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.
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.
Autopilot, the series of technologies used in conjunction that allow a Tesla Model S drive semi-autonomously, was in use when one 2015 Model S crashed, killing the driver.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration ("NHTSA") is looking into the crash and thus, looking into Autopilot.
Tesla remarked on the situation on their blog:
We learned yesterday evening that NHTSA is opening a preliminary evaluation into the performance of Autopilot during a recent fatal crash that occurred in a Model S. This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated. Among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles. Worldwide, there is a fatality approximately every 60 million miles. It is important to emphasize that the NHTSA action is simply a preliminary evaluation to determine whether the system worked according to expectations.
It's heartbreaking to think that someone thought their car was taking care of the driving and then, presumably all of a sudden, they end up in a crash that takes their life. Autopilot thought it may be called, Tesla expects people keep their eyes open and their hands on the wheel when using the feature. Still, there's no way to tell right now exactly what happened.
Regardless of fault, we can expect some for some draft regulations around autonomous vehicles to come out of this inquiry.
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."
Whereupon Bloomberg's Hannah Elliott takes a road trip in a $150,000.00 Model X through super-charger rich California and produces a video assessment of the vehicle with a duration of less than three and a half minutes.
Elliott's video review is posted below from YouTube. The conclusions are that the car feels virtuous but it's cost isn't the money, but the time-sucking lifestyle of an electric auto's charging requirements and the lack of "mechanical" nature of the drive.
I genuinely appreciate the lifestyle discussion from Elliott due to her funky personal fashion taste and the casual but caring but also matter-of-fact tone she uses, but when you put it all together it doesn't ring with sincerity. She scratches the surface of lifestyle, states that doors open unexpectedly without any real visual evidence, and forgets that a single-gear dual motor drive train is about as direct as once gets when it comes to the mechanics of a car-- especially when one compares that to the Triptronics and paddle shiftiness of modern, conventionally powered sport luxury vehicles.
When it comes to complaints about range, the crossover segment, perhaps more than any other auto segment, is designed for the daily errands and the weekend warrior-- both well within the battery range of the top-end model Elliott evaluated-- and that's in Colorado, where mountain climbs are steeper (I-70) than CA and Superchargers are bit more rare.
Then there's the ample time that the (very short) evaluation spends on waiting for the Model X to charge up at the super charging station. The editing makes the charging seem disproportionately long compared to the balance of her five day trip along the CA coast. Time that could be spent discussing the intimate details of any connection she has with the vehicle are spend bouncing a ball in a corner or talking on the phone...which she does on the handset while sitting in the car rather than showing us how well the bluetooth hands-free works.
I'm disappointed. Elliott could have done a lot more in the time she had.