Uber’s no-good, terrible-rotten bad Q2 loses more than $5 billion

Headquarters of ride-sharing technology company Uber in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood of San Francisco on October 13, 2017.

Enlarge / Headquarters of ride-sharing technology company Uber in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood of San Francisco on October 13, 2017. (credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

Uber lost more than $5 billion dollars in the second quarter of the year. This is the latest in a long series of bad quarters for the ride-hailing company, which also lost over a billion dollars during the first three months of this year. That brings 2019’s losses to over $6.2 billion, for those keeping score.

Despite losing so much money between April and June, Uber’s investor report is upbeat about an increase in bookings (up 31%), active users (up 30%), trips (up 35%), and revenue (up 14%). These figures do make one wonder if an uptick in business will just exacerbate the bleeding, however. There’s yet to be any real evidence that Uber’s business model will ever do anything other than burn investors’ money to make traffic worse.

Uber says that its cash and cash equivalents for Q2 were a healthy $13.7 billion, $8 billion of which came from its IPO in May.

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Feds told Tesla to stop making “misleading statements” on Model 3 safety

Elon Musk.

Enlarge / Elon Musk. (credit: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for E3/Entertainment Software Association)

Last October, after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released crash test data for the Model 3, Tesla declared that it had the “lowest probability of injury of any vehicle ever tested by NHTSA.”

Two days later, the NHTSA responded in the understated way typical of a federal agency. Without naming Tesla, the NHTSA argued that its “5-star rating is the highest safety rating a vehicle can achieve. NHTSA does not distinguish safety performance beyond that rating, thus there is no ‘safest’ vehicle among those vehicles achieving 5-star ratings.”

But documents recently obtained by the website Plainsite using a freedom-of-information request show that the NHTSA’s private communications with Tesla weren’t so diplomatic.

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The Ferrari Portofino—Maranello made this one handle like a Miata

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but cars keep getting bigger and heavier. There’s no mystery to it; safety became a selling point, and airbags and energy-absorbing crash structures take up room and add weight. Naturally, we would expect that power would increase along with mass to prevent next year’s model from being slower than this year’s, but they’re actually getting faster, too.

Consider the Golf GTI. When it launched in 1976, it had 110hp (81kW) and took 9.2 seconds to reach 62mph (100km/h). The 2018 version is exactly twice as powerful (220hp/162kW) and takes just 6.5 seconds to complete the same test.

This trend intensifies as you go up the performance ladder; despite the occasional call for a truce, the arms race continues in full swing. The conventional wisdom—which I myself have peddled on these very pages—is to wonder whether all this progress is actually a good thing. When Formula 1 cars grew too fast for the tracks upon which they raced, the sport moved to new, purpose-built tracks that could contain those speeds. But our roads haven’t really changed; if anything, they’re usually a lot more crowded than back in the day.

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Elon Musk: “Anyone relying on lidar is doomed.” Experts: Maybe not

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What I learned about cars watching all 8 Fast & Furious movies in 4 days


Enlarge / LOOKS LIKE THEM DUKE BOYS ARE AT IT AGAIN (credit: Universal Pictures)

As of last week, I had never seen any movies in the Fast & Furious franchise. I probably missed the first one in 2001 because I was planning my wedding or something else equally pedestrian. Then, before I knew it, there were seven more, and I had no chance of catching up.

But now the franchise has lasted longer than any of our president’s marriages and has just birthed its first spin-off feature. So I have taken it upon myself to shotgun all eight movies in four days and report back to you what they have taught me about cars.

For the uninitiated, F&F more or less follows the car-crashing bromance of two shredded dude-bros played by Paul Walker and Vin Diesel. The former is a cop-turned-crook-turned-cop-turned-vigilante secret agent. The latter is a street-racing crook who eventually—well, look, there isn’t really a job description for what these guys end up doing by the end of the series. When not racing or knocking heads, their relationship consists of Diesel dispensing blue-collar wisdom in a monotone while Paul Walker stares adoringly.

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Hobbs and Shaw: a McLaren, a McGuffin, banter, and plenty of action

It’s August, the height of summer, and that means it’s time for the season’s traditional tent pole action movies. Hobbs and Shaw, the new Fast and Furious spinoff starring Idris Elba, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Vanessa Kirby, and Jason Statham has just reached the cinemas, and to say I’d been looking forward to catching up with the franchise’s latest is an understatement.

The Rock is Luke Hobbs, an “always gets his man” type working for the US Diplomatic Security Service. Statham plays Deckard Shaw, a former British spec-ops fellow. Both characters were introduced in previous movies as antiheroes, but after teaming up—kind of—in 2017’s Fate of the Furious, the forces of destiny (or the writers) have thrown them together in a buddy movie.

