US based Wabtec has joined the HYPOBATT project to support the electrification of vessels. The project is engaged in the development of a megawatt-charging standard and infrastructure for ferries in European ports and also part of the EU-wide horizon initiative.
Wabtec is now part of a consortium of 18 members that are working on a 42-month project to pick out maritime charging solutions that lower contact time, wait time and maintenance expenses.
The project will involve the development of a fully automatic and safe electric ship connection system and the main aim is to develop a modular, quick and simple multi-megawatt charging system. The battery will be able to fully charge its battery while at the dock.
Additionally, the project aims to bring 95% enhancement in charger availability and 10% in battery life. This technology will be demonstrated at the ports of Norddeich and Norderney, Germany.
Wabtec industry product line vice-president Olivier Kompaore said: “Europe has aggressive sustainability targets to reduce CO₂ emissions by at least 40% until 2030. This project will help to standardise a modular, fast and easy multi-megawatt charging system, paving the way for clean, zero-emission and competitive solutions for maritime transportation. Wabtec’s state-of-the-art charging solutions, like FerryCHARGER, will serve as the blueprint for the project.”
The shipping company Reederei Nordan-Frisia’s vessel will be used to test the technology.
Mazda has recently announced an investment of $10.6 billion to electrify its lineup if vehicles by 2030. The company aims for EVs to account for 15-40% of its total sales by the beginning of the next decade.
Previously, the company’s EV sales estimate was roughly 25% of sales by 2030. Mazda has been slow to introduce EVs as it continues to expect hybrid cars to aid emission reduction.
Mazda is following a multi-solution approach to boost its electromobility capabilities. Prior to the announcement, Mazda inked an agreement with battery maker Envision AESC to procure batteries for EVs produced in Japan.
The company will introduce battery EV models in the second half of phase 2, which will be sometime between 2025 and 2027. It then plans to do a full-scale launch of its all-electric vehicles between 2028 and 2030.
The investment plans are to be made along with Mazda partners and utlised for research and development.
Mazda’s collaboration with its main suppliers, such as Hiroshima Aluminum Industry, Imasen Electric, Ondo Corporation and HIROTEC Corporation, augurs well for the long-term growth of the company as well as the industry.
Mazda’s efforts in procuring and securing batteries to expedite its electrification initiatives are noteworthy.
Siemens has announced a partnership with Electromin to supply electric vehicle chargers for the development of a Kingdom and region-wide charging networks.
The company has said that the agreement will ensure supplies of Siemen’s most advanced EV infrastructure technology for Electromin’s network, including the ultra-fast Sicharge D chargers that use direct, current and the smart Versicharge AC wall or pole mounted units that run on alternating current.
“Electromin’s eMaaS solutions are contributing to the development of the Saudi EV ecosystem, and this partnership with Siemens will allow us to provide the charging infrastructure and technology necessary to boost adoption of EVs in the Kingdom,” said Kalyana Sivagnanam, GCEO of Petromin Corporation and CEO Electromin. “The rollout of EV charging points across Saudi Arabia is our first phase of a significant national strategy that extends to 2030 and beyond.”
Electromin is also said to be developing a consumer app that will allow users to locate public charges, plan their route and book and pay for sessions.
“We look forward to working with Electromin on this important project that demonstrates our commitment to supporting sustainability programs in Saudi Arabia,” said Karim Mousa, Senior Vice President of eMobility for Siemens in the Middle East. “Electric vehicles are the key technology to decarbonize road transport, and Siemens is proud to provide the infrastructure that accelerates the growth of EVs and contributes to the Saudi Green Initiative.”
Saudi Arabia is now committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2060. The governments wants three of every 10 vehicles in the Saudi capital Riyadh to be EVs by 2030.
Moove has announced that it will be partnering with Paua to develop the first end-to-end EV charging network app solution in the mobility industry.
The companies will utilise Paua’s technology while Moove Charge supports Moove customers in their transition to electric vehicles. Moove will provide a simplified, all-in-one access solution to over 6,600 charge points in London without paying a hefty monthly subscription free to multiple CPO’s.
Moove is offering EVs at competitive rates to its customers and helps to improve the productivity of ride-hailing drivers through value-added services like Moove Charge which provides a cost saving of up to £340 per year, or approx. 12% of average annual EV charging cost, according to the company.
