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Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, Minister of Energy of Saudi Arabia arrives for the 178th meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, Austria, on March 6, 2020.
Alex Halad | AFP | Getty Images

Disagreement within OPEC could trigger a more a volatile period for oil, with prices jumping on lack of new supply or sinking suddenly if member countries decide to release crude independently.

Oil prices initially surged to a six-year high on news that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, ended their meeting Monday with no action and no new meeting date. A proposed plan by OPEC, Russia and other allies to bring 400,000 barrels a day back to the market was disrupted by the United Arab Emirates’ objection to other aspects of the deal.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures for August traded as high as $76.98 Tuesday before falling back to settle down 2.4% at $74.53 per barrel. Many analysts had expected oil to rise on the discord among members of OPEC, and say prices could still climb despite the sell-off.

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better. I still think $85 to $90 per barrel should be the upper end,” said John Kilduff, partner with Again Capital. “You’ll see more oil produced. They’re not going to go crazy, but they’re not going to live within the current structures. Russia will lead the charge.”

“It could become a free for all,” he said.

Some analysts had already expected oil spikes into the $100 per barrel range over the course of the next year. The feuding between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates opens a new fissure in OPEC, which now means oil could also tank if members decide to open the spigots.

“Realistically, I don’t think anybody wants to go this way. I suspect cooler heads or rational thinking will prevail,” said Bart Melek, global head of commodity strategy at TD Securities. Melek said there are some wild cards for OPEC that could affect prices. A major one is whether the U.S. and Iran strike a deal on Iran’s nuclear programming, allowing it to return more than 1 million barrels a day back to the market.

Another risk is whether the variants of the Covid virus could affect the economy’s recovery and crimp demand for travel.

OPEC and its partners were able to agree to return 400,000 barrels a day to the market starting in August. But the UAE sought to also have its production baseline increased from 3.1 million barrels a day to 3.8 million barrels, and that was the sticking point with Saudi Arabia.

After three days of meetings, there was also a deadlock over whether the deal would include an extension of the the plan to the end of 2022, which was opposed by the UAE. Without an agreement, 5.8 million barrels a day, cut from production last year, will remain off the market even as demand rises.

“I think OPEC event risk is back. We had pretty smooth sailing this year, and now this was not priced at all,” said Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets. “Once people start focusing on 5.8 million barrels off the market, I think they might get nervous. How they come back will be important.” The market will be affected much differently based on whether the oil trickles back or the producing countries flood the market with supply.

The friction between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, formerly strong OPEC allies, comes at a time when the market is increasingly in need of more supply. Analysts expect the world is short of upwards of 2 million barrels a day, based on current production levels and increasing demand. That means oil is being taken from storage, and there could be increasing pressure on prices as the economy rebounds and demand rises.

The U.S. is producing about 2 million barrels a day less than it did pre-Covid, and output has remained at a steady level even as prices rise. The U.S. industry has become more disciplined, due to demands from shareholders and lenders. Oil companies also face sustainability demands and pressure to reduce carbon.

But U.S. drillers do have capacity to increase drilling. “Certainly, $90 oil would encourage a lot of drilling in not only the Permian, but in the Bakken and Rockies,” Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates said. “I think as prices creep up, one of the things [OPEC+ members] are worried about is a spike higher that would encourage lots of drilling in other parts of the world.”

Lipow said OPEC will also be careful about falling prices and the potential for even lower levels. “If prices fall $5 a barrel, they’ll come to an agreement to signal the market they’re not going to flood it with supplies,” he added.

It also comes as gasoline prices continue to rise and are nearly $1 per gallon higher than this time last year. The national average for unleaded was $3.13 per unleaded gasoline Tuesday, following a weekend where prices at the pump were the highest in seven years for the Fourth of July holiday, according to AAA. If crude prices continue to rise, so will gasoline prices.

“I think gasoline prices could remain above $3 a gallon for the balance of the summer,” said Lipow.

The White House Tuesday said there have been a number of high-level conversations with officials in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other partners.

“If prices were rising, I think that would be more of a catalyst for the White House to get involved,” said Croft. “If you have a sell-off you may have people in the administration saying why do I need to be involved in this.”

