Volkswagen is upping its electric vehicle game in a big way—and not with a car. It says it’s bringing into production a prototype of a charging robot that it debuted back in 2019, and it liked the original design so much that the company is sticking with it.
Basically, this friendly-looking robot is to provide “fully autonomous charging of vehicles in restricted parking areas, like underground garages. For the robot to work autonomously, EVs will have to be connected to a larger charging network in order to alert the robot to its presence—which isn’t something that hasn’t been accomplished yet.
There is a great bonus to this idea. The fact that EV charging ports aren’t always accessible to people with disabilities for a plethora of reasons: a lack of ramps, heavy chargers, etc. A friendly little robot designed to handle all those tasks will be a great help to the people who need it most.
Read the article at Jalopnik.
Massachusetts is joining California with a plan to ban the sale of new gasolined-powered cars by 2035. Governor Charlie Baker released a 2050 decarbonization road map that includes the reduction of emissions from passenger cars.
In order to make sure those EVs are actually usable, the state plans to expand the public charging infrastructure to take into account that many people don’t have a garage in which to charge an electric vehicle.
The initiatives by California and now Massachusetts could be the beginning of a trend by states to slowly ban the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles. President-Elect Joe Biden has a plan to speed up the electrification of vehicles in the United States that includes replacing the country’s fleets with EVs.
Read the article at MSN.
Ten automakers have fulfilled a voluntary commitment to equip nearly all the new light vehicles they produce for the U.S. market with automatic emergency braking (AEB) – well ahead of the 2022-23 target.
“This voluntary effort is succeeding in getting an important crash prevention technology into vehicles quickly,” said IIHS President David Harkey. “It’s great to see AEB become a mainstream safety feature that’s now standard equipment not just on luxury cars and SUVs, but on affordable models as well.”
In addition to the 10 manufacturers already meeting the AEB commitment, another three — Ford, Honda and Nissan — put the technology on 9 out of 10 vehicles they produced in the last year. Two automakers were in the middle of the pack, with Kia equipping 75 percent of its vehicles with AEB over the past year, followed by Porsche at 55 percent.
Read the article at IIHS.
During the summer of 2020, 20 year-old Leran Cai was spotted on a highway somewhere between Edmonton and Calgary, fully reclined in the driver’s seat of his 2019 Tesla Model S. By all accounts, the driver was asleep whilst the car was traveling at a speed as high as 150 km/h, driving itself on Autopilot.
He has now been charged with dangerous driving, a criminal offense, but on top of that charges for speeding have also been added. This is the first such case ever in Canada.
The law in the Canadian province of British Columbia is not very clear on autonomous and semi-autonomous driving systems in automobiles, but it certainly does not state that the driver can let go of the controls and take a nap behind the wheel. Cai is scheduled to appear in court on January 29 , 2021 and there is little chance he will be able to dodge these charges (especially since he’s been charged with other driving-related offenses in the last few years).
Read the article at InsideEVs.
McKinsey & Company
COVID-19 swept across the globe in a matter of months, jeopardizing lives, upending businesses, and setting off a worldwide economic slump. Within the mobility sector, suddenly, private cars are in and shared rides seem to be out.
Access to micromobility options—lightweight vehicles such as bicycles, e-scooters, and mopeds—will be important, as will safety and health issues. The pace of change will continue to accelerate in all areas, including connectivity, autonomous driving, and urban transport.
Government planners are constantly making mobility decisions, since they must design car lanes, pedestrian walkways, EV-charging infrastructure, and much more. Since the pandemic, city leaders have been especially active in making infrastructure changes that affect mobility. Regulators are expected to become even more active within the mobility sphere.
Read the article at McKinsey & Company.
Car and Driver
More than 35,000 people a year are killed, and some three million are injured, in vehicle-related crashes in the United States each year. Fortunately, there are a lot of people and organizations that work all year, every year to try to bring those numbers down, and we all want that.
In the second quarter of 2020, as COVID-19 restrictions took hold, traffic volume decreased at a pace greater than fatalities. “Drivers who remained on the roads engaged in more risky behavior, including speeding, failing to wear seatbelts, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.” How this will change as we move (we hope) out of the pandemic in 2021 will be interesting to watch.
President-Elect Joe Biden has tapped Pete Buttigieg to be his transportation secretary. His tenure is expected to include a national Vision Zero strategy to reduce or eliminate traffic casualties, a focus on bicycle and pedestrian safety, rural-road safety investments, and increased funding for the Highway Safety Improvement Program.
Read the article at Car and Driver.
The Detroit Bureau
It’s been a challenging year for an auto industry and, like pretty much everyone else, you can expect some real celebrations as we enter 2021, even though it could be many months before things come close to what might be called “normal” again.
Between work-at-home orders and factory shutdowns, 2020 hammered the industry — among other things leading to significant shortages of SUVs, CUVs and pickups. The COVID-19 pandemic also put a number of key product programs behind schedule, some models due out at the beginning of the model year likely not to show up until the first quarter or even later.
If anything, that means 2021 will bring a veritable avalanche of new offerings. As you’d expect, they’ll be skewed towards light trucks, that segment now accounting for roughly three out of every four new vehicles sold in the U.S. But we’ll still see some significant new sedans, coupes and even a few sports cars. And 2021 will see a rapid ramp up in the rollout of long-range battery-electric vehicles and other green products.
Read the article at The Detroit Bureau.