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Peak Design EveryDay Backpack – Ideal for Car Photographers

If there is one way to identify a journalist at a car event or auto show, it has to be by the large backpack and/or hard-shell suitcases carrying photography equipment. Over the years, the video and photo equipment have gone through downsizing and the need of large hard-shell suitcases has diminished. Now what you’ll mostly need is a versatile camera bag that can be more than just an equipment hauler. We’ve tried several bags in the past, including multiple backpacks, but none of them have really checked all of our boxes — durability, versatility, construction and fashionable. 

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Meet the Peak Design, a company based in San Francisco who started its life as a Kickstarter campaign before launching one of the best products on the market. The company ultimately raised $6,565,782 from 26,359 backers to produce it, and almost $7 million more on Indiegogo in the form of preorders.

Every one of Peak’s products are available in Ash and Charcoal colors. The Ash with its blue accents and brown leather combination resembles the interior of a BMW i3, and often I’ve been asked if it was made by Peak Design for BMW. The Everyday Backpack is available in 20-liter ($260) and 30-liter ($290) sizes. I’m testing the 20L model, which I think is the ideal size for a primary-use gear bag. 

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At this size, I can comfortably carry a MacBook Pro 13 inch (can fit up to 15 inch laptop), an iPad Air, an Olympus OEM-D1 mirrorless camera, a Nikon D7000 DSLR with a wide lens, a DXONE camera, a USB battery pack, an audio recorder, a variety of chargers, adapters and cables, a Zhiyun Smooth 3 Gimbal, a pair of Bose headphones, sunglasses, pens, drugs of the legal kind, wallet and water bottle. Yes, that’s what a car journalist has to haul around to get the job done.

By our standards, that’s quite a lot of gear to fit into a single backpack, without stretching out the bag. 

But the EveryDay backpack is not just about photography aficionados. You can use it as a dedicated gear bag, as a gym bag – by removing the compartments inside – and as a regular laptop bag. The 20L backpack came with three Flex-Fold dividers, which can be completely removed from the bag to create larger compartments, or folded up to create dedicated storage areas for lenses, cameras, or other items. Measuring 33 x 51 x 59 cm (13 x 20 x 23 in) and with a naked weight of 1,542 g (3.4 lb) even the large 30 L Everyday Backpack is approved for carry-on by major airlines.

If you own a Capture Clip, you can clip it onto the shoulder strap so another camera could be added to the gear bag. 

The best thing about the Everyday Backpack is the ease of access — between the MagLatch at the top and the two zippered panels along the side, you can reach into the Everyday Backpack from basically any direction. Like all the Peak Design bags, the straps are neatly tucked and hidden away.

There are also inside zipper compartments where you can store additional items, like passport or credit cards. Two pairs of webbing straps with G-hooks can be found in the side pockets and you can use these to carry yoga mats and similar large objects. At the top of the bag, there is a weatherproof zipper that gives you access to not only the laptop compartment but also to a waterproof small pocket.

With all that gear inside the bag, a set of wide and comfortable straps are much needed. The straps are integrated with a swivel which allows you to swing the bag around so you can access the contents without ever taking off the backpack. This is likely the best feature when you’re on the go at at a race track and you need to change lenses quickly. And, of course, the EveryDay backpack is water-resistant so your gear stays protected even when you’re outside shooting in pouring rain. 

We’ve used the EveryDay Backpage 20 L at several events this year, including auto shows, test drives, location photoshoots, 24 hrs Le Mans Racing and many overseas trips where it served mostly as a sneakers bag. 

The Everyday Backpack is a great work of design and engineering, and one that proved to be extremely versatile, regardless of the use case. 
























Article source: http://www.bmwblog.com/2017/07/16/test-review-peak-design-everyday-backpack/

Millennials Not Following Previously Predicted Trends

A few short years ago, the auto industry seemed baffled that car sales were slumping for people in the millennial generation (Gen Y). Despite wielding billions in purchasing power, these consumers—born roughly between 1980 and 2000—were just not spending on big ticket items. This led industry watchers to believe that millennials were not interested in buying. But that was then.

Because millennials are a large and diverse generation, it has been hard to get a read on them. This led to many market trends being associated with the generation which are now being laid to rest. Fast forward to today’s market and you will see a completely different story than industry watchers were predicting. Gen Y was just waiting.

Biding Their Time

MillennialsMany millennials were carrying huge debts, living with mom and dad, and/or putting things like marriage and home buying on hold. Coming out of the Great Recession in 2012, 16.6 percent of millennials were still unemployed, making the thought of adding the costs of car ownership to their debt load unrealistic.

