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Karma Automotive unveils its faster next act, the Revero GTS

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Karma Automotive’s second act is a gasoline-electric luxury vehicle that aims to deliver more performance and tech inside a sleek and sporty $149,950 package.

The 2020 Revero GTS unveiled Tuesday during AutoMobility LA, the press and trade days of LA Auto Show, shares some of the same bits as its sibling Revero GT. Both vehicles use a gasoline-electric powertrain — a BMW engine powers a generator that charges the 28 kilowatt-hour nickel manganese cobalt lithium-ion battery. Like the GT, the battery supplies the GTS with 80 miles of electric driving. Both vehicles have a total 360-mile range when they’re fully charged and fueled with gas.

And both have some of the same operational features, including three driving modes and launch control that allows drivers to unlock all the power and torque inside and “launch” the vehicle down the road. The three drive modes are “stealth,” for pure-electric driving, a range extender mode called “sustain,” and sport, which combines the output from the battery pack and the generator for maximum driving performance.

The specs

The GTS does have a lot of extra though and costs about $15,000 more than the GT. The GTS has a new body, including a redesigned hood, doors, deck lid, body sides and side mirrors. It’s also faster off the line and can travel from 0 to 60 miles per hour in an estimated 3.9 seconds compared to the 4.5 seconds in the GT. The GTS comes with electronic torque vectoring, refined power steering. It also has a higher electronically-limited top speed of 130 miles per hour versus the GT’s 125 mph.

The GTS’ twin electric motors and all-electric powertrain produce 536 horsepower and 635 pound-feet of torque, which should deliver a responsive and exciting enough drive. Although we’ll have to wait and experience it for ourselves.

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The new vehicle has advanced driver assistance features like blind spot and cross traffic detection as well as audio technology developed in house and active noise cancelling. The infotainment system has also been improved on the GTS and includes haptic tactile switches a new touchscreen and user interface processor as well as a center console with improved storage.

Karma Automotive says it will begin production of the GTS in first quarter of 2020. First deliveries of the Revero GT expected during the fourth quarter of 2019.

The new business plan

The Karma Revero GT was the first fully conceived product to come out of a company that launched from the remnants of Fisker Automotive, the startup led by Henrik Fisker that ended in bankruptcy in 2013. China’s Wanxiang Group purchased what was left of Fisker in 2014 and Karma Automotive was born.

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing though. The company’s first effort, known as the Revero, wasn’t received warmly. The Revero GT has been an improved effort. However, that hasn’t relieved the pressure.

The company laid off about 200 workers this month from its Irvine, Calif. headquarters following a restructuring that will focus on licensing its technology to other carmakers. The company’s assembly plant is in Moreno Valley, Calif.

Karma’s efforts to pack more tech and performance in the GTS makes sense considering the company’s new business strategy to open its engineering, design, customization and manufacturing resources to other companies. It also explains Karma’s other reveal Tuesday, an all-electric concept vehicle called the SC2 that delivers a stunning 1,100 horsepower and 10,500 lb.-ft. of torque and can achieve 0 to 60 mph in less than 1.9 seconds.

In other words, the GTS is a model of what Karma can do. And it explains some of Karma’s decisions to design and produce more of the vehicle’s components in house. Karma has developed its own inverters to maximize and maintain full software control for fast over-the-air updates as well as a proprietary 7.1-channel 570-watt Soloscape audio system, according to Todd George, the company’s VP of Engineering. The inverters convert DC current from the battery  pack to power the AC drive motors, and to also capture AC power from the regenerative braking system to recharge the battery pack.

It’s a business angle that Karma hopes will give it the immediate and long-term capital it needs to stay afloat. Karma is backed and owned by Wanxiang, the massive Chinese auto parts supplier. But it will eventually need to stand on its own.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/11/19/karma-automotive-unveils-its-faster-next-act-the-revero-gts/

Automotive

Elon Musk on road to $50bn payout as Tesla’s value passes $100bn

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Under pay scheme, founder must build electric carmaker into $650bn company by 2028

The Tesla founder, Elon Musk, has taken the first step to becoming $50bn (38bn) richer after the value of the electric car company surged past $100bn.

