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11 Best Electric Autos in the USA


My kindergartener has writing assignments these days in which she has to notice the difference between opinions and facts and provide her opinion about various matters — why she likes a certain food or sport, for example. 5 years old seems to be a good time to learn the difference between opinion and fact. Unfortunately, it’s a bit too common for adults to confuse the two, let alone 5 year olds. In the following article, I’m listing what I consider to be the 11 best electric vehicles in the USA. Naturally, this is just my opinion. Feel free to offer your own list down in the comments. The list is in no particular order. Well, actually, I think it’s the order in which I thought of the vehicles except that I split up the Teslas — but that doesn’t mean it’s a ranking. It’s hard enough to come up with a list. I’m not going to rank it too.

You can click on the vehicle names to visit the automakers’ webpages for these models.

The Tesla Model 3 has won practically every notable award there is to win in the auto industry. And I own one of these. So, I think there’s really not more to write about it to justify it being on the list, but here’s a short summary of the highlights: it received the best safety score ever from the NHTSA, it’s the quickest car for the cost, it has the most advanced driver-assist features of any automobile (if you pay extra for them), it has the best infotainment system on the market (even better than what you get in a Model S or Model X due to the orientation of the touchscreen), it’s one of the most stylish vehicles on the road, it has ample passenger and cargo space for a family of four, it has a beautiful glass roof, it has access to Tesla’s Supercharger network, it gets over-the-air updates that continually improve it (sometimes adding new features, new games, more power, greater efficiency), and it drives better than any car I’ve ever driven.

The cost of ownership, depending on various factors that can change a great deal from individual to individual, probably lines up more with a Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, Honda Accord, or Honda Civic than a BMW 3 Series or Audi A4. So, it’s really hard to justify buying another car instead of this one.

MSRP: $39,990+
Range: 250 to 322 miles
Dimensions: 185″ L x 73″ W x 56-57″ H

Tesla Model Y

If I was on the market for a Tesla today, I’d probably buy the Model Y instead of the Model 3. The easier ingress/egress would probably be better for my bum knee, there’s a humongous amount more cargo room, there’s more passenger space, yet it’s still a sporty and nimble vehicle that has almost all the same benefits of the Model 3 listed above. That said, it surely doesn’t drive in quite as sporty a way as the Model 3, so the coolest thing is that you can now choose between a sportier drive or more cargo and passenger space. It’s a hard choice, but at least it’s easy to narrow things down to these two vehicles.

Since the list is supposed to be more than two vehicles long, though, let’s move on to some other options.

MSRP: $52,990+ (for now, lower priced version coming eventually)
Range: 280 to 316 miles
Dimensions: 187″ L x 76″ W x 64″ H

Hyundai Kona EV

If Tesla didn’t exist but all the other electric vehicles on the market today did*, I think this is the EV I’d choose. It’s not a large vehicle — not nearly as large as the Model Y — but it has the crossover benefit of easier ingress and egress. It has plenty of range on a full charge, a comfy interior, a nice design (in terms of aerodynamics as well as style), and a decent infotainment system. It ain’t no superhero, but it gets the job done and is humble about it.

One benefit the Hyundai Kona EV and most other vehicles on this list have over a Tesla is that you can still get a $7500 federal tax credit (depending on your tax liabilities) if you buy it, whereas new buyers of Tesla vehicles can’t get any US tax credit.

MSRP: $37,190+
Range: 258 miles
Dimensions: 165″ L x 71″ W x 61″ H

*It’s a stupid hypothetical because almost none of them would exist if not for Tesla pushing the industry forward, but that’s the nature of hypotheticals — being unrealistic.

Kia Niro EV

The Kia Niro EV is extremely similar to its South Korean cousin, the Kona EV. Frankly, they’re so similar that I think which one is better for you comes down to brand and styling. Also, the Niro is a little bit longer/larger, whereas the Kona has ~20 miles more range on a full charge. Which is a bigger priority for you?

MSRP: $38,500+
Range: 239 miles
Dimensions: 172″ L x 71″ W x 61″ H

Chevy Bolt

Every Chevy Bolt owner I’ve talked to loves their vehicle. It’s a pretty tight vehicle, despite looking a bit bubbly from the outside, but I think it has enough room inside for an average person’s needs. It also has plenty of range and some nifty features, like blind spot detection warnings in the side-view mirrors and a camera for the rear-view mirror. Also, if you prefer Apple CarPlay or Google Android over Tesla’s in-house infotainment system, the Bolt has you covered.