One study, conducted by the University of Michigan, revealed a steady decline in the number of young people even getting their driver’s licenses. In 2013, by age 19, less than 70 percent of this group had a license. This decline was yet another example that Gen Y does not rush into things.

As the economy strengthens, millennials—especially the older ones—are settling into the job market, moving to the suburbs and harnessing their purchasing power. According to the Associated Press (AP), millennials purchased four million vehicles in 2015. This was a 28 percent jump in their share of the new car market. In California, the U.S.’s largest car market, millennials even outpaced the boomer generation for the first time.

Worries About the Sharing Economy

Automakers also worried that the new impact of the sharing economy would take its toll on sales due to services like Uber and ZipCar. But a recent study from TECHnalysis shows that while ridesharing services do impact people’s thinking about transportation in general, their influence on new car purchasing is extremely small and likely to stay that way for some time.

The study also found that most consumers in the US have little to no experience with ride sharing services. In fact, only 20 percent said they regularly use ridesharing, and of those, 75 percent said they use it regularly only to supplement their own driving.

It’s Technology’s Time

Millennials lean heavily on technology to make their decisions, often doing research online before making any major purchase. In an interview with WardsAuto, AutoLoop’s VP of analytics and data services, Doug Van Sach, noted that nine out of ten shop online before going somewhere, saying they are less sure of what the experience will be like, so they do more research.

Harris Poll findings, released in May 2017, show that millennials have not only stepped into the automotive market, they are currently driving it. Gen Y is changing not only how we shop for cars, but also how and what we want to drive. Though they make up only 20 percent of the consumer market, millennials drive market opinions on the whole because they create more than half of consumer reviews online.

This generation has brought with it a changing of the guard. Harris Poll research also shows that millennials favor luxury cars brands, with seven of them in their top 10 brands. They have also knocked industry leaders Bose and Kelley Blue Book back in the poll. Beats is now on top for Car Audio Brand of the Year; while KBB was edged out of Online Auto Shopping Brand of the Year by CarGurus.com.

Though they seem to aspire toward luxury, research shows millennials are much less likely to actually own a luxury vehicle than those in older generations. A 2016 Cox Automotive report found that what this generation is really looking for is seamless integration with smartphones and other technology. In fact, 64 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds said they expect their vehicle’s tech to do everything their phone can do.

Looking Forward To a Purchase

Millennials are now firmly part of the car-buying landscape. However, that doesn’t mean they can all rush forward and purchase a car with ease. Everyone has stumbling blocks somewhere along the line. And, if you have been tripped up by things like bad credit or no credit, Auto Credit Express wants to help.

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Article source: https://www.autocreditexpress.com/blog/millennials-not-following-previously-predicted-market-trends/

Waymo says its self-driving car tech is road ready for extreme heat


Waymo has provided some additional visibility into how it goes about testing its autonomous vehicle tech in extreme heat, describing a process of stress testing its Chrysler Pacifica minivans that began nearly a year ago, starting with a controlled internal wind tunnel that can replicate the hottest temperatures ever on record in the U.S.

That kicked off a road trip that included heat testing in as many deriving scenarios as possible, all under the hottest conditions available in the U.S. So Waymo tested stop-and-go traffic performance, long ideas, operating on aggressively sloped roads – and even monitoring cabin controls as well as the state of its self-driving software and the exterior of the vehicle using onboard sensors.

In a blog post, Waymo says that it’s currently performing a lot of these tests in Death Valley, where temperatures on record have hit as high as 134°F, or hot enough to melt the rubber of your shoes on sun-baked pavement.

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The tests paid off, however, with a much-needed confirmation of Waymo’s closed environment testing – its in-house designed sensor hardware, as well as its onboard autonomous driving computers, are road ready for extreme heat. The company now seems confident that even in the highest temps users would be likely to encounter on real roads, with A/C maxed out, their autonomous systems will behave as desired.

Waymo has been working on self-driving cars for about a decade now, with its original development and testing done when it was Google’s self-driving car project. The work they’re doing now is all about detail, consumer-grade road readiness and edge cases, which is what makes high heat success such an interesting milestone.

