Elon Musk Will Reach Mars Before Tesla Cracks China, Unless Beijing Changes The Rules

Michael Dunne:

Earlier this week, Elon Musk presented his master plan for colonizing Mars , a mission of infinite possibilities and countless, forbidding obstacles. Musk could have been talking about China.
 Just ask Tesla.
 The California maker of luxury electric vehicles sold a disappointing 3,711 cars in China during the first eight months of this year, according to EV-Sales. Even little Norway bought more Teslas last year. Clearly, Tesla should be able to win more of China’s 1.8 million-strong luxury vehicle market.
 China is also home to the largest electric vehicle market in the world. Sales this year are on track to reach 500,000 units.
 So, what is Tesla’s holdup?
 Chinese walls. China wants global dominance in electric vehicles. Beijing’s policies are designed to neutralize foreign EV makers. Tesla’s caught on the wrong side of the rules.
 Market shares tell the story. Chinese brands led by BYD and Chery account for 98.5 percent of EV sales in the People’s Republic. Foreign EV products like the Nissan Leaf and Teslas divvy up 1.5 percent.

Is Uber the next big thing that goes kaput? This guy thinks so.

Frederick Kunkle

But to get as far as it’s gotten, Hill argues in his book, Uber has evaded livery laws that previously governed taxi service in many markets; flooded the street with nonprofessional, unregulated and under-insured drivers; misled customers on the adequacy of background checks for its drivers and battled efforts for more rigorous screening of them, such as through fingerprinting; overstated the pay that drivers could earn working for Uber; and avoided paying some of the taxes and related fees that other taxi and limousine services must pay to local governments.

How to get a Tesla (TSLA) for cheap: use car-sharing networks like Turo and Getaround to pay for it

Michael Coren

Car manufacturers are clearly preparing for a future when people don’t buy many cars. Ford plans to launch its ride hailing service in 2021. GM just invested $500 million in Lyft. Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s “Master Plan” tells Tesla owners that in the future they will able to add their car to a shared fleet that will “generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation.”
 But if you can’t wait, you can still get someone else to pay for your car today. Car-sharing services for privately-owned vehicles are a small but increasingly popular way to pay off monthly payments, or turn a luxury vehicle like a Tesla Model S into an affordable purchase.

Why We Should Adopt Driverless Cars That Kill People

Shahin Farshchi, PhD

How good is good enough? Pharmaceuticals undergo rigorous safety and efficacy trials that take years and hundreds of millions of dollars to complete. New aircraft designs take even longer and cost more money to certify, which is why we fly on planes whose designs date back to the seventies. Gadgets undergo a battery of safety tests. Software products are handed over to armies of test engineers to validate. Despite these lengthy, expensive, and onerous processes, approved drugs are recalled due to side-effects, cars are recalled, airplanes malfunction, Galaxy Note 7s catch on fire, and we have grown accustomed to the spinning wheel of death. We set a very high bar for products we consume. We expect, with high confidence, that they will function as expected and put us at zero risk of harm.

VW Chases Tesla’s Electric Dreams

Chris Bryant

Mid-way through the presentation of a new electric-vehicle at the Paris motor show on Thursday, Volkswagen made everyone watch an honest and rather heartfelt video whose theme was basically this: if you royally screw up you can either sit on your hands or try to change. VW’s doing the latter in a big way.Herbert Diess, head of the VW brand, pledged the world’s biggest maker of dirty diesels will completely change its spots: it plans to become the global market leader in electric cars instead.

Renault says new Zoe has longest range of any mainstream electric car

Adam Vaughan

Renault has unveiled a new electric car that it claims will overcome psychological barriers among drivers who fear running out of power between charges.
 Launched on Thursday ahead of the Paris motor show, the latest Zoe model will have the longest range of any mainstream electric vehicle, the French carmaker said.
 Comparisons will inevitably be drawn with US-headquartered Tesla, whose models match the Zoe’s 250-mile (400km) battery, but Renault said it was competing for a different market. Most mainstream electric cars, such as those by BMW and Nissan, have a range of 100-150 miles.

Toyota drops diesel from new model, signals likely phase-out

Laurence Frost

Toyota (7203.T) has decided to drop diesel engines from its new C-HR compact in the wake of Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) emissions scandal and will probably do the same for future model renewals, the carmaker’s second-ranking global executive said on Thursday.
 The Japanese automaker decided “within the last six to 12 months” not to offer a diesel version of the car, unveiled at the Paris auto show, because demand for the powertrain technology is falling sharply, Executive Vice President Didier Leroy told Reuters in an interview.
 If faced with a renewal decision today for other models up to and including the larger Auris compact, a Toyota staple, “we would probably do the same thing”, Leroy added.