MSRP: $36,620+
Range: 259 miles
Dimensions: 164″ L x 70″ W x 63″ H

BMW i3

As some of you know, before the Model 3, I had a BMW i3. I still love that vehicle. It has several downsides compared to the Model 3 (of course), but it’s still a super fun vehicle. And if you want small (for example, if you live in a tight city and don’t have a big family), it’s as good at weaving through narrow spaces and turning around on a dime as just about anything on the market. While the acceleration isn’t as strong in a Model 3, the car is so light (thanks, carbon fiber), that the i3 has a special kind of airy acceleration off the line. Pictures don’t do the i3 justice either, in my opinion — the car looks great from many angles in real life. Lastly, while the trunk space is indeed small, it is also a handy, pleasant hatchback — on thing better about it compared to the Model 3, even though I greatly appreciate the Model 3’s comparatively cavernous cargo space. That said, except in odd situations, I can’t understand choosing a BMW i3 over a Tesla Model 3.

MSRP: $44,450+
Range: 126 to 153 miles
Dimensions: 158″ L x 70-71″ W x 63″ H

Nissan LEAF

The Nissan LEAF is a solid electric car, maybe even a great electric car. It doesn’t have the spunk of a BMW i3 or Tesla Model 3, but if you don’t need spunk, it certainly still has the quiet, smooth, peaceful ride of an electric vehicle — and a bit of torque. Furthermore, it has a good driver-assist suite if you choose that. The LEAF’s big advantage is its price. With a low price of just over $30,000 as well as the full $7,500 tax credit at your fingertips (and perhaps dealer incentives), you can really get a LEAF for a much lower price than a Tesla Model 3. Oh yeah, and it has a hatch. A lot of people care about that. It’s a pretty spacious ride and has a good amount of cargo space. What more do you really need?

MSRP: $31,600+
Range: 150 to 226 miles
Dimensions: 176″ L x 71″ W x 61-62″ H

Audi e-tron

I have to admit that I haven’t yet driven one of these. I have seen one at a charging station, and it looked impressive. It had the solid, sporty, classy look of an Audi. From many owner accounts, the e-tron is a superb vehicle. The range is definitely good enough for normal use, despite some controversy around that, and the interior luxury of the e-tron is highly praised. Space — plenty of that. Power — all you need plus a little. Blends right in — sure does. Of course, the price is rather high.

MSRP: $74,800+
Range: 204 miles
Dimensions: 193″ L x 76″ W x 66″ H


Jaguar I-PACE

The I-PACE is an interesting option compared to the e-tron. Again, it’s a sporty, stylish, luxurious, rather expensive electric SUV. It’s a little bit cheaper (if we can use that word in this class) than the e-tron, but also a little smaller. On the plus side, it has 30 miles more range. That said, for this price, the range of the I-PACE (and certainly the e-tron) is definitely on the lower end. It’s comparable to my low-end Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus, which is approximately half the price of the I-PACE! Surprisingly, the I-PACE isn’t even much larger. But it does have a cool design and the Jaguar symbol on it. Still cool, especially if you’ve got a Tesla for road trips.

MSRP: $69,850+
Range: 234 miles
Dimensions: 184″ L x 75″ W x 61″ H


Tesla Model S

Tesla raises $2b in capital

Ah, and we’re back to Tesla. Again, this car is really only for people in a certain millionaire and above class. It’s expensive. But it’s awesome, too. It has an extra screen compared to the Model 3 (if you’re into that), a ton more cargo space than the Model 3 (if you need to move a small art gallery collection), more passenger space as well (but not by much from my experience co-owning a Model S before owning a Model 3), and potentially more power. The long, sleek design is still an unmatched electric classic. You can actually fit two carseats and an adult in the back seat. And it’s the breakthrough Tesla that broke open the electric revolution. Hard to not feel a little sentimental about that.

Even if I had the money for a Model S, I’m quite sure I’d choose the Model 3 anyway (upgrading to a Model 3 Performance, of course), but I can totally understand why some people prefer the S. I do miss the giant hatchback storage area at times, as well as the cool door handles.

MSRP: $79,990+
Range: 348 to 391 miles
Dimensions: 196″ L x 77″ W x 57″ H


Tesla Model X

It’s hard to say for sure, but this is the vehicle I’d consider to be the best passenger vehicle in the world. I definitely do prefer the drive quality of the Model 3, and probably the Model Y, but the X’s supreme comfort — thanks to a ton of space — is worth enjoying. The supersplendulous windshield is maybe my favorite feature. The falcon-wing doors not only look cool, but are a huge help for getting in and out of the SUV and loading and unloading little humans into and out of the SUV. The driving range is amazing, the cargo space essentially a tiny home living quarters, and the wings — did I mention the falcon wings?

The Model X would be my dream vehicle for road trips while the Model 3 is still my favorite for city driving. But I do wonder if a week in a Model X wouldn’t change my mind about the latter.

MSRP: $84,990+
Range: 305 to 351 miles
Dimensions: 198″ L x 79″ W x 66″ H

Source : https://cleantechnica.com/2020/04/11/11-best-electric-cars-in-the-usa/


Polestar 2 with 275-mile range goes on sale in US via online configurator

Polestar 2 with 275-mile range goes on sale in US via online configurator

Volvo and Geely-owned company Polestar has announced a $59,900 starting price for its Polestar 2 all-electric sedan.