I don’t want to give too much away about the plot, but there’s a McGuffin, and Brixton—played by Idris Elba—wants it. He wants it bad. The problem is, the McGuffin has been injected into Vanessa Kirby’s Hattie Shaw, MI6 spy and Deckard’s sister. Obviously neither the Shaws nor Hobbses want Brixton to get his hands on the McGuffin, and the story goes from there.

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900hp hybrids are coming for the 2022 IndyCar season

The #7 Honda IndyCar of Marcus Ericsson races on the track during the IndyCar race at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2019.

Enlarge / The #7 Honda IndyCar of Marcus Ericsson races on the track during the IndyCar race at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2019. (credit: Brian Cleary | Getty Images)

I can’t tell you who’s going to win the 2022 IndyCar championship. I can’t tell you which team they’ll be driving for. But I can tell you that they’ll do it with hybrid power. On Thursday morning, IndyCar together with Honda and Chevrolet (who supply the sport with engines) announced that the next iteration of its race car will boast a hybrid system to go with new turbocharged V6 engines. The series is aiming for a combined output of around 900hp (670kW) for the next-generation open-wheel cars, with an electric motor-generator unit contributing about 50hp (37kW) to the party.

“It’s an exciting time for IndyCar with the forthcoming evolution of the cars and innovations like the hybrid powertrain being incorporated into the new engine,” IndyCar President Jay Frye said. “As we move toward the future, we will remain true to our racing roots of being fast, loud and authentic, and simultaneously have the ability to add hybrid technology that is an important element for the series and our engine manufacturers.”

IndyCar says this will consist of a multiphase motor-generator unit, an inverter, and an electrical storage system. A similar move is already in store for the next generation of IMSA prototypes, which will also be introduced in 2022. However, unlike in Formula 1 or the World Endurance Championship, every team will use the same components to help control costs in these instances. This does somewhat undermine arguments about technology transfer and road-relevance, although that’s not really the preserve of open-wheel racing in the first place.

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Nissan’s bigger-battery BEV—the 2019 Leaf Plus review

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The 2020 Cadillac XT6: better than an Escalade in every way

The Cadillac Escalade has much to answer for. Would the luxury SUV have become quite such a thing absent that body-on-frame behemoth? Few vehicles have been such cash cows for their makers, either; consider how long ago the R&D for that platform must have been amortized.

But great name recognition and high profit margins will only get you so far. The market for luxury three-row SUVs is a hot one, and Cadillac wants more of it, with a plan to tempt people away from vehicles like the Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60. That plan is the XT6.

The XT6 was first seen at this year’s Detroit auto show in January. I find it handsome; a well-proportioned two-box shape that looks current without being too imposing. That should probably be read as a compliment to the design team, for the XT6 is just over 16.5 feet (5050mm) long. (The vehicle’s full dimensions are 77.3in./1964mm wide, 68.9in./1750mm tall, and a 112.7in./2863mm wheelbase.) The narrow LED headlights contribute to the effect, as do the 21-inch wheels worn by all the media test cars. I’m old enough to remember when 18-inch wheels were the preserve of race cars, considered too big for anything street legal; after talking with the designers, I’m not sure those days are ever coming back.

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The 2019 Audi Q3 is a compelling crossover point of entry to the brand

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—I’m not normally one to gush over crossovers. But when Audi brought its new Q3 to the New York International Auto Show earlier this year, its looks won me over. From the outside it looks like a nine-tenths Q8 and all the better for being less imposingly large. Open a door and the interior greets you with fashion-forward styling—including orange Alcantara if you’re bold—and an infotainment system that’s better than anything else on sale. It’s well priced for this highly competitive market segment and a huge leap forward compared to the first-generation Q3.

But is the new Q3 as good to drive as it is to look at? That’s the question I went Nashville to answer.

The 2019 Q3 is built using a Volkswagen Group architecture called MQB. This big bucket of parts and designs is used to make all of the group’s transverse-engine vehicles—everything from the Audi TT to the VW Atlas. The new Q3 is bigger than the model it replaces, having grown 3.8 inches (97mm) in length, 0.7 inches (18mm) in width, and 1.5 inches (38mm) in height. (Length: 176.6″/4,486mm, width: 72.8″/1,849mm, height: 64.1″/1,628mm) Most of the increase in length—3 inches (76.2mm) to be precise—was added to the wheelbase, much to the benefit of rear seat passengers.

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