Article source: https://techcrunch.com/2017/07/14/waymo-says-its-self-driving-car-tech-is-road-ready-for-extreme-heat/

Washington Redskins RB Samaje Perine displays feats of strength …

Jul 11, 2017

ASHBURN, Va. — Shortly after receiving his new dumbbell set, Washington Redskins running back Samaje Perine, then about 12 years old, realized it wasn’t enough. He needed more weight. But rather than ask his mom for a new set, he found bricks, duct-taped them to the dumbbells and proceeded with his workouts.

And a legend was born. Sort of. His ingenuity, and love of working out, placed him on a path to the NFL. It helped him top Adrian Peterson in one area, lifting a car and becoming an almost mythical figure in the Oklahoma Sooners weight room. One story toppled another.

Even now, his mother shrugs her shoulders at the memory of his first dumbbell set.

“All he had to do was ask for a new set, and we would have gotten him more,” his mother, Gloria Perine said.

That strength is one reason why he was good enough that Washington drafted him in the fourth round. It helped him rush for an NCAA-record 427 yards in one game as a freshman. It broke the spirit of defenders throughout his college tenure.

“I remember defensive backs checking out of the game like, ‘I’m done tackling this guy,’” said Oklahoma’s Jerry Schmidt, the Sooners’ strength coach whose official title is director of sports enhancement.

Here are tales about Perine’s feats of strength:

Lifting cars: Late one night in the summer of 2015, Perine noticed a woman with a flat tire in the parking lot of the Bud Wilkinson House on Oklahoma’s campus. She didn’t have a car jack.

“So I just helped her out,” he said.

By lifting the car so the back left tire could be changed. Perine’s mom said he would only laugh when she asked him about it, not knowing if it was myth or real. But it was real. Perine sort of shrugged it off by pointing out it was “a pretty small car. A Smart Car.” They weigh 1,500 pounds.

“If you lift one side, the whole side is coming up,” he said. “It was kind of heavy … I mean, I wouldn’t say it was easy. It’s still a car.”

Perine said he was alone, but Oklahoma running back Daniel Brooks once told Soonersports.com that he saw what happened. Brooks added to the myth when he told the website, “He was curling the car, too, I think.”

Perine laughs.

“That part is made up,” he said.

Balcony pullups: At their two-story house in Pflugerville, Texas, Perine, sometime around his freshman year of high school, found another way to work out. He did pullups on their second-floor balcony.

“Which freaked me out,” Gloria said. “He would hang up there and do pullups, which was pretty scary.”

The rails on the balcony did not go all the way down to the floor, leaving a gap so Perine could hang off the balcony with his hands on the floor and pull himself up.

The only thing between Perine and the ground: a flower bed.

Did he ever fall?

“Not that I know of,” she said.

Deck of card workouts: Before heading home for a break during his sophomore year, Perine asked an Oklahoma assistant strength coach for a strenuous workout he could do at home. So the assistant, Mahala Wiggins, suggested using a deck of cards.

Every card was assigned a point value. In Perine’s workouts, a king, for example, would be worth 25. Whatever card he pulled, that’s how many sit-ups or push-ups he’d do. In his numbering system, a deck would equate to 792 reps. He’d finish an entire deck — for both sit-ups and push-ups. Now that he’s away from the Redskins facility, Perine said he’d resume these workouts.

“I always work out when I go home,” he said. “I’m never the type to sit down and chill out too long. I have to keep moving — do something else or I get bored. I eat too much just to be bored so I find a way to work out.”

Stronger than Peterson: The one-time Sooner great, and future NFL Hall of Famer, was known for his strength as well. Schmidt said Peterson’s bench was about 390 or 400 pounds. Schmidt said Perine’s max bench was 440 pounds. That’s like benching an average-sized piano — with a small child sitting on it.

Of course, the 217-pound Peterson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds at the combine, broad-jumped 10 feet, seven inches and had a vertical leap of 38.5 inches. Perine ran a 4.65; had a vertical of 33 inches and a broad jump of nine feet, eight inches. But at 238 pounds, those are still solid numbers.

“The way Samaje explodes and his low center of gravity … that’s what makes him,” Schmidt said. “His legs are the size of tree trunks. AD would run higher, but he’s faster.

“Samaje is so explosive, and Adrian was the same way. There’s a 20-pound weight difference, but the amount of explosion and the amount of power these guys have is ridiculous.”

But Perine said, “AP’s in a whole other league.”

Still, Schmidt said some linemen can bench what Perine does, but they can’t match his squat (540) or power clean (380). Perine said he once squatted 600 pounds in high school.

“No one was lifting more [at Oklahoma],” Schmidt said. “It wasn’t even close.”

