Ford Motor Co., which sells more police vehicles in the U.S. than any other automaker, says it will offer a police pursuit version of the hybrid Fusion midsize sedan, in response to requests from cities nationwide. The new car, with its 2-Liter four-cylinder engine and 1.4 kilowatt lithium-ion battery, is expected to get 38 miles per gallon of gas in combined city-highway driving. That's 20 mpg more than Ford's current police car, the Taurus police interceptor.
Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler and supplier Robert Bosch are teaming up to develop self-driving cars in an alliance aimed at accelerating the production of "robo-taxis". The pact between the world's largest maker of premium cars and the world's largest automotive supplier forms a powerful counterweight to new auto industry players like ride-hailing firms Uber and Didi which are also working on self-driving cars. Technology companies and carmakers are striving to adjust to a shifting landscape in the auto industry as consumers increasingly use smartphones to locate, hail and rent vehicles, rather than going out and buying cars.
Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo says Uber Technologies Inc. is stonewalling -- and a judge said he agrees that the ride-hailing company’s explanation isn’t a “get out of jail free card.” Lawyers for Waymo told a San Francisco federal judge that Uber is violating an order to turn over files and documents that it says were stolen by engineer Anthony Levandowski. Levandowski left Waymo last year and is head of Uber’s driverless car project. U.S. District Judge William Alsup told Uber’s lawyer that the company will face a court order -- perhaps one barring Levandowski from working at Uber’s driverless unit until the lawsuit is resolved -- if all it can show is that it doesn’t have the files taken by Levandowski.
The decision to restart the review process of automotive emissions standards by the Trump administration is a possible "setback" for efforts to curtail climate change, said Anthony Foxx, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Foxx, who served as transportation secretary in 2013-17, played a key role in positioning the federal government as a stricter regulator of the automotive industry. "I have to say that the backing away from some of the fuel efficiency standards is a setback. It’s a setback because we obviously have significant climate change issues around the world," Foxx said when he spoke in Detroit at an automotive engineering convention called World Congress Experience.
Ford Motor is in pole position when it comes to benefiting from the coming age of autonomous vehicles. That's the conclusion of a study released Monday by Navigant Research, which sells its in-depth surveys of energy and transportation markets to suppliers, policymakers and other industry stakeholders. The Dearborn-based automaker took the top spot by demonstrating that it has the strategic vision and execution capabilities to both develop automated driving systems as well as deploy them across a range of mobility platforms.
Speed caps are being raised for the autopilot function in newer Tesla cars, from 55 mph to 80 mph, in the form of new software that has company started streaming into its vehicles. The software update, called Autopilot 8.1, lets the cars pretty much drive themselves on highways up to the posted speed limit, or a maximum of 80. The cars will stay in their lanes, turn around curves without driver intervention, and will pass vehicles automatically with a flick of the turn signal.
Ford Motor Company will invest CA$500 million into Canadian research and development efforts, adding 300 software and hardware engineers in the country and creating a research and engineering center in Ottawa. The new engineers are former Blackberry mobile software and handset employees “with extensive experience” working on the software that currently supports Ford’s Sync 3 platform. Those engineers will work to develop new infotainment systems, in-vehicle WiFi modems, driver-assist features and autonomous vehicles, a Ford spokesman said.
Toyota plans to spend $35 million on partnerships with a number of universities, including the University of Michigan, to study ways to make better batteries for electric vehicles. The Japanese automaker said the universities will use artificial intelligence to test different battery chemistry combinations and explore whether other materials, such as magnesium, could be used to make improved batteries, said Brian Storey, program manager for the Toyota Research Institute, which is based in Los Altos, California, but has offices in Ann Arbor and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Today's hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles are powered by lithium ion batteries — a technology that Storey said was invented nearly 40 years ago.
Michigan senators are poised to vote to more quickly phase in a tax break for people who trade in their car for a new one. A 2013 law lets buyers subtract some of the value of their trade-in from the purchase price of a new vehicle for tax purposes. The change is being phased in until 2039. The Republican-controlled Senate plans to approve legislation Wednesday that would accelerate the phased-in tax cut 10 years sooner, in 2029.
A crash that caused an Uber self-driving SUV to flip onto its side in a Phoenix suburb serves as a stark reminder of the challenges surrounding autonomous vehicles in Arizona, a state that has gone all-in to entice the company by promising minimal government regulation. That night’s crash was blamed on the driver of an oncoming SUV that turned left in front of the Uber vehicle carrying two test drivers and no passengers. There were no serious injuries and the driver of the other car was cited for a moving violation.
ABOUT ARENT FOX LLP
Arent Fox LLP, founded in 1942, is internationally recognized in core practice areas where business and government intersect. With more than 350 lawyers, the firm provides strategic legal counsel and multidisciplinary solutions to clients that range from Fortune 500 corporations to trade associations. The firm has offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.