Mercedes-Benz channeled the wild and imaginative world of James Cameron’s hit movie Avatar for its latest concept car — an electric autonomous vehicle covered in bionic flaps that aims to show how man and machine can merge and live responsibly in nature.
The concept car, appropriately named AVTR for Advanced Vehicle Transformation, was unveiled Monday night at CES 2020, the giant tech trade show held each year in Las Vegas. And like many concept cars, it’s outrageous and sleek and a little bit out there. Did we mention it has scales?
To be clear, this is a show car. This means the Vision AVTR won’t be available to buy now, next year or in five. But as Ola Källenius, Daimler’s Chairman and the head of Mercedes-Benz noted Monday night, “show cars are here to spark our imagination, just like science fiction movies do.”
The idea is that these exercises conducted periodically by automakers not only spark creativity among engineers and designers, it can also telegraph where they’re headed. For Mercedes, the big message that Källenius was pushing Monday evening during his CES 2020 keynote was sustainability throughout the entire life cycle of a vehicle from the plant it is built in to materials used in the battery.
And this is indeed a goal within Mercedes-Benz.
The concept car has no steering wheel or pedals because it’s theoretically autonomous. The interior is completely vegan and it has a wide sweeping display that seems to cover and curve over the entire front dash. But that’s not the wild part.
Once sitting inside the user can control the vehicle by touching the center console. The car then comes to life and can recognize the driver’s pulse and breath. From here, the driver can lift there hand, turn their palm towards a projected light. The driver picks the projected icon they want, squeezes their hand shut and the off the car goes — again theoretically.
The vehicle is made of sustainability materials all the way down to the organic battery made from recyclable materials, which are compostable and recyclable.
The 33 multi-directionally movable surface elements on the back of the vehicle act as bionic flaps and are
reminiscent of scales of reptiles. Speaking of animals, the AVTR can move sideways by 30 degrees in a “crab movement” that gives it maximum agility.
Volkswagen Group and Qatar have agreed to develop a public transit system of autonomous shuttles and buses by 2022 for the capital city of Doha.
The agreement signed Saturday by VW Group and the Qatar Investment Authority is an expansive project that will involve four brands under VW Group, including Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Scania, its shared ride service MOIA and Audi subsidiary Autonomous Intelligent Driving, or AID.
The aim is to develop the entire transport system, including the electric autonomous shuttles and buses, legal framework, city infrastructure and ride-hailing software required to deploy a commercial service there. The autonomous vehicles will be integrated into existing public transit.
“For our cities to progress we need a new wave of innovation,” QIA CEO Mansoor Al Mahmoud said in a statement. “AI-enabled, emission-free transportation technologies will help advance urban mobility, while diminishing congestion and improving energy efficiency.
The fleet will include 35 autonomous electric ID. Buzz vehicles from the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles unit, which will shuttle up to four passengers on semi-fixed routes in a geo-fenced area of Doha. Another 10 Scania buses will be used for larger groups.
Closed testing of the shuttle vehicles and buses is expected to begin in 2020. Trials could start as early as 2021. VW and QIA said the project will go live by the end of 2022.
Tesla has received 146,000 reservations to order the Tesla Cybertruck, pulling in some $14.6 million in deposits just two days after the company’s CEO Elon Musk unveiled the futuristic and angled vehicle.
Reservations require a $100 refundable deposit. How many of those deposits will convert to actual orders for the truck, which is currently priced between $39,900 and $69,900, is impossible to predict. And there will likely be plenty of speculation over the next two years. Production of the tri-motor variant of the cybertruck is expected to begin in late 2022, Tesla said.
Musk tweeted Saturday that 146,000 Cybertruck orders have been made so far. Of those, 41% picked the most expensive tri-motor option and 42% of future customers chose the dual motor version. The remaining 17% picked the cheapest single-motor model.
146k Cybertruck orders so far, with 42% choosing dual, 41% tri & 17% single motor
The Tesla Cybertruck, which Musk unveiled in dramatic fashion at the Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, Calif., has been polarizing with skeptics heaping on the criticism and supporters pushing back in kind. Even Tesla fans at the Cybertruck event, which TechCrunch attended, seemed torn with some praising it and others wishing Musk had created something a bit more conventional.
The vehicle made of cold-rolled steel and features armored glass that cracked in one demonstration and an adaptive air suspension.
Tesla said it will offer three variants of the cybertruck. The cheapest version, a single motor and rear-wheel drive model, will cost $39,900, have a towing capacity of 7,500 pounds and more than 250 miles of range. The middle version will be a dual-motor all-wheel drive, have a towing capacity of more than 10,000 pounds and be able to travel more than 300 miles on a single charge. The dual motor AWD model is priced at $49,900.
The third version will have three electric motors and all-wheel drive, a towing capacity of 14,000 pounds and battery range of more than 500 miles. This version, known as “tri motor,” is priced at $69,900.
Volkswagen revealed Tuesday evening a new concept vehicle called the ID Space Vizzion, and despite the crazy Frank Zappaesque name, this one might actually make it into production in Europe and North America.
The ID Space Vizzion is the seventh concept that VW has introduced since 2016 that uses its MEB platform, a flexible modular system — really a matrix of common parts — for producing electric vehicles that VW says make it more efficient and cost-effective.
The first vehicles to use this MEB platform will be under the ID brand, although this platform can and will be used for electric vehicles under other VW Group brands such as Skoda and Seat. The ID.3 is the first model in its new all-electric ID brand and the beginning of the automaker’s ambitious plan to sell 1 million EVs annually by 2025. A production version of the ID. 3 was unveiled in September.
The ID Space Vizzion is equipped with a rear-mounted 275-horsepower motor and a 82 kilowatt-hour battery pack with a range of up to 300 miles under the EU’s WLTP cycle. A second motor can be added to give it all-wheel drive capability and a total output of 355 horsepower.
This concept will likely be described in a number of ways — and during the event at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles it was — but this is a wagon through and through.
What the ID. Space Vizzion will ultimately look like is unclear although much of the shape and overall stance shown Tuesday evening. But Scott Keogh, CEO of Volkswagen of America, did say in his closing remarks that something like the concept shown tonight will come to the U.S.
Xpeng Motors, the Chinese electric vehicle startup backed by Alibaba and Foxconn, has raised a fresh injection of $400 million in capital and has taken on Xiaomi as a strategic investor, the company announced.
The Series C includes an unidentified group of strategic and institutional investors. XPeng Motors Chairman and CEO He Xiaopeng, who also participated in the Series C, said the received strong support from many of its current shareholders. Xiaomi founder and CEO Lei Jun previously invested in the company.
“Xiaomi Corporation and Xpeng Motors have achieved significant progress through in-depth collaboration in developing technologies connecting smart phones and smart cars,” Xiaomi’s Jun said in a statement. “We believe that this strategic investment will further deepen our partnership with Xpeng in advancing innovation for intelligent hardware and the Internet of Things.”
The company didn’t disclose what its post-money valuation is now. However, a source familiar with the deal said it is “better” than the 25 billion yuan valuation it had in its last round in August 2018.
XPeng also said it has garnered “several billions” in Chinese yuan of unsecured credit lines from institutions such as China Merchants Bank, China CITIC Bank and HSBC. XPeng didn’t elaborate when asked what “several billions” means.
Brian Gu, Xpeng Motors Vice Chairman and President added that the company has been able to hit most of its business and financing targets despite economic headwinds, uncertainties in the global markets and government policy changes that have had direct impact on overall auto sales in China.
The round comes as XPeng prepares to launch its electric P7 sedan in spring 2020. Deliveries of the P7 are expected to begin in the second quarter of 2020.
Xpeng began deliveries of its first production model the G3 2019 SUV in December and shipped 10,000 models by mid-June. The company has since released an enhanced version of the G3 with a 520 km NEDC driving range.
The company plans to launch the P7 sedan in the spring 2020 and will start delivery in 2Q 2020.
XPeng has said it wants to IPO, but it’s unclear when the company might file to become a public company. No specific IPO timetable has been set and a spokesperson said the company is monitoring market conditions closely, but its current focus is on building core businesses.
Tesla broke national labor laws when it unfairly prevented workers from unionizing, an administrative law judge in California ruled Friday.
The ruling, which will likely be appealed, was first reported by Bloomberg. Tesla has not responded to a request for comment. TechCrunch will update the article if Tesla responds.
The automaker and CEO Elon Musk were ordered by Judge Amita Baman Tracy to take several actions to remedy the violations, including reinstating and giving backpay to a fired pro-union employee. The judge also ordered Musk to hold a public meeting and read aloud the findings to employees at the factory informing them the NLRB concluded the company had broken the law.
From the ruling:
I recommend that Respondent be ordered to convene its employees and have Elon Musk (or, if he is no longer the chief executive officer, a high-ranking management official), in the presence security guards, managers and supervisors, a Board agent and an agent 15 of the Union, if the Region and/or the Union so desire, read the notice aloud to employees, or, at Respondent’s option, permit a Board agent, in the presence Musk, to read the notice to the employees at the Fremont facility only.
The NLRB, while able to determine Tesla violated the law, has a limited reach, Bloomberg noted. The NLRB, for instance, can’t hold executive personally liable, nor can it assess punitive damages.
The ruling, which was published Friday, found that Musk and Tesla had violated the National Labor Relations Act by repressing attempts to organize a union at the company’s Fremont. Calif., factory. The judge determined that Tesla violated labor laws when it created rules that prevented off-duty employees from distributing union organizing leaflets in the Fremont parking lot, fired two workers unfairly and interrogated employees about their union activities. The judge also determined that Musk’s own tweets violated the law when he implied that workers who unionized would have to give up company-paid stock options.
Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union. Could do so tmrw if they wanted. But why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing? Our safety record is 2X better than when plant was UAW & everybody already gets healthcare.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised a more powerful powertrain option in future Model S, Model X and the next-generation Roadster sports car that will push acceleration and speed beyond the current high bar known as Ludicrous mode.
Musk tweeted Wednesday evening “the only thing beyond Ludicrous is Plaid,” a teaser to a higher performing vehicle and a nod to the movie Spaceballs.
These new higher performing versions of the Model S, Model X, and Roadster will contain what Musk describes as a Plaid powertrain and is still about a year away from production. This new powertrain will have three motors, one more than the dual motor system found in today’s Model S and X.
Yes. To be clear, Plaid powertrain is about a year away from production & applies to S,X & Roadster, but not 3 or Y. Will cost more than our current offerings, but less than competitors.
This Plaid powertrain has already seen some action. Tesla revealed Wednesday that a Model S equipped with a Plaid powertrain and chassis prototype had lapped Laguna Seca racetrack in 1:36:555, a second faster than the record for a four-door sedan.
*~ Some personal news ~*
We lapped Laguna Seca @WeatherTechRcwy in 1:36.555 during advanced R&D testing of our Model S Plaid powertrain and chassis prototype
The “Plaid” powertrain will not be offered in the lower cost Model 3 or Model Y, which isn’t expected to go into production until late 2020. Musk also promised that this plaid powertrain will cost more than “current offerings, but will be less than competitors” without explaining what that means.
Close followers of the automaker might recall hints of a three motor powertrain in the past.
When Tesla unveiled a new Roadster prototype in November 2017, Musk said it would have three motors and be able to travel a whopping 0 to 60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds and a top speed of 250 mph or even more. The Roadster isn’t expected to go into production until 2020.
What is new are Tesla’s plans to make this more powerful three-motor powertrain available in the Model S and Model X. And it stands to be an important option, if it does in fact materialize. The Model S has been around since 2012 and since the introduction the cheaper Model 3, sales have dipped.
