AD #2314 – Toyota Reveals 1st Flex-Fuel Hybrid, VW Working on Compact CUV, Autonomous Car Kills Pedestrian

March 20th, 2018 at 11:22am

Runtime: 6:21

0:32 Autonomous Car Kills Pedestrian
1:33 Battle for GKN
2:47 VW Teases Five-Passenger Atlas
2:59 VW Working on Compact CUV
3:35 Toyota Reveals 1st Flex-Fuel Hybrid
4:29 Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

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39 Comments to “AD #2314 – Toyota Reveals 1st Flex-Fuel Hybrid, VW Working on Compact CUV, Autonomous Car Kills Pedestrian”

  1. David Sprowl Says:

    John – great reporting as always. I agree lets get all the facts before spewing opinion.

  2. Frederick Schmidt Says:

    John, lets talk AV’s. What will be a huge factor whether or not AV’s become realistic is, and hate to bring them into conversation, is insurance companies. I have not heard anything from that industry. Lets get real, if they rate AV’s in a way that makes them unaffordable to own or operate, that will be the dead end they can’t get around. That industry will have a huge impact on the future of AV’s.

  3. Ctech Says:

    Part of the problem with government is too many rules which are based in reality. Before allowing tax money to be spent on electric vehicles which do not fit the government job assigned to them, let’s lower the rules of the mandate to fit the market.

  4. cozy cole Says:

    Great report John, We never stopped making automobiles when the first human died in an auto accident! It would be interesting if we ever get to see any video from the uber car. How about before and after photos of the lucky guy’s car getting a Katzkin interior, so we all can drool!

  5. BobD Says:

    John, I agree they social media is jumping the gun on being critical of AVs and I do believe they will eventually be safer. With that said, even with your 100 fatalities per day, if you normalize this to number of fatalities per million miles driven, then compared that rate calculated from this one death and the cumulative AV miles driven over the bast few yeas, I bet the AV rate is higher. Obviously this will come down as the technology improves, but we are not there yet.

  6. BobD Says:

    Indianapolis started an initiatives several years ago of leasing EVs and PEVs for their government fleet. It caused some initial push-back when some of the vehicles were assigned to the police department, but since then I think has been successful. I don’t know if they have concluded this effort was cost-effective or not. Indianapolis also has curb-side EV rentals and cub-side bicycle rentals.

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    In the U.S., there are 12.5 traffic deaths per billion vehicle miles, or 1.25 deaths per 100M miles. How does that compare with deaths related to autonomous driving? John, do you know of any data or estimates?

  8. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Agree with Kit (and yesterday’s post as well); regardless of cause of the accident, and while it is probably too soon to even have enough data, the important number of deaths per miles will make or break the autonomous car. The reason I state regardless of cause is because even with our current fleet, causes are wide and varied. I believe autonomous cars are on the way, and will make inroads (and maybe eventually take over), but I’m also pragmatic enough to look at the data (and the development of same).

  9. omegatalon Says:

    This is why General Motors decision to design and build Chevrolet Bolt without steering wheels do not make sense as they need to develop the Super Cruise system and possibly in a generation or two move to Autonomous with manual over-ride.

    All autonomous vehicles that are confused or uncertain should be programmed to pull to the curb and turn on the hazard lights if manual override is not an option.

  10. phred Says:

    I have witnessed your show as a very big “Cheerleader” for AV and EV cars to be on the road. You should do a reality check from all the comments below that are screaming at you to do the math of the number of buyers of these cars.

  11. omegatalon Says:

    Mandating for electric vehicles doesn’t make sense unless cities, states and even countries build infrastructure for recharging these electric vehicles as easy as going to a gas station. Every street needs to have several recharging stalls; wireless system would be the best as a car parks over the recharging plate and with a smartphone app can pay for the meter and power.

  12. buzzerd Says:

    @phred – reporting the news is not being a cheerleader, do your own math.

  13. buzzerd Says:

    Autoblog is reporting that the preliminary report from the AV/pedestrian collision is it’s the pedestrians fault, ” it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode…”

  14. John McElroy Says:

    #2. Insurance companies are hyper-aware of AVs. So far the only AVs are test cars from automotive and tech companies, so they haven’t written any policies for individuals. But they’re getting ready for that.

