Uber is taking a big risk by ordering 24,000 cars from Volvo

Enlarge (credit: Uber)

Uber has signed a deal with Volvo for 24,000 XC90 sport-utility vehicles for delivery between 2019 and 2021. With this deal—worth about $1 billion—Uber is essentially betting the company on a self-driving future.

It’s a big, risky bet for Uber, which lost $2.8 billion in 2016 and is locked in a legal battle with Waymo over self-driving technology that could cost it more than $1 billion.

When Recode’s Johana Bhuiyan talked to company insiders about Uber’s self-driving car project in March, she found that “many think it is at a technological standstill and plagued by significant internal tension.” Around the same time, Uber temporarily suspended public testing of its driverless cars after one of its cars collided with another car and flipped over on its side. The company says another driver was at fault in the incident, and it has since resumed testing.

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Source: Ars Technica

Exoskeletons won’t turn assembly line workers into Iron Man

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Source: Ars Technica

Begun, the electric hypercar performance war has

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson)

On Thursday night, Elon Musk upstaged his own semi truck launch with the news that Tesla is going to build a new performance car, the Roadster. The specs certainly have the Internet ablaze this morning: a 200kWh battery and 620-mile (1,000km) range, 0-60mph in 1.9 seconds, the standing quarter-mile in 8.9 seconds, and a top speed of 250mph. That’s truly impressive—particularly if it costs just $200,000. But Musk’s claims that it will be the “fastest production car ever made, period” seem more than a little hyperbolic from where I’m sitting.

You see, we’re entering another one of those automotive arms races, where engineers and designers attempt to outdo each other in the performance stakes with ever-more extreme hypercars. Tesla will not be the only game in town. In fact, it’s only just getting ready to take to the pitch.

Supercars are passé; it’s all about the hypercar now

Supercars like the McLaren F1 and Ferrari Enzo used to be the last word in four-wheeled performance until a reborn Bugatti came along and rewrote the rules. The Veyron, which arrived in 2011, boasted an 8.0L V16 engine, 987hp (736kW), and a 253mph (407km/h) top speed. The supercar was dethroned, and the hypercar became king. But achieving massive power and bonkers performance from an internal combustion engine is old hat—even if Bugatti is sticking to the formula with the Chiron.

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Source: Ars Technica

Not just a Semi announcement, Tesla promises a new Roadster

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HAWTHORNE, CALIF.—At tonight’s Tesla Semi event we got a lot more than a vague truck design. After a short presentation of the Semi’s intended specs, one of the trucks backed onto the stage and a new red Roadster rolled out.

“The foundation of the whole company was the Roadster,” Musk told the crowd of employees. “People kept asking ‘When are you gonna make a new roadster?'”

“We are making it now” he told the crowd.

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Source: Ars Technica

A first look at Tesla’s promised electric semi

Tesla

This story is being updated as more details are released.

HAWTHORNE, CALIF.—On Thursday evening, a couple of months later than originally promised, Tesla showed the world its first proper look at the company’s heavy duty electric vehicle, the Tesla Semi. The tractor can hook up with any trailer, no brand-specific trailer is necessary.

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Source: Ars Technica

Dallara will build its first road car—and we want one!

Dallara

Racing fans will no doubt know the name Dallara. The Italian company doesn’t field its own team, but you’ve almost certainly seen its cars race. Every chassis used in IndyCar is a Dallara. The same goes for Formula E. It’s responsible for the carbon-fiber tubs used by the Haas team in Formula 1 and the Cadillac DPi cars that have been so successful in IMSA’s WeatherTech series this year. It even built the chassis for many of Audi’s legendary Le Mans prototypes. Now, Dallara is going to put its name to a road car the rest of us can buy and drive on the street: the Dallara Stradale. (Stradale means ‘road’ in Italian.)

And what a car it looks to be. The antidote to today’s bloated vehicles, it’s a lightweight (1,884lb/855kg), mid-engined roadster. As you might expect from a company known for its skill working carbon fiber, the use of composites in the Stradale are extensive. The monocoque chassis is made from “pre-preg”—that’s the really expensive stuff that’s hand-laid before being cured by autoclave. But Dallara says it’s also using “long fiber compression moulding” for structural bodywork. Although the images you see here are of a barchetta, there is an optional windscreen, and it can even be configured as a targa or closed coupe (with the addition of gullwing doors).

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Source: Ars Technica

Volkswagen wants to sell 1.5 million electric vehicles a year in China by 2025

Enlarge / The I.D. Crozz and I.D. Buzz EVs are coming soon. (credit: Volkswagen Group)

Volkswagen Group is getting ready to significantly expand its electric vehicle portfolio in China over the next few years. The company plans to launch 15 “new energy vehicles”—plug-in hybrid EVs and battery EVs—by 2020, according to a report in Reuters. Jochem Heizmann, CEO of VW Group’s operations in China, also told Reuters that the company plans to invest $11.8 billion (€10 billion) in order to comply with ever-stricter Chinese EV regulations.

China is one of a number of countries that has publicly floated a ban on petrol and diesel engines in the coming years, although unlike France and the UK, it has not set a date for that to happen. But Chinese drivers are going to get a lot more EVs long before any ban on new internal combustion engines. The country’s new energy vehicle rules go into effect in 2019, requiring automakers to sell ever-increasing numbers of EVs; those that don’t comply either have to buy credits from other OEMs or pay the Chinese government fines.