Musk, already a multibillionaire with a net worth estimated at about $30bn, secured approval in 2018 for a pay deal that would dwarf existing records for renumeration if it was paid out in full.

Under the scheme corporate governance experts have described as staggering, Musk must build Tesla into a $650bn company over the next 10 years.

Hitting this landmark would make Tesla one of the worlds most valuable tech companies worth more than seven times the combined value today of automotive powerhouses Ford and General Motors .

Provided Tesla also hits ambitious revenue and profit targets, and assuming Musk remains its chief executive, such growth would also trigger payments in stock worth about $50bn over the course of the scheme.

At the time the deal was agreed in March 2018, Tesla was valued by the stock market at $54.6bn. Its share price has nearly doubled since then, breaking the $100bn barrier on Wednesday.

Improved sentiment about Tesla on Wall Street is partly down to a surprise third-quarter profit of $143m, which bolstered hopes that the company could end its habit of making significant losses.

If Musk can keep the stock market value at above $100bn on average over the next six months, he will be entitled to the first of up to 12 stock payouts, worth around $350m each.

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The pay deal is staggered so that he receives further awards for every $50bn Tesla increases in stock market value, up to a maximum of $50bn in shares if the company achieves a valuation of $650bn by 2028.

That is still some way behind trillion-dollar companies such as Apple, the first to reach the Wall Street milestone, and Googles parent company, Alphabet.

Tesla supporters have argued that the way the pay plan is structured will help keep Musk focused on the company at a time when he is also increasingly involved in SpaceX, his space exploration company, and other ventures.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/jan/22/elon-musk-on-road-to-50bn-payout-as-teslas-value-passes-100bn

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

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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.”)

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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.


Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/auto-safety-features-speak-same-language/

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Waymos self-driving trucks and minivans are headed to New Mexico and Texas

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Waymo said Thursday it will begin mapping and eventually testing its autonomous long-haul trucks in Texas and parts of New Mexico, the latest sign that the Alphabet company is expanding beyond its core focus of launching a robotaxi business.

Waymo said in a tweet posted early Thursday it had picked these areas because they are “interesting and promising commercial routes.” Waymo also said it would “explore how the Waymo Driver” — the company’s branded self-driving system — could be used to “create new transportation solutions.”

Waymo plans to mostly focus on interstates because Texas has a particularly high freight volume, the company said. The program will begin with mapping conducted by Waymo’s Chrysler Pacifica minivans.

The mapping and eventual testing will occur on highways around Dallas, Houston and El Paso. In New Mexico, Waymo will focus on the southern most part of the state.

Interstate 10 will be a critical stretch of highway in both states — and one that is already a testbed for TuSimple, a self-driving trucking startup that has operations in Tucson and San Diego. TuSimple tests and carries freight along the Tucson to Phoenix corridor on I-10. The company also tests on I-10 in New Mexico and Texas.

Waymo, which is best known for its pursuit of a robotaxi service, integrated its self-driving system into Class 8 trucks and began testing them in Arizona in August 2017. The company stopped testing its trucks on Arizona roads sometime later that year. The company brought back its truck testing to Arizona in May 2019.

Those early Arizona tests were aimed at gathering initial information about driving trucks in the region, while the new round of truck testing in Arizona marks a more advanced stage in the program’s development, Waymo said at the time.

Waymo has been testing its self-driving trucks in a handful of locations in the U.S., including Arizona, the San Francisco area and Atlanta. In 2018, the company announced plans to use its self-driving trucks to deliver freight bound for Google’s  data centers in Atlanta.

Waymo’s trucking program has had a higher profile in the past year. In June, Waymo brought on 13 robotics experts, a group that includes Anki’s  co-founder and former CEO Boris Sofman, to lead engineering in the autonomous trucking division.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2020/01/23/waymos-self-driving-trucks-and-minivans-are-headed-to-new-mexico-and-texas/

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