and an hour, you can “strip it almost to its bare bones” — all the easier to install some of the 200-plus accessories offered at launch. The bumper caps come off for more clearance, the inside grab handles can be moved around, and roof cargo such as a canoe can be tied to the hood loops, which double as trail sights.

The doors are frameless and come off — they average about 21 kilograms each — and unlike the Wrangler, they stow inside the vehicle and the mirrors stay on the body (although Jeep still has that folding windshield in its favour). Depending on the Bronco’s trim, you get a cloth top, or a removable hard roof with smaller, easier-to-handle sections. The crossbar is behind the rear seat, so everyone gets a full view of the sky.

There are six trim levels: Base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, and the tougher Wildtrak and Badlands. The U.S. also gets a limited “Special Edition” at launch that won’t be offered in Canada.

Every Bronco engine is powered by an EcoBoost engine — that’s Ford-speak for turbocharged. The base 2.3L four-cylinder makes 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, but you can upgrade to a twin-turbo 2.7L V6 good for 310 ponies and 400 lb.-ft. of torque — more horsepower than any production Wrangler, and you only get more twist if you opt for Jeep’s diesel.

Four-cylinder Broncos can be ordered with a seven-speed manual — actually a six-speed with a “crawler” gear. A ten-speed automatic is optional on the turbo-four and standard on the V6. Two transfer cases will be available, depending on trim: two-speed with shift-on-the-fly, or an advanced system with an “auto” 4×4 setting that can be used on pavement as well as off-road.

The rest of the greasy bits include an independent front suspension, Dana front and rear axles, available Spicer electronic locking diffs and Bilstein shocks, and a final drive ratio ranging from 3.73:1 to 4.7:1. Up the option ladder, there are 35-inch mud-terrain tires on beadlock-capable rims, and a stabilizer bar that can be disconnected during articulation — for when you’re on the trail and the horizon is sideways through the windshield.

Equipped with 35-inch tires, the gnarliest four-door Bronco gives you 11.5 inches of ground clearance, a 43.2-degree approach angle, 26.3-degree breakover, and 37-degree departure. Maximum towing capacity on all models is 3,500 pounds.

For those new to off-road, selectable drive modes include mud/ruts and rock crawl. There’s Trail Control, which works as low-speed cruise control, and one-pedal drive that operates both brake and throttle for the roughest stuff. You can also attach a dash rack to mount a phone or GoPro, and there are cameras in front of the wheels so you don’t need a spotter.

Once you’re back in base camp, swing open the hatch, slide out the tailgate seat, and open your beverage with the built-in bottle opener. While it still has a retro-style feel to it, the Bronco will offer several higher-tech features, such as Ford’s Sync 4 infotainment system, over-the-air vehicle updates to reduce dealer visits, and off-road navigation that can track and capture where you’ve been so you can share it with fellow off-roaders.

The Bronco Sport will also take you off the pavement, but not quite as deep into the wilds. It’s a unibody, based on the same platform that underpins the Ford Escape. All trims have a four-wheel-drive ystem that prioritizes the front axle and sends more to the rear as required, but the Badlands adds a twin-clutch rear unit with differential lock, and can deliver all rear-axle torque to one wheel if the other loses traction. Ford says it’ll outperform the Trailhawk versions of Jeep’s Cherokee and Compass — and both of those perform surprisingly well on tougher terrain.

The standard Bronco Sport engine is a 1.5-litre EcoBoost three-cylinder engine, making 181 horsepower and 190 lb.-ft. of torque, while a 2.0L EcoBoost engine with 245 horsepower and 275 lb.-ft. — provided you’re running premium fuel — is available. That’s the annoying way some automakers now present their power numbers to make them as high as possible, so expect a little less grunt on the regular-grade gas most people will use. Both engines come with an eight-speed automatic.

Bronco’s target customers prefer to drive into the wilderness, while Sport buyers tend to park at the edge and venture in themselves. So, two mountain bikes can fit standing up in the Sport’s cargo area, and accessories include a tent and ladder for sleeping on the roof. The liftgate includes floodlights, and you can get a slide-out table to go under them.

Like its rougher-tougher sibling, the Bronco Sport will offer the the Trail Control low-speed cruise, front camera, skid plates, drive modes with rock-crawl setting, and a washable rubber floor. Emergency front braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, and automatic high-beam headlights are standard, and adaptive cruise control and lane centering are available.

The Bronco Sport is also meant for those who want comfort during the week and blackflies on the weekend, and will get them there with more off-road capability than Ford’s other compact sport-utes. But it’s that hard-core Bronco that’s the big news here, and I can’t wait to get this thing on a trail to see what it’ll do.

There’s no question the Bronco looks the part. Now we just have to see if Ford really did out-Jeep the Jeep.

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