    #7 and others. We can’t really extrapolate traffic deaths per million miles with AVs because we only have two data points, one fatality with a Tesla operating in autonomous mode, and this recent fatality with Uber. We know the Tesla driver was operating the system improperly, and we don’t really know the details of the Uber fatality. And in both those situations there was a driver in the car who could have taken control

  15. Frederick Schmidt Says:

    As I sit here on the east coast NJ with another big snowstorm in progress, I wonder the effect of severe weather would have on both AV’s and EV’s. A foot of snow with roads supplying a constant spray of snow, salt, brine and cinders on the camera/sensors of AV’s and the same on electric motors with many electrical connections that may be compromised. It makes me think about the many auto recalls that have been done in winter weather states. If you live in a state that has very bad winter weather where you see cars not even 5 years old with bad rust issues, that condition has to be addressed with AV’s and EV’s.

  16. Lisk Says:

    With the reporting on the pedestrian death by an AV, I don’t know how the news can overlook it. It was news, and no matter how the news speculators played it, it was the first time it had happened and someone was bound to speak first; with the wrong info perhaps. Same with Oklahoma City. The bombers were mid-eastern terrorist, not the real culprits, mid-western U.S. born and raised terrorists.

    The Prius Flex Fuel is everything the Volt was supposed to be in 2006. It was billed as a car that could run on E85, gasoline, diesel, biodiesel, and the various forms of natural gasses. Kudos to them for being first (and it made the news).

    Even though I don’t see myself riding in one, the different AVs running around are far more advanced than any consumer grade AV, just travelling in a straight line. No one would want to drive a car with the sensory equipment scabbed on all over the car. These AVs have multi-coverage sensors all over the car, and would do a far better job seeing just whats around hiding a car. We only have eyes blocked by window and roof pillars, scrolling through menus on our dashes, people talking, etc. My opinion is even if the driver was attentive, this would still gonna happen.

  17. FSTFWRD Says:

    @12 +++ I agree, I watch AD and AAH every day and week and have never thought of John or Sean as “Cheerleaders” of AV’s.
    Lets wait for the investigation before we point fingers on this very unfortunate incident.

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    14 Thanks, John. Yeah, that’s what I was thinking, with the few data points on autonomous driving, and not many hundreds of millions of miles of autonomous driving.

    Regarding the flex fuel Prius, I suspect it is REALLY flex fuel, if it’s for Brazil. They use everything from E-20-some , to E-100. It’s probably not quite E-100, or they would need to have liquor tax on it.

  19. MJB Says:

    On the surface, John, I really want to take your side with regard to the traffic fatality stats you compared at the start of today’s show. But the problem with that is that the 1000+ fatalities caused by ‘driver’ cars is taken from a sampling of how many millions of vehicles on the road in the U.S.? Comparing that statistic with the fewer than one hundred AV’s on public roads and the comparison kinda falls apart.

    Once we’ve got a much larger number of AVs on the roads, then I think it might be more fair to compare AV vs human driver fatalities. And for the record, I do believe that some day AVs will be much safer than human drivers. But bigger samplings need to be taken to prove it.

  20. Roger Blose Says:

    I am also on the East Coast and after one of our Nor’easters this month the power was out for many days. The wealthy towns usually are filled with Teslas driving around. Not this time…no Teslas, Leafs or Bolts to be seen. Food for thought!!

  21. PHILIP Says:

    Been saying for years the technology and road infrastructure are not ready for autonomous vehicles on public roads.

    More intensive driver instruction courses like those required in other countries would go a long way towards saving lives behind the wheel. I learned from my uncle who was in the insurance industry that nearly half of all traffic accidents involve tailgating.

  22. Frederick Schmidt Says:

    20,21 Very good points.

  23. Chuck Grenci Says:

    On a lighter note, and related to the automotive field, the Australian Grand Prix kicks off the season this weekend; GO Ferrari. :D

  24. Steve W Says:

    Regarding the AV killing a pedestrian, what facts are missing? An AV monitored by a driver not paying attention killed someone! Yes there are auto related deaths daily, but this one stands out only because it could have been avoided by not being on the road at all! It was a “test” and the “test” was a horrendous failure!

  25. Frederick Schmidt Says:

    24..yes that all seems to be the facts. The old adage “the camel already has its nose under the tent” seems to apply to both AV’s and Ev’s. If there’s profit to be had in both we are certain to have to exist with both on our roads.

  26. Lisk Says:

    (24) No matter how many tests you run on any component or system, it will fail, no way around that. Autonomous cars (one’s we’re to completely trust) have been on the road for what, a year in a half. This was accident numero uno with a car and a pedestrian. It wasn’t a careless accident based on law enforcement’s early assessment, at least on the part of the AV. People walk in front of cars all the time. Almost all make it. A great many don’t.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I assume there would be a camera recording the forward view from the car, and at some point, it could be determined if the human operator should have been able to avoid the pedestrian. I confess that I am a habitual jaywalker, but I make it a point that my jaywalking doesn’t cause drivers to slow and/or steer to avoid me. It appears that this victim was less careful, or made a rare, but tragic “mistake.”

