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Over 70% of Americans “Afraid” to Ride in a Fully Autonomous Car

"The good, the bad and the ugly."

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.14, 2019

The fatal crash involving an Uber vehicle in Tempe, AZ has negatively shaped many peoples' view of autonomous vehicle technology, AAA found.

Almost exactly a year after an autonomous Uber prototype struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, a new AAA study finds more than seven in ten Americans “afraid” of riding in a fully autonomous vehicle.

That’s despite the fact that 100s of self-driving prototypes are plying U.S. roads on a daily basis, a number that could soon climb into the tens of thousands if Congress moves to approve proposed legislation designed to help make the technology a part of everyday life. Already, the first self-driving vehicle ride-sharing program has gone into operation, launched last December by Google spin-off Waymo.

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“Automated vehicle technology is evolving on a very public stage and, as a result, it is affecting how consumers feel about it,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering.

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Nissan IMQ “Signals the Direction” of Future Electric CUVs

A “seamless” blending of exterior and interior design.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.05, 2019

Nissan designers opted for a sharper and more angular approach to the design of the IMQ.

Think of the new Nissan IMQ concept vehicle as a rolling crystal ball. Following on the debut of the IMs prototype at the Detroit Auto Show two months ago, the Japanese maker says its latest concept “signals the direction of (its) next generation of crossovers.”

Make that battery-electric CUVs, for the concept vehicle that debuted today at the Geneva Motor Show reveals the next-generation e-Power system, an all-electric powertrain that you might think of as the familiar Nissan Leaf on steroids.

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Actually, that is a bit misleading, as the Nissan IMQ carries with it a 1.5-liter gas engine that serves solely as a generator, providing energy when the battery is drained. That’s the same approach BMW has taken with its little i3 city car. The internal combustion engine never actually provides direct power to the wheels.

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Lyft IPO Depends on an Autonomous Future

Driverless vehicles would eliminate its biggest expense.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.04, 2019

Lyft continues to grow, but to accelerate that, the company is looking to raise big money through an IPO.

Running in the red every single quarter is normally not a good formula for success, though Tesla has shown that deficits aren’t necessarily verboten with investors. So, despite losing more than $2 billion during  the last two years alone, Lyft is preparing to go public.

The federal paperwork it filed last week is loaded with cautionary notes, and it appears to be asking potential investors to keep their eye on one development that could transform Lyft – as well as competitors like Uber and Waymo – into a cash cow: the arrival of driverless vehicle.

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“We have incurred net losses each year since our inception and we may not be able to achieve or maintain profitability in the future,” the company said in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. (more…)

BMW, Daimler Launching New Ride-Sharing Service, Other Mobility Ventures

New partners open door to other participants.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Feb.22, 2019

BMW Chief Harald Krueger, left, and Daimler AG Chairman Dieter Zetsche are all smiles after announcing plans to merge mobility operations.

Nearly a year after announcing plans to combine their ambitious mobility services operations, Mercedes’ parent Daimler and erstwhile rival BMW have announced an array of new joint venture projects that will include car and ride-sharing operations that could challenge upstarts like Uber, Lyft and China’s Didi Chuxing.

The two luxury automakers plan to invest a combined 1 billion euros, or about $1.1 billion, to expand the five projects BMW CEO Harald Krueger and Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche outlined at a news conference Friday, which also include parking and electric vehicle charging. The two newly minted partners also opened the door to cooperation with other automotive manufacturers.

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“These five services will merge ever more closely to form a single mobility service portfolio with an all-electric, self-driving fleet of vehicles that charge and park autonomously,” said BMW Chief Executive Harald Krueger. (more…)

Waymo Kicks Off Autonomous Taxi and Ride Sharing Service

Autonomous service starts in Phoenix.

by Michael Strong on Dec.05, 2018

This scene may become more common as Waymo One kicks off service in Arizona.

Self-driving ride-sharing service is here. Well, it’s in Arizona, technically, but the day that Uber, Lyft and others have waiting for has arrived with the debut of Waymo One, Waymo’s autonomous taxi and ride-sharing service.

The service operates in a 100-square-mile zone covering four Phoenix suburbs: Chandler, Tempe, Mesa and Gilbert. The company has been testing its vehicles in the area since 2016, including offering free rides earlier this year to generate some goodwill for autonomous vehicles.