And yet, Musk has said the X and S won’t be getting a major refresh. If Tesla hopes to maintain demand for either of its higher margin luxury vehicles, new trims like this plaid powertrain will be essential.
Tesla first announced Ludicrous mode in its Model S vehicles way back in July 2015. As shareholders and customers awaited the Model X to arrive, Musk unveiled several options for the company’s Model S sedan, including a lower priced version, longer battery range and “Ludicrous mode” for even faster acceleration.
Ludicrous mode, which improved acceleration by 10% to let drivers go from 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds, came about as a result of an improved battery fuse. This new fuse, Musk explained in a blog post at the time, has its own electronics and a tiny lithium-ion battery that monitors current and protects against excessive current.
Tesla also upgraded the main pack contactor with a high-temperature space-grade superalloy instead of steel. This enabled the battery pack to remain “springy” under the heat of heavy current. In the end, the max pack output increased from 1300 to 1500 Amps.
Ludicrous was a $10,000 add on for new buyers. Tesla did reduce the price for existing Model S P85 owners for the first six months following the announcement and sold them the pack electronics upgrade needed for Ludicrous Mode for $5,000.
Musk joked in this 2015 blog post that there is “one speed faster than ludicrous, but that is reserved for the next generation Roadster in 4 years: maximum plaid.”
Porsche is upping its plug-in hybrid game with several new vehicles added to its lineup, including a power-packing 2020 Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid.
The plug-in version of this flagship SUV combines a 14.1-kilowatt-hour battery and 134-horsepower electric motor with a 4.0-liter twin turbocharged V8 engine found in the traditional gas-powered Cayenne Turbo. The electric motor is located between the V8 engine and its standard eight-speed transmission.
The upshot is a 670-horsepower plug-in beast that produces 663 pound-feet of torque and can travel from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.6 seconds. Not bad for an SUV.
But it’s not all about power. Porsche also increased the energy capacity of its battery, 30% more than the one used in previous generation plug-in hybrid Cayenne models. EPA fuel economy figures have not been released yet, but if it’s like other Porsche plug-in hybrids, the range will be somewhere around 20 or so miles.
The automaker has a number of nifty standard items in the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid (and two new plug-in variants of the Cayenne Coupé), including a 7.2 kW onboard charger and 21-inch AeroDesign Wheels. The upgraded charger enables a complete recharge of the battery in as little as 2.4 hours when using a 240-volt connection with a 50-amp circuit, according to Porsche.
The plug-in versions of Cayenne Turbo and the Cayenne Turbo Coupé also comes standard with Porsche’s ceramic composite brakes, dynamic chassis control and other bonuses like 18-way adaptive sports seats.
All of this has a price, of course. The base price of the 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid is $161,900.
2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid
Porsche also took the wraps off of two other plug-in variants of its new Cayenne Coupé, a smaller, flashier version of the Cayenne. Both Cayenne Coupé variants feature a fixed spoiler above the rear window with a new adaptive rear spoiler below it that’s designed to enhance aerodynamic stability.
The Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupé has a base price of pricier $164,400, slightly more expensive than its Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid counterpart due to a few additional extras such as 20-inch alloy wheels and a glass panoramic roof.
But the two high-end vehicles share many of the same standard items and stats. Both vehicles can travel from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.6 seconds and reach a top speed of 183 miles per hour, which is electronically limited.
Porsche also unveiled a less powerful and cheaper 455-horsepower Cayenne E-Hybrid Coupé that has a V6 engine and a base price of $86,400. This coupé version, which has the same powertrain as the Cayenne E-Hybrid, has a top speed of 157 mph and can travel from 0 to 60 in 4.7 seconds.
Forget the keycard or phone app, one software engineer is trying out a new way to unlock and start her Tesla Model 3.
Amie DD, who has a background in game simulation and programming, recently released a video showing how she “biohacked” her body. The software engineer removed the RFID chip from the Tesla Model 3 valet card using acetone, then placed it into a biopolymer, which was injected through a hollow needle into her left arm. A professional who specializes in body modifications performed the injection.
You can watch the process below, although folks who don’t like blood should consider skipping it. Amie DD also has a page on Hackaday.io that explains the project and the process.
The video is missing one crucial detail. It doesn’t show whether the method works. TechCrunch will update the post once a new video delivering the news is released.
Amie is not new to biohacking. The original idea was to use the existing RFID implant chip that was already in her hand to be able to start the Model 3. That method, which would have involved taking the Java applet and writing it onto her own chip, didn’t work because of Tesla’s security. So, Amie DD opted for another implant.
Amie DD explains why and how she did this in another, longer video posted below. She also talks a bit about her original implant in her left hand, which she says is used for “access control.” She uses it to unlock the door of her home, for instance.
Earlier this month, TechCrunch held its inaugural Mobility Sessions event, where leading mobility-focused auto companies, startups, executives and thought leaders joined us to discuss all things autonomous vehicle technology, micromobility and electric vehicles.
Extra Crunch is offering members access to full transcripts of key panels and conversations from the event, such as Megan Rose Dickey‘s chat with Voyage CEO and co-founder Oliver Cameron and Uber’s prediction team lead Clark Haynes on the ethical considerations for autonomous vehicles.
Megan, Oliver and Clark talk through how companies should be thinking about ethics when building out the self-driving ecosystem, while also diving into the technical aspects of actually building an ethical transportation product. The panelists also discuss how their respective organizations handle ethics, representation and access internally, and how their approaches have benefited their offerings.
Clark Haynes: So we as human drivers, we’re naturally what’s called foveate. Our eyes go forward and we have some mirrors that help us get some situational awareness. Self-driving cars don’t have that problem. Self-driving cars are designed with 360-degree sensors. They can see everything around them.
But the interesting problem is not everything around you is important. And so you need to be thinking through what are the things, the people, the actors in the world that you might be interacting with, and then really, really think through possible outcomes there.
I work on the prediction problem of what’s everyone doing? Certainly, you need to know that someone behind you is moving in a certain way in a certain direction. But maybe that thing that you’re not really certain what it is that’s up in front of you, that’s the thing where you need to be rolling out 10, 20 different scenarios of what might happen and make certain that you can kind of hedge your bets against all of those.
For access to the full transcription below and for the opportunity to read through additional event transcripts and recaps, become a member of Extra Crunch. Learn more and try it for free.
Rose Dickey: I’m here with Oliver Cameron of Voyage, a self-driving car company that operates in communities, like retirement communities, for example. And with Clark Haynes of Uber, he’s on the prediction team for autonomous vehicles.
So some of you in the audience may remember, it was last October, MIT came out with something called the moral machine. And it essentially laid out 13 different scenarios involving self-driving cars where essentially someone had to die. It was either the old person or the young person, the black person, or the white person, three people versus one person. I’m sure you guys saw that, too.
So why is that not exactly the right way to be thinking about self-driving cars and ethics?
Haynes: This is the often-overused trolley problem of, “You can only do A or B choose one.” The big thing there is that if you’re actually faced with that as the hardest problem that you’re doing right now, you’ve already failed.
You should have been working harder to make certain you never ended up in a situation where you’re just choosing A or B. You should actually have been, a long time ago, looking at A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and like thinking through all possible outcomes as far as what your self-driving car could do, in low probability outcomes that might be happening.
Rose Dickey: Oliver, I remember actually, it was maybe a few months ago, you tweeted something about the trolley problem and how much you hate it.
Cameron: I think it’s one of those questions that doesn’t have an ideal answer today, because no one’s got self-driving cars deployed to tens of thousands of people experiencing these sorts of issues on the road. If we did an experiment, how many people here have ever faced that conundrum? Where they have to choose between a mother pushing a stroller with a child and a regular, normal person that’s just crossing the road?
Rose Dickey: We could have a quick show of hands. Has anyone been in that situation?
Tesla has withdrawn its request for a court-ordered restraining order against Randeep Hothi, documents submitted to the court where the complaint was filed revealed Friday. Hothi, an individual who is very vocal on social media about his short position in Tesla, had gone to extreme and potentially dangerous lengths in his avid attempts to collect materials to support his vocal criticism, according to the company.
The Alameda County Superior Court actually granted Tesla a temporary injunction in this matter back in April, after Tesla filed a complaint with supporting documents supporting its assertion that Hothi had injured a guard during a hit-and-run incident in February, and that he nearly caused an accident by driving dangerously in pursuit of a Tesla Model 3 undertaking a test driven on April 16.
After granting the temporary injunction based on Tesla’s description of events, supporting materials, and written affidavits submitted by employees, the court asked Tesla to produce both audio and video recordings related to these two incidents pursuant to a hearing. In withdrawing its complaint Friday, Tesla conveyed in documents filed with the court that it considered this requirement unnecessary in light of materials already provided, and an undue imposition on the privacy of their employees, since the recorded conversations regarding the incident contained “its employees’ private and personal conversations” as well as materials relating to the case.
Tesla maintains in its letter to the court that it still believes “a restraining order against Mr. Hothi is necessary and appropriate to protect its employees at their workplace,” it says that faced with the choice between said protection and exposing their employees’ private conversations to further public scrutiny, it will instead opt to pursue the protection of their safety “through other means.”
When contacted about the withdrawal, a Tesla spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company is now confident Hothi should be well aware at this stage that he’s not permitted to enter the company’s property, and that it will pursue legal action should he ever attempt to do so in future.
Elon Musk’s tunneling and transportation startup The Boring Company is ramping up hiring about six weeks after landing a $48.7 million commercial contract to build and operate an underground “people mover” in Las Vegas.
The company’s website has posted more than a dozen new job openings in Las Vegas as well another 15 at its headquarters in Hawthorne, California. That’s a tiny number of jobs when compared to openings at Musk’s two other companies SpaceX and Tesla. Still, it shows the company is attempting to scale up and move beyond the status of Musk pet project. (TBC hasn’t publicized how many people it employs; estimates from various sources put it at more than 80 people, although there’s evidence of overlap between SpaceX and TBC)
The initial design for the project, dubbed Campus Wide People Mover, or CWPM, will focus on the Las Vegas Convention Center, which is currently in the midst of an expansion that is expected to be completed in time for CES 2021. The newly expanded Las Vegas Convention Center will span about 200 acres once completed. The people mover is supposed to be complete and ready for customers by December 2020.
This underground people mover will involve the construction of twin tunnels for vehicles and one pedestrian tunnel, according to contract documents. The twin tunnels are expected to be less than a mile. There will be three underground stations for passenger loading and unloading and an elevator or escalator system for passenger access to each station.
TBC is looking to fill the kind of jobs one might expect for such an engineering heavy endeavor, including civil and tunnel engineers, construction manager and lead architect.
Once completed, the people mover is supposed to whisk people between stops at high speeds in modified electric Tesla vehicles. The contract describes these as autonomous electric vehicles, or AEVs. The standard AEVs will be Tesla Model X and Model 3 vehicles, the company said. It plans to use modified Tesla Model X chassis for a “high-occupancy” AEV that will transport up to 16 passengers with both sitting and standing room.
(It should be noted that Tesla vehicles on roads today are not self driving, and instead have an advanced driver assistance system that handles certain tasks on highways such as lane steering and adaptive cruise control.)
Before it opens to the public, the contract dictates that TBC test the system for three months.
While the project is limited for now, TBC has said in the past that the project could someday connect downtown, the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Las Vegas Boulevard Resort Corridor and McCarran International Airport.
Tesla, Elon Musk and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reached an agreement Friday that will give the CEO freedom to use Twitter —within certain limitations — without fear of being held in contempt for violating an earlier court order.
Musk can tweet as he wishes except when it’s about certain events or financial milestones. In those cases, Musk must seek pre-approval from a securities lawyer, according to the agreement filed with Manhattan federal court.