Sometimes, when Perine would get in position to lift the amount of weights coaches had placed on the bar, he’d shoot a glance at the strength coaches.

“The main thing is just the look you get from him like, ‘Is this all you’ve got?’” said Schmidt, Oklahoma’s strength coach for the past 18 years. “It’s hard to explain as a coach when a guy looks at you like that. I thought I’d do something to him, and he’s laughing at this.”

Perine said now when he does squats, he’ll do five sets of eight repetitions squatting between 315-345 pounds and two sets of 10 at 285 pounds. Instead of benching this spring, he’d bench dumbbells, with 115 pounds in each hand. At the combine, he benched 225 pounds 30 times — only four offensive linemen did more. And Perine said he once did 35 reps of 225 pounds in high school.

“I just see what I’m doing as being the norm for me,” he said. “I love the weight room, and I love to work out.”

Article source: http://www.espn.com/blog/washington-redskins/post/_/id/31830/from-lifting-cars-to-risky-pull-ups-redskins-rb-samaje-perine-displays-feats-of-strength

Paramedics share the way they test the safety of a child’s car seat

You know that nurse friend you reach out to when a strange rash shows up on your child? Or the school teacher pal you gently query for development norms? How about the paramedics you know with expert advice on car seat practices? What? Never thought of such a thing?

Enter Krystal Kleidon, the bare-it-all mommy blogger who also happens to be a paramedic.

In a June 30 post on her blog, Project Hot Mess, she shared a photo of herself and her husband, tipping their son, Alexander, forward and upside-down in his brand-new car seat. For his part, the 4-year-old boy is grinning from ear to ear.

Her website offers candid advice and stories from mothers, but this post, which she shared on Facebook, went viral. Kleidon is sort of that paramedic friend you didn’t know you needed in your life.

Her post begins, “Thoughts on Car Seats from Paramedics,” and she encourages others to share the information.

As a mother who belongs to various online parenting groups, she writes, “discussion around car seats is ALWAYS a heated one. People give their opinions on rear facing vs forward facing, side seat vs middle seat, chest clip height … if there’s something to have an opinion on, it has been discussed before.”

But what’s missing is the first-hand experience of people who work in the emergency response field, as she and her husband do.

“See, together we have over 20 years of on road experience as Paramedics. We have been to more car accidents than you could imagine and seen more mangled car seats than I’d like to share,” Kleidon says. “While we know the science and research backs up our opinions, that’s not what we are sharing here. We wanted to share what we have seen and experienced in our job.”

In the complete posting on her blog, she notes that car seats can be ejected, mangled, or sent sideways in a terrible crash. “We’ve seen accidents where you’d be certain there would be no survivors,” she notes.

But whether a child survives often comes down to one crucial step. “It’s been about those straps,” she says. “It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on a car seat if you DON’T strap your child in properly.”

“How tight are you making the straps on your child’s seat? Can they pull their own arms out of them? Can you only fit one or two fingers underneath them? Do they have a big puffy jacket on that stops them from being strapped in properly,” she asks.

Instead of fretting so much about the brand and the money spent on a car seat, she said to focus more on the everyday actions you take when strapping your child in the car.

“Next time you buckle your child in, ask yourself … would I be confident in turning them upside down in their seat right now?”

For more on how to find the right car seat for your child and your vehicle, visit SaferCar.gov.

For information on the child passenger safety regulations and car seat laws in your state, visit the Governors Highway Safety Association website.

© 2017 NBCNEWS.COM

Article source: http://www.firstcoastnews.com/life/wellness/life-in-balance/paramedics-share-the-way-they-test-the-safety-of-a-childs-car-seat/457068330

Judicial Watch: VA Gov.’s Former Electric Car Company Will Cost Taxpayers Millions – Media Silent

(CNSNews.com) – The state auditor of Mississippi is demanding that Virginia Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe’s former company, GreenTech, repay nearly $6.4 million in public money since the electric vehicle company shut down and failed to deliver on its promises to create new jobs.

The government watchdog group Judicial Watch reports that most mainstream media outlets are ignoring this newsworthy story.

McAuliffe was a co-chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 bid for the presidency and served as the chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) prior to being elected governor of Virginia in 2014.

According to Richmond Times-Dispatch, the governor, who was the founder of GreenTech, brokered a deal with the state of Mississippi whereby his company would receive taxpayer dollars in exchange for “investing $60 million and producing 350 jobs at its Mississippi facility.”

