Failed Google deal left Fields in the lurch

Sharon Silke Carty:

At the end of 2015, it looked like Ford’s then-CEO Mark Fields was going to score a big win: a partnership with Google to develop autonomous vehicles.
 The deal would have been a huge boon to Ford. At the time, none of the major automakers had spelled out a serious plan for getting fully self-driving cars on the road. And despite posting solid profits, Ford’s shares were falling because investors didn’t see anything coming down the line that they felt excited about. An announcement of a Ford-Google pairing could have significantly moved the needle on Ford’s share prices.

There’s an Auto Industry Death Spiral Coming Automated and electric vehicles will change everything, but will it happen as quickly as these analysts predict?

Katie Fehrenbacher:

Over the next 15 years, the American auto industry will face a death spiral of epic proportions that will lead to plummeting demand, cratering profits and slumping sales. Car dealerships and sales of traditional gasoline-powered cars will both evaporate.
 Those findings are delivered by a research report released earlier this month from analyst firm RethinkX, co-founded by analysts Tony Seba and James Arbib. RethinkX prides itself on reading the tea leaves on how truly disruptive technologies — like cellphones and solar panels — can be on incumbent industries.

Millennial Behavior Is About To Make Fools Of Peak Energy Demand Theorists

Mark Mills:

There are a lot of policymakers and pundits hanging plans on the idea that the nation is facing a “new normal” rooted in ostensibly unprecedented behaviors exhibited by Millennials. Since that generation is now and will be for decades the largest share of the population, how they behave impacts everything going forward, especially for energy forecasters.
 Nearly one-half of America’s total energy consumption is associated with just two things: homes and cars. We’re told that Millennials would rather bike and rideshare than own a car, and that they rather AirBnB or share a tiny urban apartment than buy a suburban house. If true, it’s a big deal not just for energy markets but also retailers and manufacturers; a permanent behavioral shift like that would give credence to the new trope of “peak demand.”

Tesla Autopilot Review: Bikers will die

Heather Knight:

My colleague and I got to take a TESLA Autopilot test drive on highways, curvy California roads, and by the ocean. In case you don’t live in Palo Alto (where the Whole Foods parking lot is full of these things)… the TESLA Autopilot feature is basically a button to turn the car into autonomous driving mode. So the car will speed up or slow down based on what’s in front of it, and supposedly stay in the lane or follow the turns of a road automatically.
 Autopilot classified ~30% of other cars, and 1% of bicyclists
 The purpose of this post is to share my first impressions of this system, particularly regarding its human-machine interfacing. I’m concerned that some will ignore its limitations and put biker lives at risk; we found the Autopilot’s agnostic behavior around bicyclists to be frightening. But as a human-in-the-loop system, this car’s features would impress Iron Man.

Millennials will Drive the Digital Transformation of the Workplace

Carolina Milanesi:

At Creative Strategies, we asked over 1,400 18 to 24 years old in the US what would make them not choose a company to work for after they were offered a job. While 35% were just happy to get a job, 46% would see not being able to work flexible hours as a dealbreaker. 21% would walk away from a job that did not let them use a smartphone for work in conjunction with their laptop or desktop, while another 17% could not tolerate an IT department that restricts what can be done with a smartphone. Finally, 14% could not be in a job that did not offer collaboration practices that fit their desired workflow, such as using apps like Google Docs or Slack, as well as video conference support.
 Workflow is different for millennials. Aside from prioritizing collaboration, 65% said their preferred method to communicate is messaging apps. When it comes to collaboration, Google reigns supreme with 81% of US millennials regularly using Google Docs, 62% Google search, 59% Google Mail. Outside of Google, Apple iMessage scored the highest, with 57% of millennials saying they regularly rely on it, followed by Microsoft Word with 51%.
 When it comes to devices, given a choice of laptop brands by their employer, there are only two brands that seem to matter: 62% would pick an Apple Mac and 14% would choose a Microsoft Surface Pro. Mobility is also no longer a “nice to have”. 34% of millennials say it is extremely important that the software, services and business processes they use for work are available on mobile as well as on a laptop. Finally, when coming into a job, 46% would prefer to be able to choose what laptop is given to them.

The Swirling Maelstrom Overwhelms Ford

Peter DeLorenzo:

But there’s more to this story, much more. Ford – and I’m speaking for all of “Detroit” here – simply doesn’t understand what’s going on. The difference between Detroit and Silicon Valley is that the Titans on the West Coast understand fundamentally that IT rules the frickin’ world now, while the Detroit auto companies see IT as something off “over there” that they have to get to eventually. And this attitude is absolutely killing Ford, and GM, for that matter.