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“Over time, we hope to make Waymo One available to even more members of the public,” John Krafcik, Waymo’s CEO wrote in a blog post. “Self-driving technology is new to many, so we’re proceeding carefully.” (more…)

GM Expanding Maven Peer-to-Peer Rentals to Include Other Brands

Other brands will be available in mid-2019.

by Michael Strong on Nov.13, 2018

General Motors Vice President Urban Mobility and Maven Julia Steyn said the company will be adding non-GM vehicles to its peer-to-peer rental fleet.

Maven, General Motors’ private ride-sharing service, is undergoing an expansion early next year. Before gig-based entrepreneurs around the country begin salivating, the expansion is product-based not geographic.

The company is going to allow non-GM brand products to be rented on the platform starting in the middle of 2019, a GM official revealed.

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According to Julia Steyn, vice president of GM Urban Mobility and Maven, said Monday during a presentation at the UBS Global Technology Conference in San Francisco, that Maven plans expand the platform to micro-fleet entrepreneurs. (more…)

Daimler, Bosch Partner as Latest to Offer Self-Driving Ride-Sharing Service

Pilot set to launch in San Jose in late 2019.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.09, 2018

Daimler and Bosch will led pilot users ride in comfort, in modified Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans.

Daimler AG, the parent of Mercedes-Benz, has announced plans to launch an autonomous ride-sharing pilot program in San Jose, California starting late next year.

The carmaker, along with one of its lead technology suppliers, becomes the latest to enter a space that is expected to account for a significant share of the miles Americans clock on the roads each year by the end of the next decade. Waymo, the Google spin-off, is set to transition its own pilot program to a commercial venture this year, while General Motors is looking to launch a similar service.

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“The pilot project is an opportunity to explore how autonomous vehicles can help us better meet future transportation needs,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

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GM Is Going to Build eBikes – and Wants the Public to Come Up With a Name

Winner will get $10,000.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.02, 2018

One of General Motors' two electric bikes is a distinctively styled compact version.

The word, “mobility” is showing up in transportation circles a lot these days, and expectations are that the public will have plenty of alternative ways to get around in the years ahead, everything from electric scooters to ride-sharing services.

That’s led General Motors to invest billions in a variety of different transportation alternatives, including car-sharing service Maven and it autonomous Cruise Automation subsidiary. Now, the Detroit automaker says, it will be getting into the bicycle business. Make that electric bikes, two of which it unveiled on Friday.

The Last Word!

It wants to start selling them next year but it has a rather significant problem: no name. So, it is asking the public to come up with a moniker for the new brand and will give the participant who submits the winning choice $10,000, with nine runners-up getting $1,000 each.

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Uber’s Estimated Valuation in IPO Pegged at $120 Billion

Lyft is looking to doing an offering as well next spring.

by Joseph Szczesny on Oct.18, 2018

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has been making substantive changes to the company since his arrival.

Uber could raise as much as much as $120 billion, dwarfing the market capitalization of General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, when it launches an initial public offering next summer, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Uber is already in discussions with bankers about an initial public offering in early 2019, the Journal reported. At the same time, Uber’s principal Lyft raised $15 billion during a round of fund raising and has indicated it is preparing go public next spring, raising the prospect the two ride-sharing companies could collide in the race for cash.

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Uber’s potential valuation could be greater than the combined current valuation of the U.S. automakers, the Journal reported. The comparison has been the subject of some fierce debate with some critics suggesting that for “game changing” technology companies like Uber it is not a relevant. (more…)

Toyota Investing $500 Mil in Uber, Will Aid in Autonomous Vehicle Efforts

Move could help ride-sharing service in anticipated IPO plan.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Aug.28, 2018

Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO and Toyota EVP Shigeki Tomoyama shake over their new alliance.

Toyota confirmed  reports it will invest $500 million in Uber and partner with the nation’s largest ride-sharing service on the development of the autonomous and fully driverless vehicles Uber believes will slash its costs and make it a viable alternative to personal vehicle ownership.

The announcement comes barely a week after Uber wrapped up its search for a new chief financial officer, something that, along with the new Toyota alliance, could help move closer to a widely anticipated IPO. The Japanese maker’s investment puts a value of $72 million on Uber.

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“This agreement and investment marks an important milestone in our transformation to a mobility company,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, executive vice president, TMC, and president, Toyota Connected Company. “Combining efforts with Uber, one of the predominant global ride-sharing and automated driving R&D companies, could further advance future mobility.”

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