In 2009, after losing Virginia’s gubernatorial race, McAuliffe purchased a Chinese company, moved it to Mississippi, and founded it as GreenTech, “burnishing his credentials as an entrepreneurial businessman ahead of his successful 2013 run for governor,” according to the Times-Dispatch.

In 2012, McAuliffe held an opening ribbon-cutting ceremony for his new electric car operation, attended by former President Bill Clinton and a former Mississippi governor.

In December of that year, he resigned his post as chairman and divested from the flailing company. Now, Mississippi’s auditor Stacey Pickering is requesting that the company pay the state $6,360,019.60.

“Greentech Automotive Inc. received $3,000,000 from the Mississippi Development Authority on behalf of the Mississippi Industry Incentive Financing Revolving Loan program, and a $2,000,000 loan was also given to Tunica County on behalf of the Board of Supervisors to secure land for the Greentech Automotive production facility,” said a press release.

“As a condition of receiving these funds, GreenTech Automotive Inc. agreed to invest $60,000,000 into Tunica County and create 350 new full-time jobs along with several other commitments. These were never fulfilled.”

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is a long-time Democratic operative and is reportedly considering launching a Presidential bid in 2020. Judicial Watch notes that he appeared on the group’s 2013 “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” list.

In addition, the governor was sued by Judicial Watch last year for attempting to give over 200,000 convicted felons the ability to vote.

“Though his pals in the mainstream media are keeping his name out of the GreenTech scandal, McAuliffe could still be in serious trouble,” stated Judicial Watch.

While he is no longer involved with GreenTech, the state’s request for a large repayment could end in a long and publicized period in court, bringing to light nationally what has only been reportedly locally and mentioned in passing by The Washington Post.

Article source: http://www.cnsnews.com/blog/gage-cohen/judicial-watch-va-govs-former-electric-car-company-will-cost-taxpayers-millions

Fresh Insight: Standalone Honda Hybrid Due Next Year, Long-Range EV in the Works

2000 Honda Insight

Honda has always kept a front-facing image of being focused on efficiency. The automaker was the first to sell a hybrid in the United States—the original Insight two-seater, back in 1999. In recent years, however, hybrids have made up less than 1 percent of the company’s U.S. sales. When it comes to hybrids and plug-ins, Honda has a lot of catching up to do. 

But Honda has big plans to address that. By 2030, the company aims to electrify 65 percent of its global fleet. Battery-electric vehicles will make up some of that, but hybrids and plug-in hybrids will play a major role in meeting the goal.

In a recent media panel, global president and CEO Takahiro Hachigo gave a few more details about how the automaker is going to reach that ambitious target, as well as its aim for 2050—to cut its total CO2 emissions to half of what they were in 2000.

2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

After the reintroduction of the Honda Accord hybrid this past year, a trio of new Honda Clarity models is a start, showing how the automaker can cover the green-vehicle bases with three different powertrains: fuel cell, electric, and plug-in hybrid. However, this model, with its quirky styling, large-sedan packaging, and highish prices, still doesn’t directly take on mainstream green cars such as the Toyota Prius or the Hyundai Ioniq. The Clarity fits right in with what we said in reviewing the original Insight 17 years ago: “High-mileage cars are to the auto industry what art-house films are to movies.”

Look Out, Prius (Again)

What actually will make a play for mass appeal is a standalone Honda hybrid expected to be revealed at the Tokyo auto show later this year and slated to go on sale in 2018. The U.S.-built dedicated hybrid won’t be a variant of a mainstream entry like the Civic but a compact vehicle with its own sheetmetal.

Honda hasn’t yet disclosed whether the new model will be a passenger car or a light truck. With Toyota Prius sales down significantly versus several years ago despite a recent redesign, and with Hyundai Ioniq sales trailing those of the closely related Kia Niro, which has more upright crossover packaging, there may be an incentive for Honda to cast its dedicated hybrid as a crossover utility vehicle this time around.

Honda i-MMD

Honda’s move toward greater electrification also will include new hybrid versions of existing models. Honda has announced that it will put the two-motor (i-MMD) system already employed in the Honda Accord hybrid (and soon Clarity plug-in hybrid), into a light-truck model—expected to be CR-V, with other models potentially to follow. One company official also recently confirmed the possibility of applying the three-motor hybrid system from the Acura MDX Sport Hybrid to the Honda Odyssey minivan. Such a move might broaden the Odyssey’s appeal, as the new variant would not only deliver better mileage but also offer all-wheel drive.

