Did General Motors’ self-driving arm reveal the future on Tuesday night? The automaker and its Cruise LLC subsidiary sure hope so, as both see big, big dollars coming from future autonomous ridesharing fleets.
The Cruise Origin unveiled in San Francisco last night is supposedly the vehicle (don’t call it a car) that will make that revenue stream possible. It certainly doesn’t look like a car, and the difference grows even greater when those side doors part.
Back in 2016, General Motors invested half a billion bucks in Lyft, the rideshare company bent on taking Uber to school. When the deal was made, the companies portrayed it as a long-term strategic alliance. Since then, investments have been made in Lyft by GM’s competitors (namely Ford), and GM has made investments in potential Lyft competitors like Cruise Automation. Pro tip: don’t try to draw this particular family tree.
Today, Lyft went public on the stock market, seeing an astounding open of $87.24 a share. As a gearhead, why should you care about this? Well, remember that investment GM made in the company? The General now owns 18.6 million shares, which now translates into a net value of over $1.5 billion.
In a company besieged by idling plants and layoffs, suddenly finding an extra billion-and-a-half bucks on the books is surely a big deal.
True story: when my pal “Creighton” decided to start using his Charger Hellcat for Uber, he called his insurance company and had them upgrade his policy to commercial status. Doing so pretty much wiped out any profit that he was going to make as an Uber driver, but he still made the call because he’s the kind of person who doesn’t like to take unnecessary risks.
Getting rideshare-specific insurance isn’t always prohibitive, but during my conversations with various Uber and Lyft drivers I’ve yet to hear of anybody besides Creighton actually ponying-up for real additional coverage. Most of these people are living pretty close to the bone and they don’t really think they have that much to lose in the first place. Plus, there’s the fact that both Uber and Lyft offer some additional coverage as part of their driver agreement.
That’s the theory of it, anyway. What happens when two Lyft drivers collide? Yesterday, someone found out.
New York City and San Francisco, besides having the most tailored beards and bike activists on both coasts (Note: Portland might have something to say about this) might not like some of the data emerging from the University of Michigan.
While some Millennials, especially ones working at startups and paying the equivalent of a Cadillac for a shoebox apartment in a trendy, upcoming part of their building, might think personal car ownership is as dated a concept as VCR tapes and telephone banking, there’s a vast gulf between that lifestyle and that of the average American. It’s clear to see in the U-M Transportation Research Institute’s latest findings.
The data also pours a cold glass of asparagus water over an earlier poll that suggests we’re poised to kick car ownership to the curb.
Don’t look now, but the ride-sharing company everybody loves to hate is in trouble yet again. The Justice Department is reportedly opening an investigation into Uber’s not-so-secret “Greyball” tools, which can be used to circumvent law enforcement attempts to interfere with Uber’s business operations.
According to sources inside Uber, “Greyball” was originally developed to help protect Uber drivers from potential threats to their safety, such as unionized taxi drivers and other people who expressed their displeasure with Uber’s service in violent terms. The company soon realized Greyball could also be enhanced to help prevent “sting” operations in areas where ride-sharing services are illegal and/or heavily regulated.
I have no idea whether or not Uber will survive this unwanted federal attention; I’m reminded of the phrase used in the book Dune regarding “fools who put themselves in the way of the Harkonnen fist.” More interesting to me than that is the comment in the NYT article that some Uber employees had concerns about whether “Greyball” was “ethical.” That, I think, is the fascinating question.
Part of the automobile’s future may be linked to concerns of safety, fuel efficiency and the environment, but connected- and autonomous-vehicle technologies, among other disruptors, look to flip the table on the century-old game as the 21st World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems gets underway this week in Detroit.
Though companies such as Lyft, Car2Go and Uber aim to help the young and the carless get around town without the need for owning a car — Uber wanting to go as far as to replace car ownership, period — the millennials eventually decide to go all in on individual car ownership.
The good news? Automakers are enjoying a sales boom in the United States the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Great Recession brought the hammer down, with June 2014 sales alone surpassing those in July of 2006. Should the boom continue, 2014 will close as the industry’s best year in a long time, with over 16 million vehicles sold when the calendar ticks over to 2015.
The bad news? This year may be the last year U.S. sales ever climb this high.
Ride-sharing service Uber has hit a few rough patches as of late, mainly from taxi operators and city and state officials who believe Uber and others like it are too disruptive for its own good. However, the Teamsters — who supported European taxi drivers in their protest of the service earlier this month — are throwing their support to Uber drivers wishing to organize.
After a century of motoring, and with several factors rapidly changing the landscape, analysts are forecasting the peak of global automotive growth to come sometime in the 2020s.
Ridesharing services such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar have gained traction among those who prefer using their smartphones to hail a ride to the airport over traditional black car or taxi service. However, in locales such as Detroit, Atlanta and Seattle, such services are rolling up upon a regulatory traffic jam over how best to handle the disruption in the livery industry.
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- Bullnuke Well, production cuts may be due to transport-to-market issues. The MV Fremantle Highway is in a Rotterdam shipyard undergoing repairs from the last shipment of VW products (along with BMW and others) and to adequately fireproof it. The word in the shipping community is that insurance necessary for ships moving EVs is under serious review.
- Frank Wait until the gov't subsidies end, you aint seen nothing yet. Ive been "on the floor" when they pulled them for fuel efficient vehicles back during/after the recession and the sales of those cars stopped dead in their tracks
- Vulpine The issue is really stupidly simple; both names can be taken the wrong way by those who enjoy abusing language. Implying a certain piece of anatomy is a sign of juvenile idiocy which is what triggered the original name-change. The problem was not caused by the company but rather by those who continuously ridiculed the original name for the purpose of VERY low-brow humor.
- Sgeffe There's someone around where I live who has a recent WRX-STi, but the few times I've been behind this guy, he's always driving right at the underposted arbitrary numbers that some politician pulled out of their backside and slapped on a sign! With no gendarmes or schoolkids present! Haven't been behind this driver on the freeway, but my guess is that he does the left lane police thing with the best of 'em!What's the point of buying such a vehicle if you're never going to exceed a speed limit? (And I've pondered that whilst in line in the left lane at 63mph behind a couple of Accord V6s, as well as an AMG E-Klasse!)
- Mebgardner I'm not the market for a malleable Tuner / Track model, so I dont know: If you are considering a purchase of one of these, do you consider the Insurance Cost Of Ownership aspect? Or just screw it, I'm gonna buy it no matter.The WRX is at the top of the Insurance Cost pole for tuner models, is why I ask.