Posts tagged with "The Chicago Tribune"

Rivian has nearly 200,000 orders for its EV trucks and delivery vans—but has produced only 8,000

August 15, 2022

Startup electric truck manufacturer Rivian, based in Irvine, California, continues to see robust demand for its inaugural products, with nearly 200,000 orders in hand—but a long way to go to fill them, reports The Chicago Tribune.

 Rivian announced during a second quarter earnings call on Thursday, August 11, that it had more than 98,000 orders for its R1T pickup and R1S SUV as of June 30. Amazon, an early investor in Rivian, has ordered 100,000 commercial electric delivery vans.

 The company—which launched production in Normal, Illinois, nearly a year ago and has struggled with a slower than expected ramp-up—has built about 8,000 EVs and reaffirmed a scaled-back production target of 25,000 vehicles this year.

 Rivian generated $364 million in revenues and reported a net loss of $1.7 billion for the quarter. The company reported Thursday it had $15 billion in cash at the end of the second quarter.

 In addition to concerns about the production ramp-up, Rivian is navigating the implications of President Joe Biden’s historic climate bill, which passed the Senate on Sunday, August 7, and was expected to pass a vote in the House on Friday.

 The bill includes an extension of the $7,500 federal tax credit for EV purchases—but sets a cap that would make trucks and SUVs priced over $80,000 ineligible. That would cut the majority of Rivian’s sales out of the mix for the tax credit beginning next year.

 The $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act focuses on healthcare and clean energy, with a number of measures to promote EV adoption. The bill extends the $7,500 tax credit until 2032, adds a $4,000 tax credit for used EVs and lifts the 200,000 vehicle sales cap for manufacturers.

 It also imposes new restrictions, excluding higher-income buyers and EVs priced above $55,000 for sedans and $80,000 for SUVs and trucks, which could impact Rivian and other manufacturers. The bill also includes new domestic battery sourcing requirements.

 “We’re incredibly happy to see policy that helps drive more rapid adoption of electric vehicles, as well as important investments in building domestic battery cell production,” Rivian CEO and founder R.J. Scaringe said on August 11. “While many of our R1 configurations won’t meet the bill pricing requirements, our (next-generation) R2 product line and associated cell roadmaps are being developed to allow our customers to capture the value of these incentives.”

 The starting price for the R1T truck is $67,500, while the R1S SUV lists for $72,500. But after add-ons and options, most Rivian customers spend more than $80,000 on their EVs, the company said.

 On Wednesday, Rivian sent current customers who have reserved an EV a potential workaround to qualify for the full $7,500 tax credit before the bill becomes law January 1. Rivian said buyers can sign a “written binding contract” for their R1T or R1S purchase, making $100 of their existing $1,000 deposit non-refundable, but excluding them from the price and income restrictions, regardless of the delivery date.

 Rivian cautioned that the final bill terms were not certain and there was no guarantee the IRS would approve the tax credit, but offered the option “as a way to do what we can to increase the probability of receiving the $7,500.”

D uring the conference call, Scaringe reiterated that ramping up production in Normal remains the “key focus” for Rivian, but the company has elevated the importance of cost-cutting as well.

 However, while Rivian is downsizing its nonmanufacturing workforce, it still plans to hire an additional 1,500 workers and add a second shift at the Normal, Illinois, plant by the end of the third quarter.

 The company also is building a second $5 billion assembly plant in Georgia, which is slated to produce Rivian’s next-generation EV on the smaller R2 platform beginning in 2025.

 Research contact: @chicagotribune

Walgreens to launch business that will connect customers with clinical trials

June 20, 2022

Some Walgreens customers might soon get a new kind of message from the company, asking if they’d like to participate in a clinical trial, reports The Chicago Tribune.

Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens announced on Thursday, June 16, that it plans to launch a clinical trials business—in which pharmaceutical companies can hire Walgreens to help them find participants for clinical trials, which are used to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new potential types of medications and devices.

Walgreens plans to use its rosters of customers and patients to find those who may match a trial’s criteria, and then ask those people if they would like to participate, said Ramita Tandon, chief clinical trials officer at the pharmacy chain.

