Archive for the ‘cars’ Category

Surprise! Uber and Lyft don’t like NYC’s new ride-hail rules

August 17th, 2019
Uber app being used on a smartphone

Enlarge / The Uber ride-sharing app is seen on a mobile phone on February 12, 2018. (credit: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who took the helm of the controversial company back in 2017, is known for being pretty unflappable. He was even upbeat during the company’s second quarter earnings call, when he was charged with explaining why Uber posted more than $5 billion in losses in just a few months’ time.

But in response to one analyst’s question, about how the regulations in New York had affected the company’s bottom line, Khosrowshahi got a bit spicy, at least for Khosrowshahi. “I think anyone who tells you that the changes in New York City are good is…” he trailed off for a moment. “It’s malarkey, frankly.”

One person’s malarkey is another’s sensible policy decision. Nearly a decade after ride-hail companies began exploiting the gray areas of decades-old taxi regulations around the country, Uber and Lyft have found themselves subject to increasingly strict rules in the Big Apple.

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Posted in cars, Policy | Comments (0)

Audi e-tron wins top crash rating, beating Tesla Model S and Chevy Bolt

August 16th, 2019
Ars Technica's Jonathan Gitlin spotted this e-tron being prepared for crash testing during a visit to IIHS testing facilities.

Enlarge / Ars Technica's Jonathan Gitlin spotted this e-tron being prepared for crash testing during a visit to IIHS testing facilities. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

Crashes hurt car insurance companies' bottom lines, so the industry-funded Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducts comprehensive crash tests to help consumers buy safe cars—and encourage the industry to raise its standards. The IIHS recently put Audi's new e-tron through its paces, and Audi boasts that the e-tron is the first fully electric car to win the organization's highest rating: Top Safety Pick+.

The IIHS conducts several different crash tests as well as evaluating a vehicle's headlights and crash prevention technology. The e-tron earned the highest possible mark, "good," for every one of the dozens of sub-categories in the IIHS report.

"The dummy's position in relation to the door frame, steering wheel, and instrument panel after the crash test indicates that the driver's survival space was maintained very well," the IIHS writes of one of its crash test results.

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Posted in Audi e-tron, cars, model 3, Tesla | Comments (0)

We’ve driven VW’s bright green smile machine, the electric ID Buggy

August 16th, 2019

CARMEL, CALIF.—Do you remember that bright green electric beach buggy that Volkswagen showed off back in March? It's called the ID Buggy, and it's one of a growing number of ID-badged concepts from the automaker that show the way to its post-diesel future. It's a wildly different-looking bunch, yet each uses VW's new modular architecture for battery electric vehicles, called MEB. The ID Buggy is definitely the most left-field of the ID vehicles, even without the bright green bodywork. But under that one-off concept body is a production MEB powertrain, just like the one that will appear in the Europe-only ID 3 as well as the US-bound ID Crozz crossover and ID Buzz BEVs. But the craziest thing about the Buggy isn't the way it looks or that VW let me drive it. No, the craziest thing about the Buggy it's the fact that VW is actively exploring ways to put it into production.

Modular architectures have been all the rage among automakers for a while now. These are much more flexible than the platforms of old and are more like a giant box of parts and components that simplify the design process and the supply chain. VW Group has been all-in when it comes to modular architectures since it introduced its MQB platform in 2011, which provides the bone structure for everything from the diminutive Polo hatchback in Europe to the made-in-Chattanooga, Tennessee Atlas three-row SUV.

MEB is the newest of the company's architectures, and unlike the modular architecture that BMW's developing, this one is just for BEVs. (MEB will provide the bones for rear- and all-wheel drive BEVs for the VW, Skoda, and Seat brands. Meanwhile, Audi and Porsche are developing a separate architecture for bigger, faster, and more expensive BEVs.) As you might expect, at the heart of each MEB model is its lithium-ion battery pack. For the Buggy, that's a 62kWh pack, which powers a 150kW (201hp), 310Nm (227lb-ft) electric motor that drives the rear wheels. VW's press materials say that the buggy will go from 0-62mph (0-100km/h) in 7.2 seconds, reaching a top speed of 100mph (160km/h), with an estimated range of 155 miles (250km) on the WLTP test.

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Posted in cars, concept car, ID. Buggy, Volkswagen I.D., VW I.D. Buggy | Comments (0)

Geeky license plate earns hacker $12,000 in parking tickets

August 13th, 2019
This can be a bad idea, evidently.