The company announced European pricing for its electric car in October: £49,900 in the U.K. and €58,000 in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. During the same press release, Polestar indicated a $63,000 price point for its vehicle in the U.S., but it managed to undercut this target by just over $3,000. Head of Polestar USA, Gregor Hembrough stated, “The MSRP is lower than we originally targeted, and will be extended to all of our current reservation holders.”

Additionally, the Polestar 2 will have multiple upgrades available for an additional cost. These include a $5,000 performance pack that upgrades suspension and braking within the vehicle, Nappa interior leather upgrades for $4,000, 20-inch alloy wheels for $1,200, and Premium Metallic paint colors for $1,200.

Production of the Polestar 2 began in late March 2020. U.S. deliveries will start in Summer 2020 for those who hold a reservation for the car, but it is unknown if the current COVID-19 pandemic will delay the timeframe for deliveries.

Polestar will offer one powertrain option for U.S. owners initially. With a 78 kWh battery pack powering a dual electric motor system, the car will produce 408 horsepower and 487 pound-feet of torque. The Polestar 2’s range is 275 miles, according to EPA tests.

The Polestar 2 will also utilize a built-in infotainment system powered by Android and Google Assistant, a first for an automaker. The car will also use Google Maps for GPS navigation and application downloads through the Google Play Store.

Polestar also launched a mobile app in March 2019 that aims to ease the pressure of the car buying process. “We are making it hassle-free and easier for customers to engage with the Polestar brand and enjoy their car. From finding out information about Polestar cars, through to subscribing for a new Polestar, all the way to starting your car using our Phone-as-Key technology – everything can be done through your mobile device,” Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said.

The vehicle is currently available for purchase exclusively on Polestar.com. However, the company plans to begin opening physical retail showrooms, known as Polestar Spaces, where a specialist will give interested customers information on the Polestar 2. The stores will first be available on the West Coast and New York City around the same time as initial deliveries, but more locations will open in the future.

The car is available for purchase in all 50 states, and Polestar plans to release details that will describe leasing and financing options soon, according to a company release.

While some enthusiasts label the Polestar 2 as a rival of the Tesla Model 3, it is crucial to remember Elon Musk’s thoughts on competition within the electric car sector. While it is undoubtedly essential for companies to try and beat their competitors by offering more power, speed, range, or technology, Musk has always indicated that Tesla has no competitors who make electric cars.

The competition lies within companies that have no plans to initiate a transition into an electric future. Polestar plans to enter the electric car industry by offering a quality vehicle that could make the company a striking force within the BEV community.

Source : https://www.teslarati.com/polestar-2-dual-motor-275-mile-online-configurator/

Will the American Auto Industry Save Us All (Again)?

After all, it has before. A look at the history of the automakers’ medical and military production achievements gives hope to our current crisis.

  • These are tough times, but do you know what else seemed hopeless for the first many months? World War II—because of a lack of needed tools and equipment.
  • Who helped turn that around? The U.S. automobile industry, by providing those tools and that equipment, and it’s worth remembering how it all happened.
  • To the list of Cadillac and Chrysler tanks, Buick airplane engines, and Ford B-24 bombers, add: Ford and GM ventilators for the coronavirus pandemic, with much more auto-industry aid to come.

Trivia question: Who said this? “Never before since Jamestown and Plymouth Rock has our American civilization been in such danger as now.”

It was Franklin Roosevelt in his “Arsenal of Democracy” speech, delivered on December 29, 1940, to the largest radio audience ever up to that time. But it sounds like a sentence any of us could utter today. Back in 1940, Hitler’s armies were rampaging across Europe, the Nazis seemingly unstoppable. A fact that often slips through the cracks of our national consciousness is the degree to which we were losing World War II desperately for roughly the first year and a half of the fighting. We had the soldiers, but we lacked the tools. Ultimately it was the automobile industry far more than any other that created the arsenal that allowed the Allies to win.

Now once again we face an existential crisis, and once again our government is asking our auto industry for help. Automakers are plunging forward to build ventilators and masks in this new scenario that feels almost like science fiction. “Ford, General Motors and Tesla are being given the go ahead to make ventilators and other metal products, FAST!” President Trump said on Twitter on March 22. “Go for it auto execs, let’s see how good you are?” Days later Trump was attacking General Motors, using the Defense Production Act, as a tool to press GM forward in the ventilator effort with greater speed. It was like FDR’s “Arsenal of Democracy” speech recrafted by the pugilistic president. GM was “wasting time,” the president said. 

Can the automakers pull this off? Can they do it fast enough so that their work will be useful soon? We don’t know yet. However, a look in the rearview might give us some clues.

Converted Auto Plant

50,000 Airplanes, 130,000 Engines . . . 

When FDR first asked private industry for help during World War II, he knew the auto industry was key. The industry had a bigger economy than every nation on earth except Britain, Germany, France, and possibly the Soviet Union. The war was shaping up to be a contest of mass production; in this newly mechanized kind of warfare, the side that could produce the most war machinery the fastest would win. FDR brought William Knudsen, GM’s president and the highest-paid executive in the country outside Hollywood, to Washington to serve as production czar, with a salary of $1. 

