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Volkswagen launches home EV charging system sales ahead of ID.3 vehicle deliveries



Volkswagen has started to sell a home-charging device as the automaker prepares to bring its new ID family of electric vehicles to market.

The ID.3 is the first electric vehicle under the ID label and will only be sold in Europe. Customers who made reservations for the launch edition, known as ID.3 1st, will be able to order their vehicle starting June 17. Volkswagen said this week that the deliveries for the ID.3 1st will begin in September.

And that means that, at least for now, the home-charging device known as Wallbox will only be available for sale in eight countries in Europe. Volkswagen is making three versions of the Wallbox that will range in price between €399 and €849 ($448 to $953). Those prices don’t include the cost of installation.

All of the versions will have a charging capacity of up to 11 kilowatts, permanently mounted Type 2 charging cable and integrated DC residual current protection. For now, just the base model is available, according to VW.

The two premium models, the ID. Charger Connect and ID. Charger Pro, will be available later this year. These models come with additional software that allows for the kind of interaction and analytics that Tesla owners are more familiar with. The ID. Charger Connect will allow customers to link their smartphone to control charging processes. The ID. Charger Pro has that connectivity feature plus an integrated electricity meter designed for commercial uses. The integrated meter can be used to bill electricity costs for company car drivers, according to VW.

Wallbox Volkswagen ID. Charger

Image Credits: Volkswagen

The ID.3 is the first model in the company’s new all-electric ID brand and the beginning of its ambitious plan to sell 1 million electric vehicles annually by 2025. The ID.3 will only be sold in Europe. Other models under the ID brand will be sold in North America.



Auto Insurance Quotes Demystified



Understanding auto insurance is not as difficult as you might think. Each company has a different formula to determine your premiums, so shopping around to find the best rates with the best coverage is crucial in getting the best quote.

Understanding a Car Insurance Quote

Every driver has a profile, and each unique profile is compared to the vehicle you need to have insured. Luxury vehicles will typically cost more than lower-end vehicles. Drivers, likewise, are charged varying costs when compared on a scale of safe driving. Without anything on their records, safe drivers will have lower premiums, while drivers with more violations should expect to pay more

If you’re shopping around for a new provider, you can get quotes to see what your coverage will be before agreeing to their terms. You can even get quotes online without ever speaking to anyone when it comes to larger companies. With smaller companies, you might have to make some phone calls to get the information you need.

Some people are tempted to give the next zip code over when asking for quotes, which is a bad idea. If anything were to happen to you or your car and the insurance has the wrong information, it could jeopardize your entire claim. Always give accurate information to get the right coverage, and don’t leave anything, or anyone, out of your coverage.

Shopping for Car Insurance

Requesting a quote can happen any time you want to ask, but the best time is when your current policy is about to expire or you are in between policies. Life changes or major milestones are also excellent times to consider getting a new insurance quote, as you may find that a different provider can give you a better deal.

You never have to change providers, but it’s a good idea to check for better premiums as you get older or your credit score gets better. If you get a job, but it’s a remote job that doesn’t require much driving, you may also qualify for lower rates. Also, if it’s been at least three years since your last violation, you may be eligible for better premiums.

When shopping for car insurance, you’ve got some main factors associated with what the insurance companies will tell you. Younger men and teens are the most expensive to insure, while married drivers tend to pay significantly less than a single driver. Make sure you talk to insurance companies about your relevant information to get the best car insurance quote you can get.

Saving on Auto Insurance

You can do a few things to lower your auto insurance quotes, too, although it will take time to make it happen. The number one thing you can do is to improve driving habits, and that means you need to avoid getting tickets. Certain companies also offer safe driver programs, which will lower your rates.

Improving your credit score has a significant impact on your quotes, too. Unfortunately for some, insurance companies look favorably on people that appear to be financially responsible. Of course, if you’re a safe driver that has done the best you can, but life has made your credit take a nosedive, you’ll want to be upfront about your circumstances.