Earlier this year, VW Group revealed its electrification roadmap, which promises 30 new PHEVs and 50 new BEVs by 2030, so this news from China is not entirely unexpected. These new cars will have to be built in China to deliver the sales volume that VW is hoping for—Heizmann told Reuters the company wants to sell 400,000 EVs a year in China by 2020 and 1.5 million each year by 2025. Vehicles that are not built in China—as joint ventures with domestic partner companies—are subject to a 25 percent import duty which makes them uncompetitive on price. (This tariff will apply to EVs from Tesla’s proposed Chinese factory, which will not be a joint venture and which will be located in a free trade zone.)

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Source: Ars Technica

The Internet’s favorite car of 2018 is the Kia Stinger GT, and it’s good

Enlarge / The 2018 Kia Stinger GT. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

Every year there will be one or two new cars that generate a whole lot of buzz. Cars that generate hype. Cars that people who post on Internet forums salivate over. I’m not talking hand-built exotica with 600 horsepower and six-digit price tags; that kind of unobtanium might make for good desktop wallpaper or bedroom posters but few of us will ever be lucky enough to meet that kind of four-wheeled superstar. No, the kind of machine I’m talking about needs to be within reach of your average working stiff, but still far enough from the default to quicken the pulse. A car like the new Kia Stinger.

We first saw the Kia Stinger at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. Since then it has been a regular on the auto show circuit, as well as popping up at various other events—and a whole load of Kia dealerships—but we’ve had to wait until now to get behind the wheel. In the meantime, it’s built up quite a degree of hype. It’s Kia’s foray into the performance domain, the Korean OEM having concentrated until now on things like build quality and value for money. Those attributes will certainly win sales, but Kia wanted something with a little more passion, a halo car to get people excited. As you’ll find out shortly, it was worth the wait.

Sportbacks are in now

The Stinger first began back in 2011 as the GT Concept, a four-door gran turismo inspired by vintage metal like the Maserati Ghibli, the sort of four-wheeled conveyance that could carry four adults and their luggage across a continent. It’s a four-door sportback (my favorite!) design, styled by Gregory Guillaume at Kia’s German design studio. As the man himself described it, “a true gran turismo, a car for spirited long-distance driving, is not about outright power, hard-edged dynamics and brutal styling, all at the expense of luxury, comfort and grace.” It’s something of a golden age for the performance sportback, what with Audi’s S5 and Buick’s Regal GS also available for similar money. I’m not quite sure why this design convergence has happened, but I hope it continues.

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Source: Ars Technica

Flying car maker Terrafugia bought by Geely

Enlarge (credit: Terrafugia / Barcroft Cars / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

One of the most remarkable transformations in the auto industry has been the flourishing of Volvo Cars under the ownership of Chinese parent company Geely. It could be a poster child for the right way to acquire and manage a brand—one simply needs to look at Volvo’s tenure under previous owner Ford, or perhaps the fate of Saab under General Motors, to see things don’t always turn out well. Geely has been on a little bit of a purchasing spree of late. In May it bought Lotus, giving hope to fans of the lightweight sports cars. And on Monday, it finalized another sale, this time for something a little more left field: Terrafugia. That’s right, it’s getting into the flying car business.

Perhaps you’re reading this and already cataloguing the many reasons you think a mass-market flying car will never happen. And right now, such skepticism is probably justified. But it’s hard to escape the fact that the idea is being taken increasingly seriously. Boeing just bought Aurora Flight Sciences, which is working with Uber to develop flying car services for Dallas and Dubai. (Uber plans to launch that service in 2020.) Airbus just revealed it intends to test its Vahana VTOL machine by the end of this year. Google’s Larry Page has not one but two flying car startups. Right now the only thing missing from this corner of the market is Elon Musk’s presence, although he’s probably a little preoccupied learning how to mass-produce a non-flying car.

“This is a tremendously exciting sector and we believe that Terrafugia is ideally positioned to change mobility as we currently understand it and herald the development of a new industry in doing so,” said Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Founder and Chairman Li Shufu. “Our investment in the company reflects our shared belief in their vision and we are committed to extending our full support to Terrafugia, leveraging the synergies provided by our international operations and track record of innovation, to make the flying car a reality.”

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Source: Ars Technica

The Genesis G90 proves it’s past time to take this new luxury brand seriously

Jonathan Gitlin

The days of the flagship luxury sedan may well be numbered. Sales are tanking as consumers opt for plush SUVs, but the segment still serves a role for car makers playing in the upper end of the market. Think of the gizmo-laden four-door as an automotive calling card; a way for a luxury brand to tell the world “this is us at our best.” That’s particularly important for new entrants—build a car that can rival a Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the respect will follow. It’s a strategy that Lexus used to great effect at the end of the last century, so it’s not surprising that Genesis—which was spun out from Hyundai in 2015—is trying the same.

After spending a week with a G90, I came away convinced that the Korean brand ought to be taken seriously. It might not have the same snob appeal as one of the established German players, but the 2017 G90 3.3t is no less luxurious. And at $70,000 fully loaded, it’s an awful lot cheaper than those Germanic rivals. Other luxury sedans are available for similar money—from Volvo, Cadillac, or Tesla—but they’re all a class size smaller.

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Source: Ars Technica

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