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Archive for the ‘Semi-autonomous Driving’ Category

Tesla CEO Musk Survives 1st Big Challenge as Chairman as Model 3 “Quite Likely” to Meet Target

Shanghai, European plants could be announced within weeks.

by on Jun.06, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk beat back challenges to his role, while 3 board members were voted back in.

Elon Musk stared down a group of dissident shareholders on Tuesday, surviving the first serious challenge to his dual role as chairman and CEO of the California automaker, while three of his hand-picked board members also fended off challenges.

Musk, who has developed an almost cult-like following among investors and electric vehicle fans alike, has faced an unusual degree of scrutiny in recent months as a result of mounting losses, struggles with production of the Model 3 sedan and a series of widely reported crashes involving Tesla vehicles. But despite some opposition, the company’s annual shareholders meeting was largely focused on promises about great things to come.

News That Matters!

Musk promised that after months of what the CEO has dubbed “production hell,” the pace is picking up at the Fremont assembly plant and that production will “quite likely” reach his 5,000 vehicle-a-week target by the end of June. Meanwhile, he and members of his senior management team outlined other developments to come, including the launch of additional production plants that could substantially boost global demand.

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Jaguar Land Rover Aiming for Off-Road Autonomy

Project Cortex “all-terrain, all- weather autonomous capability.”

by on Jun.04, 2018

Negotiating a rugged trail is difficult enough for humans, but JLR aims to make it possible for autonomous vehicles.

As a series of recent collisions has demonstrated, it’s not easy to develop cars capable of driving on their own on a regular roadway. Now, imagine the challenge that would be involved in programming an autonomous vehicle to operate off-road, as well.

But that’s precisely what Jaguar Land Rover is hoping to do with its new Project Cortex, the British automaker saying it will invest nearly $5 million to come up with vehicles that have all-terrain, all-weather autonomous capability.”

Navigating a Brave New World!

“Self-driving is an inevitability for the automotive industry,” explained Chris Holmes, JLR’s director of Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Research. “It’s important that we develop our self-driving vehicles with the same capability and performance customers expect from all Jaguars and Land Rovers.”

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FCA Maps Out a Self-Driving Strategy

Automaker teams up with Waymo, BMW and Aptiv, but carves out its own path.

by on Jun.01, 2018

A Waymo-modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

While there are a growing number of autonomous vehicle prototypes on the road these days, Waymo and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles made headlines when they announced, earlier this week, plans to direct as many as 62,000 Pacifica Hybrid minivans into the self-driving ride-sharing service the Google spin-off will launch later this year.

By some estimates, 20% or more of the miles Americans clock on the road will be in driverless vehicles operated by ride-sharing services like Waymo, Uber and Lyft by the end of the coming decade. Millions of motorists may opt to give up their personal vehicles and switch to those services. Millions more are expected to own their own autonomous vehicles.

The Last Word!

Until recently considered a laggard in the self-driving field, FCA has jumped in big, relying on partnerships with not only Waymo, but BMW and mega-supplier Aptiv. And that approach will not only help it to make up for lost time but give FCA several alternative paths to follow.

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FCA Planning to Plug In

After slow start, automaker reveals big plans for electrification.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The production version of this Maserati Alfieri concept will use an electrified drivetrain to launch from 0 to 60 in barely 2 seconds.

Sergio Marchionne isn’t much of a fan of battery power, or at least he hasn’t been until recently. When Fiat Chrysler Automobiles launched its first all-electric model, five years ago, the CEO actually urged motorists not to buy it, admitting FCA lost about $25,000 on every one of them.

But at the automaker’s “Capital Day,” in Milan on Friday, Marchionne and his management team were far more upbeat, announcing plans to add dozens of electrified vehicles – everything from mild hybrids to pure battery-electric vehicles – into the FCA line-up over the next give years.

Electrifying!

The economics still aren’t great, noted Mark Chernoby, the automaker’s head of technology compliance, but in an era of increasingly stringent emissions and mileage regulations, it’s the only real day to meet targets being set in markets as diverse as the U.S., Europe, China and Brazil. That’s all the more so as FCA continues to migrate from traditional sedans and coupes to the less efficient SUVs and CUVs that will overwhelmingly dominate its global line-up.

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SoftBank Investment Triggers GM Best Share Gain Ever

Cruise Automation could be floated in IPO.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The Chevy Bolt will be General Motors first fully autonomous car when it brings a self-driver to the market in the future.

Shares of General Motors posted their biggest gain in years, rising nearly 13% Thursday on news that Japanese tech investment fund SoftBank was investing $2.25 billion in GM’s autonomous vehicle development subsidiary, Cruise Automation.

SoftBank’s big investment was one of several major announcements yesterday that underscored the growing interest in self-driving vehicles. Waymo, the spinoff of Google, said it would purchase as many as 62,000 Chrysler Pacific Hybrid minivans for use in its planned self-driving ride-sharing service. Currently in a pilot program, it intends to begin commercial operations in Phoenix later this year and then begin a national rollout.