Electric car tipping point may challenge pioneers

Lawrence Frost and Gilles Guillaume:

Electric car prototypes and plans are set to dominate the Paris auto show as the Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) diesel scandal and falling battery costs persuade executives and investors that plug-in vehicles are ready to go mainstream.
 The expected flurry of announcements signals a threat to pioneers of the current generation of battery-powered cars, such as Tesla (TSLA.O) and Renault-Nissan (RENA.PA), who will now have to work harder to defend their lead.
 VW is leading the charge, keen to turn a page after its exposure last year as a U.S. emissions test cheat. The German carmaker will showcase new electric vehicle (EV) architecture underpinning a staggering June pledge to achieve annual sales of 2 million-3 million electric cars by 2025.

The Etymology of Parking

Michele Richmond

I’ve always wondered why we use the word parking to describe a place to leave a car. For me the word evokes images of my neighbor- hood park, playgrounds, or New York’s Central Park: lush green spaces, not places easily rec- onciled with a patch of asphalt. A few years ago while I was working at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, I nally got my answer.

Comparing measures of auto accessibility

David Levinson

Thus it is important to note that almost all differences between the two reports can be attributed to differences in methodology, rather than changes over time due to different land use patterns or travel speeds. We anticipate that as subsequent reports come out annually in the 2016-2020 time period, a methodologically consistent time series will be available enabling substantive comparisons of accessibility over time across the United States.

What does a kilowatt hour look like?


Some time ago I came across a very good read by David McCay – Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air. I’ve seen many good reviews of the book, so it didn’t take me long to download and start reading it. I haven’t finished yet, but I can already confirm that the book is outstanding – it’s one of the books that fundamentally change the way you look at things around you. The only thing I knew about “kilowatt hours” before, was that they come every month with an electricity bill. The book can give you a much broader picture of i.e. where they come from, and what they can do for you.

Autonomous Vehicles and the Future of Transport

The Commonwealth Club

Emily Castor, Director of Transportation Policy, Lyft
 Lauren Isaac, Manager of Transportation Sustainability, Parsons Brinckerhoff
 Linsey Willis, Director of External Affairs, Contra Costa Transportation Authority
 Jeanette Shaw, CEO, Techolicy—Moderator
 For decades, drivers everywhere have dreamed of having a car that drives itself. Now that Autonomous Vehicles are here, what are the implications in the Bay Area and beyond? From Tesla to Uber and Google, Autonomous Vehicles seem to be everywhere in 2016. Will we all be passengers in our own cars soon? What about the future of public transportation? Join our panel of experts to discuss the possibilities, challenges and what lies ahead for autonomous vehicles.

How connected cars should handle security

Andrey Nikishin

Did you ever wonder how your car works? Surely, there are enthusiasts who thoroughly understand the principles of an internal combustion engine and can talk about the differences between the Atkinson and Miller cycles. I can’t boast such deep knowledge myself, but I’m not the only one. Most people now see a modern car as a mode of transport to move from one location to another; they never think about what is going on inside the vehicle when the driver, for example, presses the accelerator or turns the steering wheel. Let us try and trace the evolution of the car to understand how those changes have affected us and may affect us more in the future.

Tesla’s Next Broken Promise

Doron Levin

Tesla Motors and its chief executive, Elon Musk, have made an indelible mark on the global automotive industry with their celebrated battery-powered cars, purchased by consumers whose passion for Tesla appears boundless. If that feat just a few years ago seemed unlikely, the youthful company’s next exploit looks even more so: to prove that vehicles in the digital age can be manufactured at great speed and high quality with minimal human manual labor.
 Since it started making cars in 2008, Tesla has delivered more than 140,000 electric vehicles globally, most of them its luxury Model S sedan and the Model X crossover with gullwing doors. Earlier this year, 400,000 people each sent Tesla $1,000 deposits toward its next car, the Model 3, scheduled to begin production next July in Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California. Aimed at domination of the mass market for electric vehicles, the Model 3 is a popularly priced, battery-powered sedan that will sell for as little as $35,000. (Nissan has sold 350,000 of the current market leader, the Leaf.)

