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Lisa Raitt to enhance rail safety measures in wake of Lac-Mégantic

Written By doni icha on Rabu, 23 April 2014 | 22.40

Transport minister will require rapid phase-out of old tanker cars, emergency response plans

CBC News Posted: Apr 23, 2014 8:35 AM ET Last Updated: Apr 23, 2014 10:37 AM ET

The federal government will require a three-year phase-out or retrofit of older tank cars that are used to transport crude oil by rail.

That's one of the changes that will be announced Wednesday by Transport Minister Lisa Raitt in response to recommendations by the Transportation Safety Board in the aftermath of the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic, Que. 

The TSB has called for the phasing out of the older-model DOT-111 tank cars that are widely used in the oil-by-rail industry because they were prone to punctures and gas buildup. 

The transport minister will also announce that mandatory emergency response plans will be required for all crude-oil shipments in Canada.

In January, the Transportation Safety Board made three recommendations in response to the Lac-Mégantic explosion last July, in which 47 people were killed.

The TSB recommended:

  • Enhanced safety standards for Class 111 tank cars used to transport flammable liquids.
  • Railway companies that transport dangerous goods be required to conduct route planning and analysis.
  • Emergency response assistance plans be in place when large volumes of liquid hydrocarbons are shipped by rail.

Raitt will make the announcement at 12:45 ET Wednesday. CBCNews.ca will carrying the press conference LIVE.

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Latest Politics News Headlines

The House

  • Nigel Wright won't face charges, what's next in the Senate-PMO scandal? Apr. 19, 2014 6:30 AM This week on The House, Evan Solomon looks into the ramifications of the RCMP's decision to not pursue charges against Nigel Wright. What does that mean for the Prime Minister's former chief of staff, for Mike Duffy, and for Stephen Harper? Paul Calandra, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, and Charlie Angus, the NDP's ethics critic, join us to discuss.

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Mattel takeover of Montreal's Mega Brands gets green light

Mega Brands shareholders have overwhelmingly approved a $460-million US friendly takeover by American toy giant Mattel.

A total of 99.96 per cent of shareholders in Canada's only publicly traded toy maker endorsed the deal Wednesday. Approval was required from two-thirds of Mega Brands shareholders.

Mattel, the world's largest toy maker, will pay $17.75 Cdn cash per share and 39 cents per warrant, which represents a total enterprise value of $460 million US, including the net debt.

The transaction announced Feb. 28 had the support of shareholders with 39 per cent of Mega Brands stock, including the founding Bertrand family and Fairfax Financial, which invested in the company as it struggled to survive disastrous recalls of one of its magnetic toys.

Quebec Superior Court is expected to sanction the takeover Friday, leading to a change in ownership on April 30 and a delisting of Mega Brands stock from the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The Bertrand family will receive more than $74 million through the takeover. Chairman Victor Bertrand, who started the company nearly 50 years ago, would receive $41 million for his 2.3 million shares. Chief executive Marc Bertrand would collect $18.4 million, while chief innovation officer Vic Bertrand Jr. would get $14.9 million.

Mattel is expected to extend its many licences to Mega construction and arts products, two of the fastest growing toy segments.

Founded in 1967, Mega Brands grew to become the leading maker of pre-school construction toys. It employs 1,700 employees at its Montreal manufacturing facility and other operations around the world.


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Netflix set to 'grow like crazy' despite price increase

Netflix's decision to bump up its subscription rate for new members has been met with disdain in some quarters, but analysts say the price increase is unlikely to drive away viewers.

In fact, tech watchers say it will only strengthen the company's reputation for high-quality video content.

"I always felt like they were going to inch the prices up," says Kaan Yigit, president of the Solutions Research Group in Toronto. "In the short term, a dollar or two is not going to make an impact on [customer] penetration."

The planned price increase for new sign-ups "might take the edge off growth a little bit, but they're still going to grow like crazy," says Greg O'Brien, publisher and editor-in-chief of Cartt.ca, a news site covering the Canadian cable industry.