At the 1941 New York auto show, Knudsen pleaded with his colleagues, the powerhouses of Motor City, in a dramatic speech in which he asked the auto industry to build 50,000 airplanes, 130,000 engines, 17,000 heavy guns, 25,000 light guns . . . 

Sloan and Kettering Inspecting Machine Gun

Bombers, big bombers,” Knudsen said, “are needed sooner than we dare hope to get them under present circumstances. We must build them at once! You’ve got to help! The first half of 1941 is crucial. Gentlemen, we must outbuild Hitler.”

The conversion to wartime desperately rattled the U.S. economy—another parallel to what we are seeing today—as businesses that were not able to serve the war effort largely disappeared. Business Week called this phenomenon in 1943 “the most severe contraction in the business population that we have ever experienced.” Sound familiar? 

It took the auto industry a solid 18 months to get up and running, producing bombers and Jeeps and amphibious vehicles. Ultimately, GM became the largest military contractor on earth. GM made 119,562,000 shells, 206,000 aircraft engines, 97,000 bombers, 301,000 aircraft propellers, 198,000 diesel engines, 1,900,000 machine guns, 854,000 military trucks. Cadillac tanks, Oldsmobile bullets, Buick airplane engines.

The American war production job was probably the greatest collective achievement of all time. —Donald Nelson, War Production Board

Chrysler had never made tanks; in a factory built from scratch, the Detroit Tank Arsenal, Chrysler made roughly as many tanks during the war than all the Nazi factories combined. Ford—which became the nation’s third largest military contractor—built a production facility called Willow Run, the largest factory under one roof in the history of the world, churning out 18,482 B-24 Liberators. So many laborers worked at Willow Run, the government had to build a city from scratch—”Bomber City”—to give these people homes and infrastructure near the factory (rubber tires were rationed, so commuting was all but impossible). At the start of the war, the B-24 Liberator was the biggest, fastest, most destructive bomber in the American arsenal. Still today, because of Ford, the B-24 remains the U.S.’s most mass-produced military aircraft of all time. 

It is no exaggeration to say that the auto industry saved the world. Said Donald Nelson, head of FDR’s War Production Board: “The American war production job was probably the greatest collective achievement of all time.”

The Big Three Were Medical Innovators Back Then, Too

The story of Detroit’s efforts during World War II is well known today. What is not is the fact that the auto industry also has a history of innovating medical products. On November 30, 1955, GM announced that it had developed “an ingenious mechanical sterilizer” called a Centri-Filmer. The company partnered with medical researchers at the Michael Reese Research Foundation in Chicago to create this device, which spun liquid vaccines in a centrifuge into a layer 1/20th the thickness of a human hair. Ultraviolet light then blasted through the film, “killing” viruses in vaccines (making the virus unable to replicate, so vaccines could do their jobs without making people sick). 

image

GM AND MEDICAL RESEARCHERS WITH CENTRI-FILMER, A VACCINE-PURIFYING MACHINE. GM VIA FREE LIBRARY OF PHILADELPHIA

In 1979, GM researchers developed a new “ostomy appliance system” consisting of a plastic pouch assembly, an elastic belt, and a soft seal ring. The system aimed to make colostomy bags easier to wear and maintain. 

The medical feat for which GM is most-known is nothing less than the first mechanical heart. The story begins in the 1940s, when a cardiologist at Detroit’s Harper Hospital named Forest D. Dodrill had an idea. At the time, heart surgery was largely palliative because the heart had to function during the operation. Dr. Dodrill had the idea of creating a machine that could pump blood like an engine pumps fuel, so blood could circulate while surgeons worked on the heart. He turned to GM to design the thing (GM’s president, Charles E. Wilson, was at the time chairman of the board of the Michigan Heart Association). A team of GM engineers went to work under the leadership of one Edward V. Rippingille Sr.

“We have pumped oil, gasoline, water and other fluids one way or another in our business,” Rippingille figured. “It seems only logical we should try to pump blood.”

A Heart Pump Built Like a V-12

On July 3, 1952, Dr. Dodrill and a team of surgeons operated on the heart of 41-year old Henry Opitek at Harper Hospital while a machine that resembled a V-12 engine (it had six pumps on each of its two banks) pumped Opitek’s blood through his body. As the New York Times put it in a 2018 article, “Detroit muscle powered a heart and gave Henry Opitek another 29 years of life.”

Both Ford and GM have history innovating health-care systems. Henry Ford saw in the early years of his company that the massive movement of people to the Detroit area to work in his factory was going to require healthcare infrastructure, and so in 1915—the heyday of the Model T—Henry Ford Hospital opened to the public. Today the Henry Ford Health System employs over 1200 physicians. In the 1940s, Alfred Sloan (the longtime chief of GM, often called the father of the modern corporation) and Charles Kettering (head of research at GM for decades) joined forces to create the Sloan-Kettering Institute, a biomedical research unit which today is known as Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. 

