Leo Laporte and Sam try out the 2019 Kia Niro EV, an impressive compact electric crossover with a 239 mile range
Five years ago, Lincoln was a brand that seemed to be on its last legs. The products felt uninspired and no one seemed to know why Ford was still pouring money into its last premium brand. Despite that, Ford recommitted to the brand, appointing Kumar Galhotra as president of Lincoln and the resurgence began. That continues under current Lincoln president Joy Falotico with this week’s reveal of the 2020 Corsair. Lincoln has fleshed out its SUV lineup with new or revamped products from bottom to top, leaving the MKZ and MKT for as long as they last as the only remnants of the old product lineup.(more…)
Sam says that even with driverless cars, he’s not sure if Lyft can still make any money. There’s no networking effect. There’s no loyalty or switching costs. So the only way to make it work is to have a lot of drivers and lower fares. Also, companies like Lyft and Uber have no real hard costs or assets. They don’t own the cars, or have to maintain them, or pay for the gas. When you go driverless, suddenly you have to pay for cars and maintain them. Those hard investments and will be in the billions at first.
Sam joins Leo to talk about the etiquette of charging an electric vehicle. Sam says that some EV users believe it’s OK to park next to a charger, thereby making that charger unusable for hours. Tesla has addressed this issue by charging people after their car has been filled up. Users now get a 5 minute grace period. Leo says while that’s true, if you’re traveling and are parking at the airport, you don’t really have a choice. While that’s a special case, most EV owners are just using charging spots at the mall and other locations as parking spots. Thereby preventing other EV drivers from charging.
Meanwhile, Mercedes Benz has included What3words navigation to their 2019 vehicles. All you need to do is input the three words of your destination, and it’ll take you there. What3words is a system that assigns three words to every ten foot square all over the planet. Sam has tried it out, and he says the only real flaw is you have to know the three words of your destination, which you can find here.
Sam joins Leo in studio, and he says that while electric vehicles are getting more popular, it would still take 20-30 years to replace the entire fleet in the US. He drove to Eastside Studios in a KIA NIRO electrified vehicle. The NIRO Hybrid gets 50 mph, but you can get a plugin hybrid as well, which gets 27 miles on a charge. Or you can get a fully electric NIRO, which has a 239-mile range.
Next week, Sam will be test driving the new KIA Niro. It’s an electrified vehicle, which is different from an electric vehicle. And there’s also an electrified hybrid that offers some electric propulsion but isn’t completely electric. That kind of propulsion varies. The Nero has an electric motor that runs alongside the engine, and one that charges the batteries and regenerative braking. But it still needs gas to power the main engine. A plugin hybrid has a larger battery and can drive about 15-40 miles, but once depleted, relies on gas. So driving around town, which is most driving, you can go electric, and then on longer trips, you can use gas.
This week’s EV car news is that TESLA is shutting down all of their dealerships, in the hopes that reducing the overhead will translate into reducing the price tag on their vehicles. Now if you want to buy a Tesla, you can do it online and Tesla will deliver it to you. As for servicing, Tesla will likely have some service centers open in major areas, but they may also do a service at home program where they come to you to do any servicing. In other Tesla news, Elon Musk says that Tesla will have full self-driving by the end of the year. But Sam says that doesn’t mean you can crawl into the back and take a nap. This week, there were two autonomous crashes with fatalities when people took their hands off the wheel.
What three words is a new navigation idea, where you enter the three words for a given grid location, and the car will guide you there. But the trick is knowing the right words, or you may end up going to the wrong location. Adopted by Ford and Mercedes so far.
This week’s topic is high capacity chargers for electric vehicles. Battery range and charging are the biggest challenges facing EVs. Where are the charging stations? Sam says that navigation systems often have charging stations built into the route your driving, and based on your EV, they will also draw a circle around the usable range of your electric vehicle before you need to get a charge. But Sam says that it costs a lot of money to install high capacity, high power charging stations, especially in rural areas. The Tesla Supercharger is coming with 120KW charging capacity. The Electrify America is three times that. So you can get 80% charge in about 15 minutes. That kind of advancement will help make it easier to buy an EV. The other issue is charging connectors. Tesla has a proprietary connector, so you’d need an adapter to use them.
You can also get a level 2 home charger for about $400-600.
One of the recurring storylines around Tesla is the rarity with which new automotive brands launch and succeed in a self-sustaining way. In fact, while it’s not exactly common, it does happen with some degree of regularity. Case in point is Kia. While the company traces it roots back to 1944, it was really only in the early-1990s that it ventured outside of South Korea under its own name. While the early models were to say the least not very good and the company went bankrupt in the Asian financial crisis, it persevered. Hyundai took a controlling interest in 1998 and it’s been uphill for both companies ever since. The 2019 K900 is yet more evidence that fantastic luxury cars don’t have to come from Europe, America or Japan.
Sam joins Leo to talk about the new EV Truck … the Rivian. It’s a full sized pickup that’s electric. There’s also an SUV. Leo hears that Ford is planning an electric F150. Sam says it should be coming in a few years. The hybrid will be out in 2020.
But the Rivian just got $700 million in investment, and the lead investor is Amazon. Low volume production begins in 2020, but Sam says we won’t really seem them until a few years down the road. It’s also getting into automated driving through Aurora. Aurora has been working with Volkswagen and Hyundai, and Sam says that Amazon is going to have its own automated trucking fleet that’s full electric, down the road. Couple that with drone delivery, and the shipping business is about to undergo a serious seed change.
But Sam says that the real challenge isn’t automated shipping, it’s delivering the last 100 feet.