"Even factoring in the price increase, they might be at 50 million subscribers by the end of the second quarter."

As part of its first-quarter earnings report on Monday, the video-streaming service announced that sometime before July, it will raise its subscription price by $1 or $2 per month for new customers, an investor-pleasing move that saw Netflix share prices jump.

Netflix is currently available in 41 countries. Solutions Research Group estimates there are about 3.5 million Netflix subscribers in Canada and 31 million in the U.S., in each case with a current subscription price of $7.99 a month.

Much stronger today

Some tech watchers have expressed concern that the price increase could pan out as badly as Netflix's previous attempt at a rate hike.

The Calif.-based company lost about 800,000 subscribers in 2011 after announcing a price increase for U.S. customers. At the time, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings went so far as to issue an official apology.

That was clearly a chastening episode in the Netflix story. But three years later the company is in a much stronger position, says Gregory Taylor, a post-doctoral fellow at the Ted Rogers School of Information Technology Management at Ryerson University.

"That was a different age, as far as Netflix goes, because at the point, it was still dealing a lot with mail-in DVDs, and that's not really their business anymore," says Taylor.

He says the latest price hike is a "bold move by Netflix, but I don't think it comes with the same elements of risk for them as there were in 2011."

Since then, Netflix has come to be seen as a game-changer for the cable television industry. Not only does it provide an ever-growing library of movies and TV shows, but it has made a successful foray into original programming, including the Emmy-winning political series House of Cards, the comedy-drama Orange Is the New Black and a documentary about 2012 presidential contender Mitt Romney.

Orange is the new black

The second season of the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black is set to begin in June. (Netflix/Associated Press)

O'Brien says the Netflix trajectory is similar to that of HBO, which began as a movie channel and soon grew into a beloved destination for compelling original shows.

"When they hit on the idea of original content and produced a huge hit in The Sopranos, [HBO's] subscriber numbers jumped like crazy," says O'Brien.

Content driven

According to Netflix, the stated aim of the upcoming price increase is to "acquire more content and deliver an even better streaming experience."

Forbes magazine estimates the rate increase could add between $600 million and $1.2 billion US to the company's revenues within the next two years.

Michael McGuire, a media analyst for U.S. consulting firm Gartner, says that Netflix can use the precedent set by House of Cards to justify the price hike.

"There is a way to point that out to consumers, to say, 'Look, you have to pay for quality programming, and if we're the only place you can get it, can a buck or two matter?'"

Still, while the future looks bright, the biggest likely hurdle for Netflix is internet bandwidth consumption, says O'Brien.

According to a report from broadband research company Sandvine, Netflix accounted for over 30 per cent of prime-time internet traffic in North America in the first half of 2013.

Streaming video requires a lot of bandwidth, and in order to manage its growth, Netflix has had to sign deals with internet providers, such as Comcast in the U.S., to ensure that its video content gets priority delivery to customers.

Netflix's incredible growth has not gone unnoticed by both traditional and newfangled broadcasters in the U.S. and Canada. Google and Amazon have both ventured into video-streaming and original content.

Meanwhile, O'Brien reported earlier this year that Rogers Communications had spent $100 million to build a video-streaming service of its own called Showmi.

Part of the motivation behind Showmi, O'Brien says, is to buy streaming rights for Hollywood films that would not be available on Netflix, thus ensuring that Netflix's offerings in Canada remain inferior to those on the American version of the site.

"Nobody is unassailable," says O'Brien. "[Rogers] could certainly pose a threat to Netflix in Canada."

Yigit, however, feels a Rogers move like this would be a risky venture.

"If Rogers is able to buy some prime rights and keep them off the table and Netflix access, they could limit its growth. But to launch something that's going to compete at that price point and still grow without cannibalizing their own core business, that's a difficult equation to master."