Long-Range EVs and Fuel Cells

The automaker is also investing in the development of longer-range electric vehicles—including one that will arrive in 2019 for the China market. That’s considered to be a developmental step on the way to another long-range Honda EV that is several years out. Hachigo said that Honda aims to keep motor and battery technology in-house—or in joint ventures, such as the one announced earlier this year with Hitachi Automotive.

“We are not trying to catch up with the others; we’re trying to achieve something very unique to us,” asserted Hachigo. Honda-developed fuel-cell systems, and Honda’s partnership to build them at higher volume with GM, will be still be an emphasis, especially with larger vehicles, and “the ultimate type of ZEV [zero-emission vehicle],” he said.

The CEO hinted that we might not see another project like the Clarity, with its dedicated platform, regional appeal, and relatively low-volume intent. Indeed, Honda will have to move beyond that strategy if it’s going to raise its profile in the green-car space.

Article source: http://blog.caranddriver.com/fresh-insight-standalone-honda-hybrid-due-next-year-long-range-ev-in-the-works/

Waymo took a self-driving car to the hottest place on Earth to make sure it could withstand the heat

Self-driving cars are preparing for all sorts of encounters: bridges, snow, the “Pittsburgh left,” kangaroos.

The latest thing on the testing list for driverless-car maker Waymo, a subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet, is extreme heat. Waymo recently took its self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans to Death Valley, California—which holds the record as the hottest place on Earth—to make sure they could withstand the heat.

Extreme-heat testing is standard in the auto industry. But for self-driving cars, which are outfitted with technology that generates additional heat, it’s even more important. “If you’ve used your cell phone in the bright sun on a hot day you may have experienced it shutting down,” Simon Ellgas, a senior thermal engineer for Waymo, explained in a recent blog post by the company. “Our self-driving system needs to be much more reliable than your typical home electronics.”

Waymo says it’s been heat testing the Chrysler Pacificas for the better part of a year, using a “drive cell” that can mimic many different weather conditions. Before heading to Death Valley the company took its cars on a three-day trip from Davis Dam on the Arizona-Nevada border to Las Vegas. The trip offered “long stretches of steep desert road for us to drive under the hot sun,” Ellgas wrote in the blog post. Las Vegas presented “countless busy lanes of endless traffic to choose from, all under intense heat.”

Automakers routinely test their vehicles in all sorts of crazy weather, to make sure they can withstand everything from triple-digit (Fahrenheit) temperatures to roads coated with snow and ice. Last year, Ford ran its driverless cars through a season’s worth of Michigan snow to test a new system using lidar sensors to identify snowflakes and raindrops as they fell. Lidar, as in “light radar,” is a crucial component of self-driving car technology that lets the vehicles “see.”

Meanwhile, Waymo is still battling Uber in court over its alleged theft of trade secrets. Waymo said in a court filing earlier this week that it had “direct evidence” of Uber misappropriating those trade secrets. The company is preparing for trial in October, where it will need to withstand a very different kind of heat.

Article source: https://qz.com/1029644/waymo-googl-took-a-self-driving-car-to-californias-death-valley-to-make-sure-it-could-withstand-the-heat/

The End of Car Ownership? Report Projects Big-Bang-Style Disruption in 2021

abandoned cars

Will the widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles and electric powertrains send gas prices into a downward spiral, render car ownership obsolete, and cause masses of used cars to be abandoned? These are the outcomes forecast by a controversial, widely discussed paper published earlier this year, predicting what it calls a “Big Bang disruption” triggered by the approval of autonomous vehicles for widespread use on public roads. This is a turning point that the study claims could arrive as soon as 2021 with the introduction of vehicles that, as it defines them,“will drive themselves with no human mechanical input (no pedals or steering wheel).”

Tony Seba, who with James Arbib published the study for their think tank, RethinkX, says its basis is “purely economic”—a distinction that many tech reporters have failed to make. Their study and its jarring vision of the future should serve as a wake-up call to the complacent. It centers around the transition of the personal-vehicle market to a new economy of transportation as a service (TaaS), and it crunches some of the numbers and projects what might happen to the market in a rapid transition.

The study involves many controversial assumptions, the boldest perhaps being the assertion that by 2030, or within 10 years of regulatory approval of autonomous vehicles, 95 percent of U.S. passenger-vehicle miles will be traveled by autonomous electric vehicles and that these will be owned by fleets offering services, not by individuals purchasing them for personal use.