This fundamental question is this: How can Ford transform itself into a “mobility company” when mobility is another word for technology, and when it comes to technology Ford is at least ten years behind the curve? Ford runs IT as a separate business unit, which is what I meant by off “over there.” In other words, the company is nowhere with this mobility thing, despite throwing money around in the tech world like a drunken sailor. And that attitude has decimated Ford and GM (I’m leaving out FCA because, after all, that company is simply a monetary play orchestrated by Marchionne for the Fiat heirs; the future of the transportation business has nothing to do with those carpetbagging mercenaries).

The ugly reality in all of this is that Detroit does not believe that we’ve shifted to an IT world, and that IT should be the dominant equation going forward if it wants to survive. This just in: The “Todds” (my general term for the IT hordes) have won. And unless and until Detroit gets with the program, we’re at the beginning of a long, downward spiral.

A word about Bill Ford here is merited. Bill has dreams of Ford playing a major role in mobility because his great grandfather put this country on wheels. In fact, Alan Mulally had a giant reproduction of a famous early Ford ad on the wall in his office with the provocative headline: “Opening The Highways To All Mankind.” It is a stunning ad with beautiful illustrated art, and both Alan and Bill took great meaning – and motivation – from it.

Characterizations of Deployment Rates in Automotive Technology

Zoepf, S. and Heywood, J.:

Passenger cars in the United States continue to incorporate increasing levels of technology and features. However, deployment of technology requires substantial development and time in the automotive sector.Prior analyses indicate that deployment of technology in the automotive sector can be described by a logistic function. These analyses refer to maximum annual growth rates as high as 17% and with developmental times of 10-15 years. However, these technologies vary widely in complexity and function, and span decades in their implementation.This work applies regression with a logistic form to a wide variety of automotive features and technologies and, using secondary regression, identifies broader trends across categories and over time. Developmental time, measured as the time to reach maximum growth, has declined exponentially and now stands at approximately ten years, although individual manufacturers have demonstrated the ability to implement technology more quickly than industry averages. While required safety features and emissions control technologies achieve faster deployment rates than optional features, there is not a clear casual relationship between an early requirement and rapid growth rate.The ability to develop and deploy technology quickly will be critical to meeting future fuel economy regulations. Technology deployment levels modeled in 2017 CAFE regulations fall broadly within the range of historical norms, but several specific technologies exceed historical application rates for non-safety applications.

An Industry in Disruption, AUTOS. Notes from a Capital Junkie. Tit-for-Tat Analysis

cs investing:

The context is frightening. Global fuel economy and emissions regulations are becoming so strict that it is possible to meet them only with partial or full electrification of the automobile. And the existing automobile production system, based primarily on stamping sheet metal and amortizing heartbreaking development costs and capital expenditures over millions of units, is incredibly capital inefficient.
 What’s more, the industry’s move towards electric vehicles represents a significant challenge to the traditional strategic landscape an automaker faces. An electric vehicle has drastically fewer moving parts than an internal combustion vehicle and is, by design, far more modular, meaning that barriers to new entrants are significantly lower.
 Electric vehicles are also far more uniform in their driving dynamics, because there is little scope for refining an electric motor with one moving part. Swathes of engineering and marketing investments become irrelevant. And both ride-sharing enterprises and developments in automation seem increasingly likely to grow beyond niche markets into something properly disruptive to the car ownership business model.

The Disruption of Transportation and the Collapse of the Internal-Combustion Vehicle and Oil Industries

James Arbib & Tony Seba (pdf)::

RethinkX is an independent think tank that analyzes and forecasts the speed and scale of technology-driven disruption and its implications across society. We produce compelling, impartial data-driven analyses that identify pivotal choices to be made by investors, businesses, policymakers and civic leaders.

Rethinking Transportation is the rst in a series that analyzes the impacts of technology-driven disruption, sector by sector, across the economy. We aim to produce analyses that re ect the reality of fast-paced technology- adoption S-curves. Mainstream analysts have produced linear and incremental forecasts that have consistently underplayed the speed and extent of technological disruptions, as in, for example, solar PV and mobile phone adoption forecasts. By relying on these mainstream forecasts, policymakers, investors and businesses risk locking in sub-optimal pathways.

RethinkX’s follow-on analyses will consider the cascading and interdependent effects of this disruption within and across sectors. Our aim is to facilitate a global conversation about the threats and opportunities of technology-driven disruption and to focus attention on choices that can help lead to a more equitable, healthy, resilient and stable society.