United States department of transportation automated driving guidance

Bryant Walker Smith:

With today’s announcement, the US Department of Transportation is enthusiastically embracing automated driving — It’s saying that self-driving vehicles are coming in some form (or many forms) and that the agency can play a role not only in supervising but also in assisting this transportation transformation. The DOT is recognizing the wide range of relevant technologies, applications, and business models and is striving to address them more quickly and flexibly through its wide range of prospective and retrospective regulatory tools. (To be pithy: It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile; it can’t be your father’s DOT.)
 As always, the devil will be in the details. Those details will become clearer when the agency releases its full guidance on Tuesday and then as that guidance is (1) revised after public comment (for which the DOT wisely provided), (2) augmented by a related report by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, and (3) actually applied. For example, the DOT has not yet indicated whether its model state policy will be permissive or restrictive, particularly with respect to actual demonstration projects and even commercial deployments.
 I would also expect that this guidance will be the starting point for more thoughtful legislative discussions — not only at the state level but also, for the first time, at the federal level. It will be interesting to see which developers carry the DOT’s implicit requests for new authorities and resources to Congress. The model state policy does not bind states, and some may well decide not to follow it. The performance guidance likewise does not bind developers of automated driving systems, but I would expect few of these developers to deviate from it. This soft guidance could become even more influential if states incorporate it in legislation, if the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) considers it in the course of exemption or enforcement decisions, or if courts look to it to understand how a reasonable developer should act. In other words, DOT is establishing expectations.

Magna Steyr to build cars for Mercedes, BMW, Toyota and Jaguar Land Rover


Austrian contract manufacturer Magna Steyr will be producing six models for four different automakers at its plant in Graz, Austria, starting in 2018, Automobilwoche has learned.
 In addition to the Mercedes G-Class, the redesigned BMW 5 Series and the BMW Z5, Toyota and Jaguar Land Rover models will also be built there.
 Automobilwoche, a business and trade newspaper and affiliate of Automotive News, also reported that JLR is having an electric car and the new Land Rover Discovery built there. Toyota will tap Magna to build its new niche roadster, with the working name Supra, at the plant as well.

Via Roman Meliška:

Can e-bikes Revolutionalize long distance commutes?

Renate Van der Zee

Every morning Dutchman Marc Dekker hops on his electric bike and cycles 40 miles from his house in a suburb of Utrecht to his work in the town of Ridderkerk. And when work is done, he cycles back another 40 miles. All in all it takes him about three and a half hours to commute. “The actual distance is 45km (28 miles), but I make a detour to avoid having to cross a river by ferry,” he says.


The Third Transportation Revolution

John Zimmer

Then, when I turned 12, my dad and I began taking annual trips to see the real thing at the New York International Auto Show. I looked forward to going every year, because even at that young age, I felt a connection to cars and the freedom they represented.
 I think, in some ways, it was my love of cars that largely influenced how I saw the world. But it wasn’t until I took a life-changing city planning course in college that I had an epiphany: Cars weren’t just shaping my worldview; they were shaping the world, itself.

Uber’s billion-dollar losses expose the fragile state of the on-demand economy

Owen Davis & Avi Asher-Schapiro

When Ayda Valilar first read that Uber was losing billions of dollars, she couldn’t believe it. She’d been driving for the ride-share service for nearly five years, and had tried unsuccessfully to organize a union in Los Angeles with other Uber contractors. How could a company that had so adamantly played Goliath to the drivers’ David be so deep in the red?
 That was the reaction among many casual observers when Bloomberg reported in late August that Uber had lost $1.6 billion in the first six months of 2016, hemorrhaging capital on subsidies designed to make its pricing more competitive. It was the latest in a string of bad headlines for Uber. A week earlier, a federal judge ruled the company could be on the hook for more than $1 billion in labor costs. And just before that, drivers in Seattle beat back a legal challenge to dissolve the first-ever Uber drivers union.

If Apple or Uber Really Build A Car, Here’s Where They Might Start

Alex Webb, Elisabeth Behrmann and Gerrit De Vynck

It’s the headquarters of Magna International Inc., the world’s biggest contract manufacturer of cars, which helps steer automakers through the laborious stages of design, engineering and assembly. For years, Magna has eased production bottlenecks for Volkswagen AG, Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd and BMW AG. The carmakers go to Magna when they need assistance manufacturing high-end vehicles. Its engineers do everything from working out the complex jigsaw puzzle of components sourced from a plethora of suppliers, to designing the automated factory that can build the car. Now, the $16 billion Canadian company is ready to build cars for Silicon Valley’s biggest companies—and become the Foxconn for a new generation of automakers.

“Becoming a carmaker is extremely difficult,” Magna’s Chief Executive Officer Don Walker said. “Most people end up coming to talk to us at some point.”

The rise of ride hailing, self-driving cars and electric vehicles has placed the automotive industry on the cusp of a dramatic change. Yet for all their expertise in software and consumer electronics, the tech behemoths don’t know how to piece together 30,000 components to make a car.

It’s an expensive process. A completely new vehicle can cost several billion dollars, so leaning on the expertise of an industry veteran is a way of minimizing those costs. Apple has been quick to understand that: about a dozen Magna engineers have been working with the iPhone-maker’s team in Sunnyvale to develop a vehicle, according to a person familiar with the arrangement.