For all the challenges — and challengers — facing Netflix, Yigit says the company's current strength is because there is no viable competitor.

"The one thing that surprises me a great deal is if you look around the globe and you say, 'OK, is there a service that's similar in scope and delivery?' There isn't."


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Google Street View lets you go back in time

Google has launched a new feature that lets users explore how places around the world have changed since it launched Street View seven years ago.

"This will let you go back in time up to 2007," said Vinay Shet, product manager for Street View. "It paints a picture of how the world has been. It's a mirror of the world across time."

The feature is rolling out around the world over two days. As of 10:30 a.m. ET Wednesday, it was live in the U.S., but had not yet rolled out in Canada.

Google Canada spokesman Aaron Brindle said he would alert CBC News when Canadian users are able to try it out.

Brindle suggested that one interesting thing for Canadian users to check out is how Toronto's Lake Shore Boulevard has changed during the condo boom over the past few years.

Google Street View

Street View users can watch the construction of buildings like this one in Singapore. (Google)

Shet suggested using the new feature to see:

  • The construction of landmarks such as the 2014 World Cup Stadium in Fortelaza, Brazil.
  • The destruction wrought by natural disasters such as the 2011 earthquake and tsunami on places like Onagawa, Japan, and how they have been rebuilt.
  • How different cities such as Kyoto, Japan, look when covered in spring cherry blossoms and in the summer.

"It's also an opportunity to see how humanity has evolved culturally," said Shet, pointing out the evolution of technology from flip phones to smartphones in ads in New York's Times Square during an online video demo.

The availability of the new feature is indicated by a little clock in the upper left of a given Street View scene. A slider allows you to toggle among views from different times. Google has also dressed up its yellow Google Street View man icon as Doc Brown, the time machine inventor from the movie Back to the Future, for the launch.

The new feature will allow you to see some previously unpublished Street View images captured over the years, such as night shots of Times Square. Their quality wasn't high enough to allow them to be the main images on Street View, but Shet said they now can be used to add context.

The feature also preserves access to Street View images that are meaningful to some users. Shet gave the example of a man whose parents died some time after having been captured in Street View imagery. He was afraid the image would be replaced by a newer view of the street.

Japan Earthquake

Some images show cities such as before and after natural disasters such as the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. (Google)

Some Street View pictures posted through the years have also upset people who were captured in activities or visiting places that they wanted to keep private. Google now blurs the images of people who contact the company asking to be shielded from Street View. Masking will be available on the older photos too, Shet said, even if it's just because a person didn't like the way he or she looked a few years ago.

On average, in most places, only one image from the past will be available in addition to the most recent Street View image.

However, many past images will be available in major city centres because Google's Street View cars tended to visit those areas more frequently.

Google Inc. intends to keep adding pictures to the digital time capsules as its photo-taking cars continue to cruise the same streets gathering updates.

Like everything else on Google's map, the time-tripping option is free. Google makes money off its maps from advertising, so the Mountain View, Calif., company is constantly coming up with new attractions to keep people coming back.

Google Street View is used by a billion people each month and currently spans 55 countries.

The look-back feature will be available in all but three of those countries: Germany and Switzerland, where government regulations restrict Google's use of the past images, and South Africa, where technical problems have slowed the feature's rollout.


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Goldcorp drops hostile bid for Quebec's Osisko

New

Shareholders opt for rival friendly offer from Yamana and Agnico Eagle

CBC News Posted: Apr 23, 2014 11:11 AM ET Last Updated: Apr 23, 2014 11:11 AM ET

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(Note: CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external links.)

Vancouver-based Goldcorp Inc. has allowed its bid for Quebec gold miner Osisko Mining Corp. to expire after failing to garner support from shareholders.

Goldcorp announced Wednesday that its hostile offer did not meet its minimum conditions of at least 50.1 per cent of outstanding shares. It also withdrew its nominees for the Osisko board of directors.