Ford’s Big Management Shuffle Is About Changing Perceptions

Sam Abuelsamid

Ford isn’t alone in this perception battle. Most automakers are making the pilgrimage to CES to woo the tech community. While few have been hit as hard as Ford, none of the incumbents are getting the love shown to Tesla.
 In our Navigant Research Leaderboard Report: Automated Driving, Ford, GM, Renault-Nissan, and Daimler scored highest and ahead of several technology companies. Waymo is arguably somewhat ahead on the pure technology front, but automakers have necessary pieces such as manufacturing, service, distribution, and support infrastructure to make viable mobility businesses. Additionally, automakers have a proven ability to deliver physical products—not just the components and software that control them.
 Ford’s leadership team, including Executive Chairman Bill Ford, EVP Joe Hinrichs, CTO Raj Nair, and many others, all supported the direction the company was heading under Fields. However, investors didn’t seem to believe in it.
 During a press conference with new CEO Jim Hackett, Ford and Hackett both emphasized that the overall strategy of transformation into a mobility services company is moving full steam ahead. Hackett, who comes to the role from being chairman of Ford Smart Mobility LLC, aims to reinforce the strategy and focus on executing the plans. The elevation of Marcy Klevorn from CIO to EVP and the newly created role of President, Mobility highlights this ongoing commitment.

Silicon Saxony

Patrick McGee:

Silicon Valley is fast disrupting the future of cars, forcing established groups to invest in technology to make their vehicles electric, connected to the internet, and equipped with self-driving sensors and software.

But in the coming years, Germany hopes to unleash its own weapon: Silicon Saxony. The country’s easternmost region is shaping up to play a lead role in the electrification of cars.

Porsche makes all of its hybrid cars in the state while Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler have focused their efforts there to answer Tesla, the US and Silicon Valley start-up that offers the most advanced and broadest range of electric cars.

“Saxony is the pioneer with regards to changes in vehicle production,” says Martin Dulig, the state’s economics minister. “Our Free State has everything required for these future technologies.”

He rattles off a series of research institutes and an array of specialist companies that give Saxony, he says, a unique competitive advantage in making battery cells, producing lightweight cars and equipping vehicles with semiconductors that can handle floods of data essential for autonomous driving technology.

Used vehicle market report


Used Sales Stall in 2017
In Q1 2017, 10.2 million vehicles were sold in the used market, a decrease of 1.3% versus the previous year. Franchise used sales also showed a reduced number of units sold, with a 0.3% decrease versus 2016. Fewer consumers trading in their existing vehicle upon their new purchase could be side- stepping inventory from dealers.
CPO Volume Remains Flat
Certi ed Pre-Owned sales inched up with a 0.1% li over 2016 and accounted for 22.2% of all franchise used sales.
Used Values Up, but Mixed Signals Ahead
The average retail used vehicle sold for $19,227 in Q1 2017, an increase of 2.1% year over year. This record-breaking high can partially be attributed to a higher mix of vehicles being sold that are only 3 years old or newer (53% of sales in Q1 2017) and these 3-year-old vehicles began with much higher MSRPs versus years prior. One caveat is that, while the MSRPs are up and so is the share, these vehicles aren’t retaining nearly as much value as before.
Older Inventory Squeezed, Newer in Surplus
In Q1 2017, the average age of traded-in vehicles was 6.4 years old, essentially at from last year, but the percent of buyers willing to part with their existing vehicle is down from 45.0% last year to 42.8%. With a forecast for fewer sales, this further constrains the availability of older vehicles. On the other hand, leasing’s supply of near-new is forecast to last nearly three more years.

German tortoise and Tesla hare in electric car race Traditional carmakers power up for battle with pioneer of battery charged vehicles

Patrick McGhee:

My Electric Bike is Not ‘Cheating.’ And It Could Replace Cars for Millions of People

Pam Mendel:

“Hey, no fair! You’re cheating!”
 The guy was wrapped head to toe in black Lycra. He had clip-in cleats and a racing helmet. I was wearing a skirt and blue suede shoes. He was annoyed because I’d passed him. He was riding hard, I could see his effort and as I pulled out on the left, I could hear him breathing.
 This stretch of road doesn’t look like much, but it’s an uphill grade. When I’m heading into town, I hit it from a right turn or a full stop, both of which kill my momentum. It’s nowhere near the gut emptying climb before you reach my house, but it’s not a coast, either. Road bike guy had probably come from the park at sea level; he’d likely been climbing for a mile already.

Berkshire Bill Dead in Texas?

