You may use this website to help pick new tires, here’s how it tests them

You may use this website to help pick new tires, here’s how it tests them

Enlarge (credit: Tire Rack)

Of all the areas of automotive technology that have improved over the years, perhaps none is as significant—or as little understood by the public—as the advances in tire technology. After all, a vehicle’s tires are its sole points of contact with the road; if they lose grip, the car loses control. But to many drivers, tires are a dark art, round and black and mysterious. The cause is not helped by the tire companies themselves—few are prepared to sit down with journalists and explain in any real detail how and why their particular offerings are better than they used to be. But there is one good resource for doing some tire shopping, and it’s one you as a denizen of the Internet may already be familiar with.

It’s Tire Rack, a massive (now) online retailer of the round black things, and since 1995 the company has been doing independent tire testing as a way to give consumers the ability to cross-shop their new rubber. You don’t even need to be a Tire Rack customer to benefit. The company probably won’t like to hear it, but I’m sure I’m not alone in having done hours of research on the site trying to decide on new shoes for my old MX-5 and Saab 9-2x before going to Costco.

Actually, it’s something Tire Rack already knows. “There have always been people that want to educate themselves, particularly with a connection to safety. The Internet makes it very easy for people to find us who aren’t able to make that time investment in the process” says Woody Rogers, Tire Rack’s product information specialist. “We build out tools on the website to help people do that.”

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Source: Ars Technica

Elon Musk reaches settlement in SEC tweet battle

Elon Musk exits federal court on April 4, 2019 in New York City.

Enlarge / Elon Musk exits federal court on April 4, 2019 in New York City. (credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Elon Musk has reached a deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the two parties said in a legal filing on Friday. The new agreement provides much more detailed guidance about when tweets and other public statements by Musk must be approved by Tesla lawyers.

Musk’s original deal with the SEC was announced last September. It required Musk to obtain pre-approval for tweets that “contain or could contain” information that’s material—legal jargon for information that’s significant to shareholders. While the SEC expected Musk to begin regularly clearing tweets with lawyers, Musk interpreted this language as giving him significant discretion to decide for himself which tweets contained material information. As a result, he didn’t seek legal review for any tweets in the first few months the agreement was in effect.

In February, Musk tweeted that Tesla “will make around 500k in 2019.” Hours later, he followed up with a clarifying tweet, stating that he “meant to say annualized production rate at end of 2019 probably around 500k.” Musk didn’t get this tweet cleared by Tesla lawyers. The SEC viewed that as a violation of the agreement and asked Judge Nathan to hold Musk in contempt.

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Source: Ars Technica

Daimler North America CEO says future “does not include plug-in hybrids”

Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America standing on a stage.

Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America in Long Beach, April 2019. (credit: Daimler)

At a presentation in Long Beach, California, Daimler Trucks North America President and CEO Roger Nielsen on Wednesday laid out an electrification plan for Daimler’s Freightliner brand, which makes medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

Freightliner announced two battery-electric vehicles last June: the heavy-duty eCascadia and the medium duty eM2. The company previously said that it would build the trucks at a facility in North Carolina, but yesterday Nielsen said that an existing Freightliner factory in Portland, Oregon, would be redesigned to build the two electric-vehicle lines.

The company decided to change the manufacturing location in order to take advantage of the factory’s proximity to California, which has stringent low-carbon fuel standard rules about to take effect. In September, the state’s Air Resources Board amended existing rules to require that lifecycle emissions for transportation fuels needs to drop by 20 percent by 2030, which will certainly drive up the price of diesel and gas in the state. Now, vehicle manufacturers like Freightliner are betting that freight companies that move shipments frequently or exclusively through the Golden State will start to see a cost advantage in shifting their fleet from diesel to a low-carbon alternative.

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Source: Ars Technica

Tesla’s autonomy event: Impressive progress with an unrealistic timeline

Tesla’s autonomy event: Impressive progress with an unrealistic timeline

Enlarge (credit: Getty / Aurich Lawson / Tesla)

There’s an old joke in the software engineering world, sometimes attributed to Tom Cargill of Bell Labs: “the first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time.”

On Monday, Tesla held a major event to show off the company’s impressive progress toward full self-driving technology. The company showed off a new neural network computer that seems to be competitive with industry leader Nvidia. And Tesla explained how it leverages its vast fleet of customer-owned vehicles to collect data that helps the company train its neural networks.

Elon Musk’s big message was that Tesla was close to reaching the holy grail of fully self-driving cars. Musk predicts that by the end of the year, Tesla’s cars will be able to navigate both surface streets and freeways, allowing them to drive between any two points without human input.

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Source: Ars Technica

Tesla reports big first quarter loss

Elon Musk.

Enlarge / Elon Musk. (credit: DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)

After two back-to-back quarters of profits, Tesla lost $702 million in the first quarter of 2019, the company announced on Wednesday.

Tesla has been expected to post a loss for the quarter ever since the company admitted earlier his month that it had suffered a big drop in Model S and Model X deliveries. But the quarter’s losses were larger than many Wall Street analysts expected.