VW App Store

Jim Beckwith

Volkswagen has released images that hint at the styling of its upcoming electric model, which will be revealed at the Paris motor show.
 The model, which has been scheduled for release in 2019, will be capable of travelling between 250 and 300 miles on a single charge, according to VW Group CEO Matthias Müller, with charging only taking 15 minutes.
 The man in charge of the project, Christian Senger, said a range of 250 miles is adequate for everyday use. The car will also use a conventional mainly steel body. “Construction will be the same as today,” said Senger. “There won’t be any radical body concepts.”

Tesla Wins Massive Contract to Help Power the California Grid

Tom Randall

Tesla just won a bid to supply grid-scale power in Southern California to help prevent electricity shortages following the biggest natural gas leak in U.S. history. The Powerpacks, worth tens of millions of dollars, will be operational in record time—by the end of this year.
 Tesla Motors Inc. will supply 20 megawatts (80 megawatt-hours) of energy storage to Southern California Edison as part of a wider effort to prevent blackouts by replacing fossil-fuel electricity generation with lithium-ion batteries. Tesla’s contribution is enough to power about 2,500 homes for a full day, the company said in a blog post on Thursday. But the real significance of the deal is the speed with which lithium-ion battery packs are being deployed.

New Project Titan Details

Above Avalon

However, I have been noticing something weird with these Dodge Caravans and the locations that they frequent. Apple discloses on its website where the vans will be driven in two week increments. The vans have never been to Connecticut. However, the vans very frequently visit much more rural areas such as Kansas, Idaho, South Dakota, and Wyoming. In addition, there are states where these vans are found all the time – such as Louisiana and Nevada (and we are talking pretty extensive coverage in those states). If the goal is to capture business fronts and other items on busy roads for a version of Street View, spending a lot of time in Wyoming and skipping Connecticut is odd. In addition, focusing on a few states, while ignoring other states is weird. It got me thinking.
 If you look at the states that have enacted autonomous vehicle legislation, I see some overlap with the areas where these Dodge Caravans most frequently visit. Nevada and Louisiana allow autonomous vehicles, two states where these vans are routinely found. I suspect the Dodge Caravans are being used to collect data for autonomous driving. Specifically, they are collecting additional data in states where Apple will be able to test autonomous vehicles. This explains why they have never come to Connecticut (autonomous vehicles are not allowed), but spend all of their time in other states. The Dodge Caravans will end up being Apple’s way of establishing a test fleet of self-driving cars tasked with improving the company’s machine learning capabilities for autonomous driving.

Demand for future transport

David Levinson

There are differing beliefs about the effects of autonomous vehicles on travel demand. On the one hand, we expect that automation of itself is a technology that makes travel easier, it pushes the demand curve to the right. For the same general cost, people are more willing to travel. Exurbanization has a similar effect (and automation and exurbanization form a nice positive feedback system as well).

Driverless Uber and nuTonomy: A Future to Cheer or Fear?

David Hidalgo

The future is here, or it is very close: Uber announced “driverless” car services in downtown Pittsburgh; nuTonomy, a MIT spin-off technology company, just started commercial trials of autonomous taxis in Singapore. These developments come way before car manufacturers and technology experts have set their ambition (see table below). This seems to be very exciting news, but will the development of autonomous vehicles be similar to other advances in the car industry, like hydrogen fuel cell vehicles or electric vehicles? These technologies are still growing but at a much slower pace than initially expected.

How Did G.M. Create Tesla’s Dream Car First?

Farhad Manjoo

Ten years ago, a little-known tech entrepreneur named Elon Musk published a secret master plan for Tesla Motors, an ambitious electric car start-up he had funded.
 Revolutionary technologies always start as impractical and expensive, Mr. Musk explained, so Tesla’s first car would be a two-seat roadster that sold for $110,000. But by plowing profits from that car into research and production capacity, Mr. Musk promised that Tesla would quickly create a series of cheaper cars in higher volumes, all toward an almost mythical aim: creating a long-range electric car that could travel more than 200 miles on a single charge, but that cost less than $40,000 for the privilege.
 This year, Mr. Musk’s white whale — a car that will get 238 miles per charge, and will sell for about $30,000 after a federal rebate — will finally make it to the roads. Mr. Musk’s master plan has gone exactly as he promised, except for one tiny hitch.

Google’s Self-Driving Car Project Is Losing Out to Rivals

Alistair Barr

Chris Urmson, the mild-mannered robotics expert who ran Google’s self-driving car project, used to say that when his son reached driving age in 2019 the technology would be available so the teenager wouldn’t have to take a driving test.
 In August, less than a year after auto industry veteran John Krafcik took the helm of the project, Urmson left with much work remaining: Google has yet to launch an autonomous vehicle service for the public.