To save on auto insurance, remember to get at least three quotes. More is better, but if all you do is get three, that lets you know what is available in your area. You can compare to see what best suits your needs and look for discounts with different companies.

A Few Last Words on Auto Insurance

Auto insurance isn’t hard to understand as long as you remember a few basic concepts. Drivers and their cars are uniquely matched, so not everyone will pay the same insurance price. Instead, premiums are based on a variety of factors, including age, experience, and vehicle type. You want to shop around for at least three quotes and report any life changes in the process to make sure you get the best deals available. Keep your credit score up as much as possible, but above all, always be honest and accurate in your search for the lowest insurance premiums.

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Autonomous trucking startup Embark to go public in $5.2B SPAC deal



Five-year old self-driving truck startup Embark Trucks Inc. said Wednesday it would merge with special purpose acquisition company Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp. II in a deal valued at $5.2 billion.

Embark takes a different approach to autonomous trucking: As opposed to manufacturing and operating a fleet of trucks themselves, which is the route rival TuSimple is taking, Embark offers its AV software as a service. Carriers and fleets can pay a per-mile subscription fee to access it. The company includes carriers Mesilla Valley Transportation and Bison Transport, and companies Anheuser-Busch InBev and HP Inc., amongst its partners.

Carriers purchase trucks with compatible hardware directly from OEMs, so Embark says it has designed its system to be “platform agnostic” across multiple components and manufacturers. The company says its software can simulate up to 1,200 60-second scenarios per second, and make adaptive predictions using those scenarios for the behaviour of other vehicles on the road.

Embark said in an investor presentation for the SPAC deal that it was targeting “driver-out,” or operating on roads without a safety driver, by 2023 and launching at a commercial scale across the American sunbelt the following year. However, Embark still has technical milestones yet to achieve, noting in the presentation that the software still needs to accomplish actions such as interactions with emergency vehicles, and responding to blown tires and other mechanical failures.

Upon closing, the transaction will inject Embark with around $615 million in gross cash proceeds, including $200 million in private investment in public equity (PIPE) funding from investors including CPP Investments, Knight-Swift Transportation, Mubadala Capital, Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global Management.

Embark also said former Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was joining its board, likely a boon for a company operating in the autonomous trucking industry, which is still only authorized for commercial deployment in 24 states.

Embark was founded in 2016 by CEO Alex Rodrigues and CTO Brandon Moak, who worked together on autonomous driving while completing engineering degrees from Canada’s University of Waterloo. After launching out of Y Combinator, the company quickly went on to raise $117 million in total funding, including a $30 million Series B led by Sequoia Capital and a $70 million Series C led by Tiger Global Management.

The transaction is anticipated to close in the second half of 2021. The company joins competitor AV trucking developer Plus in going public via a SPAC merger. TuSimple opted for a traditional initial public offering in March.

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Inside GM’s startup incubator strategy



GM has launched a series of new subsidiaries in the past year tackling electrification, connectivity and even insurance — all part of the automaker’s aim to find value (and profits) beyond its traditional business of making, selling and financing vehicles. These startups, including numerous ones that will never make the cut, get their start under Vice President of Innovation Pam Fletcher’s watch.

Fletcher, who joined TechCrunch on June 9 at the virtual TC Sessions: Mobility 2021 event, runs a group of 170 people developing and launching startups with a total addressable market of about $1.3 trillion.

Today, about 19 companies are making their way through the incubator in hopes of joining recent GM startups like OnStar Guardian, OnStar Insurance, GM Defense and BrightDrop, the commercial electric vehicle delivery business that launched in January. Not everything will make it, Fletcher told the audience, noting “we add new things all the time.”

Launching any startup presents challenges. But launching multiple startups within a 113-year-old automaker that employs 155,000 people globally is another, more complex matter. The bar, which determines whether these startups are ever publicly launched, is specific and high. A GM startup has to be a new idea that can attract new customers and grow the total addressable market for the automaker, using existing assets and IP.

