These are the sorts of things that private citizens can't pull of alone. The government they elect has to be used to incentivise private business to build these chargers. Otherwise we'll never escape from petrol-based personal commuting.
John Voelcker over at Green Car Reports put together an interesting story about how auto companies are approaching the US federal government in preparation of infrastucture legislation.
First, the good news. GM is trying to use the environment to get more funding for EV chagrin stations. It's essential to the zero-emissions future. Here's the meat:
Now the bad news.
While CES 2018 saw Toyota make a move toward taking its fleet's powertrain over to battery electric; a turn of events I celebrated earlier this month, it seem that Toyota still hasn't given up on the awful Mirai concept, and wants money spent on Hydrogen fueling stations - an idea I've considered utterly foolish for years now. The problem is that they're not the only ones. Voelcker says that Toyota was joined by Honda in the request for hydrogen fueling infrastructure.
I've noted it time and again and I'll note it here now: Hydrogen, while likely the most abundant substance in the universe, is difficult to obtain on Earth. One needs to burn natural gas to get it. That's not eco friendly.
A few years ago I had a chance to check out the Toyota Mirai - a hydrogen powered electricly propelled car that Toyota claimed was, rather than its Pruis line or the trending battery electric vehicles, the wave of the future.
Suffice it to say I didn't agree. hydrogen is not a sustainable or ecologically friendly fuel source at this time - maybe never.
Still, Toyota put a lot of $$$$ into the research and development of the thing and they still believe that this thing, which allows for the continued time, energy and money drive-to-pump model of re-fuelling, in addition to the fact that one needs CNG or LNG to produce the fuel, is a product that Toyota hopes will take off.
To that end, Toyota has reached out to LA-based ad agency Saatchi to develop advertising materials for the series of poor logistical and ecological choices on four wheels that is the Mirai.
To that end, the ad agency took to IBM's Watson Artificial Intelligence computer, where time and energy was spent programming the supercomputer to write phrases that would appeal to every single type of consumer that would be interested in the hydrogen-powered Mirai.
The computer was able to find myriad new ways to describe the vehicle to potential buyers. Unfortunately, the data neglected to mention that tech-savvy, eco-minded buyers, are not necessarily into under-powered vehicles that have to be powered by fuel that's only available at select pumps in or around California. Especially when they realise that hydrocarbons are needed to create that fuel in the first place.
Still, the method of advertising is novel. While it's not clear how well crafted the data set was that determined the targeting for this campaign, there are plenty of ways to identify users and consumers who are in the market for this or that trinket. The added benefit of AI is that it can make the messages more applicable to potential consumers and, eventually, it holds the promise of being able to do that in real time with the latest available data. Did your Android Watch recently report that you just finished a run? How about a smoothie?
It may sound "creepy" at first, but relevance is everything when it comes to saving time and money in the ad space. I'd rather be enlightened about something I want than be annoyed by ads that interrupt the flow of my day, pushing products I have no real interest in.
So what's the takeaway? We're that much closer to Minority Report, which is, in more ways than just advertising, the holy grail of so much of tech.
I was catching up on a news backlog and came across this interesting piece on the Project Titan, the code word for the autonomous electric vehicle that Apple seems to be making. Max at Appcessories brings us up to speed with history and findings from his recent research.
One thing struck out to me in particular:
"Apple seems to have hit a bump when BMW politely excused itself from the future partnership. The German automaker, Daimler, also refused to join up with Apple for its project."
Apple, Inc. is a different company than it was in 2005, but it's worth remembering that Steve Job's Apple Computer, Inc teamed up with Motorola to create the first mobile device, a phone called the ROKR, that could connect to iTunes. At the time Motorola was at the top of hte mobile space, with a series of devices that had great performance and style, like the conversation piece, I owned, the Moto V70, the standard, practical flip, the Moto V60, and the gold standard of mobile device design at the time, the Moto RAZR.
Motorola was exactly where BMW and Diamler are now-- at the top of their industry. They worked with Apple to get the ROKR device out, but Apple was either distracted by the imminent release of their iPod Nano, which was smaller than the phone and could hold far more song's than the Motorola's arificially capped 100 song limit.
The disruption was complete two years later when Apple unveiled the iPhone, a device with more speed, more storage, a dazzling interface, and a music app. Motorola would never regain its spot as the top mobile phone maker again.
No- Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs but the lesson here is that BMW and Daimler, both of whom are working on both autonomy and advanced drive vehicles, would do well to innovate on their own-- grabbing talent where they can, lest a relationship with Apple lead to a vehicle that completely devours their core audience.