Enlarge / This can be a bad idea, evidently. (credit: Aurich Lawson)

The relationship between Americans and their automobiles is a complicated one. More than mere transport, cars can become extensions of one's personality—think of stereotypes about drivers of a particular model like a Corvette, for instance. Since cars are mass-produced, it's natural that people want to personalize them. Sometimes it's covering them with every bit of chromed plastic you can find at JC Whitney. Sometimes it's plastering them in stickers. And sometimes, it might just be a personalized number plate.

The rules for personalized plates vary depending on the state in which you're registering your car. These can foster creativity, but today we have a cautionary tale from California, which reveals the risks of being too creative. It's the story of a security researcher known as Droogie, who presented his experience at the recent DEF CON conference in Las Vegas. Droogie decided his new vanity plate should read "NULL." While he did this mainly for the giggles, he told the audience that there was an ulterior motive, as reported by Mashable:

"I was like, ‘I'm the shit,'" he joked to the crowd. "'I’m gonna be invisible.' Instead, I got all the tickets."

Droogie's hope was that the new plate would exploit California's DMV ticketing system in a similar manner to the classic xkcd "Bobby Tables" cartoon. With any luck, the DMV's ticket database would see "NULL" and consign any of his tickets to the void. Unfortunately, the exact opposite happened.

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Posted in cars, DEF CON, license plate | Comments (0)

Porsche takes wraps off of 670hp Cayenne S Turbo E-Hybrid

August 12th, 2019

Porsche provided air travel from Chicago, to Eugene, Ore., and two nights in a hotel for this story

When we went out to the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon to put the plug-in hybrid Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid through its paces last month, there was a bonus SUV waiting for us: the all-new 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid. Porsche has officially taken the wraps off this $161,000 V8 PHEV, along with a pair of coupes: the V6 Cayenne E-Hybrid Coupe and the V8 Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe.

The Turbo S E-Hybrid is Porsche's most-powerful SUV, capable of 670hp (493kW) and 663lb-ft (899Nm) of torque. Most of the power comes courtesy of the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine, which spits out 541hp (404kW), while the rest is produced by a 134hp (100kW) electric motor mounted between the internal-combustion engine and an eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission. Like the base Cayenne hybrid, drivers can select from a handful of drive modes to dial in the preferred balance of performance and economy. In Sport+ mode, the S Turbo constantly charges the battery enough so you can always get that extra oomph from the motor-engine combo. It's the same powertrain as you'll find in the Panamera.

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The US Navy says no to touchscreens—maybe automakers should, too

August 12th, 2019
Seaman Timothy North stands watch as the helmsman on the bridge of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98). Forrest Sherman is participating in a sustainment exercise with the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, an integrated, comprehensive exercise designed to ensure the strike group is ready to meet all mission sets and carry out sustained combat operations from the sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Raymond Maddocks/Released)

Enlarge / Seaman Timothy North stands watch as the helmsman on the bridge of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98). Forrest Sherman is participating in a sustainment exercise with the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, an integrated, comprehensive exercise designed to ensure the strike group is ready to meet all mission sets and carry out sustained combat operations from the sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Raymond Maddocks/Released) (credit: Specialist 3rd Class Raymond Maddocks | US Navy)

The US Navy has had enough of touchscreens and is going back to physical controls for its destroyers, according to a report last week in USNI News. Starting next summer the Navy will refit its DDG-51 destroyer fleet with a physical throttle and helm control system. The effort is a response to feedback the Navy solicited in the wake of a pair of fatal crashes involving that class of ship during 2017.

In June of that year, seven sailors were killed when the USS Fitzgerald collided with the MV ACX Crystal, a container ship. In August, 10 US sailors were killed when the USS John S McCain hit another container ship, the Alnic MC.

On August 5, the National Transportation Safety Board published its report into the USS John S McCain incident. Although the agency found that the probable cause was "a lack of effective operational oversight of the destroyer by the US Navy," it also criticized the ship's complex throttle and steering touchscreen controls.

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Posted in cars, DDG-51, Destroyer, human factors, touchscreen, US Navy | Comments (0)

How my favorite designer ended up being featured in Hobbs and Shaw

August 11th, 2019

Have you been to see Hobbs and Shaw yet? It's the latest installment from the Fast and Furious franchise, a spinoff starring Vanessa Kirby, Jason Statham, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and Idris Elba, and it's pretty darn good as far as mindless summer action flicks go. Now, I know what you're thinking: he only really likes it because it's got some cool cars. But here's a secret—I'm far more in love with the way everyone is dressed in the movie.