Cliff Banks:

Texas law considers Berkshire to be a vehicle manufacturer because it also owns the Indiana-based $4 billion a year RV manufacturer Forest River Inc. As a result, Berkshire legally isn’t allowed to sell cars in Texas. Engine maker Cummins,which has nine dealerships in the state, is also affected. (It’s not certain how much impact Berkshire’s investment in Chinese automaker BYD — now at a reported 10% — has on its classification as a vehicle manufacturer).
 The franchise laws were created to protect car dealers from having to compete with their manufacturers.
 After Berkshire Automotive discovered the problem a couple of months ago, its chairman, Warren Buffett, flew to Austin, TX in April to meet with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Patrick and Senator Kelly Hancock (R). The next day, senate leaders fast-tracked SB 2279, legislation creating a special exemption for Berkshire, out of committee.
 But the bill never reached the senate floor for debate due to a loud outcry from consumer rights organizations, environmental groups and Republican Tea Party members. They resented Buffett, whom they consider to be an out-of-state businessman, getting special treatment. They also saw an opportunity to break the power grip the Texas Automobile Dealers Association by pushing for the elimination of the franchise laws they say limit competition.

Uber Doesn’t Want You to See This Document About Its Vast Data Surveillance System

Kashmir Hill:

The ever-expanding operations of Uber are defined by two interlocking and zealously guarded sets of information: the things the world-dominating ride-hailing company knows about you, and the things it doesn’t want you to know about it. Both kinds of secrets have been in play in the Superior Court of California in San Francisco, as Ward Spangenberg, a former forensic investigator for Uber, has pursued a wrongful-termination lawsuit against the company.
 The case, filed in May of last year, has weaponized Uber’s secrecy. Most sensationally, Spangenberg’s suit got significant press coverage in December for his claims that company employees accessed its data inappropriately to track exes and to spy on celebrities like Beyoncé. Uber responded to those claims by saying that employees only have access to the amount of customer data they need to do their jobs and that all data access is logged and routinely audited, with thorough investigations performed in the event of potential violations.

We’ve made a list because Facebook has had to check its math more than twice.

Tim Peterson:

To paraphrase J. Cole, Facebook messes up on its math one time; shame on Facebook. Facebook messes up on its math a second time; shame on those of us blindly trusting Facebook’s math. Facebook messes up on its math a third time; time to make a list.
 To help myself and anyone else keep track of Facebook’s measurement errors, here’s an itemized list of each error Facebook has announced to date, a (hopefully) normal-speak explanation of what the error was, whether Facebook has corrected it or plans to, how it has/will correct the error and what impact the error had on the measurements Facebook reported.
 Average watch time of Facebook page videos

How Coca-Cola targeted ads based on people’s Facebook, Instagram photos

Tanya Dua:

When Coca-Cola wanted to push iced-tea drinkers to consider its Gold Peak brand this summer, it didn’t target people like most brands do by using their search history. Instead, it combed through consumers’ photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and served them ads based on images they shared on those platforms.
 Gold Peak tapped into an image recognition engine that identified people who posted images that featured glasses or jugs of iced tea, displayed emotions such as happiness and excitement as well as contained cans or bottles of its competitors, including Snapple, Honest Tea, Lipton and others. Those people were then served Gold Peak ads on 40 mobile sites and apps after leaving Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
 For example, if you posted a picnic table spread with a jug of iced tea somewhere in the mix on Instagram, Gold Peak could have targeted you with ads while you read an article on Business Insider or checked the weather on the AccuWeather app in the past month, thanks to your photo.

Innisfil partners with Uber to provide public transport


A small Canadian town has launched a first-of-its-kind ride sharing-transit partnership with Uber.
 Innisfil will subsidise a portion of the fare for all trips with the taxi firm taken by residents within the town’s boundaries.
 Officials say the deal offers more flexibility for residents and is cheaper than adding a town bus service.
 Uber Canada public policy manager Chris Schafer says the project has sparked global interest.
 The cost of a ride to any four of the community’s transport or recreation hubs will cost residents between C$3 (US$2.20/£1.70) and C$5 (US$3.60/£2.80).
 They will also get a C$5 discount on any custom trip within Innisfil, a lake-side Ontario town of about 36,000 people 100 km (62 miles) north of Toronto.

The end of petrol and diesel cars? All vehicles will be electric by 2025, says expert

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard:

No more petrol or diesel cars, buses, or trucks will be sold anywhere in the world within eight years. The entire market for land transport will switch to electrification, leading to a collapse of oil prices and the demise of the petroleum industry as we have known it for a century.
 This is the futuristic forecast by Stanford University economist Tony Seba. His report, with the deceptively bland title Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030, has gone viral in green circles and is causing spasms of anxiety in the established industries.