​Osisko had resisted the deal from the start and courted a rival offer, saying the Goldcorp attempt was a way of getting access to low-cost gold assets through its Canadian Malartic mine.

The Osisko board supported a rival offer worth about $3.9 billion last week from Yamana Gold and Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd., recommending it to shareholders.

The final Goldcorp offer was $2.92 cash and 0.17 of a Goldcorp common share, valuing the company at about $3.6 billion.

 The Yamana-Agnico offer includes $2.09 in cash plus 0.26471 of a Yamana share, 0.07264 of an Agnico-Eagle share and one new share of Osisko valued at $1.20 per share.

There will be a joint operating committee for the Malartic mine in Quebec and other projects such as Kirkland Lake and Hammond Reef. 

With files from the Canadian Press

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Latest Business Headlines

TSX COMPOSITE

Apr 23, 2014 11:19 AM ET Apr 23, 2014 11:19 AM ET Apr 23, 2014 11:19 AM ET Apr 23, 2014 11:20 AM ET Apr 23, 2014 11:19 AM ET

Index Last Trade Change
TSX COMPOSITE 14575.62 19.65
DOW 16487.62 -26.75
NASDAQ 4134.91 -26.55
SP 500 1876.21 -3.34
TSX-VENTURE 1006.68 1.80

The data on this site is informational only and may be delayed; it is not intended as trading or investment advice and you should not rely on it as such.

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Aereo, T.V. broadcasters ready for Supreme Court fight

Written By doni icha on Selasa, 22 April 2014 | 22.40

Chet Kanojia Aereo dongle TV

Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo Inc., has a longstanding fight with TV broadcasters over using and reselling their signals. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

The Supreme Court is taking up a dispute between broadcasters and an Internet startup company that has the potential to bring big changes to the television industry.

The company is Aereo Inc., and the justices are hearing arguments Tuesday over its service that gives subscribers in 11 U.S. cities access to television programs on their laptop computers, smartphones and other portable devices.

The broadcasters say Aereo is essentially stealing their programming by taking free television signals from the airwaves and sending them over the Internet without paying redistribution fees. Those fees, increasingly important to the broadcasters, were estimated at $3.3 billion last year.

The case involving Internet innovation is the latest for justices who sometimes seem to struggle to stay abreast of technological changes.

Broadcasters including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS sued Aereo for copyright infringement, saying Aereo should pay for redistributing the programming the same way cable and satellite systems do. Some networks have said they will consider abandoning free over-the-air broadcasting if they lose at the Supreme Court.

Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia recently told The Associated Press that broadcasters can't stand in the way of innovation, saying, "the Internet is happening to everybody, whether you like it or not." Aereo, backed by billionaire Barry Diller, has plans to more than double the number of cities it serves, although the high court could put a major hurdle in the company's path if it sides with the broadcasters.

Aereo's service starts at $8 a month and is available in New York, Boston, Houston and Atlanta, among others. Subscribers get about two dozen local over-the-air stations, plus the Bloomberg TV financial channel.

In the New York market, Aereo has a data center in Brooklyn with thousands of dime-size antennas. When a subscriber wants to watch a show live or record it, the company temporarily assigns the customer an antenna and transmits the program over the Internet to the subscriber's laptop, tablet, smartphone or other device.

The antenna is only used by one subscriber at a time, and Aereo says that's much like the situation at home, where a viewer uses a personal antenna to watch over-the-air broadcasts for free.

The broadcasters and their backers argue that Aereo's competitive advantage lies not in its product, but in avoiding paying for it.

The federal appeals court in New York ruled that Aereo did not violate the copyrights of broadcasters with its service, but a similar service has been blocked by judges in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said its ruling stemmed from a 2008 decision in which it held that Cablevision Systems Corp. could offer a remote digital video recording service without paying additional licensing fees to broadcasters because each playback transmission was made to a single subscriber using a single unique copy produced by that subscriber. The Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal from movie studios, TV networks and cable TV companies.

