Consumer Reports gives thumbs up to Model 3: Tesla, Inc., has received some good news from Consumer Reports, which at first had appeared to be another ding during a difficult time for the company. The consumer publication reversed course and now recommends the Tesla Model 3 after the electric carmaker sent an over-the-air update this week that improved the car’s braking distance by nearly 20 feet. There are still other flaws with the electric car, but it scores high enough to recommend, said Jake Fisher, CR’s director of automotive testing. The strong rating comes after a wave of crashes involving Tesla’s Autopilot semi-autonomous system where Teslas operated on Autopilot have crashed into emergency vehicles parked on the shoulder or stopped in traffic. The most recent took place in Laguna Beach, Calif., where a Model S that was allegedly driven on Autopilot crashed into a parked police vehicle. The Tesla drivers suffered minor injures and the police car had no one onboard at the time. Tesla is also struggling to increase production of the Model 3 and win back better ratings on Wall Street.
Dramatic growth expeced in EV sales: The International Energy Agency expects to see huge growth in global electric vehicle sales — bringing the global fleet up to 13 million by the end of this decade from 3.1 million documented last year. Sales may grow 24% per year on average through 2030. The agency expects that government policies limiting air pollution and greenhouse gases will drives the change. Aggressive EV production launches by several automakers are also part of the forecast. “The dynamic policy developments that are characterizing the electric car market are expected to mobilize investments in battery production, facilitating cost reductions and ensuring that battery production takes place at scales that exceed significantly what has been seen so far,” said Pierpaolo Cazzola, senior energy and transport analyst at the IEA.
Speakers addressing e-mobility and the grid: Electric Drive Transportation Association is hosting the next installment in its Leader Series, “Building the Modern Grid with E-Mobility” on June 13 from 1:00 to 4:00 ET at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker will provide the keynote presentation. Michael Pesin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Advanced Grid Research and Development Division in the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, will provide insights on federal initiatives on e-mobility and the grid. The afternoon program will feature key industry and policy leaders, interactive presentations and discussion.
GM Cruise gets whopping investment: General Motors’ Cruise Automation has received $2.25 billion investment from SoftBank Vision Fund, a Japanese tech investor group, to go toward expanding its presence in autonomous vehicles. The deal will give SoftBank Vision a 19.6% stake in GM Cruise, which includes Cruise and Strobe Inc., a Lidar company that GM acquired last year. The SoftBank investment will involve two phases: a $900 million initial funding followed by a $1.35 billion round.
Waymo and FCA forge AV deal: Waymo just made a deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for an additional 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica minivans to be deployed as robotaxis. The deal also sets the platform for the two companies to start discussions on eventually selling autonomous vehicles to buyers as personally owned vehicles. The new partnership expands the relationship between Waymo and FCA, which began in May 2016 with the purchase of 100 Pacifica Hybrids for use in Waymo’s test fleet. It indicates Waymo may be converting vehicles over to self-driving units for sale to other companies. One of them could be ride-hailing giant Uber. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said during a talk yesterday that his company is in discussions with Waymo to provide vehicles for Uber’s fleet.