US Government Fears a Monday Explosion of the Ransomware Plague It Helped Create

Rhett Jones:

But many experts are afraid the beginning of the new work week will bring more attacks and reveal ones that already existed that went unnoticed. Many workers in Asia had already finished their business for the day on Friday. It’s possible that people could be heading into the office to find a nasty surprise. And despite the best efforts of a young security researcher in the UK who goes by MalwareTech, the temporarily halted ransomware has simply been altered and is being spread by copycats. “We are in the second wave,” Matthieu Suiche of Comae Technologies, tells the New York Times. “As expected, the attackers have released new variants of the malware. We can surely expect more.”

India aims for a massive shift to electric cars, taking cue from China

Sumit Chakraberty:

Niti Aayog, a government think tank headed by India’s prime minister, has prepared a new policy aiming to electrify all vehicles in the country by 2032. It proposes lower taxes and interest rates on loans for fully electric cars, as well as a phased reduction in the number of conventional and hybrid vehicles that can be registered.
 The government intends to kickstart the shift by setting up and incentivizing manufacturers of batteries and other components as well as charging stations. It aims to bring price parity between electric cars and conventional or hybrid vehicles by 2025.

Profits From Store-Branded Credit Cards Hide Depth of Retailers’ Troubles

Michael Corkery & Jessica Silver-Greenberg:

Department stores and big name retailers are increasingly making the hard sell to sign up customers for credit cards at the register. The store cards promise deep discounts on clothing, furniture and electronics, and are tough for shoppers to resist.
 For some retailers, those credit cards are not just a sales tool, but also an essential way to bolster their struggling businesses — a trend that has worrisome implications for the industry and its customers.
 The store cards, with steep interest rates that are often twice that of the average credit card, generate a rich profit stream for retailers at a time when many of America’s traditional retailers are losing the battle for sales against Amazon and other e-commerce rivals. Those profits on plastic are helping obscure the true extent of the industry’s pain, a major pressure point for a piece of the economy that employs one in 10 Americans.

An Introduction to LIDAR: The Key Self-Driving Car Sensor

Oliver Cameron:

At Voyage we recently shared the news of Homer, our first self-driving taxi. Homer is outfitted with a whole range of sensors to aid in understanding and navigating the world, key to which is LIDAR (short for light detection and ranging). In this post you’ll learn more about LIDAR, its origins in the self-driving car space, and how it stacks against other sensors. Enjoy!

Discounted Cars Benefit Buyers, but May Spell Trouble for Industry

Neil Boudette:

Now that sales of new cars and trucks are slowing down, automakers and their dealers are starting to lop thousands of dollars off sticker prices — sometimes slashing the final cost by a third — a sales tactic that helps consumers but has led to industry troubles in the past.
 Take the Nissan Altima, one of the country’s top-selling cars. Dealers around the country are now offering the midsize sedan for $6,000 to $8,000 below list prices. In Stafford, Va., Leckner Nissan has marked down all 59 Altimas in stock, including a black 2017 Altima SV now selling for $21,593 — $7,195 below its sticker price.
 Similar price cuts are being offered on the Hyundai Sonata, the Chevrolet Malibu, the Ford Fusion and many other models.

Rent seeking and digital monopolies

pro market:

“The deeper you delve into the reasons artists are struggling in the digital age, the more you see that internet monopolies are at the heart of the problem and that the problem is no longer just for artists,” he writes. “Monopoly control of our data and corporate lobbying are at the heart of this story.”
 In an interview with ProMarket,1) Taplin discussed the rise of monopoly platforms and the part that rent-seeking and regulatory capture play in the digital economy today.
 Q: How did you become interested in antimonopoly?
 It was a very personal story. Levon Helm, who was the drummer for The Band, got throat cancer in 2000. He’d been making a decent living off of royalties from past records that he had made 15 years before, then Napster happened and that just ended. It just so happened that he got throat cancer at that very point. He had to pay for medical bills and he couldn’t go on the road because he could hardly sing.
 Eventually he figured out how to do something by having shows at his house, getting a bunch of friends to come and play and calling it the Midnight Rambles. He made a little money, but not enough, just barely paid his bills. It just seemed incredibly unfair to me. That’s how it started.

