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Google Setting Up Suburban Detroit Autonomous Vehicle R&D Hub

New site moves tech giant closer to possible customers.

by on May.26, 2016

Google is opening a development center in Novi, Michigan. This building will start work with 100 Chrysler Pacific minivans.

As it steadily moves closer to production, Google is planning to open a new autonomous vehicle development center in the Detroit suburb of Novi.

The move will offer several advantages. Among other things, it will allow the tech firm to work more closely with the partners that would put Google’s self-driving technology into production. The announcement comes barely a month after Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Google announced plans to use the technology on 100 new Chrysler Pacifica minivans.

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“For the past few years, members of our team have been working from the Greater Detroit area. Now it’s time to lay down roots: we’re establishing a self-driving technology development center in Novi,” said John Krafcik, the CEO of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project in a post on the Google+ service. (more…)

Fiat-Chrysler Reportedly Talking Autonomous Car Deal with Google

But prior rumors of Google-Ford deal failed to materialize.

by on Apr.29, 2016

Google is already testing its bubble-shaped prototype in California, Texas and Nevada.

Two partners in search of mates? Both Google and Fiat Chrysler have been open in their need to form alliances, and the two companies just might be ready to team up.

According to several online reports, they’re in advanced talks that could lead to Fiat Chrysler putting Google’s self-driving vehicle technology into production. The Silicon Valley firm is already testing its autonomous car software with a fleet of prototypes, but Google officials have repeatedly said they want to find a partner within the auto industry, rather than setting up their own manufacturing operation.

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The talks have reportedly been underway for several months, according to the Wall Street Journal, while a separate online report on autoextremist claims negotiations are in late stages and could see Google’s autonomous technology used on a variety of different Fiat-Chrysler products.

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Google Gets Major Endorsement from NHTSA for Autonomous Test Program

Feds say AI system is equivalent of human driver under federal law.

by on Feb.10, 2016

No humans required?

Google’s autonomous vehicle program has achieved a significant milestone as it moves closer to being production-ready.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has told the high-tech firm that the artificial intelligence system used in its prototype vehicles can be considered the same as a human driver according to federal regulations.

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Google had sought that ruling in a letter sent to NHTSA last November in which it claimed the vehicles have “no need for a human driver.” The high-tech project is in the midst of rolling out about 100 specially designed prototypes designed to test the latest version of Google self-driving technology under real-world conditions. The company wants to remove even the traditional steering wheel and pedals from some of those prototypes.

(more…)

Google Wants to Know More About New Auto Industry Safety Consortium

Autonomous vehicle chief Krafcik upbeat about Obama Admin’s new proposals.

by on Jan.14, 2016

This time the government is moving fast, said John Krafcik (l), head of Google's autonomous vehicle program, in Detroit.

The head of Google’s autonomous vehicle program said he wants to learn more about a precedent-setting auto industry consortium that will be announced in Detroit on Friday.

Organized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the group will be aimed at bringing new safety technology to market faster than would be possible through the traditional regulatory process while also pushing those breakthroughs on to as broad a consumer market as possible.

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“I’d guess I’d want to see more and understand more,” John Krafcik, the CEO of Google’s self-driving car program said in response to a question from TheDetroitBureau.com. He was at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit to attend another announcement by NHTSA and the U.S. Department of Transportation. (more…)

Google Says It’s Looking for Partners – But Won’t Discuss Ford Deal

New chief says only full autonomy will work.

by on Jan.13, 2016

John Krafcik, former Hyundai CEO, recently signed on as head of Google autonomous program.

Google is going the full Monty. While some other research programs are looking to phase in autonomous vehicle technology, a step at a time, The head of the Silicon Valley’s self-driving project says his company doesn’t believe in taking baby steps.

In a visit to Detroit coinciding with the annual North American International Auto Show, Google’s John Krafcik said that as the company’s autonomous vehicle project moves ahead, Google will be “partnering more and more and more.” But Krafcik pointedly avoided answering the obvious question: what about Ford?

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Numerous reports over the last month have suggested Google and Ford are ready to team up to put the Silicon Valley firm’s technology on the road. The move, insiders claim, would help the Detroit automaker kick-start an autonomous vehicle program that has lagged behind key rivals’ efforts.