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, the presiding judge on this matter, must still approve the deal. Nathan had given the SEC and Musk two weeks to work out their differences and come to a resolution.
Musk must seek pre-approval if his tweets include:
any information about the company’s financial condition or guidance, potential or proposed mergers, acquisitions or joint ventures,
production numbers or sales or delivery number (actual, forecasted, or projected),
new or proposed business lines that are unrelated to then-existing business lines (presently includes vehicles, transportation, and sustainable energy products);
projection, forecast, or estimate numbers regarding Tesla’s business that have not been previously published in official company guidance
events regarding the company’s securities (including Musk’s acquisition or disposition of shares)
nonpublic legal or regulatory findings or decisions;
any event requiring the filing of a Form 8-K such as a change in control or a change in the company’s directors; any principal executive officer, president, principal financial officer, principal accounting officer, principal operating officer, or any person performing similar functions
The fight between the two parties began after Musk’s now infamous August 7, 2018 tweet that had “funding secured” for a private takeover of the company at $420 per share. The SEC filed a complaint in alleging that Musk had committed securities fraud.
Musk and Tesla settled with the SEC last year without admitting wrongdoing. Tesla agreed to pay a $20 million fine; Musk had to agree to step down as Tesla chairman for a period of at least three years; the company had to appoint two independent directors to the board; and Tesla was also told to put in place a way to monitor Musk’s statements to the public about the company, including via Twitter.
The fight was re-ignited after Musk sent a tweet on February 19 that Tesla would produce “around” 500,000 cars this year, correcting himself hours later to clarify that he meant the company would be producing at an annualized rate of 500,000 vehicles by year end.
The SEC argued that the tweet sent by Musk violated their agreement. Musk has said the tweet was “immaterial” and complied with the settlement.
The SEC had asked the court to hold Musk in contempt for violating a settlement agreement reached last October over Musk’s now infamous “funding secured” tweet. The SEC had argued that Musk was supposed to get approval from Tesla’s board before communicating potentially material information to investors, the agency has argued. The SEC claimed a February 19 tweet violated the agreement.
Musk has steadfastly maintained that he didn’t violate the agreement.
Uber’s has confirmed it will spin out its self-driving car business after the unit closed $1 billion in funding from Toyota, auto-parts maker Denso and SoftBank’s Vision Fund.
The development has been speculated for some time — as far back as October — and it serves to both remove a deeply-unprofitable unit from the main Uber business: helping Uber scale back some of its losses, while giving Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group (known as Uber ATG) more freedom to focus on the tough challenge of bringing autonomous vehicles to market.
The deal values Uber ATG at $7.25 billion, the companies announced. In terms of the exact mechanics of the investment, Toyota and Denso are providing $667 million with the Vision Fund throwing in the remaining $333 million.
Still, those crazy numbers haven’t dampened the mood. Uber is still seen as a once-in-a-generation company, and it is tipped to raise around $10 billion from the IPO, giving it a reported valuation of $90 billion-$100 billion.
Like the spin-out itself, the identity of the investors is not a surprise.
“Leveraging the strengths of Uber ATG’s autonomous vehicle technology and service network and the Toyota Group’s vehicle control system technology, mass-production capability, and advanced safety support systems, such as Toyota Guardian, will enable us to commercialize safer, lower cost automated ridesharing vehicles and services,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, the executive VP who leads Toyota’s ‘connected company’ division, said in a statement.
Here’s Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s shorter take on Twitter
Excited to announce Toyota, Denso and the SoftBank Vision Fund are making a $1B investment in @UberATG, as we work together towards the future of mobility. pic.twitter.com/JdqhLkV7uU
Aptiv, the U.S. auto supplier and self-driving software company, is opening an autonomous mobility center in Shanghai to focus on the development and eventual deployment of its technology on public roads.
The expansion marks the fifth market where Aptiv has set up R&D, testing or operational facilities. Aptiv has autonomous driving operations in Boston, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh and Singapore. But China is perhaps its most ambitious endeavor yet.
Aptiv has never had any AV operations in China, but it does have a long history in the country including manufacturing and engineering facilities. The company, in its earlier forms as Delphi and Delco has been in China since 1993 — experience that will be invaluable as it tries to bring its autonomous vehicle efforts into a new market, Aptiv Autonomous Mobility President Karl Iagnemma told TechCrunch in a recent interview.
“The long-term opportunity in China is off the charts,” Iagnemma said, noting a recent McKinsey study that claims the country will host two-thirds of the world’s autonomous driven miles by 2040 and be trillion-dollar mobility service opportunity.
“For Aptiv, it’s always been a question of not ‘if’, but when we’re going to enter the Chinese market,” he added.
Aptiv will have self-driving cars testing on public roads by the second half of 2019.
“Our experience in other markets has shown that in this industry, you learn by doing,” Iagnemma explained.
And it’s remark that Iagnemma can stand by. Iagnemma is the co-founder of self-driving car startup nuTonomy, one of the first to launch a robotaxi service in 2016 in Singapore that the public—along with human safety drivers — could use.
NuTonomy was acquired by Delphi in 2017 for $450 million. NuTonomy became part of Aptiv after its spinoff from Delphi was complete.
Aptiv is also in discussions with potential partners for mapping and commercial deployment of Aptiv’s vehicles in China.
Some of those partnerships will likely mimic the types of relationships Aptiv has created here in the U.S., notably with Lyft . Aptiv’s self-driving vehicles operate on Lyft’s ride-hailing platform in Las Vegas and have provided more than 40,000 paid autonomous rides in Las Vegas via the Lyft app.
Aptiv will also have to create new kinds of partnerships unlike those it has in the U.S. due to restrictions and rules in China around data collection, intellectual property and creating high resolution map data.
If you are a company that requires employees to drive as part of their job, you need to establish a fleet safety program. Automobile accidents occur every five seconds with death and injuries as part of the mix. As an employer, you cannot be too careful when it comes to safety and liability. Most fleet accidents are caused by driver error and are preventable.
These tips will help you avoid motor vehicle crashes and keep your employees safe.
Tip 1 – Set up a Safe Driver Program
A joint effort by the NETS, NHTSA and OSHA designed to reduce motor vehicle accidents suggest that employers set up a safe driver program. They even offer a brochure to help you set one up.
OSHA explains that “your program should work to keep the driver and those with whom he/she shares the road safely. And, if necessary, the program must work to change driver attitudes, improve behavior, and increase skills to build a “be safe” culture. By instructing your employees in basic safe driving practices and then rewarding safety-conscious behavior, you can help your employees and their families avoid tragedy.”
Tip 2 – Written Policies and Procedures
Make sure your employee handbook includes detailed information on safety rules and procedures that employees must implement in their jobs. Have them sign an agreement to these terms to make sure they read and understand them.
Tip 3 – Ongoing Safety Training
Motor vehicle safety is not a one-off but an ongoing conversation with employees. Upper management needs to be on-board and committed to long-term safety and results. Hold regular training sessions with updated information on safety issues, proper use of seatbelts, fatigue, and drug and alcohol use when driving. Remember not all employees are the same. Some will need extra training and one-on-one instruction.
Tip 4 – Driver Screening
One of the best ways to prevent accidents is to screen potential employees, review their driving record, and hire only individuals with a clean and safe driving record. The Department of Motor Vehicles can provide driving records to employers.
Tip 5 – Vehicle Maintenance
Just as important as your drivers, it is critical to keep your machinery in good working order. Make sure you have a plan for regular maintenance and safety inspections of all your vehicles. The NHTSA offers lists of the safest and most reliable cars to include in your fleet. Consider technological upgrades to your vehicles to help drivers be safe and more accountable for their driving behavior.
Tip 6 – Rewards/Disciplinary Action
Have not only a disciplinary action plan for employees who incur infractions (even minor traffic tickets or minor scrapes) but also a rewards program for those employees who display exemplary driving records while in your employ. Ask for employee feedback, so everyone is on the same page. Drivers can be your eyes and ears and bring up issues you didn’t even know about.
Tip 7 – Regulatory Compliance
Make sure you comply with all local, state and federal driving and road safety rules. If one of your employees is in an accident, report it to the police and follow insurance guidelines as well. Consult the agencies below to familiarize yourself with the laws and compliance regulations that you need to be aware of:
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT)
National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
Employment Standards Administration (ESA)
Work-related crashes impact both the employer and employee in financial and psychological ways. Implement a robust program to avoid these issues and keep everyone safer and your bottom line healthy.
A pair of security researchers dominated Pwn2Own, the annual high-profile hacking contest, taking home $375,000 in prizes including a Tesla Model 3 — their reward for successfully exposing a vulnerability in the electric vehicle’s infotainment system.
Tesla handed over its new Model 3 sedan to Pwn2Own this year, the first time a car has been included in the competition. Pwn2Own is in its 12th year and run by Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative. ZDI has awarded more than $4 million over the lifetime of the program.
The pair of hackers Richard Zhu and Amat Cam, known as team Fluoroacetate, “thrilled the assembled crowd” as they entered the vehicle, according to ZDI, which noted that after a few minutes of setup, they successfully demonstrated their research on the Model 3 internet browser.
The pair used a JIT bug in the renderer to display their message — and won the prize, which included the car itself. In the most simple terms, a JIT, or just-in-time bug, bypasses memory randomization data that normally would keep secrets protected.
Tesla told TechCrunch it will release a software update to fix the vulnerability discovered by the hackers.
“We entered Model 3 into the world-renowned Pwn2Own competition in order to engage with the most talented members of the security research community, with the goal of soliciting this exact type of feedback. During the competition, researchers demonstrated a vulnerability against the in-car web browser,” Tesla said in an emailed statement. “There are several layers of security within our cars which worked as designed and successfully contained the demonstration to just the browser, while protecting all other vehicle functionality. In the coming days, we will release a software update that addresses this research. We understand that this demonstration took an extraordinary amount of effort and skill, and we thank these researchers for their work to help us continue to ensure our cars are the most secure on the road today.”
Pwn2Own’s spring vulnerability research competition, Pwn2Own Vancouver, was held March 20 to 22 and featured five categories, including web browsers, virtualization software, enterprise applications, server-side software and the new automotive category.
Pwn2Own awarded a total of $545,000 for 19 unique bugs in Apple Safari, Microsoft Edge and Windows, VMware Workstation, Mozilla Firefox, and Tesla.
Tesla has had a public relationship with the hacker community since 2014 when the company launched its first bug bounty program. And it’s grown and evolved ever since.
Last year, the company increased the maximum reward payment from $10,000 to $15,000 and added its energy products as well. Today, Tesla’s vehicles and all directly hosted servers, services and applications are now in scope in its bounty program
Tesla CEO Elon Musk argued Friday that his Twitter use did not violate a settlement agreement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and that the agency’s request to have him held in contempt is based on a “radical interpretation” of the order, according to court papers filed in Manhattan federal court.
The SEC has asked a judge to hold Musk in contempt for violating a settlement agreement reached last year over Musk’s now infamous “funding secured” tweet. Under that agreement, Musk is supposed to get approval from Tesla’s board before communicating potentially material information to investors.
Musk contends he didn’t violate the agreement and that the problem lies in the SEC’s interpretation, which he describes as “virtually wrong at every level.” The filing also reveals new details about the settlement negotiations, notably that the SEC sent Musk a draft agreement that would have required him to obtain pre-approval for all public statements related to Tesla, in any format.
Musk and Tesla never agreed to those terms. Instead, Musk says the agreement requires him to comply with Tesla own policy, which would require pre-approval for “written communications that contain, or reasonably could contain, information material to the company or its shareholders.”
