Ford CEO, Mark Fields, sat down with Bloomberg to discuss plans to introduce a completely autonomous car by 2021. The only real problem we see with that plan is that it pretty much ensures their own demise. That said, they’re pretty much doomed anyway so might as well go for it.
The company said it plans to have a fully autonomous vehicle — no steering wheel, no gas or brake pedals — available by 2021 for ride-hailing services.Continue reading »
According to Electrek, as part of its ‘Electric Road Trip’ tour for the summer, Tesla stopped in Biarritz, France to promote Model S and Model X over the weekend. During a test drive in a Model S 90D, the vehicle suddenly sent a visual alert on the dashboard stating that there was a problem with “charging”. The Tesla employee giving the test drive made the driver park the car on the side of the road and all three (the driver, the Tesla employee and another passenger) exited the vehicle. Continue reading »
From playing patty cake to taking part in arm wrestling matches, these motorists appear to be concentrating on anything but the road. The startling videos posted to YouTube show people lounging around while their self-driving cars do all the work. A second serious crash involved a Tesla on autopilot has also been reported. Police in Pennsylvania say the motorist smashed into a guardrail and a concrete median before his car rolled onto its roof on July 1.
Earlier today, Tesla reported (with a one day delay so that perhaps its stock wouldn’t get clobbered ahead of quarter end rebalancing) that a 40-year-old Ohio man, named Joshua Brown, was killed when his 2015 Model S drove under the trailer of an 18-wheeler on a highway near Williston, Florida, sending Tesla stock lower nearly 3%. Continue reading »
We’ve heard rumors for years about engines capable of getting 100 miles to a gallon of fuel, but the reality is much closer than you might think. Josh “Mac” MacDowell says he not only has the engine, he has come up with an idea, strong enough the U.S. patent office has given him a patent for it. MacDowell is using a Stirling engine, coupled with thermopile technology to make it possible to drive a Hybrid electric car and never have to stop to charge it.
The Stirling engine was actually invented 200 years ago, in 1816. The engine is driven by the exchange of hot and cold air, much like nature drives a thunderstorm. The Stirling engine is capable of using roughly 50% of the energy it produces. An internal combustion engine, like the ones in our vehicles, uses about 14%. Continue reading »
You can’t say we weren’t warned. As reported over a month ago, before the surprising rebound in April retail sales, the biggest drag on consumer spending was auto sales. One month later, this is finally starting to materialize when earlier today, both GM and Ford’s US vehicle sales fell more than analysts had estimated in May. According to Bloomberg this “raises questions about stalling consumer demand.” Not really: as we also warned a month ago when looking at stalling use car price changes, it was only a matter of time before the lack of demand for every low priced autos spilled over to new car sales, which it now has.
Founded by four ex-Google engineers?—?including Anthony Levandowski, the man who built Google’s very first self-driving car?—?Otto is applying Google’s all-or-nothing approach to commercial big rigs: ditch human drivers, avoid thousands of road deaths, help the environment, and if all goes well, make a ton of money along the way. Continue reading »
This week, Ford and Volvo announced they are forming a “coaliton” – along with Google – to push not only for the development of self-driving cars, but for federal “action” (their term) to force-feed them to us.
The reasons are obvious: There’s money – and control – in it.
To understand what’s going on, to grok the tub-thumping for these things, it is first of all necessary to deconstruct the terminology. The cars are not “self-driving.” This implies independence.
Despite the blustering propaganda from CNBC’s Phil LeBeau, it appears the Auto-sales (and massive inventory build) party is over in America. December US domestic auto sales SAAR printed 13.46 mm – the lowest in 6 months (missing expectations of 14.15mm by the most since November 2008). With non-revolving credit growth slowing in December, and inventories at record highs, the wheels just fell off the credit-fueled auto ‘recovery’.
The Norwegian owner of a Tesla Model S found an unexpected f(i)ringe benefit during a cold Friday afternoon when shortly after he had parked his luxury electric car at a supercharging station in Gjerstad, and left, he realized the car could serve as a very quick and efficient, if quite toxic, source of heating for the cold Scandinavian country, after the Model S spontaneously burst into flames. Continue reading »
Vehicle emergency system called police dispatch after crash
A Port St. Lucie woman is under arrest in connection with a hit-and-run.
Police responded to a hit-and-run in the 500 block of Northwest Prima Vista Boulevard on Monday afternoon. The victim, Anna Preston, said she was struck from behind by a black vehicle that took off. Preston was taken to the hospital with back injuries. Continue reading »
Despite ongoing exuberance at auto sales in America (which disappointed) – as crashing credit standards enable every Tom, Dick, and Muppet to buy too much ‘depreciating asset’ for their incomes – there are numerous problems few are talking about for automakers worldwide. Aside from “plans to buy a car” tumbling in the latest confidence surveys, and inventories-to-sales surging, China just poured ice cold water on any hope of stability in that ‘growth’ market as auto dealers issue the highest inventory alert since June. November data from China shows demand plunging, sales collapsing, and inventories soaring – a triple whammy of “no, things are not ‘stabilizing’.”
Self-driving buses are coming to America. The Bishop Ranch business park in San Ramon, California will be the first place in the U.S. to use French robo-buses to ferry passengers around.