Much of the credit for that goes to Sarah Evelyn, the film's costume designer. But there's another influence at work in the wardrobe department, that of techwear luminary Errolson Hugh. Hugh has been called "your favorite designer's favorite designer," although more recently you might know him from having started that bottle cap challenge earlier this summer.

It's fair to say Hugh's attitude towards design, particularly with his label Acronym, is uncompromising. In fact, it reminds me a lot of Gordon Murray's approach to designing the McLaren F1. Like Murray, Hugh's work is heavy with the latest technology—it is called techwear after all. But instead of ultra lightweight composites (the McLaren F1 was the first production road car to be made completely from carbon fiber), it's cutting edge fabrics from companies like Schoeller, Gore, and Nextec.

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Posted in Acronym, cars, Errolson Hugh, fashion tech, Gaming & Culture, Hobbs and Shaw, techwear | Comments (0)

Uber, losing billions, freezes engineering hires

August 10th, 2019
Dara Khosrowshahi, shown here in 2013, is CEO of Uber.

Enlarge / Dara Khosrowshahi, shown here in 2013, is CEO of Uber. (credit: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Uber is freezing hiring for software engineers and product managers across its US and Canadian workforce, the company acknowledged to Bloomberg on Friday. The shift was reported by Yahoo earlier in the day. The freeze does not apply to Uber's autonomous vehicle and freight shipping divisions.

The news comes a day after Uber reported second quarter operating losses of $5.4 billion—a new record for the company. That figure exaggerates Uber's quarterly burn rate because it includes more than $4 billion in one-time charges related to Uber's initial public offering. Still, excluding IPO-related charges still leaves around $1.2 billion in operating losses, worse than the $1 billion the firm lost in the first quarter.

Uber recently laid off 400 marketing workers. According to Yahoo, Uber employees are worried that this could be a prelude to broader cuts as the company's struggles to stem its losses.

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Posted in cars, Uber | Comments (0)

Fully Charged gets a first look at the Porsche Taycan EV

August 9th, 2019
TV's Jonny Smith checks out the new Porsche Taycan EV for Fully Charged.

Enlarge / TV's Jonny Smith checks out the new Porsche Taycan EV for Fully Charged. (credit: Fully Charged)

If there's one car that's got everyone buzzing these days it's the Porsche Taycan. It's a new battery electric vehicle from the German automaker, a production version of the Mission E electric concept we first saw in 2015. Deliveries of the car start for some lucky customers before the end of this year, and that means Porsche is starting to open up about the new car.

Ars has an in-depth look at the tech inside the Taycan in the works, but you'll have to wait until September and the car's official launch before we can share that with you. In the meantime though, a few more details have emerged about the car thanks to a new video from the Fully Charged crew.

Fully Charged got an exclusive invite to test Taycan, and they sent Jonny Smith to an airstrip near Stuttgart to check the car out. Smith is no stranger to fast EVs, having turned a 1970s city car into the world's quickest EV. And after repeatedly demonstrating the Taycan's launch control—which won't be quite as quick as a Tesla P100D—he seems pretty impressed with the power delivery from the Porsche's permanent synchronous motors.

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Posted in cars, Porsche Taycan | Comments (0)

Uber’s no-good, terrible-rotten bad Q2 loses more than $5 billion

August 8th, 2019
Headquarters of ride-sharing technology company Uber in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood of San Francisco on October 13, 2017.

Enlarge / Headquarters of ride-sharing technology company Uber in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood of San Francisco on October 13, 2017. (credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

Uber lost more than $5 billion dollars in the second quarter of the year. This is the latest in a long series of bad quarters for the ride-hailing company, which also lost over a billion dollars during the first three months of this year. That brings 2019's losses to over $6.2 billion, for those keeping score.

Despite losing so much money between April and June, Uber's investor report is upbeat about an increase in bookings (up 31%), active users (up 30%), trips (up 35%), and revenue (up 14%). These figures do make one wonder if an uptick in business will just exacerbate the bleeding, however. There's yet to be any real evidence that Uber's business model will ever do anything other than burn investors' money to make traffic worse.

Uber says that its cash and cash equivalents for Q2 were a healthy $13.7 billion, $8 billion of which came from its IPO in May.

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Posted in Biz & IT, cars, Uber | Comments (0)