As part of the new business, Walgreens also may help companies carry out clinical trials by conducting visits for participants at some of its stores, during which patients may fill out surveys or have blood taken, depending on the type of trial, Tandon said. It’s possible nurses, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians or doctors could help with those visits, depending on what’s needed, she said.

Walgreens leaders believe they can help companies get more clinical trial participants, and a more diverse range of participants, because Walgreens has customers in so many different communities.

Including participants from diverse racial backgrounds has long been an issue in clinical trials. In the U.S., 75% of 32,000 participants in the trials of 53 new drugs approved in 2020 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration were White, according to FDA. Only 8% were Black, 6% were Asian, and 11% were Hispanic.

People from different backgrounds can react differently to some medications and devices, which is part of the reason it’s crucial to have trial participants from a variety of backgrounds, according to the FDA. Also, a lack of diverse participants may mean that people from certain racial and ethnic groups are not getting early access, through clinical trials, to drugs that could help them.

“The therapies that are coming out today are not very representative of the U.S. population,” Tandon said. “As we at Walgreens start to tap into our local communities, (we can) educate and empower these communities on the benefits of clinical trials. Not only are they participants in research, but this is yet another opportunity as a care option, (for) patients who may he exhausted other avenues in their care journey.”

She said Walgreens will be able to “mine the vast foundation of patients and consumers who come to our stores and pharmacies on a regular basis” to match potential participants to clinical trials.

Patient data will not be shared with pharmaceutical companies unless patients give consent to share it, and participation will be voluntary. Doctors will work with Walgreens to oversee the clinical trials, and Walgreens may be able to reach out to a patient’s primary care or specialty doctors if needed, Tandon said.

Research contact: @Walgreens

Mars Wrigley closing nearly century-old chocolate plant on Chicago’s West Side

January 31, 2022

Mars Wrigley is closing a nearly century-old chocolate plant on Chicago’s West Side over the course of the next two years, the confection manufacturer announced on Tuesday, January 25, reports The Chicago Tribune.

Built in a Spanish-style structure in 1928, the sprawling plant within the Galewood neighborhood bordering Oak Park employs about 280 staff.

“The company remains committed to the City of Chicago and intends to partner with the surrounding community on a future vision for the site,” a spokesperson for Mars Wrigley Confectionery commented by email. “As we continuously evaluate our footprint across North America, our Associates were informed of the decision to move the majority of operations to other facilities in the United States over the next two years.”

The U.S. headquarters for privately held Mars Wrigley moved to New Jersey in 2017, following Mars’ $23 billion acquisition of Chicago-based Wrigley in 2008. Filled The Mars Wrigley world headquarters is situated on Goose Island in Chicago.

Workers at the closing Chicago plant shall be “encouraged to explore the opportunities to apply for open roles across our network, specifically in the Chicago area,” the Mars Wrigley spokesperson said.

Also in Illinois, Mars Wrigley has an ice cream manufacturing facility in Burr Ridge, a sweet manufacturing facility in Yorkville, and a pet diet manufacturing website production house in downstate Mattoon.

The plant at 2019 North Oak Park Ave. produces quite a lot of “filled bar chocolate” including  3 Musketeers and Milky Way. The success of Milky Way, a malted milk sweet bar launched in 1923, helped to fund the corporate and the Chicago manufacturing facilities, with founder Frank Mars shifting the corporate site from Minneapolis to Chicago when it opened in 1929.

Built on 16 acres in a residential space, the plant was named the “factory of the month” in a 1953 Chicago Tribune sequence, which characterized it as “an outstanding bit of architecture … in a beautiful setting of brilliant green bent grass, beds of flowers, shrubs and towering trees.” The manufacturing facility included tinted partitions, crimson tile roofs, and two-story-high curved-top home windows.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

Tesla to halt games on infotainment screens in moving cars

December 28, 2021

Under pressure from U.S. auto safety regulators, Tesla has agreed to stop allowing drivers and passengers to play video games on center touch screens while its vehicles are moving, reports The Chicago Tribune.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the company will send out a software update over the Internet to ensure that the function—called “Passenger Play”—will be locked and won’t work while vehicles are in motion.