Arbib and Seba, based in London and Silicon Valley, have applied a “technology disruption framework” to consider issues including technology-cost curves, market dynamics, and product and business-model innovation. Seba, a Stanford University economist—and a green-biz keynote speaker—laid out some of this vision in a 2014 book anticipating the decline of the global oil industry, a collapse that he foresees will be spurred by electric cars and renewable energy.

Economically Irresistible to Give Up Car Ownership?

Sheer economics will be at the root of the change, the paper argues. The average American family will be able to save more than $5600 per year by using driverless transport instead of personally owned vehicles (the savings is only $2000 annually compared with a completely paid-off vehicle). These savings, the study argues, will lead to greater consumer spending in general—to a total GDP boost of $1 trillion—while the time freed up from driving could lead to another $1 trillion in productivity gains. All of this would more than offset a $200 billion loss of personal income from jobs for the likes of chauffeurs, taxi drivers, and Lyft contractors.

Uber passenger

In cities, the economic revolution that Seba forecasts would mean that such services would offer an unbeatable deal for most households; they could cover their transportation needs for a quarter to half the cost of operating a vehicle they already own, or as little as 10 percent of the cost of purchasing a new car. By 2030, even though individually owned vehicles will comprise 40 percent of vehicles in the United States, they’ll cover only 5 percent of passenger miles, according to the study. The total number of vehicles in the United States would drop to just 44 million from 247 million today, leading to the abandonment of 100 million existing vehicles as economically unviable.

A widespread switch to battery-electric vehicles—another trend that still looks tenuous for the time frame forecast by the study—is seen as essential for this scenario to play out. The projected cost savings are predicated on the arrival of a fleet of autonomous EVs that would be on the move almost continuously whenever they’re not being charged. Vehicles that are part of the TaaS economy will be on task 40 percent of the time. (Currently, independently owned vehicles are unused 96 percent of the time, just sitting in garages, driveways and parking lots.)

Despite this constant-use scenario, the study projects that vehicle lifetimes will extend to 500,000 miles (and 1 million miles by 2030)—a controversial assumption on its own—so the cost of nearly everything related to operations, including maintenance, depreciation, and insurance, would be reduced, while the transition to electric will save energy with each mile.

Another bold prediction in the study that goes along with the transition to autonomous EVs: a 90 percent drop in demand for oil related to passenger road transport by 2030. The authors project a 5 percent annual decrease in oil demand beginning in 2021 due to the electrification of the trucking industry. And the study extrapolates some of these U.S. trends to the world at large—another major leap—anticipating only a four-year time lag before autonomous vehicles pass their tipping point in other key markets.

If Oil Is Cheaper Than Bottled Water Now . . .

The economists expect that, in the scenario they anticipate, some types of oil extraction could become nonviable, too. Global oil demand would fall from about 100 million barrels a day in 2020 to 70 million a day in 2030, and prices would plummet. “The effects of such a dramatic decrease will ripple through the whole value chain, causing systemic disruption from oil fields to pipelines to refineries,” the authors argue. This could lead to the abandonment of large-scale pipeline projects and other high-cost oil-extraction methods such as offshore drilling and fracking.

Although that might sound like a bright future to environmentalists, what it suggests for the vehicle market and the auto and oil industries isn’t so rosy. People would stop buying new cars. Then, as production and sales declined, plants would close, and the car industry would lose its economies of scale. This in turn would lead to higher vehicle costs, accelerating the trend as the cost advantage for using TaaS widens.

Autonomous electric vehicles will be highly modularized, the report anticipates, and cheaper to assemble. “The death spiral of the [internal combustion engine] car industry will thus go into high gear,” the study declares.

Ford Focus Electric

These authors issue one of the most bullish projections yet for the death of the internal-combustion engine. Other sources are more conservative on the growth of EVs. Last month,  Morgan Stanley reported that it expects electric vehicles will make up about 16 percent of all vehicles sold globally by 2030 and that EVs won’t outsell ICE vehicles until 2040. The most recent forecast from BP takes an even more conservative tack, anticipating that the global fleet of vehicles will double from 0.9 billion in 2015 to 1.8 billion in 2035. During that time, it’s projecting that the number of electric cars will grow from about 1.2 million to 100 million—which would still make up just over 5 percent of the total fleet.

Far-Fetched or Alarming?