In 1941, the Ford Motor Company’s engineers innovated a movable, affordable infant incubator that aimed to reduce infant deaths in hospitals. Seven years later, engineers at Ford’s Rouge factory developed a new iron lung to aid polio victims during a terrifying epidemic. 

And History Repeats Itself

Now today, the auto industry is going to work to build ventilators, respiratory masks, and who knows yet what else. On March 24, Ford CEO Jim Hackett told CBS News that his company is designing two to three versions of breathing apparatuses for front-line medical workers, but also, “hundreds of thousands of the simplest [masks] will be started to be produced in the next week or so.” One challenge that engineers did not face during their heroic work of World War II is how to put workers on assembly lines without putting a lot of people in one place and thus creating potentially hazardous virus-spreading conditions. 

“A factory is all about working together on a line,” Hackett said. “So the way these teams are designing the production of this [ventilator] is building subassemblies in smaller groups and having them come together to be assembled.”

As it was in wartime, the future today is a question mark. How long will this new plague stick around? Will it come back next flu season? One thing is for sure, however: the U.S. auto industry can help. Said Hackett: “We are ready to go.” And, as in World War II, time is of the essence and lives hang in the balance.

Source : https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a31994388/us-auto-industry-medical-war-production-history/

US auto sales recovering during coronavirus pandemic but still significantly down, J.D. Power says

KEY POINTS

  • Big discounts, low financing rates and states loosening restrictions on auto dealerships are assisting in a sales rebound in April, J.D. Power says.
  • However, sales this month are still expected to be down about 50% compared with April 2019.
  • J.D. Power expects sales in May to be critical for the auto industry as some states are expected to ease stay-at-home restrictions.

Big discounts, low financing rates and states loosening restrictions on auto dealerships are assisting in a sales rebound heading into the end of April, according to J.D. Power.

Sales this month are still expected to be down about 50% compared with April 2019. However, the decline is far less than previously expected with the coronavirus pandemic wiping out the majority of sales for the month, the firm said Wednesday.

“We are now firmly in a period where we see sales of new vehicles start to recover,” Thomas King, president of the data and analytics division and chief product officer at J.D. Power, told CNBC. “We’re still severely depressed in terms of vehicle demand, but the good news is we have turned the corner in terms of the declines.”

King said 0% financing offers, big incentives from automakers and all states now allowing at least online vehicle sales all contributed to the rebounding sales, which are up 11 percentage points from the end of March.

J.D. Power reports 24 states, which represent 44% of 2019 retail sales, allow dealership sales operations to remain open. The other 26 states, which represent 56% of retail sales, are allowing only online or remote sales.

When states initially started enacting the orders, some banned all sales, even online. Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Hawaii were the last states to remove bans on all sales, during the past week.

J.D. Power expects sales in May to be critical for the auto industry as some states are expected to ease stay-at-home restrictions. If U.S. vehicle production doesn’t restart as the orders are eased or lifted, King said, the industry could begin facing a new vehicle supply problem in certain markets and high-demand segments.

“We’re now in an environment where dealers are really starting to burn through their inventory they have on the ground,” he said. “That makes it absolutely key that we get the manufacturing operations back up and running in May.”

Kia Motors and Mercedes-Benz are expected to restart production at their U.S. plants on April 27, followed by many major automakers, including Tesla and Honda Motor, in early May. America’s two largest automakers, General Motors and Ford Motor, have not announced expectations for restarting production.

J.D. Power expects U.S. auto sales this year of about 12.6 million to 14.5 million vehicles, down from an estimated 16.8 million prior to the pandemic. The new forecast includes retail sales of about 11.3 million to 12.5 million cars and trucks.

Retail sales do not include sales to fleet customers such as the government or businesses. They are typically more profitable than sales to fleet customers. 

Source : https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/22/us-auto-sales-recovering-amid-pandemic-but-still-significantly-down.html

INNOVATION TESLA AUTOPILOT JUST REACHED A HUGE HALFWAY POINT TOWARD FULL SELF-DRIVING

The company’s semi-autonomous driving system has crossed a key threshold in the road to full autonomy.

esla has crossed a key milestone in its goal toward offering fully autonomous driving.

In a presentation video released this week, the company announced its cars had completed three billion miles of driving in the semi-autonomous Autopilot mode. This mode allows the car to complete certain maneuvers like driving along a highway while requiring human oversight at all times, and is expected to gradually develop into a fully-autonomous system.

It’s a big step forward for Tesla, and one that draws the firm closer to CEO Elon Musk’s ultimate goal for Autopilot. The company plans to eventually support point-to-point autonomous driving with no need for human oversight. That will require government approval, and Musk has previously estimated this could come after six billion miles.

