Author: Kirsten Korosec

VW’s Electrify America will use Tesla battery packs to lower charging costs

Electrify America, the entity set up by Volkswagen as part of its settlement with U.S. regulators over its diesel emissions cheating scandal, plans to install Tesla Powerpack battery systems at more than 100 of its electric vehicle charging stations this year. Electrify America aims to use the Tesla Powerpacks to offset the cost of charging for customers. Owners of electric vehicles face high costs if they charge their vehicles during peak demand hours. The Tesla Powerpack battery systems store energy drawn from the grid during off-peak hours. That stored energy can then be used during peak demand hours when charging...

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Tesla’s Maxwell acquisition aims to give its batteries a boost

Tesla has acquired energy storage company Maxwell Technologies in an all-stock deal valued at $218 million, a deal aimed at helping the electric automaker improve its batteries and lower costs as more competitors enter the market. The offer will value each of Maxwell’s 45.9 million shares at $4.75. The merger is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019. “We believe this transaction is in the best interests of Maxwell stockholders and offers investors the opportunity to participate in Tesla’s mission of accelerating the advent of sustainable transport and energy,” Maxwell CEO and President Franz Fink said in a company...

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Tesla’s Model Y is coming in 2020

The Tesla Model Y — the SUV electric vehicle that CEO Elon Musk has been teasing and talking about since 2015 — will begin volume production by the end of 2020, the company said Wednesday in a letter to shareholders. The automaker, which has yet to show a prototype of the vehicle, said it will begin tooling for the Model Y this year. And unlike Tesla’s other electric vehicles, the Model Y will most likely be produced at the company’s massive “gigafactory” in Nevada, Musk said during an earnings call. Musk struck a bullish tone for the Model Y, predicting...

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Tesla reports back-to-back profitable quarters

Tesla reported Wednesday a profit of $139 million, or $0.78 a share, and better-than-expected sales, yet failed to meet analysts expectations for earnings in the fourth quarter. Shares, which initially fell after the markets closed, are now up 0.7 percent. Tesla has managed to string together two profitable periods in a row thanks to sales of the Model 3 and despite several headwinds in the fourth quarter, including a non-cash charge of $54 million attributable to non-controlling interests, higher import duties on components from China, a price reduction for Model S and Model X in China, and the introduction...

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Argo.AI acquires permit to test autonomous vehicles in California

Argo.AI, the self-driving car startup that burst onto the scene in 2017 with $1 billion in backing from Ford, has obtained a permit to test its autonomous vehicles in California. Unlike other self-driving car companies, California isn’t the first, or even third, market where Argo.AI is testing its tech. The company, which founded by former Google self-driving project veteran Bryan Salesky and Uber Advanced Technologies Group’s former engineering lead Peter Rander, has been busy in its short life, including acquiring LiDAR company Princeton Lightwave. Argo.AI does much of its testing in Pittsburgh, where it’s based. The company is also testing its autonomous vehicle technology in Miami, Detroit, and soon Washington D.C. as part of its relationship with Ford. Argo AI has had vehicles on DC’s streets for months now, mapping roads in the first step toward testing in autonomous mode. Ford said last year that the self-driving vehicles would begin testing on public roads in the first quarter of 2019. Argo.AI is an independent company, although Ford is a major backer and has seats on its board. Ford is also Argo.AI’s only customer — at least for the moment. Argo.AI is developing the virtual driver system and high-definition maps designed for Ford’s self-driving vehicles. Ford has said it plans to launch a self-driving taxi and delivery service in 2021. It’s not clear, if Argo.AI’s plans to test in California are part of its relationship with Ford, related...

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Waze expands its Bluetooth beacons to New York City to end GPS signal blackouts

Drivers in New York City will soon be able to use Waze — and other navigation apps — in places like tunnels or bridges where it’s common to lose a GPS signal. The new capability is courtesy of small open source puck-like devices called Waze Beacons that were invented in-house by Gil Disatnik, an engineer who now heads up the beacons program. These battery-powered beacons broadcast an open standard signal via Bluetooth, which takes over for GPS to provide location data when a car passes through a tunnel.  The beacons, which are powered by Eddystone beacon technology, can transmit messages directly to a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. The company has partnered with New York’s MTA as well as the Port Authority of NY and New Jersey to install these beacons in bridges and tunnels used to enter and exit Manhattan. The Waze Beacons are live, as of Tuesday, in the Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel, Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and Hugh L. Carey (Brooklyn Battery) Tunnel. About 42 beacons per mile of tunnel are required, according to Waze. “The Port Authority is strongly committed to leveraging new technology to improve the customer experience for the tens of thousands of travelers who use our crossings each day,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said in a statement. “Last year, we launched our Crossing Time app that provides commuters with real-time traffic conditions at all agency bridges and...

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Los Angeles is using ride-hailing startup Via to shuttle people to public transit

Los Angeles is partnering with on-demand shuttle-based service Via as part of a pilot program that will give people rides to three busy public transit stations. The pilot program, which launched Monday, aims to solve the first- and last-mile problem that makes it challenging for people to get to and from public transit stations. Under the pilot program, Via will provide on-demand rides to and from the Compton, El Monte and North Hollywood stations. Via takes multiple passengers heading in the same direction and books them into a shared vehicle. The pilot program with Via aims to combat decreasing public transit ridership, which has been hit by the rise in Uber and Lyft ride-hailing services as well as personal car ownership. Cities like Los Angeles are looking for ways to bring to public transit the dynamic, on-demand features that make ride-hailing popular. “This innovative pilot program will give riders another glimpse into LA’s comprehensive future transportation system. Many Metro users face a challenge getting from home to station and vice versa,” LA County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair Sheila Kuehl said in a statement. “They need a quick, easy, and inexpensive door-to-door solution and this new pilot is one to consider.” The year-long pilot between Via and Metro is valued at $2.5 million, which is funded in part by a $1.35 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration. Via vehicles...

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Porsche Taycan owners will get three years free charging at hundreds of Electrify America stations

Owners of the upcoming Porsche Taycan will get three years of free charging at hundreds of Electrify America public stations that will blanket the U.S. in the coming months. And in many cases, that will include access to DC fast chargers that will allow the Taycan, which is designed to have an 800 volt battery that can take a 350kW charge, to get 60 miles of range in just four minutes. That charging speed blows away competitor Tesla, which has set up its own vast network of fast chargers called Superchargers. Porsche and Electrify America, the entity set up by Volkswagen as part of its settlement with U.S. regulators over its diesel emissions cheating scandal, announced the agreement Monday. The Porsche Taycan, which is coming later this year, is hotly anticipated even without the free access to Electrify America’s network. But the agreement, along with an additional $70 million investment to add DC fast chargers to Porsche dealerships, shows the automaker wants to ensure this electric bet pays off. Electrify America will have more than 300 highway stations in 42 states and another 184 sites in 17 metro areas. Each location will have an average of five charging dispensers, with some having as many as 10. In all, Electrify America says 484 locations will be installed or under construction by July 1. The company is expected to build out a second...

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