Republic Square Park has turned into a Ford-themed fiesta for its Built to Connect pop-up experience, complete with test drives, off-roading and an inside look at the Tesla-rivaling electric vehicles that the motor vehicle company is planning to integrate over the next decade.
The outdoor driving event is free, open to the public and will stay in the park from now until Oct. 24, offering rides on Bronco Mountain, a 0-40 mph zip in the 2022 all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning and a chance to win an original Ford Bronco.
The event kicked off with a panel of speakers, including Austin Director of Transportation Rob Spillar, Ford General Manager Darren Palmer and engineering specialists discussing Ford's goals to make it so that 50% of the vehicles on the road are electric by 2030.
As an eco-conscious city, Spillar said that around 4,000 vehicles, or 22% of the Texas electric vehicle market, as well as over 15,000 plugins lie in Austin, meaning driving electric just got accessible.
"Austin, as you know, is a fast-growing modern city that is committed to protecting the long term health and viability of our communities and strategies that reduce greenhouse gases, mitigate the effects of climate change and improve the drone quality of life here in Central Texas for all of our residents," Spillar said.
And Ford's electric vehicles are putting up some steep competition for newly-Austin-based company Tesla. The new electric Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lighting offer amenities that used to be exclusive to Musk's brand, such as the BlueCruise self-driving network. The cars also boast a 300-mile range on a single charge, assisted reverse technology and access to the biggest charging network outside of the home.
Plus, Ford's got affordability on its side. The F-150 Lightning starts at $39,974 and the Mustang Mach-E starts at $42,895, while the cheapest Tesla model, the Model 3, starts at $41,990 and averages 262 miles on a single charge.
Speaking of price, the numbers on the electric vehicles may look like a little more than you'd like to pay for your transport, but Palmer promises it will pay off. In addition to a $7,500 tax credit you can earn for your sustainability, you'll never have to buy a pricey tank of gas again.
"Personally, I have not found one customer ever, who would go back to gas so that says something," Palmer said. "I realized, at $51,000, that car outruns every childhood hero car I ever had."
Texas buyers: take note. The Ford Lightning can power your house for three to 10 days, just in case the statewide power grid fails. You can take it glamping with you, so you don't have to leave the comfort of modern life behind, and in a pinch, Palmer said he's even seen a wedding party powered by the truck.
Ford is investing $30 billion into the U.S. market to meet demand by 2025 and the new electric truck already has over 150,000 reservations.
"I think they're going to take off much faster than you expect—they're going to be extremely, extremely popular next year," Palmer said. "With the incentives that are available today, this is starting to become more mainstream and viable for more and more families. We couldn't have done that before, we didn't have the technology, or the technology at that price."
The event is ongoing through next weekend from 12-9 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.- 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
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The Austin Police Department is searching for a man who is believed to be behind a series of robberies that is "sexual in nature and is escalating."
Three robbery cases that took place in North Austin within a 30-day period are being investigated by police, who report the victims all had similar descriptions for suspects in the case. The suspect is described as a 20-25-year-old Spanish-speaking Hispanic man, approximately 5'3, thin build, recently shaved with black hair. Police say he is known to typically wear athletic clothing and used a knife on each of the victims.
Here's a breakdown of the cases:
1. At 7:56 a.m. on Sept. 22 at the 1600 block of Rutland Drive, a woman was walking alone and returning from her child's school when a suspect walking by inappropriately touched her. The suspect then grabbed her by the arm, threatened her with a knife and demanded "her property."
2. At 8:10 a.m. on Oct. 11 at 1700 block of Colony Creek Drive, a woman was walking to her child's school when a man approached her with a knife and then demanded her personal items. The suspect then said he would return the items in return for sex.
3. At 11:03 a.m. on Oct. 13 at the 9300 block of Northgate Boulevard, a woman was with her child in the laundry room of an apartment complex when a man walked in performing a sexual act. The suspect demanded personal items from the victim, threatening to hurt the victim and take her child.
Police cautioned the public to walk without earbuds, stay alert and report suspicious activity to the police.
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Austin is gearing up for another election, where voters will decide the fate of two local propositions—one being the highly contested police department reform ordinance—and eight state constitutional amendments.
Here's everything you need to know to head to the polls.
Dates to know and where to vote
Early voting begins Monday, Oct. 18 and runs through Friday, Oct. 29. On those days, residents can head to a polling location from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Election Day is on Tuesday, Nov. 2. Polling locations will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
If you're unsure if you are eligible to vote, check here (the registration deadline has passed for this election). You can also preview your personal ballot.
There are about two dozen early voting locations across the city. Here is where you can vote:
In Texas, you may be able to vote by mail if you are already registered and you are:
- 65 and older
- Out of the country during the entire election period
- Sick or disabled
- Expected to give birth within 3 weeks before or after Election Day
- In jail
You still have some time to apply to vote by mail. The application form, which can be found here, must be received by Friday, Oct 22. The form contains other detailed instructions.