The barbs traded via court filings are the latest in an escalating fight between the billionaire entrepreneur and SEC that began last August when Musk tweeted that he had “funding secured” for a private takeover of the company at $420 per share. The SEC filed a complaint in federal district court in September alleging that Musk lied.
Musk and Tesla settled with the SEC last year without admitting wrongdoing. Tesla agreed to pay a $20 million fine; Musk had to agree to step down as Tesla chairman for a period of at least three years; the company had to appoint two independent directors to the board; and Tesla was also told to put in place a way to monitor Musk’s statements to the public about the company, including via Twitter.
But the fight was re-ignited last month after Musk sent a tweet on February 19 that Tesla would produce “around” 500,000 cars this year, correcting himself hours later to clarify that he meant the company would be producing at an annualized rate of 500,000 vehicles by year end.
The SEC argued that the tweet sent by Musk violated their agreement. Musk has said the tweet was “immaterial” and complied with the settlement.
Nobody wants to replace their tires. It costs a good chunk of money, and there’s nothing sexy about the purchase. At best, you’re ensuring that your car stays safe to drive. At worst, you’re experimenting with new tires that don’t work out too well.
That said, replacing your tires is inevitable. Even if you don’t do much driving, you’ll need to replace them eventually.
So how do you know which ones to buy? And how do you know when it’s finally time to pull the trigger?
We’ve answered some of the most common questions about car tires. From when to change them to what type of tires you need, we’ve got you covered.
When to Replace Your Tires
To begin with, let’s take a look at how you’ll know it’s time for a new set of tires.
Most manufacturers recommend changing tires at least every six years. This may seem like a long time, and it is. Most tires will wear out much faster. Six years is more or less their maximum lifespan, though. Rubber wears out over time and will start to lose integrity after six years, even if you only drive on weekends.
Since you’ll probably need to replace your tires more frequently, it’s important to know when they’re no longer safe to drive on. To do this, you’ll need to look at two things: the tread and the sidewalls.
The tread of your tire is the ribbed outer surface that makes contact with the road. Since rubber wears down over time, tires slowly lose their tread and eventually don’t have enough to grip the road.
So, how little tread is too little? A good rule of thumb is the penny test. Take an American penny and turn it upside down, then put it between the tire treads. If they cover the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head, you’re safe to drive. If you can see the top of Honest Abe’s head, your tread is dangerously low and you need new tires.
The sidewalls of your tire can also become damaged. Although they don’t make contact with the road and don’t wear down, they can suffer from dry rot, or become damaged if you kiss the curb while taking a corner too tight.
It’s a good idea to inspect your sidewalls at least once a month. Look for cracks or gouges. If there’s a crack or a gouge that cuts deep enough to show anything other than rubber, you’re at risk of a blowout. Replace your tires as soon as possible.
So you’ve done your tests and it’s time to throw on a new set of tires. What now?
You’ll need to find the right tires for your vehicle. Since cars, trucks, and SUVs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, it should come as no surprise that there are more tire sizes than you can shake a stick at. So, how do you know which ones you need?
The easiest way is to read the sidewall of your existing tire. There, you’ll see a code that looks something like this: P195/60R16. What does this mean?
In our example, P is the service description. It tells you what kind of vehicle these tires are for. P is for passenger vehicles, LT is for light trucks, ST is for trailers, and T is for temporary tires (donuts).
195 is the tire width, measured in millimeters. So an LT210 tire is a light truck tire that’s 210 millimeters in width.
60 is the ratio of height to width. Higher numbers are for taller tires, which will do better in poor conditions. Lower numbers are for shorter tires, which give you better steering, handling, and mileage.
The R stands for “radial”. Don’t worry about that too much. These days, all tires are radial tires, so they all have an R here.
The 16 is the diameter of the rim, measured in inches. This tells you what size rim the tire will fit.
For example, an LT210/80R20 tire is a light truck tire that’s 210 millimeters in width relatively tall and fits a 20-inch rim.
The other numbers on your tire will tell you the load rating, speed rating, and other features, but all of those tires will be compatible so long as the width, height to width ratio and rim diameter are correct.
Choosing The Right Tires For Conditions
Once you know what size tire you need, you’ll want to choose the right tires for your driving conditions. This will depend on the time of year and where you live.
If you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere without much snow, a set of summer tires will give you the best performance and mileage. On the other hand, if you live somewhere with intermittent snow, a set of all-season tires are a good balance.
If you live somewhere with lots of snow, it’s a good idea to have two sets of tires: summer tires and snow tires. The snow tires will give you plenty of grip in the winter, and the summer tires will let you save gas during the warmer months.
How to Make Your Tires Last Longer
Ultimately, the only safe way to delay changing your tires is to make them last longer. Here are a few driving tips for getting the most possible miles out of your tires:
Accelerate in a straight line, not while turning. Accelerating through turns puts extra wear on the edges of your tires, which can cause them to wear out faster.
Rotate your tires regularly. This will ensure that they wear as evenly as possible. Not only will you extend their life, but you’ll also prevent wobbling, which puts a strain on your suspension.
Check your tire pressure regularly. This is especially important in fall since lower temperatures can cause your tire pressure to drop. Underinflated tires don’t just wear faster; they also lower your gas mileage and cause your vehicle to handle poorly.
By following these tips, you’ll make your tires last as long as possible. You’ll save money, time and a trip to the mechanic.
Ola, Uber’s key rival in India, is doubling down on electric vehicles after it span out a dedicated business, which has pulled in $56 million in early funding.
The unit is named Ola Electric Mobility and it is described as being an independent business that’s backed by Ola. TechCrunch understands Ola provided founding capital, and it has now been joined by a series of investors who have pumped Rs. 400 crore ($56 million) into Ola Electric. Notably, those backers include Tiger Global and Matrix India — two firms that were early investors in Ola itself.
While automotive companies and ride-hailing services in the U.S. are focused on bringing autonomous vehicles to the streets, India — like other parts of Asia — is more challenging thanks to diverse geographies, more sparse mapping and other factors. In India, companies have instead flocked to electric. The government had previously voiced its intention to make 30 percent of vehicles electric by 2030, but it has not formally introduced a policy to guide that initiative.
That means that Ola Electric won’t just be concerned with vehicles, it has a far wider remit.
The new company has pledged to focus on areas that include charging solutions, EV batteries, and developing viable infrastructure that allows commercial EVs to operate at scale, according to an announcement. In other words, the challenge of developing electric vehicles goes beyond being a ‘ride-hailing problem’ and that is why Ola Electric has been formed and is being capitalized independently of Ola.
Already, it said it has partnered with “several” OEMs and battery makers and it “intends to work closely with the automotive industry to create seamless solutions for electric vehicle operations.” Indeed, that connected car play — Ola Play — likely already gives it warm leads to chase.
“At Ola Electric, our mission is to enable sustainable mobility for everyone. India can leapfrog problems of pollution and energy security by moving to electric mobility, create millions of new jobs and economic opportunity, and lead the world,” Ola CEO and co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal said in a statement.
“The first problem to solve in electric mobility is charging: users need a dependable, convenient, and affordable replacement for the petrol pump. By making electric easy for commercial vehicles that deliver a disproportionate share of kilometers traveled, we can jumpstart the electric vehicle revolution,” added Anand Shah, whose job title is listed as head of Ola Electric Mobility.
The new business spinout comes as Ola continues to raise new capital from investors.
A filing — first noted by paper.vc — shows that India’s Competition Commission approved a request for a Temasek-affiliated investment vehicle’s proposed acquisition of seven percent of Ola. In addition, SoftBank offered a term sheet for a prospective $1 billion investment last month, TechCrunch understands from an industry source.
Nissan has turned its old Leaf batteries into an off-grid camping companion.
The automaker’s Nissan Energy subsidiary worked with camper manufacturer Opus to create the ultimate “smart” pop-up trailer that integrates cells recovered from its first-generation electric vehicles to provide off-grid power. Add in one to two recharges of the accompanying 400W solar panel accessory and campers can listen to tunes and use their smartphones and other devices, including a microwave, for about 7 days, the companies said. The battery pack can be recharged by the solar panel in 2 to 4 hours.
The Nissan x OPUS concept camper debuted this week at the The Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show in the UK. Inside the smart camper — code for LED lighting and USB sockets for charging — is a veritable glamping wonderland. You can almost smell the pour-over coffee.
Unlike many other concepts that debut at auto shows, components of the Nissan x OPUS are actually coming to market. The Air Opus is already available with a base price of £15,995 (a bit more than $20,000). The Nissan Energy ROAM product will launch in European markets later this year. Pricing for the ROAM wasn’t immediately available.
This isn’t the first time Nissan’s ROAM unit has shown up in a concept product either. It was featured earlier this year in Nissan’s NV300 concept van designed for woodworkers. Nor is this Nissan’s first foray into the secondary battery market. In November, Nissan launched Nissan Energy to create an ecosystem for owners of its electric vehicles. The idea is for owners to be able to connect their cars with energy systems to charge their batteries, power homes and businesses or feed energy back to power grids. The company said at the time, that it will also develop new ways to reuse electric car batteries.
“The Nissan x OPUS concept is a real-world example of how Nissan Energy ROAM can integrate into our lifestyles – in this case the hugely popular leisure activity of camping,” Nissan Energy managing director Francisco Carranza said in a statement.
The concept pairs the Air Opus, a novel off-road pop-up camper that inflates in 90 seconds, with Nissan Energy’s portable power pack called ROAM. The ROAM unit is mounted in a special compartment at the front of the camper, where it can provide a power supply to both the 230-volt circuit and the 12-volt circuit. The battery pack can also be removed and recharged via a standard 230v domestic socket, or by plugging into a solar panel accessory.
The ROAM unit has a storage capacity of 700Wh and a power output for 1kW. That’s enough power to keep smartphones charged and the lights on. The Nissan x Opus camper has a 230v outlet, USB sockets, a 4G mobile WiFi hotspot for up to 10 devices; and even a digital projector with pull-up screen to watch movies. There’s also a 230v portable microwave and a two-burner gas stove and a fridge.
Tesla has begun a worldwide recall of its sedans that use Takata airbags, the firm said on its Support blog. It noted that the airbags only become defective based on certain factors, such as age. The recall does not affect later Model S vehicles, Roadster, Model X, or its more affordable Model 3.
The China recall involves Model S cars manufactured between February 2014 to December 2016, shows a notice posted on the website of China’s State Administration for Market Regulation. TechCrunch has reached out to Tesla for comments and will update the article once more information is available.
The setback comes as Tesla is making a big push into the world’s largest auto market and tapping on Beijing’s effort to phase out fossil-fuel cars for China. The company recently reached an agreement with the Shanghai government to build its first Gigafactory outside the US, which will focus on making Model 3 cars for Chinese consumers. There is no target date for the factory to become fully operational yet.
Despite being an alluring market, China has been a major source of Tesla’s concerns over the past months due to escalating trade tensions and the rollback of government subsidies for green vehicles. Tesla responded by slashing its Model 3 price by 7.6 percent for China to neutralize heavy tariffs on imported cars.
The Palo Alto-based company previously recalled 8,898 Model S vehicles in China over corroding bolts, which it claimed at the time had not led to any accidents or injuries.
Reuters reported this weekend that the Model 3’s prices on Tesla’s China website had been reduced by up to 7.6 percent, with the starting price now at 499,000 RMB (about $72,000). This is the third time since November that Tesla has lowered the price of its vehicles in China.
The first was in November, when it slashed the price of Model X and Model S vehicles by 12 to 26 percent, stating that it was “absorbing a significant part of the tariff to help make cars more affordable for customers in China.” Then this month, Tesla cut Model X and Model S prices again, citing China’s decision to temporarily suspend a new 25 percent tariff on American-produced vehicles and auto parts as the two countries reached a ceasefire in the trade war.