In the Aereo case, a dissenting judge said his court's decision would eviscerate copyright law. Judge Denny Chin called Aereo's setup a sham and said the individual antennas are a "Rube Goldberg-like contrivance" - an overly complicated device that accomplishes a simple task in a confusing way - that exists for the sole purpose of evading copyright law.


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Google X faces innovator's dilemma: Wow factor has to pay

Has Google's moment of radical innovation been exposed as only that? A moment? In an economy where everyone is counting on innovation, and counting on the private sector to provide it, two events at the end of last week leave me worried.

The first one was Google's plunging share price. The company is still doing well. But suddenly shareholders came face to face with what in Canada we might call "the Nortel realization." That is, the sudden comprehension that a share price based on expectations of ever higher future returns cannot be sustained by high, but constant, returns.

The other event was ostensibly positive. For the first time, the world's biggest internet search company gave a reporter a behind-the-scenes look at Google X, the company's division charged with engineering a radical future.

Big ideas

While Google plods along doing the journeyman work of generating online advertising revenue, Google X, sometime described as "clandestine," is the division that generates the headlines. "X" as it is known for short within the company, is the birthplace of the driverless car, Google Glass, the contact lens with an embedded chip, and Project Loon, a balloon- or drone-based internet service to spread Wi-Fi to the world.

A space elevator, "something X was widely rumoured to be working on but has never confirmed until now," is the latest breathless headline, based on Fast Company's exclusive peek inside the secretive R&D division. Space elevators make great headlines and it is fun to dream, but like the other ideas coming out of X, the economics of such a radical innovation is tenuous.

And herein lies my worry. With the exception of military spending from sources such as the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), government spending on radical — as opposed to incremental — innovation is drying up. NASA's budget was seriously cut while billions went to bail out the banks.

Here in Canada, like elsewhere, the ideology is: Leave it to the private sector. But the two windows that opened last week, one into Google's exciting research lab, one into the books of Google the prosaic cash cow that sells online ads, reminds us of a harsh reality. Radical innovation, while a huge generator of wealth for countries and for humankind as a whole, rarely turns a profit for the companies — or shareholders — paying for it.

Cash is king

The times when radical innovation and profit come together, like that celebrated moment when Tesla turned a corner, are wonderful to behold. And even Tesla is balanced on a financial knife-edge. As recently revealed by Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO with Canadian roots, without an unexpected injection of NASA cash for his other company, SpaceX, Tesla could well be history.

Radical innovation is only rarely profitable. So rare, that it is hard to make a business case for it. When British pharmaceutical giant Glaxo held the patent on Zantac, the world's best-selling drug at the end of the last century, the company invested its windfall profits to try to repeat the success. It soon realized radical innovation did not pay, and turned instead to buying up companies with existing or promising drugs.

The list of failed radical innovators is long. Better Place, Shai Agassi's company that promised cars with instant battery exchanges, went bankrupt. In Canada, Hemosol — the company that promised artificial blood — is just one example of a radical innovator that came to a bad end. Others, like B.C. fuel-cell innovator Ballard never profited from their own ideas, forced to sell off more and more of the company's assets to cover the cost of "capital burn."

I was surprised that the Fast Company article about Google X never mentioned a similar hotbed of radical innovation from another era, Bell Labs.

Though its terms of reference were different, it was also funded by a company with deep pockets. While it generated brilliant ideas, now incorporated into the technology that powers the digital economy, it was seldom Bell that profited. Eventually, market forces prevailed and the funding ran out. Innovation is a public, not a private good. It benefits us all.

And while there are privately motivated innovators inspired by some sort of higher public goal, the Brins and Pages, the Musks, the Agassis, the Ballards, we can all reap the benefits. Wearable computing will continue to exist even if Google Glass does not. 