How my car insurance exposed my position

Andrea Scarpino:

As many car insurances companies do, my car insurance company provides a satellite device that can be put inside your car to provide its location at any time in any place.
 By installing such device in your car, the car insurance profiles your conduct, of course, but it could also help the police in finding your car if it gets stolen and you will probably get a nice discount over the insurance price (even up to 40%!). Long story short: I got one.
 Often such companies also provide an “App” for smartphones to easily track your car when you are away or to monitor your partner…mine (the company!) do.
 Then I downloaded my company’s application for Android, but unluckily it needs the Google Play Services to run. I am a FOSS evangelist and, as such, I try to use FOSS apps only and without gapps.
 Luckily I’m also a developer and, as such, I try to develop the applications I need most; using mitmproxy, I started to analyze the APIs used by the App to write my own client.

Danger Ahead: The Government’s Plan for Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication Threatens Privacy, Security, and Common Sense

Jamie Williams:

Imagine if your car could send messages about its speed and movements to other cars on the road around it. That’s the dream of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which thinks of Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communication technology as the leading solution for reducing accident rates in the United States. But there’s a huge problem: it’s extremely difficult to have cars “talk” to each other in a way that protects the privacy and security of the people inside them, and NHTSA’s proposal doesn’t come close to successfully addressing those issues. EFF filed public comments with both NHTSA and the FTC explaining why it needs to go back to the drawing board—and spend some serious time there—before moving forward with any V2V proposal.

Another Group of Google Veterans Starts a Self-Driving Technology Company

Alex Webb:

A mile away from where Google builds the maps used by people around the world, a 25-person startup is trying to do something similar for robots.
 DeepMap Inc., which was founded by mapping veterans of Alphabet Inc., is building systems enabling self-driving cars to steer through complex cityscapes. DeepMap plans to license its map-building software to automakers and technology companies looking to teach cars how to drive.
 The company recently raised a $25 million funding round led by Accel, adding to the $7 million it raised last year. In the chase to secure the investment, the firm penned an 80-page white paper on DeepMap’s technology.

The Wrinkle In Forecasting Autonomous Cars

Sam Lessin:

Over the years, so many well-respected and famous technologists have made the repeated mistake of overestimating the closeness of the future. Dreams of flying cars within a decade or two date back to the 1950s. There was a period after the discovery of DNA where people were sure we were close to unlocking full human cloning. More recently, we went through a phase where many thought we were within a few years of a cascade of life-extending techniques so they would live forever. Now many people think that immersive VR and AR, human-equivalent AI assistants, and full real-world autonomy are right around the corner.
 It is easy to understand how this thinking happens in the tech community. In a sense, it is an overcorrection by technologists for what is considered normal human linear thinking. The physical world we occupy has very little compounding or exponential experiences. We don’t experience much calculus firsthand. So, the story goes, most people get poor training in future estimation and don’t understand how to think about compounding growth.

Introducing the Citymapper Smartbus


We also feel buses haven’t evolved enough. They still roam around cities utilising old systems of operations and inefficient technology. If we’re going to solve urgent problems of congestion and infrastructure, we need buses to improve, to operate smarter. In the era of smartphones we can have responsive buses that react to realtime needs.
 Buses also get a bad rep, and are seen as a subpar experience. Even when they’re the best transport option, some people don’t take them. Perhaps we can help change that by improving the bus experience.

How Self-Driving Cars Could End Uber

Christopher Mims:

If Uber Technologies Inc. ever collapses, historians may trace its undoing not to its troubles with labor relations, intellectual property, regulatory conflicts or sexual-harassment allegations, but to technological disruption.
 This would be the same technological disruption the company itself pledged to use to upend the auto industry and the $2 trillion a year tied to it.
 Less than a year ago, Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick described self-driving cars as an “existential” threat to his company, saying that his team must get the technology to market before competitors do, or at least at around the same time. Self-driving vehicles would ultimately be much cheaper to operate than ones requiring human drivers—robots work tirelessly and don’t demand raises. The first companies to roll out fleets of automated taxis could quickly drive their human-powered competition into oblivion.

Interview: Henrik Fisker believes that design will play an outsized role in electric vehicle market

Seth Weintraub:

For high-profile car designer Henrik Fisker, these are “exciting times.”
 That’s what he tweeted in recent days to describe his anticipation for the arrival of August, which is when he plans to unveil his flashy new electric car prototype – the EMotion, a pricey low-volume effort which Fisker is positioning as a competitor to something like the Tesla Model S.

Rival Car Dealers Allegedly Sent Spies To Shut Down A Tesla Store

Andrew Collins:

Tesla was green lit to open a gallery store in ultra-posh Greenwich, Connecticut a little over a year ago with the stipulation that the company didn’t actually sell cars out of it. It works that way in many states where Tesla is barred from directly selling cars, rather than going through franchised dealers. Now Connecticut is moving to shut down Tesla’s gallery, and the automaker says other dealers went to extreme lengths to make that happen.
 The Greenwich Time reports the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles is arguing the gallery is, in a sense, a car dealership, “a means of merchandising its motor vehicles with the further intent to conclude all activities conducted there in a sale.”
 But Tesla says sinister tactics were at work here: that the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association sent “secret shoppers” to the gallery to repeatedly attempt to buy a car from employees, the newspaper reports.