Niall Riddell, CEO & co-founder at Paua and a speaker at the Plug It In Summit stated “Soon Londoners will be able to select electric driven forms of transport for all their journeys from micro-mobility, private hire, buses and even their personal car. Providing a universal charging solution to enable this removes another barrier to the adoption of electric vehicles.”
Moove and Paua announced this partnership on the eve of the inaugural Evening Standard’s Plug It In Summit run by the Evening Standard, said the companies press release.
The Summit seeks to highlight what more Londoners can do to go electric with their transport choices. It confronts the biggest roadblocks being faced ahead of 2030 and solving the supply issue of EVs is arguably the greatest challenge. The addition of a 100% EV ride-hailing fleet provides greater access to cleaner transportation and a cleaner environment for the city’s residents.
Charlotte Bailey, Head of Europe at Moove, stated “Moove is an impact-led company committed to the electrification of mobility. Our mission is to empower mobility entrepreneurs on ridesharing, e-logistics and last-mile delivery platforms to be more productive and successful, and to achieve financial security. PAUA has been a fantastic partner in our mission to support our customers in their transition to EVs.”
The Moove Charge App has been designed specifically to deal with issues within the sector and to facilitate a frictionless transition by providing easy location and ease of access to the largest network of slow, fast and ultrafast EV charge points across London.
Estonian-made autonomous vehicles, developed by Vijandi-based Clevon, have been allowed to operate in pedestrian areas of Tallinn Old Town by the city government that signed a two-month cooperation agreement for the pilot project.
“Tallinn’s Old Town is a UNESCO heritage site but also an active business location and an attractive tourist destination. Old Town is also a place where people live. It therefore makes sense to use innovative mobility solutions to serve its institutions, businesses and residents,” Tallinn’s deputy mayor Tanel Kiik said in a statement.
“The robotic courier is an all-electric, noise and emission-free means of transport, making it a safer and more environmentally friendly way of delivering goods in the narrow streets of the Old Town compared to conventional motor vehicles,” he added.
The full electric, unmanned vehicles will provide parcel delivery services and aim to reduce pollution in the city centre. The company are also partnering with DHL for the new courier solution in the Old Town area.
Back in 2021, the company became the first in Europe to be awarded a licence to operate semi-autonomous vehicles on public streets without restrictions. The vehicle is also being tested by online shopping service Collect&Go in Belgium.
The Clevon’s robot courier is fairly small, only weighing 500 kilograms. To ensure the safety of road users, including pedestrians, the machine is equipped with six cameras that provide a 360 degree view of the vehicle.
V-Go Energy, a new brand of the well-connected company, Verve Connect, has announced the launch of its EV chargers and power storage solutions to the market.
The chargers will feature design, intelligent control and smart features and will introduce an alternating current EV charger range of 7kW and 22kW for residential, workplace and destination customer segment.
The company has also developed the direct current charger range from 20kW to up to 180kW for the fleet charging segment which will be available mid-year in 2023.
Chris Edwards, Chief Commercial Officer from Verve Connect, commented: “Our company strives to provide reliable and sustainable products to the market. In addition to our already very successful telecom business, we are now introducing our EV chargers and power storage solutions to the market, we are confident our product and local support will be equally strong and reliable”.
The products are able to be integrated with third party applications to enable smart on charge scheduling due to internet connection being enabled by the build in communication modules as well as the embedded OCPP protocol.
Additionally, the company’s chargers can be used as a standalone charger supported via V-Go’s solutions. The chargers are also designed to support V-Go’s RFID based offline payment system or to integrate partner’s application to support the business owners’ energy management considerations.
The company has also said that the V-Go EV chargers come with PEN fault protection that is designed to help reduce the cost of installation without affecting safety.
V-Go will be showcasing their product at the London EV show at the Excel.
Miller Technology has launched a new, battery electric low-profile grader for underground mining. The company has said that customer response and trials at the bauma trade show in Munich, Germany were positive.
“This is another great day for Miller, for North Bay, for northern Ontario and for Canada as we continue to roll out more battery electric vehicles for mining,” said Dan Bachand, the CEO of Miller. “We also want to recognize and thank the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) for its funding support of the E-Grader.”