This halfway point has been years in the making. In the company’s second master planunveiled in July 2016, Musk explained how developing the software is just one step toward full autonomy:

Even once the software is highly refined and far better than the average human driver, there will still be a significant time gap, varying widely by jurisdiction, before true self-driving is approved by regulators. We expect that worldwide regulatory approval will require something on the order of 6 billion miles (10 billion km). Current fleet learning is happening at just over 3 million miles (5 million km) per day.

With this new milestone, Tesla appears to have reached the halfway mark in Musk’s suggested road to full autonomy.

Source : https://www.inverse.com/innovation/tesla-autopilot-just-reached-a-huge-halfway-milestone-toward-autonomy.

Source : https://www.inverse.com/innovation/tesla-autopilot-just-reached-a-huge-halfway-milestone-toward-autonomy

Linking Self-Driving Cars to Traffic Signals Might Help Pedestrians Give Them the Green Light


Automated vehicles don’t have human operators to communicate their driving intentions to pedestrians at intersections. My team’s research on pedestrians’ perceptions of safety shows their trust of traffic lights tends to override their fear of self-driving cars. This suggests one way to help pedestrians trust and safely interact with autonomous vehicles may be to link the cars’ driving behavior to traffic lights.

In a recent study by my team at the University of Michigan, we focused on communication via a vehicle’s driving behavior to study how people might react to self-driving cars in different situations. We set up a virtual-reality simulator that let people experience street intersections and make choices about whether to cross the street. In different simulations, self-driving cars acted either more or less like an aggressive driver. In some cases there was a traffic light controlling the intersection.

In the more aggressive mode, the car would stop abruptly at the last possible second to let the pedestrian cross. In the less aggressive mode, it would begin braking earlier, indicating to pedestrians that it would stop for them. Aggressive driving reduced pedestrians’ trust in the autonomous vehicle and made them less likely to cross the street.

However, this was true only when there was no traffic light. When there was a light, pedestrians focused on the traffic light and usually crossed the street regardless whether the car was driving aggressively. This indicates that pedestrians’ trust of traffic lights outweighs any concerns about how self-driving cars behave.

Why It Matters

Introducing autonomous vehicles might be one way to make roads more safe. Drivers and pedestrians often use nonverbal communication to negotiate safe passage at crosswalks, though, and cars without drivers can’t communicate in the same way. This could in turn make pedestrians and other road users less safe, especially since autonomous vehicles aren’t yet designed to communicate with systems that make streets safer, such as traffic lights.

Other Research Being Done in the Field

Some researchers have tried to find ways for self-driving cars to communicate with pedestrians. They have tried to use parts that cars already have, such as headlights, or add new ones, such as LED signs on the vehicle.

However, unless every car does it the same way, this strategy won’t work. For example, unless automakers agreed on how headlights should communicate certain messages or the government set rules, it would be impossible to make sure pedestrians understood the message. The same holds for new technology like LED message boards on cars. There would need to be a standard set of messages all pedestrians could understand without learning multiple systems.

Even if the vehicles communicated in the same way, several cars approaching an intersection and making independent decisions about stopping could cause confusion. Imagine three to five autonomous vehicles approaching a crosswalk, each displaying its own message. The pedestrian would need to read each of these messages, on moving cars, before deciding whether to cross.

What’s Next

Our results suggest a better approach would be to have the car communicate directly with the traffic signal, for two reasons.

First, pedestrians already look to and understand current traffic lights.

Second, a car can tell what a traffic light is doing much sooner by checking in over a wireless network than by waiting until its camera can see the light.

This technology is still being developed, and scholars at Michigan’s Mcitymobility research center and elsewhere are studying problems like how to send and prioritize messages between cars and signals. It might effectively put self-driving cars under traffic lights’ control, with ways to adapt to current conditions. For example, a traffic light might tell approaching cars that it was about to turn red, giving them more time to stop. On a slippery road, a car might ask the light to stay green a few seconds longer so an abrupt stop isn’t necessary.

To make this real, engineers and policymakers would need to work together on developing technologies and setting rules. Each would have to better understand what the other does. At the same time, they would need to understand that not every solution works in every region or society. For example, the best way for traffic lights and self-driving cars to communicate in Detroit might not work in Mumbai, where roads and driving practices are far different.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Source : https://singularityhub.com/2020/04/23/linking-self-driving-cars-to-traffic-signals-might-help-pedestrians-give-them-the-green-light/

Electric Vehicle Price Guide – best EV discounts from dealers in the US

Are you looking for the best electric vehicle prices to add a second EV to your household or buy your first EV?

You can often get price matches if you take a dealer’s advertised price to nearby competitors. Always use the links below to verify a discount is still advertised prior to discussing with the competitor, and refer to the actual data on the advertising dealer’s website while negotiating. Using our data, you can get the best electric vehicle price without having to hassle with the dealer.

Updates to our best electric vehicle price list are performed a few times per month. The entire table is typically updated during the first two weeks of the month. Minor updates are then performed through the end of the month to capture any discounts found on new models and from dealers not currently on the list.