Google voice search records and keeps conversations people have around their phones – but the files can be deleted

Andrew Griffin

Google could have a record of everything you have said around it for years, and you can listen to it yourself.
 The company quietly records many of the conversations that people have around its products.
 The feature works as a way of letting people search with their voice, and storing those recordings presumably lets Google improve its language recognition tools as well as the results that it gives to people.

Millennials Don’t Care About Owning Cars, And Car Makers Can’t Figure Out Why |

Darren Ross

Auto manufacturers today are scratching their heads, trying to figure out why the millennial generation has little-to-no interest in owning a car. What car makers are failing to see is that this generation’s interests and priorities have been redefined in the last two decades, pushing cars to the side while must-have personal technology products take up the fast lane.
 It’s no secret the percentage of new vehicles sold to 18- to 34-year-olds has significantly dropped over the past few years. Many argue this is the result of a weak economy, that the idea of making a large car investment and getting into more debt on top of college loans is too daunting for them. But that’s not the “driving” factor, especially considering that owning a smartphone or other mobile device, with its monthly fees of network access, data plan, insurance, and app services, is almost comparable to the monthly payments required when leasing a Honda Civic.

At Long Last, Hybrid Gains Cost Advantage Over Diesel, Top Electrification Guru Says

Bertel Schmitt

One of the world’s leading experts in the electrification of cars says that hybrid technology has already reached price parity with diesel, and as the cost of diesel cars goes up due to tougher regulations, the widening cost gap should hasten the demise of diesel even more. Due to their cost, the share of pure battery-electric vehicles should not go above an impressive 30% for the next 10 or 20 years, the expert told me.
 Satoshi Ogiso has been a longtime development leader of Toyota’s Prius family, he also was instrumental in Toyota’s fuel cell development program, which went commercial in late 2015 with the Toyota Mirai. I met Ogiso last week for an exclusive interview in his new office at the headquarters of Toyota Group brake manufacturer Advics Co. in Kariya, near Nagoya, Japan. Ogiso has been the President of Advics for a little more than a year. Before at Toyota, Ogiso was regarded as one of the company’s brightest stars. He took over the Prius program from Takeshi Uchiyamada. If Uchiyamada was the father of the Prius, then Ogiso was the program’s fast breeder. It was under Ogiso when the Prius morphed from a science experiment into one of Toyota’s most important cars.

This May Be Tesla’s Big Chance In China. Will Musk Blow It Again?

Bertel Schmitt

Yesterday saw two interesting developments that could shape the world of electric vehicles from here on out. An adroit Tesla could use these developments to achieve a breakthrough in its quest for a million units per year by the end of the decade. If Tesla misses the chance, it will be disrupted by the legacy automakers it seeks to disrupt. As of yesterday, the legacy makers had a few legs up.
 Yesterday, Reuters reported that Volkswagen signed a preliminary deal to establish a joint venture with China’s Anhui Jianghuai Automobile (JAC) to make electric vehicles. Also yesterday, Reuters said that Daimler planned to sell Mercedes-Benz-branded electric cars in China. These developments carry great significance, indicating a sweeping change in the attitude of the Chinese government vis-à-vis foreign-branded electric vehicles, and possibly a long-sought opening of the world’s largest EV market to foreign auto brands.

Via Roman Meliška.

The battle between Tesla and your neighborhood car dealership

Jacob Bogage

BMW Plans Board Shakeup, Change in Electric Cars Strategy


BMW is also planning major changes in its electric mobility strategy to keep up with U.S. rival Tesla. In addition to the fully electric “i3” models, which have been in production since 2013, BMW will also offer fully electric versions of the Mini, the BMW3 series and the X4 SUV, which is built in the United States.
 The supervisory board is expected to approve the new electric models during a two-day meeting at the end of the month.

Lagos is imposing new taxi rules to clamp down on services like Uber

Yomi Kazeem

Uber has a enjoyed a good ride in Lagos, but it may be set for a few bumps.
 During its two years in operation, the ride-hailing app has, Uber says, “facilitated” over a million trips. After its first 16 months, Ebi Atawodi, general manager of Uber Nigeria, claimed the service grew 30% faster in Lagos than it did in its first 16 months in London. Despite the rise of competitors, Uber has remained popular with many Nigerians. But a recent regulation drive by the state government in Lagos could throw a spanner in its wheels.
 The state government has reiterated its intent to regulate taxi operations using a franchise system. It enshrined this in a law back in 2012, and adopted the corresponding regulation at the start of this year, but up until now there’s been no attempt to enforce it.

