Renault Launches Built-In Waze App for France, Interested?
Waze has become an incredibly popular navigation tool for drivers, growing from just a few thousand users in 2008 – back when it was still called FreeMap Israel and Linqmap – to a whopping 140 million monthly active users spread across 185 countries by 2022. This surging popularity has been attributed primarily to Waze offering features that allowed drivers to share travel details that would be of use to other drivers, pinning things like the location of speed traps, wrecks, and construction, or simply helping the application estimate route times. But it’s only ever been a mobile app that can be mirrored to your dashboard – until now.
Noting that Waze is the most commonly used driving application in France, Renault has partnered with the company to deliver a dedicated version of the app for its vehicles.
Lyft Adding Roadside Assistance for Regular Cars
Despite its status as a ride-hailing application, Lyft is branching out into the world of roadside assistance. This is an interesting direction for the company to take when its core audience is likely to be people who tend not to drive all that often. But a potentially useful service if you’re not already a AAA member or have a particularly stalwart friend with some automotive know-how.
Opinion: Uber's Reserve Program is Mildly Troubling
Uber is launching a new feature that allows riders book trips up to 30 days in advance. While supposedly innovative, it smacks of desperation following years of multi-billion-dollar losses and an inability to account for pandemic-related lockdowns. The company reported a $1 billion loss in the third quarter of 2020, noting that gross bookings declined by 10 percent year-over-year. While the assumption is that business will improve as more cities reopen, only its business-baked bookings and its increasingly popular delivery services seem to be making any headway.
Reserve, which is what Uber is calling its new booking program, seeks to be another round in its corporate magazine by allowing customers to schedule rides far in advance. But having it serve as a new revenue stream seems wishful thinking because it doesn’t appear to offer much beyond the typical Uber experience since one could already pre-book rides. What Reserve changes is how this is done. The new service adds a flat fee to booked trips that’s dependent upon location and demand.
Uber Drivers Sue, Claim Company Pressured Them to Support Prop 22
A small group of drivers are suing Uber over repetitive in-app messages from the company about Proposition 22, a ballot initiative it would very much like them to support. Considering the deluge of political messages you’re undoubtedly getting on your own cellular device, you’re probably sympathetic to their plight. There are few things more annoying than being constantly reminded about an election nobody seems capable of shutting up about — especially when they can’t seem to get your name right.
But Uber likely crossed a line with its employees. While political action campaigns can inundate you with the most obnoxious and misleading election information, your employer isn’t supposed to. These drivers are claiming Uber violated their employment rights by trying to get them to support a ballot measure it has a vested interest in every time they checked their mobile device to hunt for a fare.
California Rules Uber/Lyft Must Reclassify Drivers
A California appeals court unanimously ruled against ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft on Thursday, mandating that they would indeed need to reclassify drivers operating within the state as employees.
The duo have been pushing against Assembly Bill 5, which seeks to reclassify contracted, gig-economy workers as fully fledged employees entitled to all the associated benefits, all year. California even sued Uber and Lyft in May for refusing to comply with with the order but they’ve claimed AB5 will severely hinder (if not eliminate) their ability to operate within the state and have backed a measure called Proposition 22 that would grant them special exceptions.
Uber, Lyft Spending Big to Fight Californian Gig Economy Laws
Augmented Reality Ram? There's an App for That
So you just bought your 2021 Ram 1500 TRX. You’ve got a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 from the Hellcat underhood, making 702 horsepower. You’re ready to take on the desert, if not the world.
Yet, you have no frickin’ clue what a certain infotainment-system setting does. You’re stumped. You’ve dove into the owner’s manual and the dry prose has you flummoxed and the index is no help. What’s a truck owner to do?
Worried About Recalls? The NHTSA Has an App for That
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just dropped an updated application for smart devices that offers the ability to automatically track recall information. After downloading, users simply input or scan their vehicle identification number (VIN) into their phone and the government-sanctioned service will notify them when/if recall new information becomes available.
While automakers and equipment manufacturers are still legally obligated to inform customers directly, the NHTSA believes redundancy isn’t a terrible idea when it comes to safety — and the app should beat any mailers sent out in the event of a recall.
Our more tech-savvy readers are probably wondering what the catch is, and with good reason. Free apps typically come with privacy concerns, as user data is frequently shoveled around to “optimize the experience” and/or make the creator some money. But there doesn’t seem to be any of that here. The NHTSA said the app won’t store any user information and only needs the basic details about your vehicle(s), which will never leave your device.
California Blinks: Uber/Lyft Granted Extension on New Labor Laws
The battle between the purveyors of ride-hailing apps and the State of California has been an interesting one. The West Coast’s gig economy looked ready to be nuked from orbit following the passing of Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), leaving a glassy crater of jobless part-timers and the corporations that were dependent upon them — even though the stated goal of the rule was to protect gig workers from being taken advantage of.
