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A Move to Make Auto-Safety Features Speak the Same Language



Pop quiz! What’s the difference between Automatic Emergency Braking, Collision Imminent Braking, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Collision Intervention, Autonomous Braking, and a Dynamic Brake System?

Trick question: nothing. All six of those terms have been used by important auto industry organizations—regulators at the US Department of Transportation, standards developers at SAE International, and influential research organization Thatcham Research—to describe automatic emergency braking systems. If your car comes equipped with Automatic Emergency Braking, it should be able to detect a potential collision in front of the car and automatically apply the brakes to avoid it, or at least to cushion the blow.

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Last week, the Transportation Department said it would join an effort to get everyone in the auto industry, including safety advocates, regulators, manufacturers, suppliers, dealers, and of course drivers themselves, on the same page, language-wise. “We want to make sure that drivers are aware that these systems are designed to ‘assist,’ not replace an engaged driver,” Secretary Elaine Chao told an annual research conference in Washington, DC.

The DOT endorsed a standardized list of advanced driver-assistance terminology, released late last year by the National Safety Council, AAA, Consumer Reports, and JD Power, the automotive marketing research company. The list clarifies, for example, that even when using “Active Driving Assistance” features (like General Motors’ Super Cruise, Audi’s Traffic Jam Assist, or Tesla’s Autopilot), the “driver is responsible for the primary task of driving.” Translation: Keep your eyes on the road! Some sort of advanced driver-assistance feature is available on almost all new cars sold in the US.

If you’re confused by the way your car’s new tech works, you are far from alone. Research suggests that people wildly overestimate the effectiveness of driver-assistance features. Thatcham Research surveyed 1,500 people in seven countries in 2018 and found that 70 percent believed you could buy an autonomous car, and 11 percent would be tempted to nap, watch a movie, or read the paper while using a driver-assistance feature. (Do! Not! Do! That!) Undercover researchers with MIT found in 2017 that not all car dealers accurately describe new features’ abilities or limitations to customers. Studies by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety suggest many drivers don’t understand the range of features like adaptive cruise control, which can adjust vehicle speed when it detects another vehicle ahead. The research also suggests that, without specific instruction, drivers can’t actually tell when a feature like lane-keeping assistance is actually on.

An industry review by AAA found that automakers selling in the US use at least 20 different brand names to market adaptive cruise control; there were 19 names for blind-spot warning systems.

But advanced assistance features also make driving much safer, which is why advocates say it’s important to make sure people understand how they work. Another IIHS study compared police-reported crash data and insurance claims from cars with crash-avoidance tech to those without, and found that cars with forward-collision warning are involved in 27 percent fewer front-to-rear crashes than those without the feature; those with forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking are in 50 percent fewer crashes.

(What’s forward-collision warning? The document endorsed by the DOT defines it as a system that “detects impending collision while traveling forward and alerts [the] driver. Some systems include pedestrian or other object detection.”)


Having DOT on board with the new definitions won’t by itself fix the industry’s vocab issues, or solve its wide-ranging consumer education issues. The most important players, the automakers who devise and market the names, were absent from the DOT announcement. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents the automakers that produce almost 99 percent of light-duty vehicles sold in the US, did not respond to requests for comment.

The Feds are working on performance standards for the tech, and their endorsement suggests their language might be consistent within its regulations. “Hopefully we get some commonality when the automakers start complying with those standards,” says Greg Brannon, the director of automotive engineering and industry relations at AAA. He says his and other groups pushing for more harmonization aren’t trying to get carmakers to nix their unique marketing of these features altogether. But wouldn’t it be nice if, say, Jeep were to clearly label its LaneSense Lane Departure Warning-Plus system a “Lane-Keeping Assistance” feature?

“Unfortunately, there's usually a pretty big gap between the marketing and engineering departments,” Brannon says.

