AUTO INDUSTRY

Senators want FTC to investigate Tesla

Two U.S. Senators are urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Tesla uses deceptive marketing practices by labeling its driver-assistance systems “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving.”

Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Edward J. Markey (Mass.) wrote in a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan on Wednesday that Tesla “has repeatedly overstated the capabilities of its vehicles, and these statements increasingly pose a threat to motorists and other users of the road.”

“We fear that Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD features are not as mature and reliable as the company pitches to the public,” the senators wrote. “Tesla drivers listen to these claims and believe their vehicles are equipped to drive themselves — with potentially deadly consequence.” 

The letter comes days after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot following almost a dozen crashes with first-responder vehicles.

— Bloomberg News

ECONOMY

2020 U.S. income tax payments decreased

Nearly 61 percent of U.S. households paid no federal income taxes during 2020 because of pandemic-related declines in income and boosts to government subsidies that wiped away tax liabilities, according to data from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

The number of households owing nothing came in at 106.8 million, up from 75.9 million in 2019, the study, released Wednesday, showed.

The 60.6 percent proportion for last year compares with 43.3 percent over the five years before the pandemic struck.

The number of families owing no federal income taxes is projected to remain high for 2021, around 101.7 million households, or 57.1 percent, according to the estimates.

The data underscore how federal assistance measures, including stimulus payments, tax-free unemployment benefits and expanded child tax credits offset the federal tax bills many families would have otherwise owed during the pandemic.

— Bloomberg News

Also in Business

Old Navy is overhauling its approach to how it designs and markets to plus-size women. Starting Friday, Old Navy will be offering every one of its women’s styles in all sizes with no price difference. That means sizes 0 to 28 in stores and up to size 30 online. The 1,200-store chain, Gap Inc.’s low-price division, will also be displaying its large sizes together with the standard sizes on the floor. The fashions will be displayed on mannequins in sizes 4, 12 and 18. Online, the chain is merging its plus size and standard sizes together, with models appearing in all three sizes.

A U.S. judge rejected a request by Toronto-Dominion Bank to dismiss a class-action lawsuit brought in December by credit card customers who alleged the lender did not adhere to the terms of their agreement. Customers who obtained TD credit cards secured by a frozen deposit between 2016 and 2019 were told that if they did not default on payments for seven months, they may be eligible to automatically “graduate” to an unsecured credit card. This did not happen, according to documents filed with the United States District Court in New Jersey.

BlackRock and Knighthead Capital Management are investing in a $200 million second round of capital to support the expansion of start-up low-cost carrier Breeze Airways.  The funding also includes additional investments by Peterson Partners and Sandlot Partners, which helped provide an initial $100 million in capital that backed the May start of flights by the Utah-based carrier, Breeze Aviation Group said. Breeze offers nonstop flights from relatively small airports, primarily to leisure destinations.

Furniture giant Ikea will offer renewable energy to Swedish households for the first time, tapping into the growing market for green electricity as it further diversifies its business. Starting in September, the company will offer electricity produced from solar plants and wind turbines, together with energy supplier Svea Solar, it said in a statement. It plans to branch out to other markets eventually. With the new service, Ikea aims to encourage the production of more solar and wind capacity.

— From news services