Billy Steele, writing for Engadget on Honda's new hybrid motor, which they built in collaboration with Daido Steel:
The new motor doesn't use heavy rare earth metals like dysprosium and terbium, instead relying on magnets from Daido Steel that cost 10 percent less and weigh 8 percent lighter than the previous components.
Hybrids are going to be an ever-important step toward auto's step to electrification, since large batteries still cost a lot and developing nations have more access to petroleum based fuels than they do steady electricity supplies. reducing dependence on Rare Earth metals goes a long way into bringing the cost of these devices down.
Steele also mentions that without the need for these metals, Honda doesn't have to negotiate with China, which holds most of the rare earth metal reserves. A positive political externality for Japan, perhaps, but an even more positive externality for the price of these metals, which should become more accessible as the price diminishes.
While Germany has long been the place for auto innovation, it's clear that over the last decade, there's been a resurgence in US auto engineering. Unfortuneately, the Big 3 aren't leading the charge, but being dragged by Tesla, Google and even Apple these days.
Germany's big 3 are being dragged as well, but today it's interesting to see how it's not just the US that's making waves. As Alina Selyukh reports for NPR, a 24 year old Columbian man just used 3D printing techniques to create a cheap, autonomous minibus-- the sort of thing that could be made incredibly quickly, cheaply, and, in its capacity as a part of public transportation, take cars off of the road, rather than chasing a consumer play that inevitably leads to more traffic.
It's impressive. Click or tap on this blog post's title for the link that'll get you the images of this adorable minibus, it's inventor and the full story.
Jillian D'Onfro, writing for Business Insider:
"The feature has long been available on the desktop version, which made its absence on the app even more annoying for those of us (like me) who like to plan roadtrips on a computer but rely on a phone for navigation. Not being able to add multiple stops on the app was incredibly frustrating."
What's similarlly interesting, is that Waze, a mobile navigation app which Google has owned since 2013, has had this same functionality for at least a couple of years now-- even allowing passengers of moving cars to insert a stop into an established route. I really wonder what took so long.
This one's simple: the headline IS the story.
Summary? Tesla shares lost 10% in today's trading as shareholders felt unconvinced that the $2.9 billion bid to purchase SolarCity, a leaser and developer of solar power generation and power generation devices, was a good idea.
Musk is going to have to come out from behind the desk and sell this one hard. Also-- it looks like it's an all-stock deal** that some thing undervalues SolarCity's potential.
**In an 8-K filing, Tesla proposed exchange from 0.122 to 0.131 shares for each share of SolarCity stock.
There's not much to say about this, but here's my initial reaction:
It's important to understand that Tesla CEO Elon Musk is the chairman of Solar City, which is run by his cousin.
Given some takes on Tesla's cash flow situation, this gambit will allow the automaker to further diversify revenue, which is currently not limited to just car sales, but battery sales and sales of carbon credits to big polluters. Investors could be intrigued to put down more money now that it's clear Tesla is in fact much more than a one-trick pony that's focused in the risky business of manufacturing and selling autos.
On the flipside, those autos are a huge draw for the business, especially now that Tesla has taken VolksWagen's place as one of the top ten auto brand values. Considering that VW is the second largest automaker in the world, that's pretty significant.
But back to Solar City. If this $2.9 billion bid is successful, Tesla is essentially an Electric Company that leases and sells devices for power generation, storage, and consumption. That's called vertical integration, and it's a principle that has long gotten the attention of investors.
Jason Graul of Business Finance News is reports that Germany's Big Three automakers (BMW, Daimler, and VolksWagen) are beginning to ramp up their EV product goals. It's a strange concession from an industry that, less than a decade ago, thought EVs were impossible. The reason for this renewed interest in electronic vehicles?
US Automaker Tesla Motors
"Even though for Tesla, Germany has remained a low-volume market, for the German automakers, US has proved to be the key auto market. Recently, Tesla garnered overwhelming response for its latest mass-market Model 3, which indicates how much electric vehicles are being preferred by the people if they were offered at lower prices. The US electric car maker also revealed a new goal of producing half a million cars per year in 2018 — two years ahead of its actual planned date of 2020. This is reflective of the fact that the company is aggressively moving ahead with its EV plans and hence, other automakers need to ramp up their operations if they are to compete with Tesla."
It's our nature to move forward and leave the past in the past. Still, it's important to realise that Dieselgate is still here, and that while the US EPA discovered the scandal, the US isn't the only nation affected by it.
It's incredible that the facts are still yet to be uncovered in this matter because of the sheer scale of the deception, which appears to have been perpetrated by the VW management worldwide.