In October, Tesla announced on its site that if U.S. customers needed to order a Model S, Model X, or Model 3 before October 15 if they wanted the full $7,500 federal tax credit, which begins to phase out once a manufacturer sells 200,000 qualifying vehicles in the U.S. (Tesla hit that milestone earlier this year). As a result, the federal tax vehicle will be cut 50 percent to $3,750 for vehicles delivered January 1 to June 30, 2019, before behing halved again on July 1.
On Sunday, Musk tweeted in response to a question that if a customer’s pre-December order isn’t delivered before the end of the year, Tesla will reimburse the tax credits they missed out on.
If Tesla committed delivery & customer made good faith efforts to receive before year end, Tesla will cover the tax credit difference
After months of production and delivery delays, Tesla ramped up fulfillment of Model 3 orders in the third quarter of this year, when it delivered a total of 83,500 vehicles, including 55,840 Model 3 units.
Nikola Motor has started taking reservations for Tre, the startup’s first hydrogen-electric truck built for the European market.
Nikola Motor, which less than a year ago announced plans to build a $1 billion hydrogen-electric semi truck factory in a suburb of Phoenix, said it’s in the preliminary planning stages to identify the proper location for its European manufacturing facility.
European testing is projected to begin in Norway around 2020, the company said.
The Tre — it means three in Norwegian — is still years away from production. CEO Trevor Milton said production will begin around the same time as its U.S. version between 2022 and 2023.
But it illustrates Nikola’s global aspirations.
The U.S. and Europe have different trucking regulations. Nikola had to design a different model to meet those regulations before it consider trying to break into Europe.
The Tre will be built with redundant braking, redundant steering, redundant 800V dc batteries and a redundant 120 kW hydrogen fuel cell, all necessary for true level 5 autonomy, Milton said in a statement. Level 5 is the highest level autonomy, a designation in which the vehicle handles all driving under all conditions.
The Nikola TRE will come will come in 500 to 1,000 horsepower versions. The truck will be able to travel 500 to 1,200 kilometers, depending on options a customer chooses.
Nikola plans to have more than 700 hydrogen fueling stations across the U.S. and Canada by 2028. The company said Monday it’s working Nel Hydrogen of Oslo to provide hydrogen stations for the U.S. market.
Nel will be used to secure resources for Nikola’s European growth strategy, according to Nikola CFO Kim Brady.
By 2028, Nikola plans to have a network of more than 700 hydrogen stations across the USA and Canada. Each station will be capable of 2,000 to 8,000 kgs of daily hydrogen production. Nikola’s European stations are planned to come online around 2022 and are projected to cover most of the European market by 2030.
The company will display a prototype display of the Nikola TRE during the Nikola World event April 16 and April 17 in Phoenix.
Some Tesla owners in North America will wake up to a new driver assistance feature that had been delayed for testing, according to a tweet sent Friday evening by CEO Elon Musk.
“Tesla Autopilot Drive on Navigation going to wide release in North America tonight,” Musk tweeted. Tesla Autopilot Drive on Navigation is described by the company as its most advanced driver assistance feature to date. The feature, which is typically referred to as Navigate on Autopilot or just Navigate, was held back earlier this month when the automaker released the latest version of its in-car software, 9.0.
A blog posted by Tesla later in the evening said the feature would begin to roll out this week to U.S. customers who have purchased enhanced Autopilot or full self-driving capability. Tesla has offered enhanced Autopilot and FSD capability as upgrades that cost, $5,000 and $3,000, respectively.
Tesla’s vehicles are not self-driving. Autopilot is an advanced driver assistance system. But back in October 2016, when Tesla started producing Hardware 2 vehicles equipped with a more robust suite of sensors, it also started taking money from customers for FSD, which would become available if and when the technical challenges were conquered and regulatory approvals were met. Tesla removed the option to upgrade to FSD from its website, although Musk has said customers can still request it.
Autopilot on Navigate is considered a step towards that still on-met full self-driving promise; albeit it’s a small one.
Tesla Autopilot Drive on Navigation going to wide release in North America tonight
Tesla’s 9.0 software, which was released in early October, delivered a host of improvements, including a new dash cam feature (for cars built after August 2017), improved navigation and even Atari games that can be played when parked. But Navigate was held back. It was later introduced as a beta feature to some customers in the U.S.
Navigate is an active guidance feature of the company’s Enhanced Autopilot system that is supposed to guide a car from a highway on-ramp to off-ramp, including navigating interchanges and making lane changes. Once the driver enters a destination into the navigation, they can enable “Navigate on Autopilot” for that trip.
Tesla has placed some limitations on Navigate. For now, the feature makes a lane change suggestion that requires the driver to confirm by tapping the turn signal before it will proceed.
Yes. Will require tapping indicator to confirm at first. When safety looks good after 10M miles of driving or so, there will be an option to turn off confirm.
In Musk’s view, the feature will require confirmation until safety “looks good after 10M miles of driving, or so.”
Navigate on Autopilot will make suggestions for two different kinds of lane changes: route-based lane changes that allow the driver to stick with the navigation route, and speed-based lane changes, which are designed to keep the vehicle moving as close to the driver’s set speed as possible.
The speed-based lane changes have four settings, including disabled, mild, average, or Mad Max. This will suggest transitions into other lanes that are moving faster if, for example, the driver approaches a slow-moving car or truck ahead. The “mild” setting suggests lane changes when the driver is traveling significantly slower than the set speed. Mad Max will suggest lane changes when traveling just below the driver’s set speed.
Innovusion, a two-year-old startup developing LiDAR sensor technology for autonomous vehicles, has raised $30 million in a Series A funding round co-led by Chinese firms Nio Capital and Eight Roads Ventures along with U.S.-based F-Prime Capital.
Other seed round and strategic investors joined the round, the startup said.
Nio Capital is the venture arm of Nio, the Chinese electric automaker aiming to compete with Tesla. Nio, which raised $1 billion when it debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in September, has operations in the U.S., U.K. and Germany, although it only sells its ES8 vehicle in China.
Innovusion, which was founded in November 2016, says it will use the funding to scale up its operations, specifically to ramp up production of its light detection and ranging sensor system called Innovusion Cheetah. The company began shipping samples of the system in the second quarter of 2018 and is beginning to take customer orders.
The round of funding will allow the Los Altos, California-based company to expand its R&D team and manufacturing facilities to more quickly develop, market and deliver Innovusion Cheetah LiDAR to customers around the world, according to Junwei Bao, the company’s co-founder and CEO. The company primarily is targeting customers in China and the U.S.
LiDAR is used by companies developing autonomous vehicles to detect and measure objects on the road around them. Most of the companies testing AVs believe LiDAR is an essential sensor required to deploy self-driving vehicles safely on public roads. It’s what has propelled demand for LiDAR and, in turn, an array of startups to pop up and try capture market share away from Velodyne, the long-time dominant leader in the space.
Tesla, which reported its first quarterly profits in two years Wednesday, is looking to extend its earnings streak by bringing its new Model 3 to customers beyond North America. And part of that plan involves accelerating its manufacturing plans in China.
Tesla saw its revenue skyrocket to $6.8 billion in the third quarter (and a $312 million profit) thanks to sales of its new Model 3 vehicle, despite production bottlenecks and more recent issues with delivery logistics. The company was able to achieve that profitability milestone just through sales in the U.S. and Canada. That leaves two other massive markets on the table. Cue Europe and China.
Tesla said Wednesday it will start to take orders for the Model 3 in Europe and China before the end of 2018. Tesla said it will begin deliveries of the Model 3 to Europe early next year.
“The mid-sized premium sedan market in Europe is more than twice as big as the same segment in the U.S.,” Tesla said in its shareholder letter released Wednesday. “This is why we are excited to bring Model 3 to Europe early next year.”
Notably, the company is further accelerating its timeline for China and said it will bring portions of Model 3 production to the country next year.
“We are aiming to bring portions of Model 3 production to China during 2019 and to progressively increase the level of localization through local sourcing and manufacturing,” Tesla said in its earnings report. “Production in China will be designated only for local customers.”
Tesla said earlier this month it plans for as rapid build out of a factory in China. But there’s something new here. The term “portions of Model 3 production” is the important phrase. This could be referring to a term used in the manufacturing world known as a complete knock down. CKD is basically a kit of non-assembled parts of a product, like say a Model 3. It’s a strategy used to avoid tariffs when shipping to foreign countries.
Tesla has plans to build a factory in Shanghai, but construction hasn’t even begun yet.
The company secured in October rights to about 210 acres of land in Lingang, Shanghai, the site of the electric automaker’s planned factory and its first outside of the U.S.
Tesla warned in its production and delivery report in early October that tariffs, combined with the cost of shipping its vehicles via ocean carrier and the lack of access to cash incentives available to locally produced electric vehicles, has put the company at a disadvantage in China. Tesla reiterated those cost constraints in its third-quarter earnings report.
Tesla reached a deal in July with the Shanghai government to build a factory that it says will be capable of producing 500,000 electric vehicles a year. Once construction begins, it will take about two years until Tesla can produce vehicles. It will be another “two to three years before the factory is fully ramped up to produce around 500,000 vehicles per year for Chinese customers,” a Tesla spokesman said at the time.
Car insurance can be very confusing for anyone. It’s also one of those things that can be very costly if not done right. We rounded up the 10 key things that you may not know about your car insurance.
Having “No-Fault” Insurance
Many people mistakenly think that when they have a no-fault car insurance, no one will be blamed or considered at fault in the event of an accident. If you cause an accident or scratch a car when you park, having this type of insurance doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re safe. If you caused the accident, you can and most likely will be held accountable.
This type of insurance means that if you are in an accident and it isn’t your fault, you won’t personally have to go after the other driver’s insurance or the driver for compensation. The insurance company will do it for you automatically.
Several Factors Impact Your Insurance Cost
You’ll get asked a series of personal questions when you apply for your car insurance. The list can include your gender, age, marital status, and how long you’ve had a license count. Your answers will impact how much your insurance premium will cost per month or year. Additionally, any previous accidents or tickets can make your premium go up.
If you’re a male who is under 25 years old, your insurance company will deem you a higher risk for accidents. In turn, you’ll most likely have a higher premium than a female who is under 25.
Your Car’s Age and Type Increase Your Insurance Costs
People who drive high-end or luxury cars will typically pay more to have their car replaced or repaired in the event of an accident. This means that you’ll most likely pay more to cover this type of car because your insurance will pay out more if there is an accident. Cars that cost less to repair or replace or cars that are older will cost less to insure because it won’t cost your insurance company much if there is an accident.
Modifying the Car Can Cost You
A lot of people like to modify their vehicles, but insurance companies don’t necessarily like these modifications. There are a few valid reasons behind this. First, modifying the vehicle can impact how much emissions it releases into the environment. Second, if something happens and the insurance company ends up with the car, they may not be able to sell it again because the modifications make it illegal to drive on the street.
If you modify your vehicle, the car insurance company may take steps to protect themselves. This can mean increasing your premium. If you absolutely have to modify your car, look for a specific insurance company that won’t penalize you for it.
All Car Insurance Companies Have Different Rates
When you apply for car insurance, it’s vital that you shop around to find the cheapest car insurance that can give you all of the coverage you need. Several search engines allow you to compare various car insurance companies side-by-side so you can find the best rate. Don’t skimp on liability insurance and be very aware of what your car insurance covers and what it doesn’t cover. That way, you won’t get a surprise if you’re involved in an accident.