What's on the ballot
Austin voters will be asked to weigh in on two propositions.
The more controversial, Proposition A, if approved, would establish new minimum standards for the Austin Police Department. By adding a new chapter to the department's established standards, the proposition would require the department to employ at least two sworn officers for every 1,000 residents of the city and would create other standards related to staffing, training, and recruiting. Implementing the proposition could cost between $271.5 and nearly $600 million over five years according to estimates reported by city staff.
Proponents say the measure will bolster APD, which currently faces a staffing shortage, and make Austin safer after the city has seen a high murder count this year. Opponents say it costs too much and ties the hands of city officials who will be forced to cut other city services to meet the new requirements. Beyond the financial implications, some opponents also disagree that more officers will necessarily make the city safer as its a national problem and the murder rate isn't unusual.
Proposition B asks voters to allow City Council to "convey or lease" 9 acres of parkland along Lakeshore Boulevard, which is currently being used as a maintenance facility, in exchange for at least 48 acres of new waterfront property and the "cost or construction" of a new maintenance facility on other city-owned land. Proponents say the measure will add greatly to Austin's parkland resources and allow for construction of a new maintenance facility. While the ballot language of the proposition is not specific, it's been reported that tech giant Oracle is the likely partner in this deal and that the parkland of interest to be acquired is adjacent to John Treviño Jr. Metropolitan Park in southeast Austin.
Voters will also be asked to approve or reject eight amendments to the Texas Constitution.
- Texas Proposition 1, the Authorize Charitable Raffles at Rodeo Venues Amendment, would allow professional association-sanctioned rodeos to hold raffles at their events.
- Texas Proposition 2, the Authorize Counties to Issue Infrastructure Bonds in Blighted Areas Amendment, would allow counties to issue bonds for infrastructure within certain limits.
- Texas Proposition 3, the Prohibition on Limiting Religious Services or Organizations Amendment, would prohibit state or local governments from prohibiting or limiting religious services.
- Texas Proposition 4, the Changes to Eligibility for Certain Judicial Offices Amendment, would increase restrictions on who is eligible to run for a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a justice of a court of appeals, and a district judge.
- Texas Proposition 5, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct Authority Over Candidates for Judicial Office Amendment, would allow complaints against judicial candidates to be accepted and acted upon.
- Texas Proposition 6, the Right to Designated Essential Caregiver Amendment, would guarantee that residents of certain types of group facilities have the right to in-person visits from essential caregivers.
- Texas Proposition 7, the Homestead Tax Limit for Surviving Spouses of Disabled Individuals Amendment, would bring the state constitution in line with existing state law which already provides for this exemption.
- Texas Proposition 8, the Homestead Tax Exemption for Surviving Spouses of Military Fatally Injured in the Line of Duty Amendment, would expand the homestead tax exemption that covers surviving spouses of those killed in military service to include those killed in ways other than combat, such as in training exercises.
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Yet another tech company is staking a claim in the tech "boomtown" of Austin, Texas, with artificial intelligence company Moveworks announcing its move Thursday.
The Greater Austin Chamber joined Moveworks in announcing the expansion to the Texas capital. It joinsTesla, which announced its HQ move on Oct. 7, Oracle, and over a hundred AI companies that call Austin home.
Austin Chamber Vice President of economic development Charisse Bodisch said Moveworks is a great fit for Austin due to its employee-first culture.
"Moveworks is a company that prioritizes the well-being and support of its employees, and there is no better place to find a live/work culture with ample career opportunities and a high quality of life than right here in the Austin region," Bodisch said in a press release.
Grateful for the support of the @AustinChamber as we turn Austin into a home base! 🥳
— Moveworks (@moveworks) October 14, 2021
Moveworks, based in Mountain View, California, is a quickly-growing AI company that automates support for employees through IT, HR, finance and facilities. The company has more than doubled in the past year and has partnered with Microsoft Teams and Slack to streamline its services to employees, earning a spot on Inc.'s Best Workplaces of 2021 and an additional $200 million in funding in June. The startup is now worth over $2 billion.
Moveworks already has around 20 of its approximately 300 employees working in the new office and plans to add 20+ more by the end of the year.
Moveworks CEO Bhavin Shah said the move is vital as the company expands its reach.
"Austin is home to one of the most elite talent ecosystems in the tech industry," Shah said. "But the new office also allows us to support our many customers in the South—as they, in turn, support their employees using our platform. We're incredibly excited to invest in the development of our Austin team because, with their leadership, we'll bring instant help to every employee on earth."
The new company is ready to hire Austinites, too. The company is currently hiring across every department at its 13 locations across three countries, including remote work.
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