The New York Times has reported that the Tesla service update inserts a warning reading: “Playing while the car is in motion is only for passengers,” and that a button will ask for confirmation that the player is a passenger (although a driver could play simply by pressing the button).

The move, announced on Thursday, December 23, came one day after the agency announced it would open a formal investigation into distracted driving concerns about Tesla’s video games, some of which could be played while cars are being driven. The U.S. auto safety regulator said on December 22 that it would look at 580,000 Tesla vehicles sold since 2017 that have the feature.

\Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has been promoting in-vehicle entertainment, as he believes it will be highly desirable once vehicles become autonomous.

An NHTSA spokesperson said in a statement that the change came after regulators discussed concerns about the system with Tesla. The first update went out Wednesday as part of Tesla’s holiday software release, and the rest of the vehicles should have received it by Monday, December 27.

The agency says its investigation of Tesla’s feature will continue even with the update. It was not clear whether NHTSA would require Tesla to do a formal recall with the update. In the past the agency has asked Tesla why it should not be required to do recalls with safety-related software updates.

“The Vehicle Safety Act prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with defects posing unreasonable risks to safety, including technologies that distract drivers from driving safely,” NHTSA’s statement said. The agency said it assesses how manufacturers identify and guard against distraction hazards due to misuse or intended use of screens and other convenience technology.

The agency announced Wednesday that it would formally investigate Tesla’s screens after an owner from the Portland, Oregon, area filed a complaint when he discovered that a driver could play games while the cars are moving.

In documents detailing the investigation, NHTSA said “Passenger Play” has been available since December 2020. Before that, enabling gameplay was only possible when its vehicles were in park.

The NHTSA documents do not list any crashes or injuries caused by the problem.

Tesla owner Vince Patton, 59, filed the complaint last month after discovering the gaming feature could be played by drivers. Patton, who loves his car and says he has nothing against Tesla, worries that drivers will play games and become dangerously distracted. “Somebody’s going to get killed,” he said. “It’s absolutely insane.”

Research contact: @chicagotribune

Up against the wall: New wallcovering envelops room in luminous washes of color

May 21, 2021

If you’re looking for a way to refresh your home this spring and want to create a calm, relaxed refuge, consider a new kind of wallpaper. Founded in 2013 by Rachel and Nick Cope, Brooklyn-based Calico Wallpaper  creates atmospheric wall murals that envelop a room in luminous washes of color based on nature, The Chicago Tribune reports.

The custom fit, non-repeating wall murals evoke sunrise, sunset. and subtle landscapes wrapped in fog or water that turn a room into a serene, immersive environment.

nd they are part of a big comeback: Abandoned by designers and homeowners in the second half of the 20th century, wallpaper is making a triumphant return. In fact, one study estimates that the global market for digitally printed wallpaper, which was more than $2 billion in 2017, would reach $7.5 billion by 2026

“We continually draw inspiration from landscapes and scientific phenomena, as well as our own experimentation with art processes and materials,” said Rachel Cope, Calico co-founder and creative director. “Our Aurora collection was developed following extensive research in the art of fabric dyeing and draws upon shibori and ombre techniques. Each pattern is a study in the relationship between light, color, place and mood, and explores the emotions expressed by the ever-changing sky.”

Calico Wallpaper co-founder Nick Cope said that the designs begin as handmade artworks that are then digitized so that they can be printed to fit the specific space in which they will reside. “We began designing wallpaper to move art beyond the frame and incorporate its elements into everyday interior spaces,” he said. “Homes are sanctuaries and should feel pleasant, balanced and calming.”

This summer, Calico will launch a collection in collaboration with French designer Sam Baron called Noir, based on artist Pierre Soulages’ exploration of the reflection of light off the surface of his black monochrome paintings.