Kilduff said he does not think the situation will last much longer. “I think we’re in the last innings of it right now. I’m targeting in mid-August, you’re going to start to see gasoline demand going down because kids are going back to school. Refiners will start to dial back,” he said.

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On National Golf Cart Day (seriously), here’s 10 ways they beat cars

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On National Golf Cart Day (seriously), here's 10 ways they beat cars

Golf carts are no longer just for cruising the country club. In fact, these days, they’re more commonly found zipping through neighborhood streets or joy-riding around beach communities. These smaller, more efficient alternatives to traditional cars might just be a good choice for your ‘second car’, believe it or not.

Thanks to US golf cart maker E-Z-GO, which partnered with National Calendar Day to help establish National Golf Cart Day in celebration of the brand’s 70th anniversary, we can now all celebrate these pint-sized car replacements with their own holiday.

Once powered by polluting combustion engines, these days, most golf carts use quiet and emissions-free electric motors, charging up their batteries for mere pennies and offering plenty of around-the-town range. Several manufacturers have also created street-legal versions of their golf carts, usually signified with “LSV” in the name (for the Low-Speed Vehicle designation), which can be legally driven on most public roads posted with speed limits of 35 mph (56 m/h) or lower.

Here are 10 compelling reasons why golf carts might just be the better choice for your local transportation needs.

1. Eco-friendly transportation

Electric golf carts produce zero emissions during use, making them an environmentally friendly option. They also use less materials, produce less tire particulates, and generally score higher on just about every environmental metric, even compared to electric vehicles. Ultimately though, these ARE electric vehicles, they just aren’t $50,000 Teslas.

And with many golf carts available for a small fraction of the cost of a new electric car, this is one of the most cost-effective ways to get into a four-wheeled electric vehicle. This is especially true for those who choose not to ride an e-bike or must carry several children or other passengers.

2. Cost-effective operation

Golf carts are significantly cheaper to operate than cars. The cost of electricity for charging an electric golf cart is much lower than the price of gasoline. A typical 5-7 kWh golf cart battery can be charged for less than one dollar in most states.

Additionally, golf carts require significantly less maintenance, which translates into major savings on repairs and upkeep.

While most golf carts aren’t cheap, usually between US $8,000 to $12,000 depending on luxury features, they’re still much more affordable than a new car. Buying used can help lower costs, but there are also interesting new additions to the market such as the Kandi Mini golf cart, priced at just US $3,999. I’m currently testing that model, seen below towing my kayak to the lake.

3. Ease of parking

One of the biggest advantages of golf carts is their compact size, which makes parking a breeze. You can easily maneuver and park golf carts in tight spaces, avoiding the frustration of finding a large parking spot for a car.

My parents live just a few miles from a golf cart-friendly community (we’re talking about homes with an extra half-sized garage door so people can park their golf carts in the garage too). When I visit them, I regularly see golf carts from the nearby community at the local stores, often parked in areas where cars wouldn’t be able to fit, or sharing parking spaces with each other.

4. Ideal for short distances

Golf carts are perfect for short-distance travel, such as going to the local market, visiting friends in the neighborhood, or commuting within a residential area. They usually have battery ranges of dozens of miles, not hundreds, meaning they would be plenty for around-the-town trips, but the smaller batteries than traditional electric cars help save significant costs.

Their design is also optimized for low-speed travel, ensuring safe and comfortable rides for short trips. The low speed might put a limit on which roads they can take, but of course no one wants to take a golf cart on high-speed roads anyway due to the open-body design.

Another trend I’m seeing more often in the US is parents waiting in their cars at school bus stops. These parents often idle their engines while they wait to pick up their child and then drive them two minutes through the neighborhood back home. If you’re going to be a helicopter parent, or are overly worried about Timmy getting snatched in their own neighborhood, at least you could do it while driving a smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicle like a golf cart.

GEM electric microcar

5. Lower speed, higher safety (seriously)

I know, I know. Most people will inherently assume that golf carts are “less safe.” But that’s not the case. Sure, they aren’t going to do as well as a Model 3 in a front crash test. But they also likely won’t be in a position where they need to perform like a Model 3.