Uber and Lyft looked to be the most impacted by the new law, as their entire business structure revolves around managing fares for drivers whose status as “independent contractors” was up for debate.
Claiming that hiring drivers as full-fledged employees would make the existing business model untenable, Uber and Lyft suggested they were looking into alternative solutions while fighting legal battles that would effectively make them exempt from the new law. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan P. Schulman threw cold water on that concept when he ruled against the duo, saying drivers were essential to ride-hailing operations and needed to be treated as regular employees receiving the full benefits they’re entitled to.
The corporations’ last hope was double down on threat to leave the state and hope a California appeals court would grant them an extension to stage another legal fight, or just comply with AB5… which is exactly what happened on Thursday afternoon.
A Dating App for Tesla Owners? It Could Be Real, but It's Not Spectacular
Man, this is really something. The 145,000th piece of evidence just landed in support of the hypothesis that Tesla is, in fact, a cult, and that activism and ideology has replaced religion in the wealthier, progressive, and more youthful corners of America.
Which brings us to Tesla Dating.
Uber Offering COVID-19 Contract Tracing Data to Government Entities
Uber Technologies Inc. has kicked off a new service that provides public health officials immediate access to data on drivers and riders who may have been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19. Weirdly, the company decided against announcing the sharing of your whereabouts with the government with any fanfare. Perhaps they thought average people wouldn’t be interested, or maybe that broadcasting their own participatory role in crafting a nightmare dystopia could be bad for business.
Then again, maybe this is exactly the kind of mass surveillance we need to flatten the curve, stop the spread, or whatever slogan is currently the trendiest. Worried? Don’t be. Uber said this service will be offered free of charge, meaning you don’t even have to spend any additional money to have your information shared.
What a sweet deal!
QOTD: Is There an App for That?
At the risk of sounding like any number of insufferable site fully staffed with dough heads who spend way too much time extolling the virtues of kale (is kale still a thing?), our question today is about driving and car-related apps.
While backing up his phone this weekend (I can’t bear to lose those all important notes about used cars that have been long sold, don’tcha know), your author was struck by the amount of space on his phone being consumed by items relating to cars.
Uber Loses License in London, Deemed Unsafe by Regulator
Transportation for London (TfL) announced it has informed Uber that it will not be reissued a license to operate in the UK capitol, citing concerns over customer safety. TfL had previously declined to renew the ride-hailing business’ private hire operator license, which expired on September 30th, saying it was unsatisfied with the number of drivers it found “fit and proper to hold a licence.” Then it changed its mind, offering a two-month extension.
Now it’s claiming that at least 14,000 Uber trips taken within the city included drivers linked, via their app profiles, to cars they were not legally registered to drive. Having done an impromptu survey of his own (done as unscientifically as possible by just asking drivers if they owned the vehicle), your author found the number of “rogue” Uber drivers in New York City to be about one in five.
While easily framed as a gotcha moment, that ratio isn’t really any different from what I’ve experienced with NYC’s sanctioned yellow (or green) cabs. But that doesn’t exactly make it a non-issue either — just more of the same.
BMW's Plug-in Hybrids Will Incorporate Gamification, Automatically Switch to EV Mode in 2020
Next year, BMW plans to equip all plug-in hybrid models with a standard function that automatically switches the automobile into electric mode whenever it enters an area designated for emissions-free driving. While the change is universal, the feature won’t get much action in the United States where government-mandated electrification is less pervasive than a Europe or China.
Still, that’s a sizable chunk of the brand’s global market. Hoping to appeal to it, Bavarian Motor Works went on an electric kick for Tuesday, announcing the electrically powered Motorrad Vision DC Roadster motorbike, Vision M Next Concept, testbed “Power BEV” drive units, upgrades to the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, and a bunch of other tech hand picked for the unsettlingly trendy #NEXTGen event.
However, the “eDrive Zone” PHEV geofencing system was one of the few items that has been scheduled for production. Unfortunately, it’s going to incorporate some gamification into the driving experience — making us suspicious of BMW’s ultimate goal.
Lyft IPO Makes a Splash, Followed By a Flop
Despite playing host to what everyone presumed would be a very hot property, Lyft’s IPO hasn’t panned out as expected. While the company’s Friday stock debut was strong, April 1st was less promising, with Lyft’s share price slipping by nearly 12 percent in a single day. It’s now well beneath the target price, casting doubts about the financial sustainability of mobility firms.
It’s a complicated issue. Lyft was valued at more than $22 billion when it went public last week, but investors are concerned with the company’s inability to turn a profit. Last year, the ride-hailing giant posted a net loss of nearly $1 billion. With Uber likely to announce its own IPO soon (and likely face similar headwinds), many are concerned.