Mortgage Debt Continues to Decline While Auto Lending Soars

Lowell R. Ricketts , Don E. Schlagenhauf

Consumer debt grew across the United States and all of the major metropolitan areas in the Eighth Federal Reserve District in the second quarter of 2016. While nonmetropolitan areas showed similar debt growth trends, the total debt in these larger geographic areas is smaller than the MSAs’. Those are two of the findings of this second issue of The Quarterly Debt Monitor, a detailed report on consumer debt nationally compared to the four largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the District, which has headquarters in St. Louis.1
 This report uses the latest release of the Federal Reserve Bank of NY/Equifax panel data, with the latest observation being the second quarter of 2016. A subset of the figures reported in the previous report is presented to offer a more focused narrative. The special section for this issue will focus on consumer debt trends within nonmetropolitan regions of the seven District states. For readers interested in seeing the full set of updated figures, see the QDM charts appendix. In addition, the appendix offers a detailed description of our methodology and definitions.
 Executive Summary
 In the second quarter of 2016, real per capita consumer debt grew across the United States and all of the major District MSAs except for Memphis. Auto and student debt continue to be the fastest growing debt categories.
 Per capita mortgage debt grew marginally for St. Louis and the nation, while declining slightly in Little Rock. Mortgage debt holdings in Louisville exhibited the strongest growth, with a 1.7 percent increase over the past year. In contrast, Memphis declined significantly (3.5 percent), pushing the total level of mortgage debt in Memphis further below 2003 levels.
 Auto debt grew at an average rate of about 8 percent across the nation as well as in the four MSAs. That outpaced the growth rate for any other type of debt by a large margin. Auto debt in the largest MSAs, save for Louisville, exceeds pre-recession levels.
 Serious delinquency rates for mortgage and credit card debt declined in both the four MSAs and the nation. However, the fraction of auto and student debt that is seriously delinquent jumped by a significant margin in both Louisville and Little Rock. In contrast, serious delinquency rates fell for all types of debt in St. Louis, including a 2.1 percentage point drop for student debt. Despite mostly falling rates, Memphis continues to have the highest serious delinquency rate across all types of debt.
 With the exception of St. Louis, the size of total debt across nonmetropolitan areas of each state was close (80 percent) to that of the respective MSAs. A comparison of consumer debt trends in nonmetropolitan areas versus metropolitan areas shows similar growth trends for most types of debt. Within mortgage markets, nonmetropolitan areas experienced a milder deleveraging period following the recession. However, the average and total value of mortgage debt in metropolitan areas exceeds that found across nonmetropolitan areas as a whole.

Exclusive: BMW bosses to skip Paris show to thrash out electric car strategy

Edward Taylor, Irene Preisinger and Jake Spring

BMW’s car division has delivered a return on sales above 8 percent for 25 quarters in a row, a track record that the new management does not want to blemish, even as heavy investments into ride-hailing services loom.
 “How does the company expand into the loss-making segment of electric cars and retain its industry-leading profitability. That’s essentially the question facing management now,” said another of the sources.
 The carmaker recently revamped the i3 by giving it a new battery with greater range, a step which has given a boost to sales.

Computing the Social Value of Uber. (It’s High.)

Tyler Cowen

How much is really at stake? A new paper by Peter Cohen, Robert Hahn, Jonathan Hall, Steven Levitt (of “Freakonomics” fame) and Robert Metcalfe comes up with a pretty good, dollars-and-cents measure of how much UberX, the main Uber service, is improving the lives of its users.
 Based on their study, here are a few ways of framing the value of Uber ride services to Americans:
 For a typical dollar spent by consumers on UberX, they receive $1.60 worth of gain.
 That’s an unusually high amount of “consumer surplus,” as it is called by economists. It means there aren’t that many close substitutes for Uber at prevailing prices, as moving people around is something the U.S. does not do especially well.

Toyota Bets Big On Autonomous Tech, Swallows Millimeter Radar Maker

Bertel Schmitt

Once the deal is consummated by the end of the current fiscal on March 31, 2017, Toyota, together with its group company DENSO, will own 86% of Fujitsu Ten, with electronics powerhouse Fujitsu holding the rest. DENSO is one of the world’s largest OEM parts suppliers, similar in size to Bosch, Continental, or Magna.
 For the past years, DENSO and Fujitsu Ten jointly developed a revolutionary 3D Millimeter Radar unit that will give cars the visual acuity that is required to make autonomous driving a reality. Current technology mainly uses old style radar, and cameras, and it provides rudimentary vision that would make humans flunk any eye test at the DMV. Experimental autonomous cars rely on radar of the rotating coffee-can type, but that would be utterly impractical for regular use. Without that, radar projects a narrow beam, leading to a severe case of tunnel vision. Then there are wide angle cameras. They are shortsighted.