With lower maximum speeds, golf carts are inherently safer for local travel on smaller roads where they’ll be mixing it up with less traffic. The reduced speed limits the risk of serious accidents, making them a safer option for transporting children and elderly passengers.

In fact, many studies have shown that all cars would be safer if speed limits were simply reduced in cities. Speed is the real killer. So while I wouldn’t want to go into a head-on collision with a semi while driving a golf cart, I’m also not likely ever going to be in a position where that would happen.

6. Quiet operation

Golf carts operate quietly compared to the louder engines of cars. This is particularly beneficial in residential areas where noise pollution can be a concern. The quiet operation of golf carts ensures a peaceful environment for you and your neighbors. Even the smaller wheels and tires result in less noise than a full-sized electric car’s tire roar.

This is another reason why they are so popular in beach towns and island communities. In addition to avoiding traditional forms of pollution, they also reduce the sound pollution of larger vehicular traffic.

7. Reduced insurance costs

Insurance for golf carts is typically much cheaper than for cars. Since they are primarily used for low-speed, local travel, the risk associated with golf carts is lower, leading to more affordable insurance premiums.

Theft premiums are also usually lower. If a golf cart ever has damage, the cost to repair is usually much lower than for “real” cars.

8. Convenience and accessibility

Golf carts are easy to get in and out of, making them highly accessible for people of all ages, including those with mobility issues. The open design and lower step-in height make them convenient for everyday use.

Whether it’s kids hopping on to get to practice or elderly riders using them to navigate a retirement community, golf carts are easier for everyone!

9. Customizable and fun!

Golf carts can be highly customized to suit your personal style and needs. From adding storage compartments and custom paint jobs to installing comfortable seating and advanced tech features, the possibilities are endless.

Customizing your golf cart can make local transportation not only practical but also fun. It may get fairly pricey when you look into packages for lifted suspension and major lighting accessories, but the same can be said for the entire automotive industry.

10. Community and lifestyle integration

Using golf carts fosters a sense of community. As more neighbors adopt golf carts, local travel becomes more social and interactive. The slower pace and open design of golf carts encourage friendly interactions and help build stronger neighborhood ties.

I see this often in golf cart-friendly communities, where folks tend to interact more, stop and chat on paths, and generally spend more time socializing with their community members

While cars are essential for long-distance travel and certain tasks, golf carts present a versatile and efficient alternative for local transportation. No one expects golf carts to completely replace cars, but they sure can replace many car trips, and potentially replace the need for a second full-size car.

Their environmental benefits, cost-effectiveness, ease of use, and safety make them an attractive choice for short trips around the neighborhood. By embracing golf carts, you can enjoy a simpler, greener, and more connected way of getting around. So next time you need to run a quick errand or visit a nearby friend, consider hopping in a golf cart – you might just find it’s the perfect fit for your local transportation needs.

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Tesla will allow ‘one-time’ FSD transfer for one more quarter, says Musk

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Tesla will allow 'one-time' FSD transfer for one more quarter, says Musk

After repeatedly claiming that Tesla will not allow owners to transfer Full Self-Driving capability to new vehicles, Tesla CEO Elon Musk agreed today that Tesla will allow them to do so for “one more quarter.”

Tesla has been selling its FSD system for many years now, to the point where many early owners have been through multiple vehicles without the software actually being delivered in its full working state.

Those owners are able to use Tesla’s FSD Beta, now called FSD Supervised, but no Tesla owner has yet been able to use an actual full self-driving system that lets the car drive itself with no human intervention.

And so, there has been a constant drumbeat from many of those owners, wondering why they should have to purchase the same software again, when they get a new car, if the software was never delivered from the previous vehicle.

This is particularly tough given that the price of buying FSD now is higher than it was for many of those early owners – though it has gone back down in price recently.

And so, last year Tesla started allowing FSD transfers – but only for two months, and then it would happen never again.

It was seen at the time as a way to stoke demand, rather than an example of Tesla “doing the right thing” and letting owners retain eventual access to the software they paid for but were never delivered.

