The R&D World Index (RDWI) for the week ending July 21, 2023, closed at 2,920.32 for the 25 companies in the RDWI. The Index was up 1.06% (or 30.57 basis points). Sixteen of the 25 RDWI members gained value last week from 0.66% (Apple Computer) to 6.46% (Johnson & Johnson). Nine of the 25 RDWI members lost value last week from -1.07% (Volkswagen AG) to -7.01% (Ford Motor Company).
Last week, Tesla, Austin, Texas announced that it plans to double the size of its current auto assembly and battery manufacturing plant near Berlin, Germany. The proposed expansion could make the Tesla plant Germany’s largest auto manufacturing facility. The expansion would increase the factory’s workforce to about 22,500 from its current 10,000 level. Tesla began producing its Model Y at the plant in early 2022.
More than 8,000 author-members of the Author’s Guild, New York City, have signed a letter asking the leaders of Microsoft, Redmond, Washington, Meta Platforms, Menlo Park, California, Alphabet Google, Mountain View, California, IBM, Armonk, New York, and others to not use their members’ work to train artificial intelligence (AI) systems without permission or compensation. The Guild says the AI systems can mimic and regurgitate the authors’ copyrighted language, stories, style, and ideas.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), Hsinchu, Taiwan, announced last week that its semiconductor device sales are likely to decline 10% in 2023 and its planned factory in Arizona would miss its target of starting mass production in 2024. The company also said people with expertise in building semiconductor facilities were in short supply in the U.S. The company said it might have to bring in experienced technicians temporarily from Taiwan. Their current schedule is for mass production of 4-nanometer chips to start in 2025. The company expects its revenue base for AI-based devices to rise from its current 6% to more than 10% in the coming years.
The co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin, has returned to working alongside his company’s researchers as they work to develop Google’s next large, Gemini, AI systems. The frequency and intensity of Brin’s involvement in this R&D effort have increased this year as he has taken a more active role from his previous hands-off stance. Gemini is Google’s attempt to build a general-purpose AI program that can rival OpenAI’s GPT-4 model, which powers a paid version of ChatGPT. Google researchers working on its DeepMind project have discovered a more efficient and automated method for designing computer chips using AI.
The U.S. Space Force, Arlington, Virginia, said last week that they plan to hire a broader range of rocket-launch providers for about 90 planned missions over a five-year period. The Force is not satisfied with its current level of primarily SpaceX, Hawthorne, California, and United Launch Alliance (ULA), Englewood, Colorado rocket launch providers. If one, or more, of these providers has a grounding event and cannot fly, then the service is limited in what it can do. A third provider would alleviate this possible situation. The main provider would conduct roughly 30 launches and the other two taking on the remaining launches. Other providers might include Blue Origin, developed by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ organization.
Seeing reduced inflation growth, a strong U.S. labor force, and economic resilience, economists are now relaxing their possible recession forecasts. A recent Wall Street Journal survey has lowered the probability of a recession in the next 12 months to 54% from 61% in its prior two surveys. This reflects the fact that the U.S. economy has kept growing even as the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates and inflation has declined. The WSJ expects U.S. GDP to grow about 1% in 2023, about double its previous forecast. Economists expect the Fed to begin reducing interest rates by about 2Q 2024.
While nothing official has been released from Apple, Cupertino, California, Apple-watchers note that Apple is working on an AI-based chatbot and has already been testing it internally. Apple’s plans for this are expected to be revealed in a major announcement in 2024. Apple’s generative pre-trained transformer (GPT) is expected to be similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT model. Apple’s Ajax language AI model uses Google iCloud services, and the data is encrypted and secure.
HP Inc., Palo Alto, California, has announced that it plans to commence laptop production in Thailand and Mexico this year along with its Chongqing, China production. The company also expects to expand laptop production to Vietnam in 2024 and has announced the opening of a new R&D center in Chongqing. The R&D site will be dedicated to computing innovations catering to customer demands. HP’s Chromebook is the best-performing Windows PC maker, only surpassed by Apple.
Tata Motors, Mumbai, India, the owner of the British Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) brands, in Whitley, U.K., announced last week that it plans to build a large battery factory in the U.K. for supplying electric vehicles. Tata expects the $5 billion plant to start delivering batteries in 2026 and supply future EVs built by its JLR business. The new plant is expected to provide up to 4,000 new direct jobs and thousands more in the wider supply chain. RDW member Volkswagen AG, Wolfsburg, Germany, earlier said it was building a battery plant in Eastern Europe but canceled that in favor of a plant in Canada instead.
R&D World’s R&D Index is a weekly stock market summary of the top international companies involved in R&D. The top 25 industrial R&D spenders in 2020 were selected based on the latest listings from Schonfeld & Associates’ June 2020 R&D Ratios & Budgets. These 25 companies include pharmaceutical (10 companies), automotive (6 companies), and ICT (9 companies) which invested a cumulative total of nearly 260 billion dollars in R&D in 2019, or approximately 10% of all the R&D spending in the world by government, industries, and academia combined, according to R&D World’s 2021 Global R&D Funding Forecast. The stock prices used in the R&D World Index are tabulated from NASDAQ, NYSE, and OTC common stock prices for the companies selected at the close of stock trading business on the Friday preceding the online publication of the R&D World Index.