Markets weren’t fazed by the negative earnings news. After initially falling about 2 percent, Tesla’s stock price bounced back and is now about where it was when the earnings numbers were released.

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Source: Ars Technica

Motor technology from Model 3 helps Tesla boost Model S range 10%

Motor technology from Model 3 helps Tesla boost Model S range 10%

Enlarge (credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Tesla’s Model S is known for its long range, with the 100kWh version rated to travel 335 miles between charges. On Tuesday, Tesla announced changes to the Model S drivetrain that boosted the range by more than 10 percent to 370 miles.

Similar improvements have pushed the range of the high-end Model X up to 325 miles. And that’s all without increasing the vehicle’s battery capacity. The cars are simply able to go 10 percent further for every kWh of charge—which translates to electricity savings for Tesla customers.

Several factors combined to produce these impressive efficiency gains. Tesla switched one of the motors in the Model S and Model X to a new technology pioneered in the Model 3. The company also announced an improved suspension system and other efficiency tweaks throughout the vehicle. The impressive result: greater than 93 percent energy efficiency.

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Source: Ars Technica

Ford invests $500 million in electric car startup Rivian

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Source: Ars Technica

Check out Batman’s and Marty McFly’s rides at the Petersen Museum

A new exhibition will open shortly at Los Angeles’ wonderful Petersen Automotive Museum. It’s called “Hollywood Dream Machines: Vehicles of Science Fiction and Fantasy,” and as the name suggests, it features the two- and four-wheel stars of movies and video games, most of which will be very familiar to anyone with a passing interest in depictions of dystopian futures or speculative fiction.

“‘Hollywood Dream Machines’ will be the biggest exhibit of our 25th anniversary,” said Petersen Automotive Museum Executive Director Terry L. Karges. “With more than 40 vehicles from the silver screen spread across the museum, the exhibit is an ode to the industry that Los Angeles was built upon. We can’t wait to explore the fantasy and fictional concepts behind these extraordinary vehicles with the world.”

Some of the featured vehicles will be more instantly recognizable than others. I’m sure everyone is familiar with Batmobiles and the time machine from Back to the Future. Others might be a little more obscure, like the Weyland Industries RT01 Group Transport from Prometheus, or Frankenstein’s Corvette from Death Race 2000. And they aren’t all from films, either. Halo‘s iconic Warthog will be on display, and along with the BTTF DeLorean, you can don a HoloLens to check it out in augmented reality.

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Source: Ars Technica

Tesla has three of the 11 most popular cars shared on Turo

Tesla has three of the 11 most popular cars shared on Turo

Enlarge (credit: Turo)

In honor of Earth Day, the folks at Turo got in touch to tell me about the rising popularity of electric vehicles on the car sharing platform. For the uninitiated, Turo is a site that lets people rent out their vehicles when they’re not using them—and yes, it includes insurance in case the renter does something they’re not supposed to do. And increasingly, the vehicles that people are looking for, and the vehicles they’re sharing, are electric. In fact, the supply of EVs on Turo grew by 1.5 times the rate of hybrids or conventionally powered vehicles in 2017 and 1.6 times in 2018. The growth in demand is lagging a little, but demand for EVs still grew at 1.4 times the rate of hybrids and conventionally powered vehicles in 2017 and 1.5 times in 2018.

There are no prizes for guessing that much of this growth was from people adding Teslas to the platform and people correspondingly looking to rent Teslas. In 2014, there were just 67 Teslas for rent on Turo. At the time of writing, the company tells me that there are now 6,000 Teslas on the site.

As we discovered in January, the most popular car to rent on Turo last year was the Jeep Wrangler, and for 2018 none of the top five most rented cars were battery EVs. But the Model S was in sixth place back then, with the Model X in tenth and the new Model 3 just one spot behind. “It’s fascinating to see how popular EVs have become over the last year,” explained Andre Haddad, Turo’s CEO. “The Model 3 only showed up last spring, then started to take off in the summer as more people got their cars. And in Q4 2018, the Model 3 had overtaken the Model X.” (Haddad also owns a Model S, Model X, and Model 3, all of which he rents out on the platform.)

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Source: Ars Technica

A Model S burst in flames in a parking lot, Tesla will investigate

Smoke billows out from under a Tesla Model S shortly before it erupted into flames in a parking garage in Shanghai, China, on April 21st.

Enlarge / Smoke billows out from under a Tesla Model S shortly before it erupted into flames in a parking garage in Shanghai, China, on April 21st. (credit: Weibo)

Tesla is sending an investigative team to a Shanghai parking garage to see if it can determine what caused a Model S electric vehicle to explode into flames over the weekend. News of the car’s spontaneous combustion spread on social media, complete with CCTV footage from the parking garage. Wisps of smoke began to emerge from underneath the Model S, which then exploded into flame.

According to the local fire department’s Weibo account, two other cars were also damaged by the fire. Tesla also used Weibo to make a statement acknowledging the fire and its participation in the investigation.

“After learning about the accident that occurred in Shanghai, we sent the team to the scene last night,” Tesla wrote (according to a Google translation). “We are actively contacting relevant departments and supporting the verification. According to current information, there are no casualties.”

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Source: Ars Technica

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