If the RethinkX forecast sounds fantastical and far-fetched, it likely is. Yet the auto industry does face some harsh realities. According to a Federal Reserve paper published last year (and drawing from J.D. Power data), new-vehicle purchases by Americans in age groups 16 to 34, 35 to 49, and 50 to 54 all dropped significantly from 2000 to 2015, when the market as a whole had mostly bounced back from the recession. There were especially noteworthy drops in the 35-to-49-year-old range, while those aged 55 and older were the only group to show a boost. Yet these authors declared: “Our results suggest the decline in the per-capita rate of new-vehicle purchases since 2007 more likely reflects economic factors than permanent shifts in tastes and preferences for vehicle ownership.”

While that statement may seem blissfully out of touch to, well, anyone too young to get into the AARP, virtually every other estimate falls into a conservative middle ground between Seba’s ideas of cataclysmic disruption and the Fed’s business-as-usual nonchalance.

On Which We Can All Agree: Industry on the Verge of Big Change

Seba’s paper, and all the buzz around it, probably should be understood more as a thought experiment than a prophecy. It outlines a fringe scenario that could happen if the tech world and the auto industry merged in an impossibly smooth way.

There is one especially rapid shift already underway within the industry—that of some automakers reformulating themselves around mobility services. They see that the future isn’t in traditional manufacturing but (just as with our smartphones) in the platforms, operating systems, and services that go along with autonomy. We’ll be spending more time in cars in 2030, the study anticipates, so there’ll be more room for revenue in that. And automakers who have a whole service ecosystem—not just a product—stand a chance to thrive.

If automakers don’t take control of the value of personal transportation—the shared mobility and connectivity services and the user experience—they’re going to end up subservient to the Ubers and Lyfts of the future.

Article source: http://blog.caranddriver.com/the-end-of-car-ownership-report-projects-big-bang-style-disruption-in-2021/

Start Your Engines: Photography’s Romance with the Car

Slide Show

Photography’s Love Affair With the Car

Credit Andrew Bush/Courtesy M+B Gallery, Los Angeles

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Society’s love affair with the automobile endures, but it’s hard to come away from the images on display at a new exhibition about photography and the car without wondering: Can the passion survive?

Sprawling development, vast tire dumps, battered vehicles — the exhibition at the Cartier Foundation in Paris traces cars’ impact on the world through hundreds of photographs dating to the early 20th century.

But the show, Autophoto, also makes it easy to understand why photographers’ romance with the car may be as strong as ever. After all, the two go way back. After World War I, as cars proliferated, they opened up many parts of the world for exploration. And all the while, cameras were becoming simpler to use.

PhotoFrom the “Tractor Boys” series, 2010–2012.
From the “Tractor Boys” series, 2010–2012.Credit Martin Bogren/VU’, Paris

“The industrial production of these two objects,” say the curators, “accelerated their distribution and contributed to the emergence of a combined practice: The camera became the indispensable accessory for drivers eager to immortalize their travels.”

One of the curators, Philippe Séclier, takes that idea a step further. Mr. Séclier, who is 58 and grew up outside Paris, recalls with pleasure the long car trips he took with his family. Later, he spent years driving around the United States taking photographs.

Those trips changed his perspective on cars.

“I think that a car is a camera box on wheels, with a frame in the windscreen,” he says.

That notion may help explain why in some of the photos on display, cars are implicit — barely hinted at or not seen at all. In one series, “Dogs Chasing My Car in the Desert,’’ the only trace of a vehicle is a side-view mirror. Other photos show the world as seen from a car, although, naturally, that world often features other cars and the roads, structures and commercial establishments that have grown to support them.

PhotoPhiladelphia, 1962.
Philadelphia, 1962.Credit Estate Ray K. Metzker/Les Douches la Galerie, Paris/Laurence Miller Gallery, New York

Even when cars are the stars of the photos, the stories being told are more complex. Mr. Séclier and the exhibition’s other curator, Xavier Barral, have drawn on the work of photographers from around the world, and they have come away with portraits not just of automobiles but also of people, places and scenes that evoke eras.

The “American Dream” series shows couples posing formally by their cars in the 1950s and ’60s. The cars are shiny and undented. One wonders whether their owners are holding up as well, although their pride in their rides is obvious. Across the ocean, in images from the same period, similar expressions can be seen on the faces of Africans posing near their cars.

The exhibition’s intent is not to glamorize or be sentimental. The photos show the beauty of many cars and the beauty that the new mobility they provided allowed photographers to capture. But the show also shows the blighted landscapes that car culture has helped to create.

“It is not nostalgic,” Mr. Séclier says.


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Article source: https://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/07/10/start-your-engines-photographys-romance-with-the-car/