    Regarding this incident, if I were the backup “driver,” I’d find it very difficult to be fully attentive, if the autonomous driving is generally working well.

  28. Len Simpson Says:

    EV’s will never rule until the Nissan ePower becomes common. Still in final development , but it sports a 48 V system w/a small eng/gen that only runs when necessary,. no 1/2ton batt that will have to be replaced , costing many K,s , lighter over all , no batt charger needed, will require minimal mtce—uses gas , what’s not to like ? The KISS principle rules !

  29. Ed Says:

    On the AV death of the pedestrian. Trains have been mostly automated for a long time. And the number of accidents still is tragic. There are fewer trains and not all have automation, would it not be wise to try and use this technology first on mass transit devices? Busses and trains? .. the answer is it still takes a combination of systems and aware operators working together to keep the most people safe. On individual craft and mass devices. An Uber driver in an autonomous device playing candy crush and not helping is still worse than an honest driver who makes a mistake imho.

  30. Lambo2015 Says:

    This is why I said before that Autonomus vehicles need to be all or nothing you can’t expect a driver to somewhat pay attention just in case
    society will need to be willing to accept a percentage of fatalities hopefully that will be less than 1000 per day but it will never be perfect

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    28 ePower is not an EV. It’s a hybrid, an inefficient one, compared to other hybrids. That’s why no one makes hybrids that way, except Nissan, for one market, to use excess Leaf motors.

  32. Bob Wilson Says:

    About six years ago, I tested how high the ethanol level could go in a 1.5L 2003 and 1.8L 2010 Prius, E50 worked without a problem. Above that level, the check engine light would come on. The only error code was injector timing but the cars worked fine and the lower MPG was proportional to the ethanol. But there was a problem at the pump.

    The retail markup over wholesale price was excessive. If ehanol gasoline mix was sold at the same markup as E10, it would be a little more affordable because the higher efficiency from spark advance.

  33. Dan Busch Says:

    “When the facts do come in, Autoline Daily will dutifully report them.” Good idea, except that you have jumped the shark, and, I believe, sent a bad signal regarding a lone death. Perhaps you might have waited to report anything until you had the facts that you are looking for. People get injured and die everyday from many types of accidents – roller blades to plane crashes. They are all sad incidents. BTW, I have no preconceived opinions pro or con regarding autonomous driving.

  34. Lambo2015 Says:

    31 Dan I believe its worth reporting the facts at hand which is yes a person was killed in an accident involving an AV with a driver behind the wheel. Thats not jumping the gun or shark or whatever you suggest. Its reporting the facts as of right now and is how all news stories are presented. Now as the investigation determines the why and how’s more information will surface and be made public. If news organizations waited until they had all the facts the public would cry out “why are we finding out about this 3 months later”? Uber stopped all testing and someone died which is appropriate steps until the root cause can be determined. Reporting what happened is different than reporting why and right now no one knows the why. So they may raise unwarranted concern over AV’s but we dont know that yet. Better to be safe than sorry.

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I ran across two articles saying that the woman hit was walking a bicycle across the road, and that apparently the vehicle didn’t brake or steer to avoid her. They are “investigating.” Could/should the human driver have done something? Maybe, but I wouldn’t want to blame them. If I were in that position, I suspect I might get complacent very quickly, if the autonomy generally works well.

  36. Lambo2015 Says:

    She was not in the crosswalk and may have been hidden by a van or larger SUV but yea I agree that I would not want to be the driver. Which goes back to my concern over half autonomous vehicles. (which I know this was not) but to offer a system that works some of the time and requires a driver to take over other times is just asking for accidents. AV’s need to be fully functional and work 100% of the time or just be additional safety features like lane departure, auto braking for crash avoidance. Working some of the time will just create confusion as to who was at fault in the case of an accident and also perpetuate the fear of AVs. You either trust them or you dont and if they cannot operate 100% of the time on their own than they might as well not work at all. IMO

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    32 That’s interesting. I would have expected a regular Prius to give a check engine light with ethanol content of 20%.

  38. Steve Weintraub Says:

    #26 Law enforcement assessment was done after the fact and clearly was a guess. In my opinion faulty radar was the culprit followed by a complacent “monitor”/driver. Regardless, it is inexcusable!

  39. Ukendoit Says:

    38) It is merely conjecture [your opinion] that it was a “guess”. Your opinion is just that, since your “guess” was uneducated rather than fact based like the law enforcement conclusion. It really makes me laugh how personal people take things when they have an agenda. I prefer to speak only what I know and not offer my opinions as fact so I don’t look silly. Just a suggestion.