You may recall that the Chinese government banned government employees and military personnel from driving Teslas into certain locations last month, over concerns that video from Teslas’ cameras could make its way into unfriendly hands. Now Tesla has said that the Chinese government needn’t worry about those cameras, after all, because they’re only activated in the North American market. To which we say, can you turn ours off, too?
This Week in Sheetmetal
Toyota has unveiled two Japan-market cars with Level 2 autonomous technology (that’s the level at which the car can stay in its lane and execute lane changes, but you still have to have your hands on the wheel most of the time). The 2022 Lexus LS and Toyota Mirai are both available now in the home market, and a Level 2–capable version of the LS is expected in U.S. dealerships this fall.
Mercedes showed the 2022 CLS, but two cherished members of the family are missing. The rear-wheel-drive version of the CLS450 and the AMG-tuned CLS53 have both been dropped from the lineup. The remaining CLS variant, an all-wheel-drive 450 model, has some exterior and interior styling updates and will go on sale early next year.
GM confirmed it will build an electric version of its Silverado pickup truck, which will target 400 miles of range and a 2023 or 2024 release date. The new truck will be built in the same plant as the GMC Hummer EV. We learned more about the Hummer SUV this week, too: it will have 830 horsepower and an onboard charging station that will allow it to juice up other EVs when charging stations are scarce.
Uber and Lyft are hoping to bring drivers and riders back to their platforms by offering free or discounted rides to vaccine clinics for people in areas with limited access to public transit. Uber has a group of employees assigned to cold-call former drivers and hear what they’d need from the company to return to the roads. Mask mandates and increased pay top the list, so Uber is promising to spend $250 million on incentives and income guarantees to drivers who come back to the fold soon. But now that gig workers are eligible to receive certain unemployment benefits and with the pandemic still raging in some parts of the country, it’s not clear whether Uber’s promises will be compelling to drivers in the near term.
GM CEO Mary Barra, who has previously suggested her company might branch out into flying taxis and who has already presided over the rebirth of GM’s defense contracting unit, isn’t out of ideas yet. Her Global Innovation team is exploring “just under 20” new enterprises, according to Pam Fletcher, who heads the unit. Those projects include delivery ventures and automotive insurance and will in some cases leverage GM’s existing assets. Telematics capability provided by OnStar could turn into a platform to sell various products to drivers over the air, and the data OnStar collects could be used to offer insurance rates based on individuals’ driving habits. Sound awful? We think so, too. But Barra thinks ideas like these could be worth more than $1 trillion to GM in the long run, so she’s not going to walk away from them anytime soon.
Take it from somebody whose car battery died its final death this winter: if you haven’t been driving your car during the pandemic, it probably needs some attention. Here’s the New York Times guide to caring for your car after a year of rest.
If you want to know what Elon Musk was talking about when he tweeted “a monkey is literally playing a video game telepathically using a brain chip!!” click here.
Prince Philip died this week at 99 after nearly 70 years as the husband of the Queen of England. In his honor, stand in awe of the royal family’s car collection, which includes more Rolls-Royces and Aston Martins than you could shake a stick at, but also some German luxury. Or stand in awe of our rundown of all the historically accurate royal cars that appeared in season four of the Netflix series The Crown.
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