The case for bicycles’ inevitable triumph over cars

Matt McFarland:

“Bikes have a tremendous disruptive advantage over cars. Bikes will eat cars,” Dediu told CNNTech, referencing investor Marc Andreessen’s seminal 2011 argument that software-driven businesses are dominating the world.
 Dediu points to the explosive growth of Chinese bikeshare systems as well as the versatility, low cost and efficiencies of shared bicycles.
 Bikeshare bikes of the future, according to Dediu, will be outfitted with cameras and sensors, collecting valuable data for cities. When a cyclist rides over a pothole, it can be automatically reported to a city. Cameras on the bicycle will provide real-time data, such as pedestrian traffic and pollution. Google Street View will look like an antique compared to near real-time imagery collected from bikeshare cameras.
 The bikes will need to be carefully constructed so that the cameras and sensors aren’t easily broken during use.

Electric Car Sales Are Suddenly Taking Off in Europe After meager growth in 2016, this year is starting strong thanks to a new Renault.

Tom Lavell:

It’s no secret that Americans are embracing electric cars. But new data show that increasingly Europeans are too.
 Sales of battery-powered cars soared 38 percent in the first quarter after models including Renault SA’s improved Zoe won buyers in Germany and Spain. That compares with a gain of 2.9 percent for all of last year.
 New registrations—a proxy for sales—for battery-powered cars increased in the first quarter to 32,627 from 23,703 in the EU, Norway and Switzerland, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said Thursday in a statement. That surge still couldn’t match demand in America, where electric car sales jumped 49 percent to 40,700 units in the period, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. (The U.S. car market is some 16 percent larger than Europe’s.)

Self-driving electric vehicles to make car ownership vanish

Marco Della Cava

According to RethinkX, while self-driving vehicles may still seem like a science fair project to many, the technology soon will become so culturally ubiquitous that it will lead to the abandonment of car ownership, a $1 trillion boost in disposable income and a “catastrophic” shift for the oil industry and driver economy.

Regulating the internet giants: The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data

The Economist

A NEW commodity spawns a lucrative, fast-growing industry, prompting antitrust regulators to step in to restrain those who control its flow. A century ago, the resource in question was oil. Now similar concerns are being raised by the giants that deal in data, the oil of the digital era. These titans—Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft—look unstoppable. They are the five most valuable listed firms in the world. Their profits are surging: they collectively racked up over $25bn in net profit in the first quarter of 2017. Amazon captures half of all dollars spent online in America. Google and Facebook accounted for almost all the revenue growth in digital advertising in America last year.

60 Years of Urban Change: Midwest

Shane Hampton:

60 years has made a big difference in the urban form of American cities. The most rapid change occurred during the mid-century urban renewal period that cleared large tracts of urban land for new highways, parking, and public facilities or housing projects. Fine-grained networks of streets and buildings on small lots were replaced with superblocks and megastructures. While the period did make way for impressive new projects in many cities, many of the scars are still unhealed.
 We put together these sliders to show how cities have changed over half a century.

“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads,” he said. “That sucks.”

Ashlee Vance

In 2011 a young computer scientist named Jeff Hammerbacher said something profound while explaining why he’d decided to leave Facebook—and the promise of a small fortune—to start a company. “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads,” he said. “That sucks.”
 Hammerbacher was getting at the idea that so many of the world’s best and brightest people flocking to Silicon Valley for jobs at companies such as Facebook Inc. and Google Inc. might be an unhealthy use of human capital. Sure, these companies offered plenty of interesting work, but much of it revolved around the core business of advertising. Very smart people were pouring their energy into an unromantic goal: keeping the rest of us on their websites so we might click on an ad for an irritable bowel syndrome cure.
 Hammerbacher’s flippant remark has lived on because it captures a crucial sentiment, one that’s even more important today than in 2011. Google and Facebook are unlike any other two companies in history. They’re technology-and-advertising hybrids—strange amalgams with incredible power. They’re building the tools we use to communicate, to do business, to form and maintain relationships, to learn, to travel to and fro, and to relax. And they’re doing all of this while being wholly dependent on ad dollars for their survival. Never have advertising companies had such an all-encompassing influence on our life. And next year it will be even greater.

