This robo-van startup will handle Walmart’s “middle mile”

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Source: Ars Technica

Car makers, California agree to emissions rules Trump admin is trying to kill

Car makers, California agree to emissions rules Trump admin is trying to kill

Enlarge (credit: Harvey Schwartz | Getty Images)

Four major automakers have reached an agreement with California to produce more fuel-efficient cars for the US market, despite efforts by the Trump administration to roll back emissions regulations.

Honda, Ford, Volkswagen, and BMW of North America all agreed to a voluntary framework that will reduce emissions through 2026, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) said Thursday.

The deal requires the automakers to improve their overall fleet’s average fuel efficiency by 3.7 percent per year, starting with the 2022 model year. It also promotes a transition to electric vehicles by giving companies that produce and sell more electric cars credits toward meeting that emissions standard, and by providing incentives for installing more emissions-reducing technologies.

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Source: Ars Technica

Nissan plans 12,500 layoffs after operating profits fall 98%

Hiroto Saikawa, president and chief executive officer of Nissan, speaks at the company's headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, on July 25, 2019.

Enlarge / Hiroto Saikawa, president and chief executive officer of Nissan, speaks at the company’s headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, on July 25, 2019. (credit: Akio Kon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Nissan says it will reduce global headcount by 12,500 people over the next three years after a brutal quarter that saw net income fall by 95% year over year.

Automakers around the world have been struggling in recent months. Ford said earlier this year that it would cut 12,000 jobs in Europe, while General Motors has announced plans to eliminate thousands of jobs in a series of cuts.

Nissan has been having a particularly rough year. Then-Chairman Carlos Ghosn was arrested in November 2018 on corruption charges, creating a massive distraction for the company. Nissan has a complex set of financial relationships with Renault and Mitsubishi that make management of the company more complicated. Since Ghosn’s dismissal from Nissan’s board, CEO Hiroto Saikawa has struggled to turn the automaker’s fortunes around.

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Source: Ars Technica

Tesla loses $408 million in Q2 2019

Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., speaks during an unveiling event for the Tesla Model Y crossover electric vehicle in Hawthorne, California, U.S., on Friday, March 15, 2019.

Enlarge / Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., speaks during an unveiling event for the Tesla Model Y crossover electric vehicle in Hawthorne, California, U.S., on Friday, March 15, 2019. (credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The second quarter of 2019 was banner one for Tesla in terms of building and delivering new electric vehicles. As it reported earlier in July, the company built 87,048 EVs and delivered 95,356 of them. However, the company lost $408 million over the same three months according to the latest earnings report. Although it’s the second loss-making quarter in a row, it’s still an improvement on Q1 2019.

Encouragingly, automotive revenue grew healthily compared to Q1. Tesla brought in $5.3 billion in this category, only $111 million of which was for selling emissions credits. Now that the Model 3 is on sale in several continents, and 77,634 were delivered to customers during the quarter, Tesla says that the majority of orders were for the long range Model 3. The company reports that the average sales price is around $50,000 and that manufacturing costs are declining. Tesla also reveals that, now that it has sold several hundred thousand cars on three continents, it is beginning to gain some insight into the mix of options its customers prefer.

Tesla says that all the equipment in the factory in Fremont, California has been tested at a run rate of 7,000 Model 3s a week. The company says it’s now aiming to build 10,000 cars a week by the end of 2019.

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Source: Ars Technica

GM’s Cruise admits it won’t launch driverless taxi service in 2019

In January 2018, Cruise said that it would begin producing cars like this before the end of 2019 for use in a commercial taxi service.

Enlarge / In January 2018, Cruise said that it would begin producing cars like this before the end of 2019 for use in a commercial taxi service. (credit: Cruise)

In early 2018 Cruise, the self-driving startup that is majority owned by General Motors, announced that it planned to launch a driverless commercial taxi service by the end of 2019. The company stuck to this 2019 launch date even after Google’s Waymo missed its own self-imposed goal to launch a fully driverless service in by the end of 2018.

But in a post this morning, Cruise CEO Dan Ammann now admits that Cruise won’t launch a commercial driverless service in 2019 after all. Instead, he says, Cruise will further expand its testing infrastructure in San Francisco, preparing the company for a large-scale launch at some unspecified date in the future.

“Our first deployment needs to be done right and we will only deploy when we can demonstrate that we will have a net positive impact on safety on our roads,” Ammann writes.

