the tech guy


The Tech Guy #1579

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.


The Tech Guy #1577

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.


The Tech Guy #1575

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. 


The Tech Guy #1573

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.


The Tech Guy #1571

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.


The Tech Guy #1569

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.


The Tech Guy #1567

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 Tech Guy #1563

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.


The Tech Guy #1561

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.