See the full range of Calico wallpapers at calicowallpaper.com.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

Waste is a terrible thing to waste: Ikea’s glossy (and free) new cookbook puts food scraps on the menu

April 6, 2021

Summery corncob soup, ‘plantcakes’ made with broccoli and carrot greens, and corn husk smoked chicken with fried corn silk are just a few of the inventive recipes in Ikea’s “The Scraps Book”—a cookbook dedicated to food preparation with the little things we usually throw away, The Chicago Tribune reports.

The Swedish home design brand collaborated with ten renowned chefs to address food waste and to show how easy it is to use food scraps like kale stems, banana peels and spent coffee grounds to create show-stopping meals. The beautifully designed ebook is full of stunning food photos of the 50 easy-to-follow recipes, along with tips like how to build your own backyard compost.

According to a Food and Drug Administration report, food waste is estimated at between 30% and 40% of the food supply in the United States, and the report lists wasted food as the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills.

In 2016, the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency announced the formation of the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions group and set a goal of reducing food waste by 50% by the year 2030, the Tribune notes.

.“ScrapsBook” is free for download at Apple Books, Google Play, and Ikea.com. The eBook is available to everyone, and Ikea Family members will be automatically entered to win a limited edition hardcover copy of the 214-page book. As Ikea says, “Waste is a terrible thing to waste”

Research contact: @chicagotribune

U.S. pharmacies to receive 1 million vaccine doses from Biden Administration next week

February 4, 2021

President Joe Biden will free up more doses of COVID vaccine for anxious Americans, his administration announced on February 2. The doses will be available at retail pharmacies nationwide by next week, The Chicago Tribune reports.

The push comes amid new urgency to speed vaccinations to the public, to prevent the spread of potentially more serious strains of the virus that has killed more than 445,000 Americans since the beginning of 2020.

Starting next week, 1 million doses will be distributed to some 6,500 pharmacies across the country, the White House said. The administration is also boosting by 500,000 the weekly allocation of vaccines sent directly to states and territories for the coming weeks, up to 10.5 million. It is allowing state and local governments to receive additional federal dollars to cover previously incurred expenses relating to the pandemic.

Coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients announced the moves on a call with the nation’s governors Tuesday morning and then detailed them to the public in an afternoon news conference.

Drugstores have become a linchpin in the U.S. infrastructure for dispensing flu shots and shingles vaccines—and the industry is capable of vaccinating tens of millions of people monthly. “This will provide more sites for people to get vaccinated in their communities,” Zients said.

“This is a critical step to provide the public with convenient trusted places to get vaccinated in their communities,” he adde, according to the Tribune.

The number of participating pharmacies and the availability of vaccines  are expected to accelerate as drug makers increase production. The White House said the ultimate goal was to distribute the vaccines through more than 40,000 pharmacies nationwide. State and local guidelines will determine who is eligible to get a shot at their neighborhood pharmacy. Availability will be limited at first.

“Getting it into pharmacies is a viable approach,” Dan Mendelson, founder of the health care industry consulting firm Avalere Health told the Tribune. “The pharmacies know how to move people in and out.”

Participating are major chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid, big box stores such as Walmart and Costco, and supermarket pharmacies. CVS said it will receive 250,000 doses initially, to be distributed to pharmacies in 11 states.

The pharmacy doses will be distributed to states by population, but a priority will be to get the vaccine to minority communities that have suffered a disproportionately high toll of disease and deaths from the virus, Zients said.

Walgreens said it was selected in part to “optimize vaccine access in medically underserved areas.”

The 1 million doses being shipped to pharmacies will be on top of the increased allotments to states over the coming three weeks.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

The great giveback: Retailers team up with FedEx, UPS, Whole Foods to make returns easier

December 29, 2020

Retailers and logistics companies have struggled to get shoppers’ holiday gifts delivered on time. Now, they’re gearing up for what’s expected to be a brutal season for unwanted, returnable goods headed back in their direction, The Chicago Tribune reports.

Following a coronavirus pandemic-fueled surge in online sales, up to $70.5 billion worth of online holiday purchases are expected to be returned—up from $42 billion last year—according to a forecast from commercial real estate brokerage CBRE.