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Porsche Talks Taycan Turbo Name, Fake Engine Sound, And More



The Porsche Taycan arrived last summer as the automaker’s first all-electric vehicle. Sales for the electrified sedan started in December 2019, which still makes the Porsche a relatively new model on the market. It also means there are very few Taycans in the hands of customers. Those interested in the car who have questions could head to Porsche’s YouTube channel. The channel has a new series – #AskPorsche – where YouTuber Alex Bangula grills Porsche expert and Porsche Manager Production Marketing, BEV & Strategy, Andreas Becker about the new Taycan, its features, and more, including the Turbo name.

It’s no secret the Taycan lacks a conventional internal combustion engine. That’s the point of the whole dang car; however, Porsche still decided to affix the Turbo badge to the name even though the Taycan lacks a turbocharger. That may seem strange, but to Porsche, the Turbo name is more than a representation of the car’s forced induction. Instead, the Turbo name is given to a model’s top performance trim. Porsche believes the peppier Taycan deserves the Turbo moniker.

Becker also addressed the car’s unique propulsion noise. For Porsche, the sounded needed to be authentic and futuristic while providing feedback to the driver about what the Taycan is doing. It’s not an artificial sound, either. Becker says the whine and warble are the sounds of the powertrain components – motor and transmission – amplified.

Other answers talk about the Taycan’s winter capabilities, including the electric powertrain’s ability to control torque to the wheels five times faster than that of an internal combustion engine car. Becker also talked about the Taycan’s grueling winter testing, too.

The Porsche Taycan is something entirely new from the automaker, so it’s nice to see the automaker take the time to explain the car, its features, and the realities of the electric powertrain. Becker wouldn’t talk about any future, electrified Porsche products beyond what we know already. There is a Taycan Cross Turismo and an all-electric successor to the Macan in development.


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Find a cheap flight with these top apps, both of which are on sale



Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.
Plus, enter the giveaway for your chance at $1,000 credit.
Plus, enter the giveaway for your chance at $1,000 credit.
Image: pexels

Remember when Pangea was a thing? If it didn’t break apart, we all could have lived on a giant hunk of landmass, and traveling to our dream countries would not be so difficult. But alas, tectonic plates did their thing, and we’re now divided into continents and forced to pay for flights to travel from one continent to another.

Luckily, not all is lost. Mashable readers can enter the Airline Gift Card Giveaway for the chance to win a $1,000 gift card that you can use towards the airline of your choice.

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If you don’t win, you can still save a ton on flights with these deals on flight search apps. It’s not Pangea, but it will work. Take your pick of the following, which are both on sale as of this writing:

Dollar Flight Club Premium: 1-Year Subscription

Dollar Flight Club Premium is an email/app subscription service that alerts its over 800,000 members about the cheapest flight deals available online. When you join the program, you can set up to five departure regions, and you’ll automatically get notifications on the cheapest airfares so you can book your dream vacation ASAP. In addition to alerts, you’ll also get exclusive perks and discounts from top brand partners, including Topo Designs, Huckberry, Fodor’s Travel, and more. Get a one-year subscription on sale for only $9.

Find a cheap flight with these top apps, both of which are on sale

Matt’s Flights Premium Subscriptions

Featured on The New York Times, Thrillist, and The Hustle, Matt’s Flights meticulously scours the internet for flight deals round the clock and filters the cheapest deals, mostly due to airline mistakes or rock-bottom sales. You’ll then get a list of the craziest deals available, allowing you to take your pick and travel for almost free. With a premium subscription, you also get personal one-on-one flight and travel planning support from Matt, personalized airfares, as well as receive five times more deals than free members. Grab a lifetime premium subscription for $199.

Find a cheap flight with these top apps, both of which are on sale


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Automotive IQ Guides: Electric Vehicles



Faced with tightening emissions standards, especially in Europe and China, the automotive industry is rapidly scaling-up its eMobility efforts.

In so doing manufacturers have a raft of technologies they can call upon:

  • Mild hybrid electric vehicles (MHEV)
  • Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV)
  • Plugin hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV)
  • Battery electric vehicles (BEV)

But which architecture is best suited to the task?