EV News!

GM plans to launch a similar ride-sharing operation through another subsidiary, Maven, using versions of its all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV modified by Cruise. Mary Barra, the automaker’s CEO, said GM will look at “other opportunities” for Cruise that could involve alliances with other companies SoftBank has funded, including Uber and China’s Didi Chuxing. (more…)

More Products, More Volume, Bigger Margins: FCA Lays Out Aggressive, 5-Year Growth Plan

Morning presentation outlines plans for Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The Ram TRX will be among the new models FCA will bring out over the coming five years.

(This story has been revised to update plans for Jeep’s pickup and a midsize pickup from Ram that, CEO Marchionne now says will come to the U.S. market.)

In a sweeping presentation designed to give analysts, investors, media and potential buyers a good look at its future, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives are spending a day detailing their plans for the company and its various brands.

At the midway mark, as they break for lunch, they’ve already lifted the kimono far enough to show what’s coming for the Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands and, in a nutshell, it can be summed up as more products targeting lots more volume and much bigger margins.

Breaking News!

The new five-year plan will be the last crafted under the guidance of Sergio Marchionne, the 65-year-old executive who helped pull off the pairing of two struggling manufacturers to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. His third five-year plan, Marchionne stressed that “The true finish line is the one always yet to come.”

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Tesla Sedan on Autopilot Slams into Cop Car

Latest crash intensifies criticism of semi-autonomous system.

by on May.30, 2018

A Tesla Model S crashed into a police car in Laguna Beach, California. Photo credit: Sgt. Jim Cota

A Tesla Model S sedan operating in Autopilot mode crashed into a parked and unoccupied police car Tuesday in Laguna Beach, California, the latest in a series of incidents linked to the carmaker’s semi-autonomous technology.

While at least two deaths have now occurred in crashes involving Autopilot, the driver of the vehicle in the latest incident suffered only minor injuries. But it is raising further concerns about both Autopilot and the way drivers are using – and possibly misusing – the system.

We Keep You In the Know!

A day after the latest crash, California-based Consumer Watchdog called on the state’s regulator to investigate what it described as “dangerously misleading, deceptive marketing practices” which, the non-profit group contends, can lead Tesla owners to believe Autopilot is a fully self-driving technology. (more…)

Volkswagen to Supply Vehicles for Apple’s AV Program

Apple to use small van for testing.

by on May.25, 2018

Apple's new autonomous vehicle — a T6 Transporter van from Volkswagen.

Apple’s on-again-and-off again automotive project, has found a partner, Volkswagen, according to a published report.

The report in the The New York Times followed reports by various tech-oriented web sites and publications that both Mercedes-Benz and BMW had rejected the overtures to work with Apple, which once considered building its own electric-powered autonomous vehicles.

We Keep You In the Know!

More recently Apple appears to have in development software that could guide self-driving vehicles and has even developed an AV shuttle that has been used intermittently on its Silicon Valley campus. It also has applied for permits to test AVs throughout the State of California. (more…)

Comrade Musk Wants to Launch “Pravda” Website to Rate Journalists

Tesla CEO increasingly intolerant of media, investor critics, even taking shots at owners.

by on May.24, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has another new idea: a news site! He'd call it Pravda.

It’s hard to tell whether Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s latest idea was more influenced by the old Soviet Union or the current resident of the White House.

Like President Donald Trump, the billionaire entrepreneur has had his run-ins with the media, Tesla coming under increasing scrutiny in recent months due to production problems, lawsuits, quality issues and mounting financial losses. So, it seems, Musk might lift the name for the old Soviet government’s official media mouthpiece, Pravda, and use it as a way to fire back at critical journalists.

Dig Deeper!

“Going to create a site where the public can rate the core truth of any article & track the credibility score over time of each journalist, editor & publication,” Musk said in his latest burst of tweets. “Thinking of calling it Pravda …” (more…)

Safety Groups Want Tesla Autopilot Name Banned

Groups argue it is “deceptive and misleading.”

by on May.23, 2018

Despite Tesla's claims to the contrary, safety advocates believe the company's use of the name Autopilot is misleading.

It’s called Autopilot but, at least for now, Tesla’s semi-autonomous technology is a not completely reliable co-pilot, it can require rapid human intervention to avert a crash. And that, two consumer groups argue, makes the use of the Autopilot name “deceptive and misleading.”

The Center for Auto Safety, or CAS, and Consumer Watchdog aren’t the first to raise concerns about the Tesla technology. German regulators briefly considered banning the name, Autopilot. But the American non-profit safety groups have taken their concerns to the Federal Trade Commission, asking it to initiate an investigation of how Tesla not only has named, but also how it promotes its semi-autonomous system.

Stay Plugged In!

In a letter to the federal agency, they claim Tesla has taken steps to “mislead and deceive customers into believing that Autopilot is safer and more capable than it is known to be.” (more…)