For Today: Tesla semi-tractor is being delayed yet again, Waymo promoting the safety of self-driving cars

Another delay on Tesla truck:  The Tesla semi-tractor heavy-duty truck is being delayed yet again, this time until mid-November. Resources will go instead to fix production bottlenecks for the Model 3. Another priority, in which Musk tweeted about, is diverting resources to help bring Puerto Rico back through battery production to help the island recover from hurricane devastation. Residents have been going without electricity. Tesla was below its production target to build more than 1,500 Model 3 units in the third quarter. The company had just delivered around 220 Model 3 sedans and produced 260 during the quarter. Earlier this week Tesla reported that “production bottlenecks” had left it behind the planned ramp-up for the Model 3.

Charging study:  The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has published a study on the state of charging stations in the U.S. The study looked into best practices for avoiding wasting funds on charging equipment that could be the wrong type or located in the wrong places. There are quite a few variables to consider including the ratio of plug-in hybrid to battery electric vehicles. Plug-in hybrids have smaller battery packs than all-electrics; they charge faster and become depleted more quickly. Drivers do have the advantage of running out of battery power and getting there powered by a gasoline engine.

Waymo public education drive:  Waymo is teaming up with non-profit groups to talk Americans into believing in the safety of self-driving cars. Google’s self-driving car company is teaming up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National Safety Council, and the Federation for Blind Children in a campaign called “Let’s Talk Self-Driving.” Waymo also emphasizes that autonomous vehicles can eliminate most alcohol-related fatal crashes, and would offer the blind a transportation option. The company said the public awareness ad campaign will begin in Arizona on Monday. That’s where Waymo has been doing a lot of its self-driving car testing. The ad campaign will be delivered through digital ads, outdoor billboards, fuel pump advertising, and radio spots.

 

For Today: Ford Escape plug-in coming, Avis managing Waymo’s autonomous vehicle fleet

Escape plug-in hybrid:  Ford has a new plug-in hybrid in the works, which will be built on the Escape crossover SUV. It may not arrive until the 2020 model year, and it’s slated to replace the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid. Ford has been disappointed with the C-Max Energi’s sales performance, though it has been doing a little better lately. Ford has been playing with the idea of a PHEV Escape for about a decade, having tested out a small fleet. Hybrid versions of competitors are out there with the Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue, and an expectation that Honda will bring out a hybrid CR-V.

Fuel-efficient Camry hybrid:  Toyota announced that the 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid will be delivered to dealers later this summer with a better, more fuel efficient hybrid system. The automaker said the LE option received a 52 mpg combined highway estimated-EPA rating, the same as the 2017 Prius hatchback gets in EPA combined rating. The Camry Hybrid will be priced at $27,800 for the LE to $32,250 for the XLE, but there will be an additional cost for a delivery, processing and handling (DPH) fee. Fuel economy improvements come from a few changes being made, including a new Total Hybrid System (THS II) through a more-efficient transmission system.

Waymo inks deal with Avis:  Alphabet’s self-driving car division, Waymo, has signed a deal withAvis Budget Group for the car rental company to manage Waymo’s fleet of autonomous vehicles. Avis will service and store Waymo’s Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivans, with Waymo owning the vehicles and paying Avis for these services. It will start out in Phoenix, where Waymo has been doing much of its testing lately. The agreement will cover multiple years but won’t be exclusive. Avis has been very active in the mobility space, having purchased carsharing market leader Zipcar a few years ago.