Axios Closer

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Monday ✅.

Today's newsletter is 697 words, a 2½-minute read.

🔔 The dashboard: The S&P 500 closed down, but nearly flat.

  • Biggest gainer? Incyte (+8.6%), the biopharmaceutical company, approved a $2 billion share repurchase program.
  • Biggest decliner? Vistra Corp. (-3.5%), the integrated retail and electric power generation company, gave up some gains after rising over 13% in three straight positive sessions since reporting earnings last week.

1 big thing: Solid-state horizon

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Automakers are increasingly optimistic that next-generation battery technology will solve the challenges holding back EVs from broader adoption.

Why it matters: Range limitations and the logistics of charging are big factors giving many consumers pause.

The big picture: Two Japanese automakers independently say they're poised to begin production of solid-state batteries.

  • Nissan said in April that it's already begun construction of a pilot production line with plans to incorporate the new batteries into vehicles in the 2028 fiscal year.
  • Toyota said last year that it has achieved a "technological breakthrough" in development and will have the batteries "ready for commercial use by 2027-28."

Between the lines: Solid-state batteries can charge faster and can be made lighter, giving them greater energy storage capacity.

  • Toyota said its first solid-state EVs will have more than 620 miles of range on a single charge — about double most current models.
  • And solid-state batteries could eventually reduce charging times to below 10 minutes, McKinsey partner Raphael Rettig tells Axios.

Reality check: Experts aren't convinced that solid-state batteries will be ready for prime time so quickly.

  • The primary reason is their "huge safety risk" because they need to be packed together tightly, putting them under significant pressure, Rettig says.
  • "I don't believe that solid state will become a major player in the volume EV segment before the middle of next decade," he says.

What we're watching: Batteries currently make up about 30%–40% of the cost of EVs, according to the Institute for Energy Research, making cost reductions critical to EV acceptance.

  • Toyota didn't provide cost estimates for its solid-state batteries.

Go deeper

2. Charted: Meme meow

The line chart shows the fluctuation in GameStop's stock price from March 2, 2020, to May 13, 2024, with a notable peak in March 2021.
Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

Meme stocks roared today, as speculation grew that Keith Gill, aka "Roaring Kitty" and "DeepF---kingValue" of WallStreetBets fame, was getting back in the game.

Flashback: Gill helped fuel the meme-stock craze of 2021 by rallying an army of retail traders who sent shares of battered companies soaring.

  • Then he mostly went silent starting in the summer of 2021.

Then, today, speculation of his return hit the market, and GameStop, the name most closely associated with the trader, jumped more than 74%.

  • AMC Entertainment rose 78%. Reddit, the host of WallStreetBets, rose by over 8%.

Go deeper

3. What's happening

👓 SoftBank's Vision Fund posted its first full-year profit in three years. (CNBC)

🔌 Tesla is rehiring some of the Supercharger employees Elon Musk laid off a few weeks ago. (Bloomberg)

🟦 Squarespace is going private in a sale to a PE firm. (Axios)

4. Amazon's Zoox under federal scrutiny

Zoox tests its self-driving software on a Toyota Highlander near its headquarters in Foster City, Calif., Feb. 20, 2023. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Auto safety regulators have opened an investigation into the safety of Amazon's Zoox self-driving vehicle technology after multiple reports that the cars "unexpectedly braked suddenly."

Driving the news: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) said today that it's probing Zoox systems installed on Toyota Highlander SUVs after two reports of daytime incidents.

  • "Each incident resulted in a motorcyclist that was following a Zoox vehicle colliding into the Zoox vehicle," ODI said, adding that there were "minor injuries" in both cases.

Zoom in: The investigation will focus on the circumstances surrounding these incidents, how the Zoox systems handle crosswalks and "other similar rear-end collision scenarios."

  • It does not involve Zoox's robotaxis, which are purpose-built vehicles that do not have steering wheels or brake pedals.

The other side: "Our team is currently reviewing the request for information," a Zoox spokesperson said in a statement. "We remain committed to working closely with NHTSA to answer their questions."

5. ❤️ Love means using digital life tools

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

It's better to have Slacked and lost than never to have Slacked at all.

The big picture: Our love lives have apparently become so complicated that we need a suite of digital tools to keep track of everything.

  • Love birds are increasingly using project management tools to handle home tasks, communicating through Slack and budgeting on Google Sheets, among other things, the New York Times reports.

Yes, but: Some people fear that digital tools will suck the romanticism out of relationships.

💭 Nathan's thought bubble: Who says efficiency can't be attractive?

6. What they're saying

"The special thing about GPT-4o is it brings GPT-4 level intelligence to everyone, including our free users."
— OpenAI CTO Mira Murati, during a livestream presentation, on the company releasing a desktop version of ChatGPT and a new flagship model, dubbed GPT-4o.

Today's newsletter was edited by Pete Gannon and copy edited by Sheryl Miller.

💰 Tune in virtually tomorrow starting at 5pm ET/2pm PT for our signature dealmaking summit Axios BFD happening live from San Francisco.

  • Livestream the event here.