Miller’s E-Grader was built by retrofitting an HBM-Novas 110-M low profile grader with Miller’s patented powered by Ionic drive system.
Member of Parliament for Nipissing—Timiskaming, Anthony Rota, also adds that “Miller Technology’s battery electric grader is a further example of how Canada is leading the world in green technology, reducing operating costs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and most importantly improving employee health”, said Anthony Rota. “We are proud to see them serve the world from North Bay in the riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming.”
The federal government has recently announced their fall economic statement that will introduce a refundable tax credit of 30% of the capital cost of investments in several clean technology items. This includes hydrogen or electric heavy-duty equipment used in construction or mining that are zero-emission or can be charged or refueled remotely.
“A 30% tax credit will assist our customers with their purchases of the higher cost BEVs and help speed up the electrification of mining utility vehicles and Miller will be right there for them with reliable mining BEVs” said Bachand.
The E-Grader is currently being “checked out” in Germany by international customers who attended the BAUMA trade show, according to the company. The E-Grader is meant to be returning to Canada from January 2023 onwards for North American customer visits.
The city of Łódź has signed a contract with Solaris to supply e-buses along with charging infrastructure. The zero-emission Urbino 18 electric vehicles will hit the streets of the city in 2023. This will be a decisive step towards embracing e-mobility and will mark the first contract for electric buses to be carried out by Łódź by the manufacturer from Bolechowo.
Key features of the eight Solaris Urbino 18 electric buses ordered by the city are their unique quietness and reduced emissions. The Urbino electric buses will be able to operate up to 24 hours a day. They are expected to roll out onto the streets in the second half of 2023.
“The signing of the contract for 8 state-of-the-art electric buses, taking place today, is an event of enormous importance for us. We are pleased that Łódź will be yet another city on the electric map of zero-emission Solaris buses. We are also very proud to be able to support the city in the implementation of such ambitious undertakings. These determined efforts to electrify public transport in Łódź will set an excellent example for numerous European towns and cities”, underlined Krzysztof Musiał, Regional Sales Manager for Poland South-East at Solaris.
The company has said that the new e-buses will be powered by state-of-the-art High Energy batteries with a total nominal capacity of over 400kWh. They will be available to charge both via a plug in connection and by means of an inverted pantograph.
“It’s great news for the bus fleet in Łódź, which will be enriched by the addition of these new e-buses. Today, we are signing a contract for the purchase of our first articulated e-buses manufactured by Solaris. I am extremely happy about it and strongly believe that this is only the beginning of our long-term collaboration”, said Adam Pustelnik, First Deputy Mayor of the city of Łódź.
The interiors of the Urbino 18 electric vehicles are equipped with fully automated air conditioning and will offer space for 110 people. The bus will also feature an electronic ticketing system that will allow payment from credit cards and a ticket vending machine.
The very first Solaris buses made it to Łódź in 2000. Since then, the city’s public transport has been consistently heading towards green mobility said the company’s press release.
The vehicles ordered today will be the first Solaris electric buses to be used in Łódź. However, this is not the city’s first investment in Solaris vehicles with alternative drive systems.
This year, the manufacturer has already delivered 29 low-emission Urbino 12 mild hybrid buses to the city. Soon, another 20 units of the same type will make their way to Łódź. With every passing year, low- and zero-emission vehicles account for an increasingly significant share of European bus fleets, and the city of Łodź is clearly following this trend.
Lyft has announced that it will be partnering with Redwood Materials to ensure that its fleet of shared e-bikes and scooters can be kept up to date and fresh.
This deal is a huge one for Lyft, and it will be used by the company to ensure that its nationwide fleet of bikes and scooters to not end up in the trash at the end of their lifetime, which is estimated to be around five years.
Lyft have said that they will recover the depleted e-bike batteries through its operations teams and will then ship those batteries to Redwood’s facility in Northern Nevada.
Redwood will then begin the chemical recycling process, in which it removes and refines elements such as nickel, cobalt, and copper. A certain percentage of that material can then be reused into the battery making process.
Redwood has said that it does all of its recycling domestically and aims for maximum transparency, inviting all of its clients to come to the facility and inspect every inch of the process.