Each of these solutions has its own challenges and benefits, which automakers need to weigh up within the context of constantly evolving emissions standards, customer acceptance and corporate strategy.

What electric cars do manufacturers bring to market? Hybrid cars versus electric vehicles

The current production forecasts show that many carmakers are abandoning their ‘technology neutrality’ approach as they embrace electrification. The top 29 OEMs have announced plans to invest more than $300bn in scaling up xEV production over the next 10 years.

And with the new 95g/km per vehicle CO2 emissions having come into force in Europe on January 1, 2020, many manufacturers are turning to the 48V mild hybrid technology to help them meet the new regulations.

Why opt for 48V mild hybrid technology?

The 48V MHEV has several advantages over other electrification strategies:

  • The system is relatively simple and cost effective to engineer or even retrofit to existing platforms – especially if a belt-starter-generator (BSG) is fitted in the P0 Topology
  • The architecture offers good cost versus benefit returns, with between 12 to 20 percent emissions savings possible
  • The technology is scalable – from P0 to P4 to meet specific cost and emissions strategies
  • Using higher powered starter generators, such as the 48V 30kW BSG Continental announced in 2019, the MHEV can achieve limited electric-only driving, opening up the possibility for the MHEV to become a fully-fledged HEV

While sales are expected to grow by as much as 40 percent per year, there remains a question mark over the architecture’s viability past 2025 when emissions limits are set to be reduced by a further 15 percent. And with Volkswagen’s ID3 electric car entering the market at under €30,000, consumers may very well opt for this full electric vehicle option instead.

Nevertheless, there may be a respite for the technology. With pricing that could be as low as $9,000, Valeo has developed a full-time 48V EV, the Double 100, that may create a sustainable, novel niche in congested cities such as those found in China.

Surprisingly, in China, where the government is driving BEV volumes, the hybrid electric vehicle market has seen the most growth over the past year – even though in Europe HEV sales remain stagnant.

Sales of Japanese brands’ hybrids increased by about 30 percent in 2019 to more than 220,000, making HEVs one of the fastest-growing market segments, according to the China Passenger Car Association.

Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. have increased overall sales on the back of this architecture in a market that has fallen almost every month since June 2018.

Consumer support of Hybrid Electric Vehicles is based on familiarity

Although HEVs, with their costly hybrid powertrains and short electric-only driving range, might not be the first choice for manufacturers desperate to meet emissions targets, they do have the support of the consumer.

This support is due to the fact that, although the vehicle is electrified, it does not require charging and for all intents and purposes operates as a traditional fossil-fueled vehicle. The HEV was also the first electrified powertrain to reach significant volumes, and has gained user trust thanks to its increasing familiarity.

While the consumer may appreciate the familiarity offered by the HEV, the limited electric-only range is problematic. The solution lies with increasing the electric capacity of the powertrain and enabling charging of the higher capacity batteries, thus creating the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

The PHEV is integral to manufacturers’ electric vehicle strategy

PHEVs appeal to consumers who regularly drive longer distances, as well as single-car owners. They may also find a growing market in the rising number of cities that plan to ban ICEs in the city center.

Sales growth for PHEVs in most markets will be slower than that for other xEVs, hampered by the higher cost of the larger capacity batteries. Nonetheless, many OEMs will maintain a two-track BEV-PHEV strategy, with some markets continuing to incentivize PHEVs while building out their electrified vehicle infrastructure.

According to a 2020 report on electric vehicles by Boston Consulting Group, battery-powered electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids will capture almost a quarter of the market by 2030; up from the previously projected global market share of about a fifth.

In the US alone, almost 40 percent more people are considering a PHEV, and 20 percent more considering a BEV, in 2018 than in 2010.

However, as charging infrastructure improves and consumers’ anxiety over range and time to charge recedes, the BEV will surpass both the PHEV and HEV to become the dominant electrification technology leading up to the next decade.

