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.
The news lately is that electric vehicles have a hard time in extreme cold weather. Sam says it’s because a lot of its power is being used to heat the cabin and that dramatically cuts into your driving range. Sam says the best option is to preheat your car overnight during an overnight charge. That’ll cut down on the amount of battery life you lose on a cold day.
This past week, Elon Musk said that the current version of Tesla autopilot can do fully self-driving on the high ways. But Sam says there isn’t a single car on the road, with the exception of test vehicles that are fully self-driving. The technology simply isn’t reliable enough without a safety driver. Leo says he can’t wait for it to happen because he would like to never have to drive again. Sam says that people’s perceptions of loving to drive are changing, preferring to have someone else do the driving. That’s why Uber and Lyft are becoming so successful.
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Sam is back to talk about the difference between auto pilot driver assist and self driving calls. It’s fool hardy to assume that you can climb in the back to take a nap while your car drives itself. Cars aren’t completely automated yet and mostly, the self driving car needs human input from time to time. Most cars are a level 1 system which detects cars in front of you slowing down and slowing down your cruise control. A level 2 system has an auto pilot, but the driver needs to be engaged to take over control at any moment, and the system is designed to rely on that.
Sam says that shared scooters are popping up all over the city, but he says we don’t know what shape they are in, or if they have enough juice to get us where we need to go. They are a good alternative when you have to get somewhere within 10-12 blocks, though. The problem, however, is that those shared scooters don’t come with protective headgear.
Sam is back from CES and he says that while more companies are featuring technology for cars, it is by no means a huge car show. That’s the domain of the Detroit Auto Show. But Sam says that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t some cool car tech there. Alexa for Auto is becominng a thing. Sam says that cars are becoming far more computerized. Chips have been in cars since the 70s, but most cars now have about 75-100 separate computers built into them. We’re starting to see a trend towards fewer, more powerful computers that will run your car for you.
That leads to the issue of security in your car. The more connected your car is, the more a risk for your car to get hacked. Sam says that in many ways, Tesla has the advantage because it didn’t have to contend with legacy controllers and computers that have been in a design for years. They just built a main, centralized computer that manages the entire system, and gives you the option of resetting different systems without affecting the others. Do they have an operating system? Not really. They’re more dedicated chips that just run an command. But Linux is coming into cars now.
This week, Sam is in Las Vegas for CES and he says it’s rapidly become the largest auto show in the world. The north hall is crammed with auto tech now. Everything from car audio, to smart assistant enabled technology for cars, to smart cars. But the big change over the last fear years is how the aftermarket head units and stereos have disappeared, as people are streaming from their phones. Leo says that makes sense because your phone will be updated and that stereo won’t.