Many batteries within electric vehicles reach the end of their life span and need recycling. Through partnerships like these, electric vehicle elements and materials can be reused and recovered.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced the state plans to invest another $1 billion in building infrastructure to support the state’s phaseout of ICE vehicles trucks and cars.
The company has said that the charging program will be funded by the state’s investor-owned utilities. The program is said to direct 70% of funding to charging for medium-and heavy-duty vehicles and will offer rebates for customer electric vehicle infrastructure investments in businesses, factories and apartments.
The California Air Resources Board has also approved a $2.6 billion investment plan to support a wide range of zero-emission vehicle projects.
The company has said that 70% of the funds will be directed to disadvantaged and low-income communities. This will be the state’s largest-ever investment in the equitable expansion of clean transportation, according to a statement by the governor.
Back in August, the California Air Resources Board passed a plan that will see all new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the state to be electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids by 2035.
Dominos is preparing to put more than 800 all-electric pizza delivery vehicles into service over the coming months. The first 100 vehicles will be rolling out in November. The company has chosen the Chevy Bolt EV and is wrapping the vehicles with custom branding.
Dominos will have a fleet of exactly 855 new electric vehicles. This will not be able to reach all 6,135 pizza shops in the US but is a great alternative to some of the previous cars Dominos have released such as the Dominos DXP where only 155 were made.
According to Dominos, the Bolts will be delivering from select franchises and corporate stores throughout the US. The fleet will aim to attract new employees to Dominos.
On a single charge, Chevy Bolt EVs are capable of going 259 miles on a single charge, and the company believes that each of the cars has the potential to last a couple of days without needing to plug in.
GM has cut prices on the 2023 model down to a starting price of $26,595 which makes it one of the most affordable EVs on the market.
Customers are able to find a map of when you can see when and where the new EV delivery vehicles are or will be active.
EVR Motors has announced that it has partnered with India’s EKA mobility, to design small, lightweight electric motors for their e-buses and Light Commercial Vehicles in India.
The new agreement states that EVR will design and develop electric motors for EKA, based on EVR’s proprietary Trapezoidal Stator Radial Flux Permanent Magnet (TS-RFPM) motor, and EKA will manufacture these e-motors and integrate them in the vehicles it provides to the Indian market. EVR will support the setup of EKA’s assembly line.
The EVR motor generates increased magnetic flux and reduces flux leakage due to its Trapezoidal teeth and windings features. Compared to standard motors, EVR’s electric motors are 30%-50% lighter and smaller, cost significantly less, and can be tailored to user requirements, says the company.
EVR is now developing a variety of motors for multiple mobility applications including Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and full battery vehicles.
Recently, EKA Mobility launched its 9-meter electric bus, which provides a solid platform for sustainable and efficient public transport in cities around the world, along with reliable and profitable operations for customers.
The company also has plans to launch a range of light vehicles that will offer a 50% reductio in the total cost of ownership.
The partnership with EKA is EVR’s third collaboration agreement in India. EVR announced commercial agreements with two prominent Indian Tier-1 suppliers—Napino Auto & Electronics and with Badve Engineering earlier this year. In addition to this, EVR has announced its entrance into the Japanese market, following a distribution agreement with Tsukasa Electric.
Lyft and Motional has announced that residents in LA will now be able to book robotaxis on the ride-hailing company’s app but has not yet said when this service will be available.
Regulatory challenges have prevented commercial adoption of autonomous vehicle technology and this has delayed the deployment of many robotaxi services.
Los Angeles will be the second city where companies will offer driverless service, second to Las Vegas. Motional uses Hyundai’s Moto Co’s IONIQ5 electric car for the robotaxi service. This is a joint venture between the South Korean Manufacturer and automotive technology company Aptiv.
This new platform will therefore use the IONIQ 5 and will give Los Angeles residents their first taste of autonomous technology.
“Los Angeles was the second city Lyft launched back in 2013 and it’s only fitting that it will be the second AV market we launch with our partner, Motional,” said Logan Green, Lyft’s CEO and co-founder. “Scaling AVs only works if riders can get a reliable ride, whether it’s autonomous or not, and together with Motional, Lyft will turn AV technology into transportation for Angelenos everywhere.”