Looking for lease deals? See our list of the EV lease offers from dealers across the US.

Note that Tesla doesn’t have 3rd party dealerships but you can grab $100 in free supercharging with the following link.

Shortcuts for Best Electric Vehicle Prices

  • Audi
  • Chevrolet
  • Chrysler
  • Ford
  • Honda
  • Hyundai
  • Jaguar
  • Kia
  • Mini
  • Mitsubishi
  • Nissan
  • Subaru
  • Toyota
  • Volkswagen
  • Volvo

Updated: 4/9/2020

All offers have been refreshed for April! Highlights/observations:

Dealer offers on the Audi e-tron and Q5 e have improved since last month. 

Chevy Bolt dealer offers have continued to sweeten, particularly for those that aren’t on the left coast. Although there are a couple of California dealers that are still advertising around $10K off, many other west coast dealers dropped off the list because they are only advertising a discount that is no better than the $8500 rebate that is available at any dealer across the nation.

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid offers from haven’t improved much, even though inventory seems to have improved since last month. However, Chrysler’s “Family Pricing” ads imply that significant discounts can be had at any dealer. Check locally for discounts!

Discounts and availability for the 2020 Hyundai Ioniq EV have gotten much better this month. Same goes for the Ioniq Plug-in.

Jaguar I–Pace discounts continue to deepen, especially for 2019 models. 

Nissan LEAF discounts are improving for 2019 as well as 2020 models. 

Source : https://electrek.co/best-electric-vehicle-prices/

KEY POINTS IHS Markit said Tuesday that it expects global vehicle sales to decline 22% this year to 70.3 million. The U.S. is projected to lead the global decline with a 26.6% fall in domestic vehicle sales. U.S. sales would be the lowest volume of sales since 2010 as the industry emerged from the Great Recession.

A customer looks over a Ford Motor Co. 2020 Explorer sports utility vehicle (SUV) on display at a car dealership in Orland Park, Illinois, on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll on the global auto industry as plants remain shuttered and consumers remain sheltered at home. 

IHS Markit lowered its global auto sales forecast on Tuesday, saying it expects global vehicle sales to decline 22% this year to 70.3 million units, led by a 26.6% fall in the U.S. to 12.5 million units, compared to a year ago.

Domestic sales would be the lowest since the 11.6 million cars and trucks sold in 2010 as the industry emerged from the Great Recession. It’s also a steeper drop than IHS Markit’s forecast in March of a 12% decline in global sales for 2020. 

“The unexpected and sudden nature of the impacts of the pandemic are hitting the autos sector hard, with unprecedented levels of uncertainty around prospects for meaningful global recovery,” said Colin Couchman, executive director, global autos demand forecasting at IHS Markit.  “Market fortunes are expected to be mixed, as delayed and destroyed demand interacts with massive global supply disruption.”

In the U.S., many dealership showrooms are shuttered, however the retailers can sell vehicles online. While better than being forced to completely close, which some states initially did, the digital sales aren’t expected to supplement the drop in showroom traffic.

IHS forecasts China, the world’s largest auto market, is expected to decline by more than 15.5% to 21 million units this year, with concerns on secondary impacts from the global contagion, which could further disrupt the recovery.

The decline in China is despite most factories being back to work following a countrywide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, which is believed to have originated in the country’s Hubei province late last year. 

Across western and central Europe, IHS forecasts a 24.9% drop in sales, to 13.6 million units for the year. European markets, the firm says, “will experience mixed recovery cycles, based on local restrictions and guidance, together with varied economic support and stimulus provision.”

Covid-19 lockdowns remain in place across Europe, especially in Italy, Spain, France, and the UK with dealerships shuttered, according to IHS.

As sales topple, so will vehicle production. The firm expects global light-duty vehicle production to drop 21.2% due to COVID-19 – an 18.8 million unit decline over 2019. 

IHS’ sales forecast is in-line with others, including J.D. Power,which expects U.S. auto sales this year of between 12.5 million to 14.5 million vehicles, down from an estimated 16.5 million to 17 million vehicles prior to the pandemic. 

Source : https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/21/global-auto-sales-expected-to-plummet-22percent-in-2020-due-to-coronavirus.html

Electric cars produce less CO2 than petrol vehicles, study confirms

Finding will come as boost to governments seeking to move to net zero carbon emissions

Electric vehicles produce less carbon dioxide than petrol cars across the vast majority of the globe – contrary to the claims of some detractors, who have alleged that the CO2 emitted in the production of electricity and their manufacture outweighs the benefits.

The finding is a boost to governments, including the UK, seeking to move to net zero carbon emissions, which will require a massive expansion of the electric car fleet. A similar benefit was found for electric heat pumps.

In the UK, transport is now the biggest contributor to the climate crisis and domestic heating has been stubbornly stuck on natural gas for much of the country.

Across the world, passenger road vehicles and household heating generate about a quarter of all emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. That makes electric vehicles essential to reducing overall emissions, but how clean an electric vehicle is also depends on how the electricity is generated, the efficiency of the supply and the efficiency of the vehicle.