Many retailers that encouraged people to start their holiday shopping early also have extended their return deadlines this holiday season—and have tried to make it easier, once you get in the vicinity of the store, to get your money back. Still, the Tribune reports, returns aren’t as seamless as clicking “buy” online—and most merchants don’t offer contact-free options that enable consumers to stay in the car during the return transaction.

It’s not just because people are buying more gifts online. It’s because there are more people shopping online, including some who typically prefer to shop in person and aren’t accustomed to buying online,  Steve Osburn, managing director of Retail Strategy at Accenture, told the Chicago-based news outlet.

.Shoppers also admit that they’re now more likely to buy the same item in multiple sizes; then, keep the one that fits. About 62% of U.S. shoppers said they “bracketed” purchases, up from 48% last year, often because they gained or lost weight or were shopping at a new store and weren’t sure what size to pick, according to a September survey by Narvar, a company that helps retailers manage returns.

Retailers prefer shoppers return items in stores rather than ship them back because they can get items back on shelves more quickly, Osburn said.

But this year, the desire to avoid unnecessary trips to stores could push more people to seek mail-in options. About 30% of consumers surveyed by Narvar said it was easier to ship items back, up from 25% last year.

Walmart this week announced that FedEx will pick up returns at customers’ homes. Customers still need to pack items for shipment, which can be tougher when people are working from home without access to a printer to print the shipping label, but the service is free for items shipped and sold by Walmart.

Earlier this month, Amazon announced customers can return items at 500 Whole Foods Market stores without a box or shipping label. Amazon already had a returns partnership with Kohl’s. Amazon shoppers also can return items at UPS locations, in some cases without packing them up.

Returns service Happy Returns partnered with FedEx this fall to let shoppers return items from brands like Everlane, Rothy’s and Steve Madden at 2,000 FedEx locations with no box or shipping label.

Happy Returns previously had about 600 locations, which were mostly at malls and retailers like Paper Source and CostPlus World Market. The new FedEx locations adds convenience while making the service “COVID-proof” since FedEx is an essential business that will stay open, CEO David Sobie told the Tribune.

And, as return drop-off options have expanded, use has grown. Nearly 30% of shoppers surveyed by Narvar in September said they had taken their most recent return to a designated drop-off location like a pharmacy or another retailer’s store, up from 16% last year. About 35% of shoppers took their return to a carrier to mail back and 12% returned their item to the retailer’s store.

Some retailers are also trying to streamline traditional store returns.

Dick’s Sporting Goods will let customers return items through curbside pickup, as long as the purchase was made with a credit or debit card. Others say shoppers must come inside to make a return, though Narvar CEO Amit Sharma said he expects more retailers to announce curbside returns in January.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

A flying start: United Airlines gets first Boeing 737 Max to be delivered in 21 months, as troubled jet returns to skies

December 10, 2020

On December 8, Boeing delivered its first 737 Max in 21 months—the first since the Federal Aviation Administration ungrounded the jet last month, The Chicago Tribune reports.

United Airlines Flight 2703 took off from Boeing Field—officially, King County International Airport, five miles south of downtown Seattle—at about 2:30 p.m. (PST), made a check flight toward eastern Washington; then, looped back and arrived at the gate at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport 90 minutes later.

The airline will make some modifications to the plane at Sea-Tac, the Tribune notes—and it is expected to depart for United’s hub in Houston by the end of the week.

This makes United one of the first U.S. air carriers to take delivery on a 737 Max, since two Boeing flights crashed—one on October 29, 2018 moments after takeoff from Indonesia, killing 189 people; and on March 10, 2019, just after takeoff from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, killing 157 people.

Since then, the fatal crashes have been attributed to a software error in the Max’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, and have been grounded globally until very recently.

However, United is not the only carrier that is abetting the Boeing comeback: American Airlines has the earliest start date of any U.S. airline for the aircraft—with December 29 seeing the first scheduled flights, more than a month following the FAA’s return-to-service decision. The jet will fly first between Miami and New York before expanding up and down the East Coast and to the Caribbean from American’s 737 Max base in Miami.