Manufacturers and governments adopt creative solutions to the challenges faced by battery electric vehicles

There are four key elements driving the BEV market, each influenced by a number of variables in a complex matrix that is often highly regionalized:

  • Technology
  • Compliance
  • Industry perspective
  • Customer perspective

Frequently cited as one of the key factors dissuading consumers from adopting EVs in greater numbers is the initial cost to purchase – often discussed in terms of pricing parity with ICE-powered vehicles.

This is being addressed at all levels by manufacturers, suppliers and governments. In the short-term, government subsidies seek to make BEVs more affordable thereby boosting the economies of scale to the point where the technology becomes self-sustaining.

The impact incentives have on EV sales was well demonstrated when the Chinese government cut incentives in 2019. The reduction of EV subsidies, by more than 60 percent in June 2019, triggered a drop of 1.2 percent in annual sales of BEVs, to around 972,000 units, over the 2018 volume.

With the battery pack making up anything from 25 to 50 percent of the total cost of a BEV there has been an industry-wide drive to slash prices.

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s annual report released in January 2020, from 2010 to 2019 lithium-ion battery-pack prices have decreased from $1,100/kWh to $156/kWh – a decline of 87 percent. From 2018 to 2019 alone, prices dropped by 13 percent.

The report also suggested that the key $100/kWh could be achieved as soon as 2023. At which point it is theorized that cost parity with ICE-powered vehicles will be possible. Although a report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Energy Initiative argues that the $100/kWh cannot be achieved even by 2030.

Based on battery raw-material prices alone, MIT’s cost analysis indicates that a midsize battery-electric vehicle with a range of 200-plus miles will likely remain upwards of $5,000 more expensive to manufacture than a similar ICE vehicle through 2030.

Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure and its limitations

Another commonly cited drawback to BEVs is the availability of infrastructure related to the limited range and lengthy charge times of earlier electric cars.

To date, charging has required the vehicle to be physically connected to a charging station. However, there are several companies working on inductive charging, which allows vehicles to recharge their batteries without the need to plug in. It also has the ability to charge on the move – so drivers can be continually topping up as they travel, which would eliminate range anxiety.

In January 2020 Renault announced its INCIT-EV project that aims to encourage the development of electromobility in Europe. This initiative includes induction-charging trials that are scheduled to start in the second half of 2022. These trials will evaluate:

  • A dynamic induction charging system for the urban environment
  • A dynamic induction charging system for long-range and suburban applications
  • A charging hub in a car park for car-share vehicles
  • Low voltage bidirectional charging (for two-wheeled vehicles as well) and dynamic charging in taxi lanes located at the airport and central station in Zaragoza, Spain

Induction, also known as wireless charging, is capable of high power transfer with impressive efficiency. Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have been able to transmit 120 kW over 150mm with a 97 percent efficiency.

General electrified and electric vehicle adoption trends that could play out leading up to 2020

The type of electrification and adoption curve for electric vehicles vary by market, depending primarily on total cost of ownership (TCO), including the price of the vehicle, the number of miles (or kilometers) driven and local fuel and electricity costs.

However, with a combined 50 percent share of the worldwide auto market, China and Europe play a significant role in shaping global EV trends. The short-term direction in the US is unclear as policy differences between the current administration and the State of California have yet to be resolved.

Furthermore, mass-market smaller vehicles such as B-segment superminis and C-segment family-sized hatchbacks, will likely adopt hybrid powertrains over expensive electric vehicle platforms as a more effective mainstream strategy. However, this could change should the battery-pack costs dip below the $100/kWh.

Due to the cost, ICE and hybrid vehicles are also likely to dominate major emerging markets across Asia, Middle East, Latin America and, eventually, Africa for years to come. Cost will remain king in these lower per capita income markets, which will probably extend the life of ICE and hybrid-powered vehicles.

In an environment where regulatory transition is creating upheaval in the industry it is important that industry professionals avail themselves of the latest information regarding electrification and electric vehicle trends, thus Automotive IQ will be offering the following events specific to the topic:


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