The two companies have been conducting public test rides in the entertainment capital and while Motional offers Level 4 autonomous operation, Lyft will be adding to its platform to provide riders with more choices.
General Motors has announced that it plans to invest $45 million at its Bedford, Indiana, aliminium die-casting foundry. The investment is expected to expand the facility’s production capacity of EV drive unit castings to support the expected rise of demand for the Chevrolet Silverado EV and GMC Sierra EV full-size pickups.
It has been noted that the Bedford operation is one of the leading aluminum die-casting facilities in the world, and this investment is an investment into not only the facility but also the ‘team and their commitment to excellence.’
Ray Curry, President, UAW, said, ‘UAW local members’ skill, training and craftsmanship contribute to the success of this facility, and this investment highlights the role they will play in GM’s future EV growth.”
Back in December 2021, GM had announced a $51 million investment at Bedford to install new, state-of-the-art equipment which would support the drive unit castings production for the Chevrolet Silverado EV and various other casting applications.
Since 2011, GM has invested more than $456 million in Bedford Casting Operations.
Gotion High-Tech and Vietnam VinGroup have announced the official opening of their new joint venture battery factory in Vietnam Ha Tinh Economic Development Zone. The project is expected to achieve an annual production capacity of 5GWh which is expected to be in operation by the end of 2023. This will be the first LFP battery factory in Vietnam.
The factory was jointly invested in by Gotion High-Tech and VinES. Gotion High-tech holds 51% of the shares and VinES holds 49%. According to the plan, The project has a scale of 14 hectares with a design capacity of 5GWh/year and is expected to be completed and put into operation by the end of 2023. To meet the demand of LFP batteries for VinFast new energy vehicle batteries, says the press release.
Li Zhen, Chairman of Gotion High-Tech, said: “VinGroup is the most respectable enterprise in Vietnam. The battery factory jointly built by Gotion High-tech and VinGroup will support the battery needs of VinFast’s electric vehicles. It will not only contribute to the energy revolution, climate friendly and economic development of Vietnam, but also contribute to the energy civilization of human society.”
Back in June, the company reached a strategic cooperation with JEMSE of Argentina to establish a joint venture production line of battery grade lithium carbonate in Jujuy Province of Argentina. Additionally, German Gotion officially unveiled, which started the pace of “made in Europe of Gotion batteries, says the company.
Furthermore, in July, the company’s General Depositary Receipts rang the bell on the SIX Swiss exchange. It also, in September, signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Sumec to promote the export business of energy storage products.
The company’s plan aims for it to achieve 300GWh annual production capacity of global production capacity by 2025, including 100GW overseas, to help achieve global carbon neutrality.
Earlier this week Toyota unveiled an all-electric SUV concept that used plant-based materials for its seating and an AI “personal” assistant as the automaker expands its “beyond zero” portfolio.
The bZ compact crossover concept debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show and is meant to showcase Toyotas vision for its battery-electric future. The company has said that it plans to launch 30 fully electric vehicles including five under the bZ badge.
Back in 2021, the automaker unveiled the all-electric Toyota bZ4X under the bZ brand. The vehicle shares many similarities with the Subaru Solterra thanks to a collaboration with the two companies to come later this year.
The inside of the new car showcases seating which is made from plant-based and recycled materials and a semicircle-shaped steering wheel that looks like the top has been looped off. The company has named the personal assistant Yui, who responds to requests from front or rear passengers using sound and lights.
The new SUV concept car has been said by Toyota, to showcase a possible vision of the very near future for its EV line up. Toyota hasn’t released a specific date for the launch but has said that the portfolio will support its goal to go carbon neutral by 2050.
TIER Mobility has announced that it has piloted wheelchair-accessible e-scooters in France ahead of a possible wider rollout which aims to provide greater freedom and autonomy to those with reduced mobility.
Omni, a French start-up who has created a solution that allows a wheelchair to attach to an e-scooter. This partnership between the two companies has seen a rental programme for wheelchair accessable electric e-scooters in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, helping to provide the 1.4 million wheelchair users in Paris with improved access to sustainable urban mobility.