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Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid first drive: This plug-in hybrid is a blast

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Formula E five years on: Cars Technica grades the electric racing series

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Ford shows off electric F-150 truck by towing a million pounds of train

Even if you’re not a truck fan, the prospect of a battery electric Ford F-150 is appealing. The F-150 is the nation’s best-selling light vehicle with more than 1.1 million sold in 2018, so it would be a good thing if some of those future sales were variants that didn’t need to pump out buckets of CO2 every day. To do that, Ford not only needs a competent electric powertrain, it also has to convince some of its customers that dropping the internal combustion engine isn’t a downgrade.

Which is probably why the company just released video of a prototype BEV F-150 towing more than a million pounds (453,592kg). Linda Zhang, chief engineer for the electric F-150, used one of the prototypes to pull 10 double-decker train cars carrying 42 2019 F-150s over a distance of more than 1,000 feet (300m). Until now, the heaviest thing pulled by a BEV for a publicity stunt was probably a Qantas Boeing 787 weighing 286,600lbs (130,000kg), which was pulled by a Tesla Model X in 2018.

In less welcome F-150 news, on Monday a class action lawsuit was filed against Ford for overstating the fuel efficiency of the 2018 and 2019 F-150 as well as the 2019 Ford Ranger trucks. The suit alleges that Ford “deliberately miscalculated and misrepresented factors used in vehicle certification testing in order to report that its vehicles used less fuel and emitted less pollution than they actually did. The certification test related cheating centers on the “Coast Down” testing and “Road Load” calculations.”

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The Lincoln Aviator uses cameras to read the road, smooth out big potholes

When Lincoln’s new three-row Aviator SUV goes on sale later this summer, its engineers hope it’ll be one of the smoothest-riding vehicles in its class. The key to that is a clever new adaptive suspension system with a feature called Road Preview. As you may have just gathered from the name, it looks at the road ahead and uses that information along with the more normal sensor input to constantly adjust the stiffness of the dampers in anticipation of big bumps or potholes.

A vehicle’s suspension is often required to please more than one master. On the one hand, its job is to keep the contact patch of each tire as close to optimum as possible to ensure good handling and road-holding. But it also has to soak up all the bumps and filter out all the jolts of the road in the name of ride comfort. For decades, that meant plenty of compromise when setting up springs, dampers, and the rest of the bits that attach the wheels to the car. Enthusiasts could buy adjustable dampers, although the adjustment usually meant parking up, popping the hood, and breaking out a wrench.

The idea of a suspension system that could react to different driving conditions while driving dates back at least as far as the hydropneumatic Citroens of the 1950s, but it was really the advent of electronic control that made the technology possible. Toyota started playing with the idea in the early 1980s with the Soarer, a domestic-market coupé. More will know it from its use in Formula 1, where it was introduced by Lotus’ Colin Chapman, who was looking for a new unfair advantage. By 1992, the Williams F1 team refined the concept to such good effect that its FW14B was nigh unbeatable, causing the sport to ban the technology thereafter.

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The Corvette goes mid-engined—supercar performance for $60,000

TUSTIN, CALIF.—On Thursday night, in a 1,000-foot long (300m) hanger packed with hundreds of attendees, the world got its first proper look at the next Chevrolet Corvette. New for model year 2020, it’s the eighth version of “America’s sportscar” and one that’s radically different to any production Corvette of the past. In the quest for even sharper handling, the engineering team realized the engine would have to move behind the cabin.

This change has been an open secret for some years now, probably to prepare the fiercely loyal and just-as-opinionated fanbase that once freaked out just because the shape of the taillights changed with the debut of the previous generation car. It’s an idea Corvette has played with since the early days, when Zora Arkus-Duntov was in charge. Starting with CERV I in 1960 there have been a stream of experimental concepts with the engine between driver and rear wheels, but none ever made the leap to production car. How times change.

The performance bargain of the century?

Although we’ve known about the impending layout swap, that was pretty much all we knew. Grainy spy shots from places like the Nürburgring and the Milford Proving Ground filtered out, as did rumors of breathtaking performance. But debate raged over the details, particularly the question of whether a supercar layout and supercar speed meant a supercar price. As it turns out the answer is no, for a brand new C8 Corvette (as the new generation is known) will start at under $60,000 when it goes on sale next year. But the stuff about the breathtaking performance? That was all spot on: Chevrolet promises the car will do the dash to 60mph in under three seconds. That’s as fast as the outgoing Z06, a model that has 650hp (485kW) costing $20,000 more.

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