Perhaps the best place for autonomous vehicles to start out is in this kind of training ground, although given the safety record of Google’s self-driving cars, the training might be for us humans in getting used to them. It’s hard to argue that preset routes and low speeds aren’t ideal for an introduction to driverless vehicles, and that’s just what the Easymile company specializes in.
The EZ10 is a driverless bus designed for short hops. It has been deployed in Europe—in Finland, France, and is just about to launch in Spain. The electric vehicles carry up to ten passengers, and have ramps for wheelchairs and strollers. The idea is that they carry you the “last mile” of your journey, and one of their main uses is in theme parks.
With the second half of 2015 “grim” for Chinese auto sales, US automakers – who have field-of-dreams-like built inventories to record levels – have turned domestic for growth by extending credit for decades to anyone who can fog a mirror. That was all well and good until we discover this morning that the government’s consumer confidence survey shows Americans auto-buying attitude is the lowest since Jan 2013. Automakers have two options, offer buy-one-get-one-free to all new Syrian refugees or cut production dramatically in hopes of easing inventory excess. Good luck.
As the following chart shows, after langushing between $70 and $800 billion in the second half of the last decade, since Q2 2010 US auto loans have been on an absolute tear, and have increased by over 40% in the past five years alone, to just shy of $1 trillion as of June 30!
Back in June we noted that for luxury car manufacturers, the Chinese cash cow is dying. “The enormous growth rates luxury-car makers like us have seen in China in recent years won’t continue,” Porsche CFO Lutz Meschke warned at an event in Atlanta in May and needless to say, the picture has not brightened since then. Continue reading »
With the usual two year delay, others such as Reuters, are starting to notice that under the Tesla hood there are nothing but cockroaches. And now that the growth “story” has taken a back seat following the latest guidance cut in deliveries, fears that the company will have to dilute shareholders to keep the “story” afloat, are rapidly emerging. Case in point, Reuters calculation of a fact that was known to most observers but certainly not to retail enthusiasts who “bought the stock just because others bought the stock”, i.e., that Tesla loses about $4000 on ever car it makes.
Documents obtained by the Guardian reveal the tech giant created Google Auto LLC to help develop its self-driving cars even as it courted big car makers
Google has set up its own car company. The tech giant has flirted with major car firms as it explores driverless cars but has also quietly set up its own auto company, according to documents obtained by the Guardian.
Google Auto LLC is headed by Chris Urmson, project lead for Google’s self-driving cars. Urmson has been on a charm offensive with the world’s biggest automobile manufacturers. At the North American International Auto Show in January, Urmson announced talks with General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Daimler and Volkswagen. In March, he told USA Today: “Making cars is really hard, and the car companies are quite good at it. So, in my mind, the solution is to find a partnership.”
To date, no such partnership has emerged. That might be because Google already has its very own car maker in Google Auto. The company is registered with national and international organisations as a passenger vehicle manufacturer, and was licensed last year as a car maker in California. Google declined to comment on this story. Continue reading »
In a stunning ruling, US safety regulators have mandated that Fiat Chrysler must offer to buy back from customers more than 500,000 Ram pickup trucks and other vehicles as part of a costly deal with safety regulators to settle legal problems in about two dozen recalls. As WTOP reports, this is the biggest such action in US history, and is in addition to a $105 million civil fine and owners of more than a million older Jeeps with vulnerable rear-mounted gas tanks will be able to trade them in or be paid by Chrysler to have the vehicles repaired. Think the punishment is harsh, consider that at least 75 people have died in crash-related fires, although Fiat Chrysler maintains they are as safe as comparable vehicles from the same era.
In today’s Thought For The Day James discusses the confirmation of yet another “conspiracy theory,” namely that cars can be remotely hacked and controlled. Michael Hastings, anyone? And let’s not even mention airplanes. OK, let’s…
In what is being called “the first of its kind,” Wired.com reports that hackers, using just a laptop and mobile phone, accessed a Jeep Cherokee’s on-board systems (via its wireless internet connection), took control and crashed the car into a ditch from 10 miles away sitting on their sofa. As The Telegraph details, the breach was revealed by security researchers Charlie Miller, a former staffer at the NSA, and Chris Valasek, who warned that more than 470,000 cars made by Fiat Chrysler could be at risk of being attacked by similar means. Coming just weeks after the FBI claimed a US hacker took control of a passenger jet he was on in the first known such incident of its kind, the incident shows just how vulnerable we are to modern technology. Continue reading »
On Tuesday April 7th, Ukravtoprome (the Ukrainian Association of Automobile Manufacturers) reported that, in the three-month period January-March 2015, as compared to the same three months of 2014, production of passenger cars plunged 96%, commercial vehicles 23%, buses 43%, for an overall decline of 92%.
In March alone, as compared to March 2014, passenger-car production plunged 94.3%, commercial vehicles fell 31%. The figure for buses was not shown.Continue reading »
An autonomous car’s recent 3,400-mile U.S. road trip proves there’s at least one thing computers do better than humans: Follow the speed limit.
Auto supplier Delphi Corp. fitted an Audi Q5 with radar, cameras and laser sensors to navigate the 15-state journey from San Francisco to New York, mostly traveling on highways. The car drove itself 99 percent of the time, Delphi said Thursday.