When you think of car insurance, you usually don’t think of any perks that come with it other than avoiding a ticket for not having it. However, some insurers offer perks for people who are loyal to the company. You may get free towing in the event of a breakdown, tiered rewards with lower rates when you stay with a company for over a year and a refund for not having accidents every six months.
Your Rates May Increase with a Claim
Say you caused an accident on your way to work or school and the other driver filed a claim. Some insurance companies will increase your monthly premium in response to this claim. This includes if you file a claim in the event of an accident as well, and it applies whether or not the accident was your fault.
It Won’t Cover Your Belongings in the Car
Did you know that your car insurance will cover the cost to repair or replace your car and some medical expenses depending on your policy but not any belongings you lose as a result of an accident? For example, say you have your laptop, cell phone, GPS unit, or tablet in the car and they got ruined due to a car accident. Your car insurance won’t cover the replacement cost. It also won’t cover their replacement if they’re stolen out of your car.
It May Cover Pet Injuries
Some car insurance companies have coverage for veterinarian expenses if your pet is in the car and injured when you have an accident. Not all insurance companies offer this though, so you should ask if your pet routinely rides with you. Also, make sure you check on how much the insurance will cover because a lot of them cap at $1,000 for veterinarian bills.
You Can Save Money By Paying Your Premium in Lump Sum Form
Yes, you can pay your car insurance every month. This may seem like the cheaper option upfront. However, you’ll most likely pay more over the course of the year by doing this. It’s better to pay for a year or half of the year when you buy insurance. It’s more expensive upfront, but you’ll avoid additional interest fees, payment processing fees, and other miscellaneous fees.
No matter what insurance company you decide to use for your car insurance, make sure that you compare them. The goal is to get the cheapest car insurance available that will still provide adequate protection in the event of an accident. Take your time, shop around, and pick the car insurance plan that is going to work for you.
Japan-based semiconductor firm Renesas — one of the world’s largest supplier of chips for the automotive industry — is scooping up U.S. chip company IDT in a $6.7 billion deal that increases its focus on self-driving technology.
Renesas produces microprocessor and circuits that power devices, and automotive is its core focus. It is second only to NXP on supply, and more than half of its revenue comes from automotive. IDT, meanwhile, includes power management and memory among its products, which focus on wireless networks and the converting and storing of data. Those are two areas that are increasingly important with the growth of connected devices and particularly vehicles which demand high levels of data streaming and interaction.
The acquisition of IDT — which is being made a 29.5 percent on its share price — is set to expand Renesas’ expertise on autonomous vehicles. The firm said it would also broaden its business into the “data economy” space, such as robotics, data centers and other types of connected devices.
Renesas has already demoed self-driving car tech, which puts it into direct competition with the likes of Intel . Last year, the firm paid $3.2 billion to buy up Intersil, which develops technology for controlling battery voltage in hybrid and electric vehicles, and IDT deal pushes it further in that direction.
The IDT deal has been on the table for a couple of weeks after Renesas first revealed its interest in an acquisition last month. It is expected to close in the first half of 2019 following relevant approvals.
Tesla will remain a public company, CEO Elon Musk said Friday night, less than three weeks after he announced to the world via Twitter that he was considering taking the electric automaker private at $420 a share.
Musk, who posted the announcement via Tesla’s blog, said Friday that after speaking with shareholders and investigating the process of taking the company private he believes the better path is for Tesla to remain public. Musk met with Tesla’s board of directors Thursday and told him his decision. The board agreed, he wrote.
Here’s an excerpt:
Given the feedback I’ve received, it’s apparent that most of Tesla’s existing shareholders believe we are better off as a public company. Additionally, a number of institutional shareholders have explained that they have internal compliance issues that limit how much they can invest in a private company. There is also no proven path for most retail investors to own shares if we were private. Although the majority of shareholders I spoke to said they would remain with Tesla if we went private, the sentiment, in a nutshell, was “please don’t do this.”
I knew the process of going private would be challenging, but it’s clear that it would be even more time-consuming and distracting than initially anticipated. This is a problem because we absolutely must stay focused on ramping Model 3 and becoming profitable. We will not achieve our mission of advancing sustainable energy unless we are also financially sustainable.
That said, my belief that there is more than enough funding to take Tesla private was reinforced during this process.
Friday night’s announcement closes a tumultuous 17 days that began with Musk tweeting that he secured funding and was considering taking Tesla private. The tweet wasn’t warmly embraced by the Tesla board or many shareholders. It also prompted the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate.
If you’re looking for hints that Apple might deliver on its long-rumored plan to develop its own car, a significant one landed this week after it emerged that Doug Field — Apple’s former VP of Mac hardware engineering — has rejoined from the company after a spell with Tesla.
Security researcher UpGuard Cyber Risk disclosed Friday that sensitive documents from more than 100 manufacturing companies, including GM, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Tesla, Toyota, ThyssenKrupp, and VW were exposed on a publicly accessible server belonging to Level One Robotics.
The exposure via Level One Robotics, which provides industrial automation services, came through rsync, a common file transfer protocol that’s used to backup large data sets, according to UpGuard Cyber Risk. The data breach was first reported by the New York Times.
According to the security researchers, restrictions weren’t placed on the rsync server. This means that any rsync client that connected to the rsync port had access to download this data. UpGuard Cyber Risk published its account of how it discovered the data breach to show how a company within a supply chain can affect large companies with seemingly tight security protocols.
This means if someone knew where to look they could access trade secrets closely protected by automakers. It’s unclear if any nefarious actors actually got their hands on the data. At least one source at an affected automaker told TechCrunch it doesn’t not appear that sensitive or proprietary data was exposed.
UpGuard’s big takeaway in all of this: rsync instances should be restricted by IP address. The researchers also suggest that user access to rsync be set up so that clients have to authenticate before receiving the dataset. Without these measures, rsync is publicly accessible, the researchers said.
The breach exposed 157 gigabytes of data—a treasure trove of 10 years of assembly line schematics, factory floor plans and layouts, robotic configurations and documentation, ID badge request forms, VPN access request forms. The breach even included sensitive non-disclose agreements, including one from Tesla.
Personal details of some Level One employees, including scans of driver’s licenses and passports, and Level One business data, including invoices, contracts, and bank account details.
The security team discovered the breach July 1. The company successfully reached Level One by July 9 and the exposure was closed by the following day.
Chinese search engine giant Baidu have partnered with Softbank subsidiary SB Drive and manufacturer King Long to deploy a self-driving mini bus service to Japan early next year.
The agreement was announced at Create Baidu, the company’s annual AI developer conference in Beijing. Under the agreement, a version of Baidu’s Apolong autonomous mini bus will be exported to Japan from China in early 2019. This agreement, which for now includes an order of 10 buses, marks the first time autonomous vehicles will be exported from China.
Apolong, co-developed with King Long, is outfitted with Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving system, which is capable of Level 4 operations, a designation by automotive engineering association SAE International that means the vehicles take over all driving in certain conditions. The buses, which will initially deployed in tourist spots, airports, and other controlled, or geo-fenced areas.
Baidu announced earlier at the conference that it has started volume production of the autonomous mini buses in partnership with King Long. The buses are being produced at King Long’s manufacturing facility in Xiamen, in southeastern China’s Fujian province.
Baidu plans to launch the autonomous bus service in several Chinese cities including Beijing, Shenzhen, Pingtan and Wuhan.
At the Code Conference tonight, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi spoke about the company’s relationship with drivers, autonomous driving, uberEATS having a $6 billion bookings run rate, taking over as CEO and flying taxis, obviously.
Just this week, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sent subpoenas to Uber and Lyft seeking information on driver pay, benefits and classification info. Uber wasn’t available for comment at the time, but now it seems that the company is looking at ways to offer benefits and insurance to drivers. Specifically, Uber is looking at an economically-sound way to offer drivers a benefits and insurance package so that “this can be a safer way of living,” Khosrowshahi said.
And despite what former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said in the past about needing to get rid of the driver, Khosrowshahi said he disagrees.
“The face of Uber is the person sitting in the front seat,” Khosrowshahi said. He added that it usually is a man driving, but that he would “love to have more women sitting in the front seat” because it’s a “great form of employment.”
“We will get back on the road over the summer,” Khosrowshahi said.
Uber also envisions licensing its technology — once it’s safe enough — to third-parties and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Despite the high-profile lawsuit between Uber and Waymo over self-driving car technology, Khosrowshahi said he’d welcome Waymo to put its cars into its network. Regarding Uber’s relationship with Waymo, Khosrowshahi said it’s “getting better.”
In addition to Uber’s core driver business and autonomous driving, it has several other things going on for it. One of those is uberEATS, which Khosrowshahi said has a $6 billion run rate, is growing 200 percent and is the biggest food delivery company in the world, with the exception of those in China.
Just like residential and buildings have gone three-dimensional, Khosrowshahi said, “you’re going to have to build a third-dimension in terms of transportation.”
For Uber, Elevate is its “big bet” on that third-dimension of transportation, he said. The big plan with all of these modes of transportations — whether that’s bike-sharing, ride-sharing, flight-sharing or whatnot — is to become a multi-modal transportation service.
“We want to be the Amazon for transportation,” Khosrowshahi said.
Earlier in the conversation, Khosrowshahi shed some light into how he had no idea he’d get the chief executive officer job at Uber. In fact, he said that while his wife thought he would get the job, he wasn’t as optimistic.
He also spoke about his relationship with Kalanick and how, early on, Khosrowshahi asked for space and Kalanick respected that.
“I consult with him the way I consult with the board,” Khosrowshahi said.
Moving forward, Khosrowshahi still has his eyes set on the second half of 2019 to go public.
The 2.5-year-old company said in an announcement that $250 million of vehicles were sold last year across its three markets: Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore. That’s more than double the $120 million it claimed in 2016. Last March, Carro introduced its Genie Finance underwriting business, and over its first year, it claims to have originated over $100 million in loans while amassing a loan book of nearly $40 million.
Carro CEO Aaron Tan previously spent time at Singtel Innov8 and is one of a trio of co-founders. Tan told TechCrunch that the capital will initially be spent growing Carro’s business in Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore, but further down the line, there’s a plan for expansion.
“The exact markets are still to be determined but it may be a small setup in Japan and other sources of cars,” he added.
Carro has already expanded in terms of services. Initially a vehicle marketplace, it launched Genie Finance and has also forayed into insurance brokerage and road-side assistance. It recently introduced a service that completes vehicle sales in 60 minutes — Carro Express — which it said is now available in 30 locations across Southeast Asia.
“We will double down on our online marketplaces and financing in emerging markets this year. Ultimately, we want to improve the experience of selling and buying a car, as well as provide access to capital to the next billion people, which will improve the quality of lives,” Tan said in a statement.
Carro is rivaled by a number of startups, including BeliMobilGue in Indonesia, Carsome, iCar Asia and Rocket Internet’s Carmudi, although with its new raise in the bank Carro is the best-funded by some margin.
In the case of Carmudi, the business has retrenched itself. At its peak it covered over 20 markets worldwide across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, but today its focus is on Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
Carro’s monster raise follows another notable deal in Southeast Asia today which saw Carousell close a Series C round worth $85 million. The firm added backing from new investors DBS, Southeast Asia’s largest bank, and EDBI, the corporate investment arm of Singapore’s Economic Development Board.
Tesla has provided another update to last week’s fatal crash. As it turns out, Tesla said the driver had Autopilot on with the adaptive cruise control follow-distance set to minimum. However, it seems the driver ignored the vehicle’s warnings to take back control.
“The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision,” Tesla wrote in a blog post. “The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken.”
