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News, knowledge, and insights for the automotive industry.

Waymo Doubles Down on Driverless Commitment with 20,000 Jaguars

From mini-vans to Jaguars? We see you, Waymo. Alphabet’s autonomous technology company is charging ahead with its driverless ride-hailing program, investing in up to 20,000 luxury, all-electric Jaguar compact SUVs despite recent competitor setbacks. The Jaguar I-Paces, which are expected to compete against Tesla’s previously uncontested all-electric luxury cars, will join Waymo’s commercial fleet in 2020. Waymo’s purchase would help it handle 1 million rides per day in addition to the capacity they already have through “thousands” of hybrid Chrysler Pacifica minivans.

Uber Heats Up Autonomous Trucking Market from Arizona Deserts

“Travel my way, take the highway” – lyrics Uber probably didn’t quote about their work in Arizona. For several months, Uber’s self-driving trucks have been carrying cargo on Arizona highways, according to a recent company statement. While the trucks still have a licensed truck driver available at the wheel for now, Uber intends to eventually integrate fully autonomous trucks into their Uber Freight service, which matches truckers and trucking companies with cargo.

Waymo Gives Atlanta a Freight

There’s no need to be alarmed, but that semi only being supervised, not driven, by a human. Waymo has rolled out self-driving trucks on the roads around Atlanta for testing as they carry cargo to Google data centers. Analysts see the truck market as a strong strategic move for Waymo given price and data sensitivities in the autonomous passenger car space as well as openings in the trucking market.

Humans Not Required: California Clears Fully Self-Driving Cars

Ah, California driving – coastal highways, slow traffic, and human-less cars. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles has announced that autonomous cars without a human driver in the vehicle can be tested on public roads as soon as April 2. The regulations only apply to cars, and companies involved will need to meet numerous criteria for safety, car communications, and testing notifications before sending their vehicles on the roads solo.

Monetizing the Drive: Buying a Car and Selling the Data

Truly nothing is ad-free anymore. The surge in software and sensors in new vehicles and the ever-growing role of AI technology means new profits are within reach for automakers through data use. If consumers opt in for data-driven services – such as maps for finding charging stations, discounts on car insurance, coupons at gas stations – they’ll also opt-in to sharing their valuable driving data with third parties. Big Brother, meet Big Auto.

All Oiled Out: BP Forecasts Oil’s Peak in Autonomous, EV Future

Well, that’s a first. In its annual Energy Outlook, BP’s researchers forecast a fundamentally changed transportation industry, with more travel but less private cars and increased efficiency standards. In fact, by the late 2030s, autonomous and electric vehicles would cause a dip in fuel demand and the first-ever predicted peak oil use. Plastic manufacturing is expected to become a source of growth for the oil industry as its role in ground transportation diminishes.

VW Wants to Think Different with EVs

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, VW is not shy about its regard for the company behind iPods, iPhones, and iPads. Volkswagen is looking for inspiration from a likely design source, Apple. Just as the tech company definitively distinguished itself from competitors such as Samsung and Sony, Volkswagen wants to distill down a new design concept and company priorities that will set it apart in the age of electric vehicles.

In-Dash Nav Systems Look to Outsmart Phone Apps

The future, according to carmakers, does not include using your built-in navigation system as a stand for your smartphone and its Google Maps app. These systems, though currently less smart and far more clunky than their app counterparts, are expected to record more data, learn your preferences, update over the air, and help develop autonomous vehicles. Future map and other products will connect to the cloud and will be easily updated and upgraded, and data will be collected from a vehicle’s cameras and sensors as well as neighboring vehicles.

Top-of-the-Line Tech Hits Automaker Bottom Line

The future looks bright, but today’s quarterly earnings are expected to be flat. Daimler recently announced that their profit growth would not hit quarterly earnings forecasts due to spending on new technologies like electric cars and autonomous vehicles. The announcement flagged the issue of profitability across the industry, with both investments and exchange rate challenges presented as marquee issues.

GM Debuts Still-Developing In-Car App

While the Marketplace is open, GM is still getting vendors. In December, GM rolled out “Marketplace” to over 2 million GM drivers with an initial pack of features for ordering food, reserving hotel rooms and restaurant tables, and locating gas stations from your GM vehicle. While still in its early stages, Marketplace promises to become a useful feature for customers. Dunkin’ Donuts, Shell, Exxon, and TGI Fridays are all currently onboard.