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0:07 Tesla Roadster Production Starts in 2023
1:28 Cyber Attacks Disrupt Some Honda Production
2:09 Continental Creates Code of Ethics for AI
3:05 Volkswagen Replaces Its CEO
3:55 Hyundai-Kia Improve Heat Pump for EVs
5:25 Online Classrooms Keep Fiat Ducato EV on Track
6:24 Limited-Edition Fiat 500 Costs 35,000 Euros
7:31 Mobileye Tests Lidar-Less Autonomous System
8:45 Parking Gone Wrong
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TESLA ROADSTER PRODUCTION STARTS IN 2023
Has Tesla delayed production of its roadster yet again? Sure seems like it. Elon Musk unveiled the car in late 2017 and said he wanted it in production by 2020. Then last year Musk said that it was being delayed and media reports suggested it would not be built until 2022. But Autoforecast Solutions, our go-to source for future products, says the Roadster, which it identifies as Model R, will go into production in Fremont, California in January, 2023. Too bad it’s taking that long. The Roadster really promises to be a Porsche Taycan killer. Tesla claims a 0-60 mph time of only 1.9 seconds, a top speed of 250 miles an hour, and 620 miles of driving range. Even though it will not be on the market for a couple of years you can plunk down a $50,000 deposit right now for the car which will cost $200,000. Of course if you want to get one of what Tesla calls the Founders Series, of which they will only build 1,000, you have to pay for the car in full up front. The bill for that is $250,000.
CYBER ATTACKS SUSPENDS SOME HONDA PRODUCTION
When you hear the auto industry talk about cyber security, it usually revolves around protecting vehicles from being hacked. But automaker’s manufacturing operations are also at risk. Honda was forced to suspend production at some of its plants around the globe yesterday due to a suspected cyber attack. The company says criminals hit its internal servers with ransomware. So Honda stopped production to make sure its quality control wasn’t affected. Most of the facilities have resumed production but its main plant in Ohio, and ones in Turkey, Brazil and India are still shut down due to the attack.
CONTINENTAL CREATES CODE OF ETHICS FOR AI
Artificial intelligence is becoming more and more important for mobility, especially autonomous driving. Unlike humans, systems with AI can process huge amounts of data in real time. But are they making decisions in an ethical manner? To make sure they are, the supplier Continental created a code of ethics for self-learning systems. It says the decisions made by AI must be transparent and understandable, must only be used in accordance with clear ethical principles and must be non-discriminatory. Continental uses AI for camera-based driver assistance systems with object detection, turn assist systems and gesture recognition. Its ethics regulations apply to all of its locations worldwide and serves as a guide for other companies it collaborates with.
VOLKSWAGEN REPLACES ITS CEO
Volkswagen is replacing its CEO with its Chief Operating Officer. Ralf Brandstaetter is taking over for Herbert Diess, effective July 1st. Reuters reports the move comes after weeks of arguments with labor leaders and managers over the pace and scale of cost cutting measures, which is meant to free up money for future technologies, including electric cars. Diess is not leaving the company. He will keep his responsibility for Volkswagen passenger cars, including ones from Audi, Bentley, Skoda, Lamborghini and Porsche. (Herber Diess: Top; Ralf Brandstaetter: Bottom)
HYUNDAI-KIA GROUP IMPROVES ITS EV HEAT PUMP
Earlier this year the Norwegian Automobile Federation tested 20 electric vehicles in cold conditions to see how much range they lost compared to their official rating. Without pre-heating the vehicles, which the Federation does recommend, they lost between 9- and 29% of their range with an average of 18.5%. The ones that performed the best have advanced heating systems for the battery and the cabin of the vehicle. Tesla is one and many of you will remember Tesla’s Super Bottle that we learned all about from Sandy Munro. But the other top performer may surprise you, the Hyundai-Kia Group. The 2014 Soul EV came with a system that captured heat from the vehicle’s electrical components and used it to warm the cabin. Now Hyundai is improving the heat pump to get even more EV range. Not only does the new system suck up heat from more electrical components, it also captures it from the battery pack and slow charger. The scavenging of heat from other places cuts energy consumption of the HVAC system and reduces the load on the battery, which increases range, especially during the winter. In the Norwegian test, the Hyundai Kona Electric traveled 405 kilometers or over 251 miles, compared its WLTP combined rating of 449 kilometers or roughly 279 miles.
ONLINE CLASSROOMS KEEPS THE FIAT DUCATO EV ON TRACK
Last year Fiat said it will offer an all-electric version of its Ducato van and it was able to continue development during the pandemic thanks to simulation tools and online classrooms. It comes with either three or five battery modules, which offer 47 kWh of capacity and 79 kWh, respectively. The smaller battery provides 220 kilometers of NEDC range, which converts to about 95 EPA miles, while the larger one delivers 360 kilometers, which converts to roughly 156 EPA miles. Range also depends on the model because the Ducato EV comes in multiple vehicle weights, lengths, heights and seating capacity. The van is scheduled to go on sale sometime this year and we wonder if a version of the Ram ProMaster will come to the U.S. since it is just a rebadged version of the Ducato.
FIAT 500 LIMITED-EDITION COSTS €35,000
Speaking of Fiat, it’s offering a limited-edition of the New 500, which is now all-electric. Fiat did the same thing with the convertible version and sold out. So now Fiat’s going all EV with the hardtop. The “La Prima” edition, which means “the first” in Italian, also offers three exclusive paint colors, LED headlamps, 17-inch wheels, chrome accents and upgraded interior content. No changes were made to the propulsion system, which combines a 85 kW electric motor with a 42 kWh battery that provides 320 kilometers of WLTP range. But what really caught our eye is the price. The Fiat 500 “La Prima” edition costs nearly 35,000 euro, including a wall charger. That’s a lot of money for a 500, even if it is electric.
MOBILEYE TESTS LIDAR-LESS AUTONOMOUS SYSTEM
Elon Musk says that autonomous technology can be developed without lidar, using only cameras. And he’s not the only one who believes it. Mobileye, which used to supply cameras and software for Tesla’s Autopilot system, developed its own AV system that uses only cameras. It recently released this video of one of its autonomous cars driving 160 miles throughout Jerusalem. What you’re seeing here is a multi-screen look that includes the navigation screen, a bird’s eye from an overhead drone, a camera view of the driver and one of what the car sees coming ahead. The system uses 8 long-range cameras and 4 parking cameras. Mobileye set a goal of making its AV system 1,000 times safer than a typical human driver.
If you’d like to learn more about the future potential of semi trucks powered by fuel cells, be sure to join us Thursday afternoon when we’ll have Trevor Milton, the CEO of Nikola, coming on Autoline After Hours. So join me and Gary Vasilash as we bring you shows with some of the most interesting people in the automotive industry.
PARKING GONE WRONG
And before we go, we end today’s show with another Facebook post from Kevin Hisel. It’s the front fascia of a car sitting in a parking space with the caption, “Usually I don’t like camo wraps but this one is really well done.” He’s right, it has a certain cloaking-device look to it.
And with that we wrap up today’s report, thanks for watching.
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John McElroy is an influential thought leader in the automotive industry. He is a journalist, lecturer, commentator and entrepreneur. He created “Autoline Daily,” the first industry webcast of industry news and analysis.