Georgia Yexley, TIER General Manager for UK & Ireland, said: “Considering accessibility for any mobility service is critical – and micro-mobility is no exception. Whilst accessibility must be considered at all stages, it is just as important to create a service which can be iteratively improved and become more accessible over time. Our work with Omni shows how we as an industry can react to ongoing challenges and make micro-mobility usable by all.”
TIER has shown exclusive data showing that one in 10 of its riders identify as having a disability. TIER is hoping to extend the partnership to market outside of France in locations such as London, while also developing new partnerships with other major cities.
ZEEKR has announced the launch of its SEA-M platform for autonomous electric vehicles. The SEA-M platform is a high-tech mobility solution from ZEEKR which has been drawn from the original Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) to support a range of future mobility products.
This includes robotaxi, a multi-purpose vehicle, and logistics vehicles, laying a solid and flexible foundation for global autonomous driving technology or ride-sharing companies to develop.
ZEEKR CEO Andy AN said: “The unveiling of ZEEKR’s SEA-M has shown the brand’s technological strengths and potential. The affirmation of partners for the SEA-M has also reflected ZEEKR’s ability to customize development according to the needs of each user. Going forth, ZEEKR will continue to work with great global partners to support better and more sustainable intelligent mobility for all.”
The company has highlighted that the SEA-M subverts the idea of developing vehicles around the driver, which doesn’t exist in autonomous vehicles. The vehicle gives the designers opportunity to create an intelligent mobile “living room” due to the platform’s fundamental features. The features include an expansive interior, open seat choice and placement option, no B-pillar, and robust electrical/electronic backbone supporting autonomous drove and connected devices.
Back in 2021, ZEEKR announced its first customer for vehicles built on the SEA-M platform was autonomous driving technology company Waymo, headquartered in the United States. Both companies have partnered to develop a purpose built TaaS SEA-M variant which will be deployed with the Waymo One ride-hailing fleet in the coming years.
ZEEKR has said that all SEA-M based vehicles will meet global five-star safety standards as well as top safety pick requirements from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Waabi has announced the Waabi Driver, the next generation of autonomous trucking. The new autonomous truck is said to combine their AI first autonomy stack as software along with sensors and compute as hardware. Together they form a complete solution designed for factory-level OEM integration, large scale commercialisation, and safe deployment.
The Waabi driver has been described as an end-to-end trainable system that automatically learns from data, speeding up development dramatically and enabling it to learn the complex decision-making needed for operating the road safely, said the companies press release.
Waabi will initially start with a small number of trucks that appear to be made by Peterbuilt, however, Waabi has not named its first OEM partner.
Waabi has designed their autonomy stack for widespread deployment and is also, purpose built for production. It is adaptable to multiple redundant truck platforms and easily integrated on the assembly line with no disruption.
The initial group of trucks will be used for data collection and testing, as well as commercial pilots. The startup has a vision of bringing a new generation of autonomous driving to the market and is one with an AI first approach.
The Waabi driver boasts superior generalisation capabilities so that it can safely apply learned skills to unseen scenarios and brand-new geographies without needing to of been there before.
The truck is sleek and does not appear to look like it has been retrofitted with sensors. The hardware is seamlessly integrated into the body with gives for a more aerodynamic look and one that is also easy to clean and maintain.
Cruise has announced, in a tweet made by Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt, that it is expanding its driverless ride-hailing service in San Fransisco to daytime hours.
The autonomous taxi service is now available to employees 24 hours a day after previously only being available throughout the night and evening. The new opening hours are the latest expansion of the GM subsidiary’s driverless operations in San Fransisco.
Cruise opened its robotaxi service to the public in early 2022. The rides were initially free and limited to small portions of the city and only offered between 11pm and 5am. The service has now developed over time and the company began charging for rides in June 2022.
Fares include a base fee of $5 and $0.90 per mile and $0.40 per minute rate. A 1.5% city tax is also included in the price. An estimated fare is calculated using the estimated time and distance of the fastest, most optimal route. Cruise shares that estimate fare with customers and will charge that amount if the time or distance of the actual ride takes longer.
Cruise has also recently announced that it is expanding operations to Austin and Phoenix and in October and invited potential passengers in Phoenix and Austin to join the waitlist.
Cruise will most likely follow a similar route when expanding its operations to different locations. The service hours and area will start small and will grow when being offered to employees.