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Ford and Google Deal to Go Beyond Autonomous Vehicles

Partnership will expand Ford’s push into alternative mobility solutions.

by on Jan.04, 2016

Ford is just beginning its own on-road autonomous vehicle testing at its Silicon Valley R&D center.

(c) TheDetroitBureau.com 2016

While last-minute snags could yet delay a formal announcement, Ford Motor Co. and Google are planning to reveal the details of an extensive new partnership during a news conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

The expansive alliance will provide Ford access to Google’s cutting-edge autonomous vehicle technology, but several sources involved in the program told TheDetroitBureau.com that the deal will go well beyond self-driving cars and explore ways in which connected car technology can create alternative mobility solutions, a pet project of Ford CEO Mark Fields.

Tech News!

Other high-tech providers will join the alliance and, among other things, Ford will be able to test its new technologies at a 1,000-acre proving grounds being set up in North Carolina, according to those sources.

(more…)

Google’s Autonomous Car Unit Set to Become Stand-Alone

But what sort of business will it become is far from clear.

by on Dec.17, 2015

A Mountain View, CA police officer recently gave a warning to a Google Car for driving too slowly. Photo courtesy Google autonomous vehicle blog.

Google plans to spin off its autonomous vehicle operations next year, turning the unit into a stand-alone business under the corporate umbrella of Alphabet, Inc.

That could serve as a prelude to actually putting the company’s first self-driving vehicles on the road in a commercial application, according to a report by the Bloomberg news service. While Google has clocked more than 1 million miles testing its autonomous technology it has not laid out a public plan for turning that research into an actual, for-profit business.

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But a plan to put driverless cars on the road, possibly through a new ride-sharing service to compete with the likes of Uber and Lyft, could be endangered by draft regulations proposed by the State of California. Those new rules would require all vehicles to have conventional controls, including steering wheel and pedals, with a trained “operator” behind the wheel in case of a system failure.

(more…)

Battery-Car Buyers a Young and Affluent Lot

EVs a powerful draw for wealthy deal seekers.

by on May.06, 2015

EVs tend to draw more affluent buyers who are looking for a deal to offset the high price of the vehicles.

While sales of battery-based vehicles have lagged well behind industry expectations, manufacturers have been pleasantly surprised to discover that buyers are both younger and more affluent than those buying comparable gas-powered models.

But for most of those folks, going green wasn’t necessarily the only reason to buy a car like the Ford Focus Electric or Toyota Prius Plug-in. They were also attracted by the great deals manufacturers like Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Honda have been offering in an effort to build momentum for their electrified models, according to research by auto data firm TrueCar.com.

Power Up!

“EV buyers are affluent deal-seekers benefitting from big OEM discounts and (as much as) $10,000 of federal and state tax subsidies,” noted TrueCar President John Krafcik. (more…)

U.S. Auto Industry Generates Record $1.1 Trillion in 2014 Sales

But that number likely to double by decade’s end.

by on Dec.19, 2014

More than 54 million new and used vehicles will be purchase in 2014 accounting fro $1.1 trillion.

When the books are closed on 2014, combined new and used auto sales are likely to reach a record $1.1 trillion in the U.S. And that figure could double by decade’s end, according to various industry studies.

In all, Americans will have purchased 54 million new and “previously owned” cars, trucks and crossovers, reports data service TrueCar. The year appears to be ending with a solid December, according to other industry analysts, with new vehicle sales for the month expected to be up around 11% compared to year-ago numbers.

Informed!

On top of that, automakers have been able to boost prices at a time of strong demand during a period of sustained economic expansion and falling gas prices. So, forecast TrueCar, total revenues for the year will be up about 8.3%. (more…)

TrueCar’s Krafcik Suggests VW, Fiat Chrysler Merge

by on Nov.05, 2014

TrueCar's John Krafcik today suggested that a merger between VW and Fiat Chrysler would produce a "well-balanced" and "highly profitable" carmaker.

A new analysis from TrueCar suggests that Fiat Chrysler and Volkswagen are a natural fit for each other, if they were to partner up.

TrueCar President John Krafcik said during an appearance at the Automotive Press Association in Detroit today that if the two companies were to merge, it would be “well-balanced” and “highly profitable.”

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“This is an absolutely brilliant combination,” Krafcik said. “For sure, these two companies have a natural attraction to each other.” (more…)