Top Gear drives the unbreakable Gordon Murray-designed ‘OX’ truck

Top Gear

Do not write off this planar-sided truckette as an unwelcome gatecrasher among the power-crazed pages of TopGear.com. Its purpose is noble. Its pedigree exquisite. And its capability extraordinary.
 “It’s a crime, almost, that only 20 percent of the world’s population has access to a motor vehicle,” says Sir Torquil Norman, ex-fighter pilot, lawyer, economist, banker and retired toy magnate. But he didn’t just rant about it. He set down the criteria for a new kind of vehicle for the developing world. It had to be ultra-simple, ultra-cheap, ultra-robust and ultra-repairable.

Via Bruce McLaughlin.

Are Cities Too Complicated?

Richard Florida

In the book, you make a distinction between the complicated and the complex. What systems in cities do you think demonstrate that today?
 When something is complicated, it is intricate but often lacks the dynamics that makes a system hard to understand. On the other hand, a complex system implies feedback, a sensitive dependence on the initial conditions, and emergent phenomena that are hard to predict.
 At the level of urban infrastructure, we can see evidence of complex systems when things go wrong. When a water main breaks and vast portions of a city’s population receive water from a backup system (and have to boil their water, just in case), or when an outage can cause a city to be without power, we see the sensitivity of a city’s infrastructure and the vast complex system that operates for its population, which most of us are normally blissfully unaware of. Similarly, transportation networks, from a subway to the road networks, are also complex technological constructions that are difficult to fully grasp.

VW Plans Electric Car Joint Venture With China’s Jianghuai


Volkswagen AG said it’s assessing the feasibility of an electric car joint venture with China’s Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co., potentially adding a third partner in its largest market and advancing efforts to meet stricter fuel economy and emissions standards.
 Jianghuai and Volkswagen are evaluating a potential venture in which each owns 50 percent, according to a statement Wednesday to the Shanghai Stock Exchange. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding a day earlier in Wolfsburg, Germany, where Volkswagen is based, and aim to sign a formal agreement within five months.

VW, JAC sign preliminary JV deal on electric cars in China

Automotive News

Volkswagen Group signed a preliminary deal with China’s Jianghuai Automobile to explore making electric and plug-in hybrid cars in a new joint venture, the German automaker said today in a statement.
 The two sides are studying the feasibility of a new joint venture and aiming to sign a formal agreement within five months, JAC said in a stock exchange filing.
 China surpassed the U.S. last year to become the largest maker of pure electric cars thanks to a raft of government incentives to promote the switch from gasoline to electricity as the country battles heavy pollution.

Via Roman Meliška.

Toyota’s Prius Pays Price for Cheap Gasoline

Sean McLain:

When the Prius first went on the U.S. market in the late 1990s, it was a hit among celebrities like actor Leonardo DiCaprio who flaunted their environmental bona fides with the hybrid gas-electric car.
 The latest version, which hit roads in December last year, is more fuel-efficient than ever, getting 54 miles to the gallon. In Toyota’s home market of Japan, it tops the sales charts. But sales are down in the U.S., as cheap gasoline dent the car maker’s strategy of presenting itself as the leader of an environmentally-friendly future—with the Prius as the vanguard.
 U.S. sales of the Prius are down 26% this year through August.

Car loans now top $1 trillion as delinquency rates rise

Greg Gardner:

Americans are borrowing more than ever for new and used vehicles, and 30- and 60-day delinquency rates rose in the second quarter, according to the automotive arm of one of the nation’s largest credit bureaus.
 The total balance of all outstanding auto loans reached $1.027 trillion between April 1 and June 30, the second consecutive quarter that it surpassed the $1-trillion mark, reports Experian Automotive.
 More consumers also are turning to leases, which accounted for 31.44% of all new car and truck transactions in the second quarter, up from 26.9% a year earlier.
 Both 30- and 60-day loan delinquencies rose, but the combined subprime and deep-subprime share of new and used auto loans and leases dropped from 23.3% in the second quarter of 2015 to 22.8% in second quarter of 2016.
 “Yes, subprime and deep-subprime loans are growing, but the entire market is growing from a volume perspective across all risk tiers,” said Melinda Zabritski, Experian senior director of automotive finance. “In fact, the subprime loans have actually dropped as a percentage of the total market. That, combined with only a slight uptick in delinquencies, makes clear that the sky is not falling.”

The Feds Could Block the Road to the Driverless Car

Gary Shapiro

Karl Benz ’s 1886 Patent Motorwagen, considered the first production automobile, didn’t look much like today’s cars. It was modeled on horse-drawn carriages, though it lacked doors or a roof. The vehicle also had three wheels, not four, and a tiller rather than a steering wheel.
 Cars have evolved dramatically since Benz introduced his invention at the end of the 19th century. Now, with fully autonomous vehicles only a few years from mass production, the automobile could become unrecognizable from past iterations. Change isn’t always easy, but regulators, business leaders and consumers should embrace this revolution, not fear it.