The promise of Tesla’s Autopilot system is to reduce car accidents. In the company’s blog post, Tesla notes Autopilot reduces crash rates by 40 percent, according to an independent review by the U.S. government. Of course, that does not mean the technology is perfect in preventing all accidents.
As Tesla previously noted, the crash was so severe because the middle divider on the highway had been damaged in an earlier accident. Tesla also cautioned that Autopilot does not prevent all accidents, but it does make them less likely to occur.
No one knows about the accidents that didn’t happen, only the ones that did. The consequences of the public not using Autopilot, because of an inaccurate belief that it is less safe, would be extremely severe. There are about 1.25 million automotive deaths worldwide. If the current safety level of a Tesla vehicle were to be applied, it would mean about 900,000 lives saved per year. We expect the safety level of autonomous cars to be 10 times safer than non-autonomous cars.
In the past, when we have brought up statistical safety points, we have been criticized for doing so, implying that we lack empathy for the tragedy that just occurred. Nothing could be further from the truth. We care deeply for and feel indebted to those who chose to put their trust in us. However, we must also care about people now and in the future whose lives may be saved if they know that Autopilot improves safety. None of this changes how devastating an event like this is or how much we feel for our customer’s family and friends. We are incredibly sorry for their loss.
This development, of course, comes in light of a fatal accident involving one of Uber’s self-driving cars in Tempe, Arizona.
Tesla has shed some more light on the fatal crash and fire involving a Model X car last week. In a blog post tonight, Tesla said it’s not yet clear what happened in the time leading up to the accident. Tesla also said it does not yet know what caused it.
Tesla did note that, according to its data, Tesla owners have driven that same stretch of Highway 101 with Autopilot engaged about 85,000 times since Tesla first rolled out the automated control system in 2015. Since the beginning of this year, Tesla drivers have successfully handled that stretch of the highway 20,000 times, according to Tesla.
“The reason this crash was so severe is that the crash attenuator, a highway safety barrier which is designed to reduce the impact into a concrete lane divider, had either been removed or crushed in a prior accident without being replaced,” the company wrote.
Below, you can see what the barrier was supposed to look like versus what it looked like the day before the accident.
Tesla says it obtained the image of the more recent photo from the dash cam of a witness who regularly makes the commute. The company went on to say it has “never seen this level of damage to a Model X in any other crash.”
As previously reported, the accident also caused a fire. In the event there is a fire, Tesla says its battery packs are designed so that people have enough time to get out of the car.
“According to witnesses, that appears to be what happened here as we understand there were no occupants still in the Model X by the time the fire could have presented a risk,” Tesla wrote. “Serious crashes like this can result in fire regardless of the type of car, and Tesla’s billions of miles of actual driving data shows that a gas car in the United States is five times more likely to experience a fire than a Tesla vehicle.”
The promise of Tesla’s Autopilot system is to reduce car accidents. In the company’s blog post, Tesla notes Autopilot reduces crash rates by 40 percent, according to an independent review by the U.S. government. Of course, that does not mean the technology is perfect in preventing all accidents.
2 NTSB investigators conducting Field Investigation for fatal March 23, 2018, crash of a Tesla near Mountain View, CA. Unclear if automated control system was active at time of crash. Issues examined include: post-crash fire, steps to make vehicle safe for removal from scene.
“Out of respect for the privacy of our customer and his family, we do not plan to share any additional details until we conclude the investigation,” Tesla’s blog post stated. “We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of our customer.”
It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying a latte on your way to work every day, especially when every other store is a coffee house. But do you really want that expensive coffee or is it simply a force of habit?
The average American spends a whopping $1,100 a year or $91 a month on coffee. Forgo the daily coffee spend and make your own at home instead and you could easily afford to buy a Honda Jazz with those savings. It’s perfect for zooming around the city.
The new Apple iPhone created a buzz as soon as it was released. Unfortunately, the buzz subsided once consumers saw the monthly contract prices that come with the phone- an eye-watering $157 a month!
If you don’t really need the latest smartphone and all its associated tech, why not go for a lesser and cheaper model. Do so and you could afford to buy a Toyota Aygo!
Cut: Monthly nights out Get: Seat Ibiza
A night out in a big city costs around $83 a pop by the time you’ve bought drinks, paid entry, and possibly had a late-night snack. To sum that up, that’s about $332 a month.
Do yourself a favor by giving up a few big nights out. You won’t only enjoy more hangover-free mornings (which your head will love you for) but you’ll also be able to treat yourself to a Seat Ibiza instead.
Cut: Takeout food Get: Peugeot 108
Leading a busy life means it’s tempting to call in a takeout after a hard day at work. And the rise of fast-food ordering apps means you can order a pizza in a matter of moments.
But at a monthly cost of $153, takeaways don’t come cheap. Do your waistline and your wallet a favor and ditch them. That way, you can drive away in a gorgeous Peugeot 108 instead.
Cut: Cigarettes Get: Audi A1
Smoking your way through a 20-pack cigarette costs a staggering $447 a month. Not only is it a painfully expensive habit, it is also proven terrible for your health. Why spend that much money on something so bad for you when you could put that money towards a set of wheels instead?
Forget your cigarettes and you’ll start to look, feel, and smell better in days. You can treat yourself to an Audi A1 as a reward.
Cut: Luxury subscription services Get: Toyota Previa
Luxury subscription box services where you get, for example, some tasty organic food delivered to your door a few times a month are super trendy right now. They’re also expensive, costing around $86 a month.
If you find that most of the food usually ends up left uneaten, your subscription might not be all that worth it. Cut it out and you could afford to make monthly payments for a Toyota Previa.
Cut: Date night Get: Vauxhall Corsa
Now, we’re not for a minute suggesting you shouldn’t go on dates. But if you’re willing to go on one less a month, you’d be saving yourself a sizeable $104. That’s enough to buy a Vauxhall Corsa! Log off Tinder and get behind the wheel instead. Dating is overrated anyway, right?
By cutting out some of your non-essential expenses, you can easily create your car budget. If you are still in doubt how to start, you can use a car finance calculator to find out which vehicles will suit your budget.
Waymo has ordered thousands of new Chrysler Pacifica minivans from FCA to help populate its autonomous ride-hailing fleet, which it will open to the public in 2018, the company says. The public launch of its Pacifica-based self-driving ride hailing service is set to occur sometime later this year, after Waymo starts testing its minivans without anyone behind the wheel, achieving true Level… Read More
GM and Cruise are making progress on their plan to deploy autonomous vehicles on roads for the public: Today, it’s showing off its fourth-generation Cruise Autonomous Vehicle (AV), which comes just a few short months after it first revealed its third-generation vehicle. The fourth generation car is production-ready, according to GM’s Dan Ammann, who discussed the new vehicle on a… Read More
Nvidia will power artificial intelligence technology built into its future vehicles, including the new I.D. Buzz, its all-electric retro-inspired camper van concept. The partnership between the two companies also extends to the future vehicles, and will initially focus on so-called “Intelligent Co-Pilot” features, including using sensor data to make driving easier, safer and… Read More
Lyft is the latest company to be added to the ever-growing list of those permitted to test their self-driving technology on California state public roads. The California Department of Motor Vehicles added Lyft to the list recently (via Axios), following Lyft’s foundation of a self-driving technology development center earlier this year, and its announcement that it would work on both its… Read More
Tencent is making progress on its own autonomous driving system, according to Bloomberg. The report says that Tencent, one of China’s largest tech firms and the maker of WeChat, already has a prototype and is testing the system internally. Read More
Most of us agree that car repair can be costly. Every time you take your automobile to a repair shop, you are forced to part with some amount of money.
There are different categories of car repairs. Major repairs need to be handled by people who are well-trained in handling various issues that affect cars. The other category is the minor repairs. Although you can seek the services of a mechanic, you can do most of them on your own.
Here are some of the basic car repairs that you can handle to save money.
Oil ensures that your car engine operates smoothly and lasts for long. As a car owner, you need to check the oil levels of your car on a regular basis.
You can change your car’s oil without seeking help from experts. In fact, it is one of the fundamental skills that any car owner should have.
Changing your car’s oil involves a few steps. First, you will need to remove the drain plug. Secondly, unscrew and empty the oil filter. After that, fix the plug into its original position, remove the filler hole cap then pour fresh oil. It’s as simple as that!
It is necessary to jump start the car if its battery dies. All you need is another vehicle whose battery has the same voltage as yours. The good news is that most car owners are always willing to help each other to solve this problem. The first step is to connect the jumper cables from a Samaritan’s battery to yours. While doing so, ensure that both the vehicles are off.
Changing spark plugs
We all know the critical role that spark plugs play in a car. These are small but essential devices found in the cylinder. They are responsible for powering your car.
Your car’s spark plug can wear down once your vehicle covers a specific number of miles. Once that happens, you need to know how to fix it on your own.
Locate the exact location of the spark plug, remove the connecting wire and then remove the faulty spark plug. In its position, put the replacement then fix the plug wires to their respective positions.
Changing a flat tire
This is another necessary basic car repair practice that you need to know. Since you’ll never know when and where you will have a flat tire, you need to be prepared. Changing tires is always classified under life-saving skills.
First, you will have to lift the car off the ground using a jack stand. After that, remove the lug nuts and then the flat tire. Put your spare tire into position and wrench the lug nuts back to their place.
Changing brake pads
Brake pads can be the only thing that will stand between you and what would have been a nasty accident. This is because brake failures cause most accidents, so you should ensure that your brake pads are always in excellent condition.
Changing brakes is not an expensive or complicated process. You can do it and save money on car repair. The procedure of changing brake pads is almost similar to that of changing the tires.
Once you remove the wheels, remove the slider bolts and the older brakes. Fix the new brake pads and secure them in position using slider bolts
Changing car battery
A car battery can die when you least expect it so be sure to routinely check the state of your battery. This will help you know if you need to get a replacement soon.
To change your car battery, remove all the covers then disconnect the negative cables. Shift the clamp from the battery post and then disconnect the positive wires. Remove all the screws and replace the old battery with a new one.
Removing scratches from the car
Although it may appear to be a minor aesthetic problem, it can end up costing you some good amount of money. After all, you would like your car to have the best appearance and would pay any amount to achieve this goal.
Did you know that getting rid of scratches is another basic car repair that you can do at home?
To execute this task, you need to find out the depth of the scratch first. Secondly, sand-scratch and clean the area. Apply some rubbing compound on the scratch. Use the same compound to polish the area and then wax it. With these steps, the scratch will be eliminated.
Replacing the wipers
Do you really have to pay an expert to repair your windshield wipers?
Save yourself from this unnecessary cost by executing the repair on your own. The poor performance of your wipers is likely due to broken blades. To repair them, simply lift the wiper from the windshield and press the small tab to allow the blade to come off. Replace both wipers and you’re good to go.
Replace air filters
Most car owners tend to overlook air filters but they are as important as the other parts of a vehicle. The filters protect your car’s engine from dust and other solid contaminants.
Their effectiveness tends to degrade with time, which makes replacement inevitable. To do that, you need to find the exact location of the air filter and then remove it. Clean the air filter housing before you insert a new filter in it. This basic car repair can save you a good amount of money.
From the article, it is clear that you don’t have to attend any class to perform basic car repair and maintenance. The tips above can help you save money that you would otherwise spend on a mechanic to handle your car’s issues.
If you’re planning a European getaway sometime soon, you need to start considering arranging a cheap car hire for your trip. It will give you the freedom to explore, save you time on your trip and you won’t have to worry about your own car being stolen or damaged.
But, as you’ve no doubt discovered, car hires can sometimes prove to be a confusing process. Some cities are more suited to be explored in a car than others and that will depend on what time of the year you are traveling. There are, however, some staple cities across Europe that always offer an enjoyable holiday and hidden gems to discover by car on a budget.