Americans hang up on landlines as cellphone homes dominate

Anick Jesdunan:

Deborah Braswell, a university administrator in Alabama, is a member of a dwindling group — people with a landline phone at home.
 According to a U.S. government study released Thursday, 50.8 percent of homes and apartments had only cellphone service in the latter half of 2016, the first time such households attained a majority in the survey. Braswell and her family are part of the 45.9 percent that still have landline phones. The remaining households have no phone service at all.
 More than 39 percent of U.S. households — including Braswell’s — have both landline and cellphone service. The landline comes in handy when someone misplaces one of the seven cellphones kicking around her three-story house in a Birmingham suburb. “You walk around your house calling yourself to find it,” she says.

Americans hang up on landlines as cellphone homes dominate

Anick Jesdanun:

Deborah Braswell, a university administrator in Alabama, is a member of a dwindling group — people with a landline phone at home.
 According to a U.S. government study released Thursday, 50.8 percent of homes and apartments had only cellphone service in the latter half of 2016, the first time such households attained a majority in the survey. Braswell and her family are part of the 45.9 percent that still have landline phones. The remaining households have no phone service at all.
 More than 39 percent of U.S. households — including Braswell’s — have both landline and cellphone service. The landline comes in handy when someone misplaces one of the seven cellphones kicking around her three-story house in a Birmingham suburb. “You walk around your house calling yourself to find it,” she says.

Assured Mutual Disruption: The Battle Of Datsun And Renault’s $3,850 Cars

Bertel Schmitt:

“In India and Indonesia, we have the Datsun brand. It’s not really selling very strongly as of today,” Joji Tagawa, the always affable investor relations chief of Nissan Motor, said yesterday at the company’s HQ in Yokohama. “We have a joint plant with Renault in India, and last summer, the CMF-A platform-based Renault Kwid was introduced. It is selling really well.”
 With that, the suitably diplomatic Tagawa rendered the haiku-version of a yet unreported twist in the relationship between Nissan and its French Alliance partner Renault SA, a story I now can tell in more epic breath.
 Three years ago, I made a big mistake, predicting that by 2015, a revolutionary Datsun car would turn India’s auto market upside-down with an unheard-of price point. I said the car would be based on an autoworld-shaking entry-level platform, jointly developed by Renault and Nissan. I went to sweltering Chennai, India, to meet the leader of the project, Gérard Detourbet, the living legend who transformed Dacia from a down-and-out Stalinesque relic into Europe’s fastest-growing car brand. Addressed to the skeptical audience of the Society of Automotive Engineers, I penned a multi-page ode to CMF-A, as the platform was called, and I predicted that after a 2015 launch, this vehicle would disrupt emerging car markets.

Banks Pull Back on Car Loans as Used-Auto Prices Plummet

AnnaMaria Andriotis and Christina Rexrode:

Big banks are pulling back sharply from auto loans, helping drive a drop in car sales and raising fears the slump might deepen.

Wells Fargo & Co., one of the largest U.S. auto lenders, last month reported a 29% fall in its auto loan originations for the first quarter from a year earlier. The decline, the biggest for the San Francisco-based bank in at least five years, was part of a common refrain in quarterly announcements from…

The Electric-Car Boom Is So Real Even Oil Companies Say It’s Coming

Tom Randall:

Electric cars are coming fast — and that’s not just the opinion of carmakers anymore. Total SA, one of the world’s biggest oil producers, is now saying EVs may constitute almost a third of new-car sales by the end of the next decade.
 The surge in battery powered vehicles will cause demand for oil-based fuels to peak in the 2030s, Total Chief Energy Economist Joel Couse said at Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s conference in New York on Tuesday. EVs will make up 15 percent to 30 percent of new vehicles by 2030, after which fuel “demand will flatten out,” Couse said. “Maybe even decline.”

US housing wealth is growing for the oldest and wealthiest Americans, at the expense of everybody else

Dan Kopf

Since the 1970s, coastal US cities have implemented laws that make it impossible for housing supply to equal demand. Proponents of these laws argue they are important for historic preservation, environment protection, and the livability of cities. Conveniently, such laws also happen to inflate the housing prices of many of their supporters—mainly the old and wealthy, who are the clear winners of these kinds of market-constraining regulations.
 A new working paper (pdf) from the economists Edward Glaeser of Harvard University and Joseph Gyourko of the University of Pennsylvania shows exactly how much the winners have gained. The researchers analyzed household survey data from 1983 to 2013 (the last year data was collected), and found that housing wealth increased “almost exclusively among the wealthiest, older Americans.”