Tesla envy grips Germany’s giants

Christiaan Hetzner:

The gleaming white Porsche with menacing black trim took less than 8 minutes to complete the Nurburgring’s demanding Nordschleife circuit. The result was respectable but not spectacular for a 600-hp beast that sprints from 0 to 62 mph in a little more than 3 seconds.
 Unlike the Panamera production car, which can easily beat its lap time, the Mission E concept doesn’t have camshafts, pistons or valves to mix air and fuel in a combustion chamber or a spark plug to ignite it. It runs on a current of pure electrons supplied by a lithium ion battery, and it can almost fully recharge itself within 15 minutes.
 The Tesla Model S doesn’t come anywhere close to those specs — which is the point.

How the Apple iCar could crack the automotive industry


Billions of dollars in research operations, more than 1000 developers, mysterious workshops – the Apple iCar looks set to revolutionise personal mobility, bringing with it technologies that promise to alter the way we have traditionally used and perceived the car.
 Behind a heavy veil of secrecy, it has now progressed to what insiders describe as committed project status. Autocar outlines the electric car every established automotive manufacturer secretly fears

Tesla: The Improvisation Debt

Jean-Louis Gassée

No one would have given Elon Musk the money to start a “normal” car company. And yet, Musk went ahead, improvised, vaulted over one obstacle after another and created an iconic electric car company. In doing so, Musk incurred a deeply rooted Improvisation Debt, one he must now pay back in order to free himself from his heroic low-volume car-making past and become a truly industrial, million cars a year enterprise.
 Critics love to point to Tesla’s misses. They’re right, Elon Musk’s company has a history of missed deadlines, quarterly deliveries below plan, higher than planned cash consumption and other sins, all summarized in an August 15th WSJ article:

Via Roman Meliška.

People in Los Angeles Are Getting Rid Of Their Cars

Prima Arnand

Eric Spiegelman grew up in a six-car family in the San Fernando Valley and has lived in Los Angeles for the majority of his life. At the end of May, he let the lease on his Volkswagen CC expire, opting to live car-free in a city synonymous with car culture. For the past three months, he’s been commuting to and from work exclusively via Uber and Lyft — mostly using Pool and Line, cheaper options that allow passengers to share trips with other riders on similar routes.
 “It ran so contrary to the culture that I’d been brought up in, and also my sense of what was doable,” Spiegelman, 39, told BuzzFeed News. “It was the most unnatural feeling thing at first. But it was so freeing.”

Self-Driving Cars Were Just Around the Corner—in 1960

Evan Ackerman:

Two and a half years later, reporters got to experience this “highway of the future” for themselves, on a test track in Princeton, N.J. Cars drove themselves around the track, using sensors on their front bumpers to detect an electrical cable embedded in the road. The cable carried signals warning of obstructions ahead (like road work or a stalled vehicle), and the car could autonomously apply its brakes or switch lanes as necessary. A special receiver on the dashboard would interrupt the car’s own radio to announce information about upcoming exits.
 Pictured above is an experimental autonomous car from General Motors, in which the steering wheel and pedals had been replaced with a small joystick and an emergency brake. Meters on the dashboard displayed the car’s speed as well as the distance to the car in front.

Motor industry: Pressure on the pump Electric cars could make up a quarter of the world’s automobiles by 2040. How will it affect oil demand?

Pilita Clark and Peter Campbell

Rarely a day passes without at least one mention of a product that was not even easy to buy in its current form seven years ago: the electric car. But behind the headlines about new electric models from the world’s largest carmakers, the spread of charging stations and Tesla’s car battery “gigafactory” in Nevada, a more profound question emerges. Could electric cars ever cut the world’s thirst for oil enough to depress crude prices significantly?

Elon Musk Faces Cash Squeeze at Tesla, SolarCity

Susan Pulliam , John D. Stoll and Charley Grant

Two pillars of Elon Musk ’s empire are facing financial crunches as the entrepreneur seeks to combine the two companies through a controversial acquisition.
 Tesla Motors Inc., which makes electric cars, disclosed in a securities filing Wednesday that it has to pay $422 million to its bondholders in the third quarter, and that it will raise additional money by the end of the year. The purpose of the additional capital, among other things, is to support its proposed merger with home-solar company SolarCity Corp. Mr. Musk is the chairman of both companies.

China’s anti-trust regulators are investigating the Didi-Uber deal

Jon Russell

At this point there is no indication when the probe, which was triggered by feedback, will be completed.
 The Journal reports that there have already been two meetings between regulators and Didi, which did not apply for an anti-trust review because it believed that the value of the deal did not cross the minimum threshold.