Here are the top ten wallet-friendly European car hire destinations – plus some top tips on saving money while you’re there.
Total Cost: £178.09 | Car Hire Cost: £10.21
Three places to go: You must visit the historical masterpieces while you are here. Great choices include the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Vatican.
Money-saving tip: Entry to lots of Rome’s museums is free on the first Sunday of each month.
Total Cost: £176.26 | Car Hire Cost: £10.86
Three places to go: The architectural delights of Antoni Gaudí (you’ll see his work all over the city), unparalleled views from Montjuïc mountain and Raval, Barcelona’s literary quarter, are some of the places you shouldn’t miss here.
Money-saving tip: Avoid the overly-touristy areas and explore a side street. You’ll find quality food at good prices.
Total Cost: £165.18 | Car Hire Cost: £10.32
Three places to go: Head to the world’s most famous architectural mistake, the Leaning Tower, the beautiful Duomo (cathedral) and enjoy some quality natural gelato at Gelateria De’ Coltelli.
Money-saving tip: Book your trip to the tower online. You’ll be able to skip the lengthy queues.
Total Cost: £157.16 | Car Hire Cost: £9.14
Three places to go: Enjoy cheap tapas from street vendors, visit the expansive 19th-century park Buen Retiro and take a stroll along the Gran Vía, Madrid’s main thoroughfare.
Money-saving tip: Save money on food, gifts and lots more by taking a trip to one of Madrid’s flea markets. El Rastro and Rave are two of the most popular.
Total Cost: £150.58 | Car Hire Cost: £15.28
Three places to go: Don’t forget to visit Torre de Belém (Lisbon’s Gothic tower and a UNESCO world heritage site), Ler Devagar (the city’s cultural centre) and São Jorge Castle (11th-century castle with an archaeological museum).
Money-saving tip: The Lisboa Card gives you free entry to 28 museums, monuments and places of interest. It will also get you discounts on local services and shops.
Total Cost: £148.12 | Car Hire Cost: £7.87
Three places to go: Be sure to visit one or both of those world famous football stadiums, Manchester Art Gallery and John Rylands Library, a late-Victorian architectural wonder.
Money-saving tip: Free walking tours taking in the best of Manchester run every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Be sure not to miss them.
Total Cost: £131.96 | Car Hire Cost: £5.02
Three places to go: The Picasso Museum, Gibralfaro Castle and Tivoli World, a family-friendly theme park, should never be out of your list while you’re in Malaga.
Money-saving tip: Avoid the Costa del Sol’s toll roads by downloading a sat nav app that helps you steer clear of the hassles.
Total Cost: £130.39 | Car Hire Cost: £9.01
Three places to go: Visit the Bullring for shopping and Birmingham Oratory and St Paul’s Church for a taste of the city’s architectural past.
Money-saving tip: Download the Bullring’s PLUS app to get free parking at the retail center.
Total Cost: £129.29 | Car Hire Cost: £13.10
Three places to go: Take a cable car to the summit of Mount Teide, Spain’s highest mountain, visit La Laguna, the former capital of Tenerife and enjoy a couple of hours in Malpaís de Güímar, a natural park.
Money-saving tip: Many of Tenerife’s best museums are free to enter all day on Fridays and Saturday afternoons.
Total Cost: £110.93 | Car Hire Cost: £7.83
Three places to go: Climb up to Santa Barbara Castle, browse the Alicante Museum of Contemporary Art and do some snorkeling on Tabarca Island, just off the coast of Alicante.
Money-saving tip: Mercado Central is Alicante’s most popular food market, offering cheap meat, vegetables, bread, dairy and sweets.
Now that you know where to go, how can you ensure you get a cheap car hire deal no matter where you go?
Here are some tips you can use:
As with most things, booking ahead can save you some serious cash. If next year’s holiday is booked and your dates are locked down in your diary, why wait to sort the car hire? Do it now while you’re thinking about it and save some money in the process.
Do you really need a luxury vehicle?
When booking a car hire, it can be tempting to take out a high-end vehicle and imagine yourself zooming around picturesque mountain roads in the latest high-performance car. Unfortunately, such vehicles are often more expensive than their rather more run-of-the-mill brothers and sisters.
Ask yourself if you really need something swish. When you’re on a holiday, what probably matters most is space. There should be enough for your stuff and for the people coming with you. Opting for a standard vehicle that suits your needs could be a much more affordable and practical option.
Understand the extras
Some car hire deals look cheap but once you look under the bonnet, they are actually a little more expensive. To avoid getting tricked, make sure you know exactly what your deal will cover before you book.
Get your arrival time right
Give your car rental provider an accurate idea of when you’ll be picking up the car. If your flight is delayed, your reservation could be cancellled, especially if it’s at a busy time. This is annoying but it could also incur additional costs. If you can get in touch with the car hire check-in desk to let them know you’re running late, do so.
Make sure any pre-existing damaged is logged
When you hire a car, you’ll usually get an inspection form before you drive away with it. This form will detail any damage that’s already on the car. If you spot some damage but it’s not on the form, make sure it gets logged immediately. Otherwise, you could end up paying for damage you didn’t cause. And, of course, make sure you take care of the car when you’re exploring the city.
Hiring a car can transform a holiday. Giving you the freedom of the open road, it allows you to get out and explore. Next time you choose a car hire, do your research, follow some top tips and you’ll be well on your way to bagging a great deal that won’t break the bank.
Most of us dream of owning a sleek, sexy and fast sports car. We see these amazing machines in movies, such as in Fast and the Furious, The Transporter and, most recently, Baby Driver.
With movies like these that show how outstanding and powerful these cars are, it’s no wonder why a lot of people want to own one. The sight of even seeing one makes a lot of people have goosebumps. As the driver inside the car revs the engine, its roar makes people shudder and look in awe.
Certainly a head turner in the streets, sports cars are also a unique status of wealth and power. Each car can be custom-made to fit the specifications of the owner. This fact is the reason why almost all of these cars cost a fortune.
However, for those who are financially secure and capable of buying a luxurious sports car, here are five facts you need to know first.
Expect Nothing Less
As an owner of a sports car, you shouldn’t expect less. The reason why these machines cost so much is that everything about it is made to be perfect for you. From the sexy look of the car, the excellent paint job, to the mechanical aspects and engine power, your car is equipped to please your every demand.
In addition to being customized, elite companies, such as Ford, Lamborghini and BMW, all have the capability to let other people know that you are worthy and capable of driving such an awe-inspiring machine.
Reality of Problems
Sadly, even if you’ve finally realized your dream of owning a sports car, reality will soon sink in. Owning a sports car requires tons of meticulous care, expensive repairs, and hefty taxes.
And if you’re a person who has a family, especially with teens, you’re going to have to accept the fact that they want a piece of your car. They’ll want to take it out for a spin, which could mean a bad thing for you and your dream car. Buying a sports car is difficult. Maintaining one is twice as hard.
Not for the Family Guy
Most sports cars are only for two: one for the driver and one “riding shotgun”. You can’t cram in more people inside if you want a comfortable ride. Sports cars aren’t for family trips.
Another reason why sports cars cost too much is that of their resalable value.
A lot of car enthusiasts or collectors are on the lookout for second-hand sports cars because they know of the difficulties of maintaining one. Since they are properly cared for, second-hand sports cars can remain as good as a new one, but with much lower price tags.
Although a second-hand sports car is cheaper compared to a brand new sports car, its price is still attractive. Some second-hand cars can even cost higher than the original price once their reputation and rarity rise through time.
An example of this is a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta which sold for only $33,500. The car was held on by its owner for almost 49 years. After waiting, he finally sold it for a whopping $38,115,000. Now, that’s value through the years.
Your sports car can be an absolute head-turner. This is one reason why a lot of people do silly things when driving their sports cars.
No matter how tempting it is, don’t get caught up in the moment and do something that can damage your vehicle. Take pride in your purchase, but don’t do anything stupid that will jeopardize everything that you’ve worked for all your life.
A lot of people think that the only hurdle in buying a luxury car is the absurdly high cost. However, when they do get to make that purchase, maintaining the car is twice as difficult. A lot of individuals will discover that going to any mechanic or to any other place that will take care of your car will charge extra.
Fortunately, owning a supercar isn’t just all about expensive maintenance. When you do get to own one, prepare yourself for the immense feeling of joy and pride when you drive it down the road. Flaunt your car responsibly and there will be no problems for you and your sports car.
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Ride sharing and ride hailing are often lumped together, but the two services are completely different. One is more like a taxi while the other is more like a bus. What’s not different about the two is that there is still a lot of confusion about who is legally responsible if there is an accident.
Because drivers don’t usually need commercial insurances even though they are performing a duty for which they are getting paid, insurance companies are often reluctant to pay up in the event of an accident.
To clear things up, here’s what you need to know.
Ride hailing is common
Over half of adults in the United States have heard of a ridge hailing or ride sharing app, but only about 15% have used one. This brings a lot of confusion about what it is, what the legal ramifications are as well as its regulations.
Most people who use these services are affluent and between the ages of 18 and 49. 29% of college graduates have used these services as well.
A little over a third of all adults believe that ride sharing services should be treated like commercial taxi services, while about the same percentage of frequent ride sharing users believe the same thing. Even though the liability is the same, most people don’t believe ride hailing drivers are no different from taxi drivers.
More states and municipalities are starting to realize the legal gaps that are occurring with these services and are making attempts at patching them up. It’s likely that more regulations will be passed in the future to protect both driver and passenger.
If you are a driver, you may not be covered
Driving for a ride sharing or ride hailing service can be risky if you don’t pay extra for commercial insurance. Unfortunately, this is a catch-22 because most companies pay so little that you would pay more for commercial insurance than you would end up making in fares.
Currently, New York City requires drivers to carry commercial insurance, which is as much to protect the drivers as it is to protect the riders. What if you are in an accident on your way to pick up a fare and your insurance doesn’t want to pay up? Or worse, if they do pay up and end up raising your rates for the next several years?
It’s definitely worth checking into your coverage before deciding to work a side hustle. The coverage provided by the ride sharing and ride hailing services might not be enough to protect you.
If you are a passenger, you might not be covered, either
Between 2014 and 2016, for-hire vehicle accidents more than tripled. As more and more people are using these services, there will understandably be more accidents.
A ride sharing insurance coverage can fill in the gaps when the driver’s insurance doesn’t want to pay out. However, as lawsuits involving these services are also on the rise, you could find yourself caught up in the middle.
If you are a ride sharing or ride hailing passenger and you are in an accident, here’s what you need to do:
Get help at the scene
Getting a police report ensures that the facts won’t change after you leave the scene. Getting medical attention is the first step in documenting any injuries you may have.
Get information from the driver
Again, gathering the facts at the scene is the best way to ensure they don’t change. Get as much information as possible, like contact information, insurance details and data on the ride hailing service you got.
Have your injuries treated
You may think you are fine, but car accident injuries can become more serious over time, particularly if there’s no prompt treatment.
Keep track of medical bills and expenses, including any lost work
From day one, write down any work you missed because of the accident and any bills you accrue. Keep receipts whenever possible as this will help you get reimbursements.
From state to state and even from city to city, coverage requirements can vary widely.
The state of California requires an additional $1 million in liability coverage when drivers are en route and while they have passengers. Minnesota requires an additional $1.5 million in coverage for the same situation. In some places in the world, like France, ride hailing and ride sharing drivers need to be licensed professionals.
Knowing a little about the risks now, do you think these services should be treated like professional driving services or are you OK with taking the risk?
Learn more about what to do if you are involved in a ride sharing accident from the infographic below.
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