Alaska Airlines also is said to have an order in for 13 news 737 Max aircraft, to be delivered in fourth quarter 2021.

According to the Tribune, United won’t fly any passengers on the Max yet. It doesn’t plan to have the jet enter scheduled service until the first quarter of 2021, probably in February.

United pilots will be trained to fly the Max on the airline’s flight simulators in Denver. Once passenger service begins, United will deploy its Maxes from the Denver and Houston hubs.

“As we begin receiving 737 Max deliveries from Boeing, we will inspect every aircraft, require our pilots to undergo additional training reviewed and approved by the FAA, and conduct test flights before we bring these aircraft back into service,” said United spokesperson Frank Benenati.

He said the airline will share a more specific schedule with the public and employees soon.

It remains to be seen whether passengers and crew will be willing to board the new aircraft.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

On Safe Harbor Day, America’s presidential votes are locked in by states and guaranteed by Congress

December 9, 2020

Tuesday, December 8, is Safe Harbor Day—the day when all 50 states are expected to lock in their electoral votes—both by finishing up certification of the results and by resolving any state court legal challenges.

According to a report by The Chicago Tribune, by the end of the day, every state, with the exception of Wisconsin, is expected to have made its election results official.

The purpose of the safe harbor deadline is to serve as a guarantee of the election results by Congress. NBC News notes that, “If, for example, a state legislature decided to send in its own slate, the law says the electors chosen by popular vote and certified by the governor must be counted by Congress from states that met the safe harbor deadline.”

Other than Wisconsin, where a hearing is scheduled later this week, every state appears to have met a deadline in federal law that essentially means Congress has to accept the electoral votes that will be cast next week and sent to the Capitol for counting on January 6.

“What federal law requires is that if a state has completed its post-election certification by December 8, Congress is required to accept those results,” Rebecca Green, an election law professor at the William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia, told the Tribune.

The Electoral College is a creation of the Constitution, but Congress sets the date for federal elections and, in the case of the presidency, determines when presidential electors gather in state capitals to vote.

The attention paid to the normally obscure safe harbor provision is a function of Trump’s unrelenting efforts to challenge the legitimacy of the election. He has refused to concede, made unsupported claims of fraud and called on Republican lawmakers in key states to appoint electors who would vote for him even after those states have certified a Biden win.

But Trump’s arguments have gone nowhere in court in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Most of his campaign’s lawsuits in state courts challenging those Biden victories have been dismissed, with the exception of Wisconsin.

Like the others, the lawsuit does not appear to have much chance of succeeding, but because it was filed in accordance with state law procedures for challenging election results, “it’s looking to me like Wisconsin is going to miss the safe harbor deadline because of that,” said Edward Foley, a professor of election law at Ohio State University’s Moritz School of Law.

Judge Stephen Simanek, appointed to hear the case, has acknowledged that the case would push the state outside the electoral vote safe harbor.

Missing the deadline won’t deprive Wisconsin of its 10 electoral votes. Biden electors still will meet in Madison on Monday to cast their votes and there’s no reason to expect that Congress won’t accept them. In any case, Biden would still have more than the 270 votes he needs even without Wisconsin’s.

But lawmakers in Washington could theoretically second-guess the slate of electors from any state that misses the December 8 deadline, Foley said.

Already, the Tribune notes, one member of the House of Representatives, Representative Mo Brooks (R-Alabama), has said he will mount a last-ditch effort for Trump—challenging electoral votes for Biden on January 6. Brooks would need to object in writing and be joined by at least one senator. If that were to happen, both chambers would debate the objections and vote on whether to sustain them.

But unless both houses agreed to the objections, they would fail.

The unwillingness of Trump and his supporters to concede is “dangerous because in an electoral competition, one side wins, one side loses and it’s essential that the losing side accepts the winner’s victory. What is really being challenged right now is our capacity to play by those rules,” Foley said.

Research contact: @chicagotribune