Google may or may not benefit from patents for driverless cars technology. A space elevator may one day exist, but it is improbable that Google will build it. For now, Google X is generating the hype that says, "Google is hip, an innovator, a company with potential." But last week's Google results remind us that, eventually, the shareholders will take over and demand that it generate profits. Or die.


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GM seeks immunity for ignition lawsuits before 2009

Auto firm says it isn't liable for anything that happened pre-bankruptcy

The Associated Press Posted: Apr 22, 2014 7:58 AM ET Last Updated: Apr 22, 2014 7:58 AM ET

General Motors Co. has filed suit in a U.S. bankruptcy court asking a judge to protect the company from legal claims for actions that took place before it emerged from bankruptcy in 2009.

The suit was filed Monday evening in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. A hearing has not yet been set.

The filing asserts that the "numerous lawsuits" recently filed throughout the United States dealing with GM's recall of cars with possible ignition switch problems are "retained liabilities" of the old GM, not the new company.

It says the recall involves vehicles "manufactured and sold by Old GM" and asks Judge Robert Gerber to protect the "new GM" from claims.

GM has said at least 13 deaths have been linked to the ignition problem.


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Valeant, Bill Ackman bid $45B for Botox-maker Allergan

Valeant Pharmaceuticals and activist investor Bill Ackman have unveiled details of their offer to buy Botox maker Allergan, proposing a cash-and-stock deal that could be worth about $45 billion US — if they overcome the California-based specialty drug company's reluctance.

Montreal-based Valeant, already one of Canada's largest pharmaceutical companies, says a combination with California-based Allergan would be good for shareholders of both companies.

It's proposing to exchange $48.30 in cash and 0.83 shares of Valeant per Allergan share — worth about $152.89 in total based on Monday stock prices. Allergan Inc. stockholders would own 43 per cent of the combined company.

Allergan shares ended regular trading on Monday at $142 per share but was about 18 per cent above that in pre-market trade before the Tuesday open, trading at about $167.31

Valeant shares also rose after the proposal was announced, trading at $132.25 about 30 minutes before Tuesday's open — up from $126.1 at the end of Monday's regular session at the New York Stock Exchange. In Toronto, Valeant shares closed Monday at $138.76.

Ackman will hold equity stake

Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management LP — Allergan's biggest stockholder at 9.7 per cent — has agreed to take only stock in the transaction.

If an acquisition happens, it would give Valeant an array of other cosmetic and eye drugs and add to a string of more than 50 acquisitions that have made it one of Canada's largest drugmakers.

Valeant Chairman and CEO J. Michael Pearson said in a statement that Allergan CEO David Pyott and the company's board have made it clear that they don't want to have talks about a potential combination. But Pearson said he's hoping that the offer being put on the table will enable the two sides "to engage in productive discussions."

On Monday Allergan said in a statement that if it received an offer that its board — along with financial and legal advisers — would evaluate it.

Valeant, which is based in Laval, Que., said Tuesday that it anticipates the proposed Allergan deal resulting in more than $2.7 billion in annual cost savings.

Big bucks from Botox

Allergan, based in Irvine, Calif., has long been considered one of the star performers in the specialty pharmaceutical sector. "Specialty pharmaceutical" is an industry term that differentiates smaller drugmakers from much bigger companies that sell a wide array of drugs, such as Pfizer and Merck.

Allergan reported revenue of $6.3 billion last year, up 12 per cent from 2012. The company's growth has been driven by expanding use of its blockbuster product, Botox, combined with a broad offering of eye care drugs, skin care formulas and breast implants.

Last year Botox sales rose 12 per cent to nearly $2 billion. First introduced in 1989, the injectable drug is most famous for its ability to smooth wrinkle lines on aging foreheads. But over the years Allergan has racked up more than a half-dozen other approved uses for Botox, including treatment for neck spasms, eye muscle disorders and migraine headaches.

Allergan's shares jumped more than 18 per cent in premarket trading. Valeant's stock rose more than 7 per cent.