Then, after that period lapsed, Tesla eventually brought back the FSD transfer this year, allowing it for new orders until the end of Q1. And then, once again, that “one-time offer” was brought back.

But after that, on Tesla’s Q1 quarterly call, the question was asked whether FSD transfer could be made permanent, and the answer was a flat “No.”

However, at today’s shareholder meeting, one questioner once again asked Musk if we could have FSD transfer for “one more quarter,” rather than permanent. Musk hemmed and hawed a little in response, stating that it was “complex” to enable the transfers within Tesla’s sales framework. However, after some back and forth, Musk ended up saying “okay, one more quarter.”

We don’t yet have the details, as this was just announced on stage at the shareholder meeting (which has just finished), but we’ll surely hear some more details soon about how this program will actually work.

Electrek’s Take

We should not have to have this discussion every quarter.

Until FSD is able to follow through on its promise, transfers should be free for anyone who has bought the software.

Any other company that pre-sold software and then refused to deliver it would not be looked kindly upon, particularly if that software was thousands of dollars and many years late.

Yes, people can use something that Tesla calls FSD right now. It is gradually doing a better job and gaining more capabilities. But it does not fully drive the car, doesn’t work without intervention, can’t be summoned across country, can’t be used as a revenue-generating robotaxi (a promise that musk made again today), or any number of other statements that haven’t come to pass. And Musk has repeatedly stated that it will be able to fully drive the car “in about a year” – for many years now.

It’s time to stop stringing owners along. If the problem is difficult, and more difficult than you thought, that’s one thing. But making people buy additional licenses to software you already sold them and did not yet deliver is not acceptable.

Further, this is not about “doing the right thing” for owners. The right thing would be to make transfers permanent until level 5 autonomy is delivered. Even “effective permanence” of continually-rolling offers like this are more about stoking demand during end-of-quarter rushes, making customers think that a limited time offer like some sort of rug store that is perpetually going out of business.

But maybe Tesla owners won’t need to rely on Musk’s “benevolence” to grant them the ability to retain software they’ve pre-purchased a license for for long, as there are several cases in court relating to Tesla’s FSD false advertising that could have sweeping effects on how Tesla sells this software and what rights its owners might have.

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Elon Musk bets Tesla on Optimus, says over 1,000 robots working in factories next year

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Elon Musk bets Tesla on Optimus, says over 1,000 robots working in factories next year

Elon Musk is betting Tesla on its Optimus program, which he now says will add tens of trillion of dollars to its valuation.

He added that Tesla should have over 1,000 humanoid robots working in its factories next year, but he is delaying a recently shared timeline.

Musk started out Tesla’s shareholder meeting with a rant about how he believes that Tesla will be worth “10x more than the currently most valuable companies”, which are worth about $3 trillion.

He built on previous grandiose statements about believing that Optimus is going to be Tesla’s most important product.

The CEO now added that he sees the market for humanoid robots to be about 1 billion units per year and he believes Tesla should capture “at least 10% of it”.

Musk said that he sees Tesla building robots at a volume for about $10,000 a unit and selling them for $20,000, resulting in a $1 trillion profit.

Tesla recently announced that it has “2 Optimus robots working autonomously in its factory” and Musk recently said that he sees Tesla selling robots to customers next year.

Now, at the shareholders meeting, the CEO announced that he expects Tesla to have “a thousand to a couple thousand robots working in its factories next year.”

He said that it would be in limited production, but he didn’t mention customer deliveries.

Finally, the CEO did say that he belives that by 2026, Optimus is going to be a fully software customizable robot.

Electrek’s Take

That sounds nice, but the guy said the same thing on a slightly smaller scale about self-driving for the past 8 years.

I do believe that Tesla has some great advantages in building humanoid robots, especially when it comes to compute power efficiency, and real-world AI experience – though I do think that Tesla is way behind what Elon is claiming. History has proven me right on that… until it doesn’t.

But it’s hard to give him credibility these days. I wish it would take a few pages from Apple’s playbook and shut up about the products until they are ready.

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