The Volt effect

The 2010 Chevrolet Volt is a noteworthy moment on the GM timeline. The vehicle marked the company’s first commercial push into electrification since the 1990s EV1 program. Fletcher, who was the chief engineer of the Chevy Volt propulsion system from 2008 to 2011, noted that the Volt was the beginning of a change within the automaker that eventually led to other commercial products including the all-electric Chevy Bolt, the hands-free driver assistance system Super Cruise and its current work on autonomous vehicle development with its subsidiary Cruise.

I don’t know that the Volt was a root exactly of what we’re seeing today. But I think it was definitely the start of a groundswell of really looking at, how do we inject technology that customers are excited about and care about quickly? How do we engage them deeply in the process? … Which we’ve always done … just, I think there was a climate there where the appetite was so strong with a certain group of customers for the technology that it allowed us to get really a front row seat with them, which was game changing for those of us on the frontlines. And obviously, there have been many programs that have had that in their own ways, but you really see that accelerating now with the advent of everything we’re doing in electrification and autonomous and a portfolio that is just emerging even to the notion of applying some of these great technologies to our new full size, truck and SUV programs. So it’s really broad, based across the company, which is exciting. (Timestamp: 4:56)

Fletcher explained how working to commercialize new technology changed how the company interacted with customers.

With new technologies, one, you get to a new customer base sometimes. So, really understanding what that customer is looking like and putting them at the center of everything. Also, different technologies have different development processes and timelines and pipelines for activity. So, it really allowed us to start to think about how to approach each step of our product development and customer engagement differently. And the Volt was an interesting time too, because that was the advent of new social media was really starting to become much more popular. And so we were very connected with those customers and a great customer base that gave us tremendous feedback very directly, you know, through at the time, what was a new channel. (Timestamp: 3:50)

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2021 Acura TLX Type S Engine Gets Special Love In Deep Dive Video



The new Acura TLX Type S debuted last year, and it’s done the media circuit with general praise all around. Two TLX Type S race cars will attack the infamous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 27. In fact, it seems just about everyone has experienced the new TLX Type S except buyers. That changes this week as the new sedan finally reaches dealerships, and to celebrate, Acura wants to tell you all about that turbo V6 under the hood.

That’s the crux of the video featured above, but here’s a preview. Acura didn’t just borrow some hardware from the familiar 3.5-liter V6, scale it down, and bolt up a turbocharger. In fact, the new 3.0-liter engine was developed by a team of engineers from Japan and the United States, drawing on experts who worked on both the Honda Civic Type R and NSX powertrain programs. The final assembly takes place at Acura’s engine plant in Anna, Ohio.

Keeping the DOHC V6 compact was important, as was making it strong. Engine nerds will appreciate the forged steel crankshaft and six-bolt main caps, the forged connecting rods, the low-profile heads, and the single twin-scroll turbocharger. Naturally, it’s a 24-valve arrangement with variable timing on both the intake and exhaust cams, and at peak boost, the turbo pushes 15.1 psi into the engine.

There’s much more to the mill than that, but for most people, the performance is all that matters. The boosted V6 generates 355 horsepower (265 kilowatts) and 354 pound-feet (480 Newton-meters) of torque. Due to the design of that twin-scroll turbo, Acura says maximum torque is available at just 1,400 revs. We can attest to that low-end push personally, having spent time with the new Type S on track at Laguna Seca. The sports sedan has a thick, linear powerband that’s lag-free. If anything, we wish it had a bit more power for its all-wheel-drive system to handle, but we found the TLX Type S to be plenty exciting as-is.

save over $3,400 on average off MSRP* on a new Acura TLX


With a starting price of $52,300 ($53,325 with destination charges included), the 2021 Acura TLX Type S undercuts most of its German and Japanese competition. With models finally reaching dealerships, it will be interesting to see how buyers respond to this impressive sports sedan.

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