That has made some individuals and governments question whether these technologies are worth expanding. The study, published on Monday in the journal Nature Sustainability, produced a decisive yes.

Scientists from the universities of Exeter, Nijmegen and Cambridge conducted lifecycle assessments that showed that even where electricity generation still involves substantial amounts of fossil fuel, there was a CO2 saving over conventional cars and fossil fuel heating.

They found that in 53 out of 59 regions, comprising 95% of the world, electric vehicles and domestic heat pumps generate less carbon dioxide than fossil fuel powered cars or boilers. The only exceptions are heavily coal-dependent countries such as Poland.

How green are electric cars?

 Read more

In countries such as Sweden, which gets most of its electricity from renewable sources, and France, which is largely powered by nuclear, the CO2savings from using electric cars reach as high as 70% over their conventional counterparts.

In the UK, the savings are about 30%. However, that is likely to improve further as electric vehicles grow even more efficient and more CO2 is taken out of the electricity generating system.


In the UK, the savings are about 30%. However, that is likely to improve further as electric vehicles grow even more efficient and more CO2 is taken out of the electricity generating system.

Heat pumps use electricity and heat exchange systems – similar in principle to those found in fridges – to take advantage of the difference in temperature underground and at the surface, in the case of ground source heat pumps, and between the outdoor air and indoors in the case of air source heat pumps. If they were widely used, the study found, they could reduce global carbon emissions by up to 0.8 gigatons a year by 2050, or the equivalent of Germany’s emissions today.

“The idea that electric vehicles or heat pumps could increase emissions is essentially a myth,” said Florian Knobloch of Nijmegen University in the Netherlands, the lead author of the study. “We’ve seen a lot of disinformation going around. Here is a definitive study that can dispel those myths.”

Jean-Francois Mercure, of Exeter University, a co-author of the study, added: “The answer is clear: to reduce carbon emissions, we should choose electric cars and household heat pumps over fossil fuel alternatives.”

Among the detractors has been Bjørn Lomborg, the climate controversialist, who argued in a column published in newspapers around the world last week that electric cars were “simply expensive gadgets heavily subsidised for the wealthy to feel good while doing very little for the planet”.Advertisement

Mike Childs, head of science at Friends of the Earth, said: “Electric vehicles and heat pumps are absolutely critical for meeting climate goals so it’s good to see this favourable report. In the UK, both technologies will continue to make big carbon savings alongside our switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy to power the electricity grid.”

But he warned that insulating homes and improving public transport remained important goals, alongside electric vehicles and heat pumps, and called for much more government action to realise the benefits.

“Where the UK is dragging its feet is supporting the necessary rapid rollout of electric cars and heat pumps as well as the infrastructure to support them,” he said.

Source : https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/23/electric-cars-produce-less-co2-than-petrol-vehicles-study-confirms

Van Hollen: General Motors should reopen White Marsh plant to make ventilators

By Melody Simmons  – Reporter, Baltimore Business Journal Apr 21, 2020, 2:40pm EDT Updated 5 hours ago

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen led a group of leaders Tuesday seeking to reopen the shuttered General Motors plant in White Marsh and call back laid off workers to make ventilators for COVID-19 patients.

A letter sent on Tuesday by Van Hollen to GM CEO Mary Barra sought the move as Maryland’s death rate from the novel coronavirus rose to a total of 584, with 14,193 positive tests. It is the second request this month to reopen the plant after Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski Jr. sent a similar letter to President Donald Trump on April 10.

“On April 8, you received a contract to build 30,000 ventilators under the Defense Production Act,” Van Hollen’s letter to Barra said. “As numbers continue to rise across the state and region, reopening the White Marsh plant will put high-skilled workers back to work and ensure that ventilators are available and easily accessible in an area with multiple hotspots.

“Until its closure, the White Marsh plant employed hundreds of workers producing highly complex machinery from electric motors to transmissions. The federal government’s recent contract with GM provides you with an opportunity to utilize these workers’ skills.”

Van Hollen’s request was signed by U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and several Maryland Congressional leaders, including Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersburger, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin and U.S. Rep. John P. Sarbanes. It was also sent to Trump.

The GM White Marsh plant closed last year amid a realignment of the company, leading to the loss of 300 jobs. The plant produced hybrid transmissions. 

Trump signed the Defense Production Act last month. The new law directed General Motors to make ventilators and temporarily halt automobile production to assist patients stricken with Covid-19, a potentially fatal virus that can require intensive care treatment on a respirator.

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“We have an urgent need for ventilators in the country now,” Van Hollen said on Tuesday afternoon in an interview. “It is an ideal match to reopen the GM plant. We have skilled workers, many who lost their job when GM moved its facilities, and this would put skilled workers to work at a time of national need. The GM plant is ideally suited to manufacture these ventilators.”

Source : https://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2020/04/21/van-hollen-general-motors-should-reopen-white.html