AUTO INDUSTRY
Toyota to build SUV
at Huntsville plant

Toyota says it will scrap plans to build the Corolla compact car at a new factory under construction in Alabama. Instead, it will build a new SUV at the plant it is building with Mazda in Huntsville.

The company said Wednesday that the decision is being made in response to growing demand for SUVs and light trucks. For the first half of this year, Corolla sales are down 5.3 percent, to just under 153,000.

Toyota will continue to build Corollas at its factory in Blue Springs, Miss.

The new $1.6 billion Alabama plant is expected to start making vehicles in 2021. Mazda also plans to build a new SUV there. The factory is slated to employ up to 4,000 workers.

Associated Press

GAMING
Nintendo to launch Switch Lite console

Nintendo on Wednesday introduced a new cheaper, version of its portable Switch gaming console, as the Japanese company sought to expand the potential market for games.

The Switch Lite will retail for $199.99, or $100 less than the original device. The new console will be released Sept. 20 and will come in yellow, gray and turquoise, the company said in a statement.

Nintendo shares have rebounded this year on optimism that the cheaper Switch, a stronger pipeline of games and a potential entry into China will help overcome last year’s missteps and broaden Nintendo’s customer base beyond dedicated fans. In April, Nintendo gave a muted financial forecast that sent shares sliding.

“Adding Nintendo Switch Lite to the lineup gives gamers more color and price point options,” said Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser in the statement.

The original Nintendo Switch, which launched in March 2017, allows people to play in three modes — handheld, tabletop and television — while the Switch Lite is designed for handheld mode.

Bloomberg

TECHNOLOGY
FCC approves spectrum auction

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday voted 3 to 2 to auction a key band of underused 2.5 GHz spectrum to help advance next-generation 5G wireless networks and scrap requirements that it be used for education.

The mid-band spectrum was reserved in the 1960s for what is now known as the Educational Broadband Service. Sprint uses leased spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band in its existing 4G network and 5G network that it is being rolled out.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the commission was taking “a major step toward freeing up critical mid-band spectrum for 5G. At long last, we remove the burdensome restrictions on this band, allowing incumbents greater flexibility in their use of the spectrum and introduce a spectrum auction that will ensure that this public resource is finally devoted to its highest-valued use.”

Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the Republican majority was collapsing “this spectrum into an overlay auction system that structurally advantages a single nationwide carrier.”

Sprint’s spectrum is a key part of Sprint and T-Mobile US ’s proposed $26 billion tie-up and 5G plan.

The U.S. Education Department in a June 7 letter told the FCC it should maintain an “educational use requirement” for that spectrum and suggested setting aside revenue from license sales to help students who lack the Internet access required to do their homework.

Reuters

Also in Business

Volkswagen marked the end of a more than two-decade-long run for the Beetle compact car on Wednesday at its plant in Puebla, Mexico. The model associated with 1960s counterculture was an instant hit when it returned to U.S. showrooms in 1998. Sales peaked the following year, and VW had its best showing in the market since 1974. But VW was unable to maintain the early success, and it's now shifting resources in Puebla to produce a new compact SUV model.

Virgin Galactic's sister company Virgin Orbit conducted a drop test of its air-launched satellite booster over California on Wednesday. The 70-foot LauncherOne rocket was released from a Boeing 747 over an Edwards Air Force Base test range in the Mojave Desert. The purpose of the test was to observe how the rocket detached from the 747's wing and its free-fall to the desert floor. The company tweeted that the crews of the 747 and a chase plane reported a clean release. The test did not involve ignition of the rocket motor.

From news reports