Notable reads and other tidbits
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called out Tesla’s Autopilot this week. “There’s a real concern that’s not limited to the technology itself but the interaction between the technology and driver,” he said. In other words, while the tech doesn’t need to be perfect yet, we can’t deny that drivers often have a false sense of security, which can lead to accidents.
Tesla launched FSD Beta in Europe and Australia. It’s a small-scale launch, with one Model S in Belgium and another in Germany getting an update and a Model 3 in Australia receiving the beta software. For those who don’t know, FSD is already available in New Zealand, according to a Tesla salesperson who took me on a test drive the other day.
Moia, Volkswagen’s on-demand ride-pooling company, will use Apex.AI’s operating system to develop their autonomous ride-pool service for the future self-driving “ID. Buzz AD.”
Ever wonder what the policy and regulatory barriers holding back self-driving vehicles are, and how we can remove them? Well, the firm Hatch has 80 pages of answers for you, including over 40 recommendations. Some of those recommendations include a new language for regulators to describe automated vehicles, a proposal for allocation of liability and responsibility among passengers and automated-driving systems and a program for the introduction of automated trucking.
Waymo and Uber have agreed to a multiyear strategic partnership that will see Waymo’s self-driving cars on Uber’s ride-hail and delivery platform, starting in Phoenix later this year.
Electric vehicles, batteries and charging
Australia reached an agreement with the U.S. to develop its critical minerals industry in cooperation with the U.S. The deal paves the way for Aussie suppliers of minerals like lithium, as well as renewable energy, to be treated as domestic suppliers under the U.S. Defense Production Act.
BMW and Meta reached a joint research breakthrough that will allow virtual reality headsets to work in moving cars. Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, says he thinks bringing VR headsets — the most immersive medium ever invented — to cars will kill people.
BMW also extended its partnership with AirConsole to bring gaming to its new 5 Series sedan, which promises an all-electric i5 variant as well as a performance M5 sports sedan. The 5 Series is surprisingly spacious and unsurprisingly luxury filled, including a new digital dashboard and BMW’s so-called hands-free driver-assistance system.
The California Air Resources Board is urging the Biden administration to grant approval for its proposal to ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles in the state by 2035. The Board had already approved its own plan in August, but it still needs a green light from the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce it.
Ford has gone back on its decision to build new vehicles without AM radio after pressure from lawmakers. Many automakers, including Tesla, BMW, and Volkswagen, have said they plan to ditch AM radio because it interferes with electrical engines. So policymakers introduced a bill calling NHTSA to require AM radio in vehicles for public safety reasons. Ford CEO Jim Farley had a chat with some of them and apparently was convinced. Will other automakers follow?
Speaking of Ford, the company revealed details about its next-gen full-sized SUV EV, which CEO Jim Farley referred to as “a personal bullet train.” The new EV platform, which will go into the T3 e-truck and three-row SUV that’ll go into production in 2025, demonstrates a new strategy by Ford to reduce battery pack size while maintaining performance and range.
General Motors plans to unveil an all-electric Cadillac Escalade later this year. GM revealed almost no details about the so-called Escalade IQ, but we’re pretty sure it’ll be built off GM’s next-gen Ultium platform and could feature around a 450-mile range.
Hyundai is partnering with LG Energy to build a $4.3 billion EV battery factory in the U.S. to take advantage of tax credits. This is Hyundai’s second U.S. battery partnership announcement in recent weeks. The automaker is also partnering with SK On.
Tata Motors, owned by Jaguar Land Rover, is reportedly choosing Britain over Spain for its multi-billion-pound electric car battery plant.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk hinted in a joint Twitter Spaces announcement with Ford that the automaker might “open up some of its automotive operating system code to other automakers.”
Uber is launching Uber Green in India, an effort to introduce more EVs to the platform. The company will add 25,000 EVs to its platform in partnership with fleet providers like Lithium, Everest and Moove, and it’ll roll out 10,000 electric two-wheelers in Delhi by 2024 with Zypp Electric.
VinFast issued its first recall for some of its 2023 VF8 vehicles due to a software glitch that caused the dashboard screen to go blank. The dashboard in VinFast’s cars shows critical information like the speedometer or warning lights. The automaker will fix the problem with an OTA update.
Volvo has shared new details on its upcoming EX30 electric SUV, and by new details, we mean promotional images showing a vehicle for ANTS. Volvo claims the vehicle’s carbon footprint is smaller “than any Volvo car ever before.”
In a disappointing turn for labor rights activists, Minnesota governor Tim Walz vetoed a bill that would have guaranteed a minimum wage and other protections for Uber and Lyft drivers.
Candela has revealed its Candela C-8 Polestar edition hydrofoil boat, which the company says combines Polestar’s Scandinavian take on luxury EV design with Candela’s boat tech.
Nvidia will integrate its GPU chiplet into MediaTek’s automotive system-on-chips to jointly deliver a range of in-vehicle AI cabin solutions for software-defined vehicles.
German authorities are investigating a potential data leak by Tesla. The automaker reportedly failed to adequately protect data of customers, employees and business partners, according to local business newspaper Handelsblatt. The paper received 100 gigabytes of confidential leaked data.
Bosch created a new regional board to oversee its mobility business in North and South America, led by Paul Thomas as president of the Americas for Bosch Mobility.
EVR Motors, an Israel-based electric motor company, appointed Nick Rogers to its board. Rogers was a former executive director of product engineering and board member at Jaguar Land Rover.
Kodiak Robotics hired Steve Kenner as its vice president of safety. Kenner has a long career in tech and automotive with stints at Apple, Ford, General Motors and Uber.
Swvl Holdings appointed Ayman Ismail Mohamed Ahmed to its board of directors.
Urban Air Mobility
Vertical Aerospace said South Korean ride-hailing service Kakao Mobility has pre-ordered up to 50 of Vertical’s VX4 aircraft. Recall that last year, Kakao and Vertical joined LG Uplus, Pablo Air, Jeju Air and GS Caltex to participate in South Korea’s K-UAM Grand Challenge to commercialize urban air mobility.