Valeant also announced Tuesday that it is raising its full-year earnings forecast to $8.55 to $8.80 per share, up from $8.25 to $8.75 per share. It's also boosting its revenue guidance to a range of $8.3 billion to $8.7 billion. Previously the company predicted revenue of $8.2 billion to $8.6 billion.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect 2014 earnings of $9.63 per share on revenue


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Tesla delivers first China cars, plans national expansion

Tesla Motors Inc. delivered its first eight electric sedans to customers in China on Tuesday and CEO Elon Musk said the company will build a nationwide network of charging stations and service centres as fast as it can. 

Tesla probably will invest several hundred million dollars in charging infrastructure in China, Musk told reporters. He said it will open several hundred service centres.
 
"My instructions to the team are to spend money as fast as they can spend it without wasting it," he said.
 
The Palo Alto, California, company previously announced a $121,000 sticker price for its Model S in China. It said import taxes and shipping account for the difference with its U.S. price tag of $81,000. 
 
Customers received the first Model S sedans at a brief ceremony at Tesla's office in a Beijing industrial park, also the site of its first Chinese charging station.
 
"I'm incredibly appreciative of customers like you for taking a chance on a new product from a new company," Musk told them. "Without customers like you, we would have no chance."
 
Chinese leaders want to develop an electric car industry and called in 2009 for annual sales of 500,000 electric cars by 2015 but have scaled back those plans. Industry growth has been slow partly due to rules that limit market access unless foreign manufacturers share technology with Chinese partners that might become rivals.

Potential partnership with Chinese companies

Tesla hopes to partner with China's state-owned power monopolies, State Grid and Southern Grid, to operate charging stations, but no "serious discussions" have begun, Musk said. He said the car can be charged from a wall socket but the charging stations speed up the process.
 
The stations will have solar panels, but Musk said that was meant to show vehicles can run without power generated from coal rather than to make them independent of utility companies. He said charging stations will be built both in cities and between them to facilitate long-distance travel.
 
Musk said previously Tesla might sell 5,000 cars this year in China but emphasized Tuesday that was "just a guess."
 
"I do think that's probably a good number. Maybe it will be higher," he said. "I don't honestly know. Thus far the response has been very positive."
 
Musk also previously said Tesla might try to manufacture cars in China in as little as three to four years. He said that might take longer but the company still hopes to produce vehicles where they are sold.
 
Foreign manufacturers that want to produce electric cars in China are subject to import taxes unless they give ownership of key technology to a Chinese partner. Producers such as General Motors Co. and Nissan Motor Co. have chosen instead to import electric and hybrid vehicles and pay duties that boost their price and limit sales.

Some Chinese customers expressed frustration after Tesla delayed deliveries by several months. Musk said the company wanted to avoid a repeat of trouble it had in Europe when it rolled out vehicles too quickly. He said deliveries were postponed while the company made sure all customers had access to charging facilities.
 
"We intentionally held back on the debut to the Chinese market until we were confident of that," he said. Referring to customers, he said, "I met with them earlier today and personally apologized."

US lithium-ion factory location to be decided

Musk said Tesla still is deciding where in the United States to build what it says could be the biggest factory to produce lithium-ion batteries.
 
The company is looking at four states — Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas — and is likely to break ground in more than one before making a final decision, Musk said. He said the company wants to make sure construction stays on schedule and keeps up with demand from Tesla's California auto assembly line.
 
"We are going to proceed with at least two locations in parallel, just in case one of them encounters some issues after breaking ground," Musk said. He said Panasonic was likely to be Tesla's partner in battery production.
 
Tesla has no plans for additional modifications to strengthen the Model S undercarriage to protect against road debris after announcing in March it would add a titanium shield, said a company spokesman, Simon Sproule. Tesla announced the modification after two cars were destroyed in the United States in fires blamed on road debris that punctured an aluminum shield and their batteries.
 


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