Cruise’s autonomous Chevrolet Bolt EV in Scottsdale, AZ
Image: Cruise Automation
Cruise Automation, the autonomous driving systems company recently acquired by General Motor, is wasting no time, expanding the testing of its latest self-driving automobile, the long-range Chevy Bolt EV.
In May, Cruise revealed that just two short months after being brought under the GM umbrella, it uncovered it was already testing autonomous Bolts in San Francisco.
Though this is an impressive ramping up of testing locales, Cruise has a long way to go to match the scope of Google’s self-driving cars. The tech giant has autonomous vehicles in Mountain View, California, Austin, Texas, Kirkland, Washington and most recently Phoenix, Arizona.
While it’s unclear exactly what Google plans to do with its self-driving tech, it’s a bit more obvious what GM has in store for Cruise.
GM lately partnered with ride-sharing company Lyft as a part of GM’s Maven mobility brand. Along with offering inexpensive SUV rentals to would-be Lyft drivers, GM presumably will one day expand into driverless ride-sharing in addition to adding autonomous tech to its consumer cars.
And although that day might be still be a bit off in the distance, it’s closer than you might think.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked the Pennsylvania State Police for information about a July 1 Tesla Motors Co. rollover accident, the latest incident that puts a spotlight on the safety of its Autopilot driver assist technology.
This time, a 77 -year-old Michigan man suffered injuries when his 2016 Tesla Model X SUV struck a concrete median strip on a Pennsylvania Turnpike in Bedford County and rolled onto its roof, coming to final remainder in the midst of the roadway. The Detroit Free Press quoted a police officer telling the driver had told him Teslas Autopilot self-driving system was engaged when the accident occurred.
NHTSA said Wednesday that its collecting information from the state police, Tesla and the driver involved in the crash asked whether automated functions were in use at the time.
Last week, NHTSA announced that it was investigating a fatal crash in Florida that happened in May.
NHTSA hasnt said there is a formal defect investigation on the Tesla Autopilot feature, a step it takes when it believes there is evidence of a design flaw that could lead to a security remember. Still, it sent a special squad of researchers to look at the Florida crash, an indication that theres an issue of special interest to the regulator.
Tesla said in a statement that it received a message from the car in the Pennsylvania rollover July 1 indicating a accident event, but data logs werent transmitted.
We have no data at this point to indicate that Autopilot was engaged or not engaged, Tesla said. This is consistent with the nature of the damage reported in the press, which can cause the antenna to fail.
A police report does not mention Autopilot as a factor, but says that the driver, who was injured, will be charged. Attempts to reach the driver and the police officer were unsuccessful.
Palo Alto, California-based Tesla said it has tried to contact the vehicle owner to confirm he was all right and to offer support, but its been unable to reach him. It isnt possible to learn more about the accident without access to the vehicles onboard logs, Tesla said.
About 70,000 Tesla vehicles with Autopilot are on the road even though its still in so-called beta testing. The vehicles contain warnings to motorists to remain attentive.
In the May incident, a 40 -year-old Ohio man was killed when his 2015 Model S drove under the trailer of an 18 -wheeler on a highway near Williston, Florida. In a blog post, Tesla said that the crash was the first known fatality in more than 130 million miles of Autopilot driving, compared to 94 million miles for all cars.
In another blog post published late Thursday, Tesla stressed that no one has brought a product-liability claim against Tesla related to the Florida crash and offered a fiery defense of Autopilot.
To be clear, this accident was the result of a semi-tractor trailer crossing both lanes of a divided road in front of an oncoming auto, said Tesla. “Whether driven under manual or assisted mode, this presented a challenging and unexpected emergency braking scenario for the driver is in response to. In the moments leading up to the collision, “were not receiving” proof to suggest that Autopilot was not operating as designed and as described to users: specifically, as a driver assistance system that maintains a vehicles position in lane and adjusts the vehicles speed to match surrounding traffic.”
Its one of the most oft-quoted nightmares: Youre walking down the street, only to suddenly realize youre naked.
Now the dream is a pricey reality if you buy certain pieces from the Rick Owens fall/winter collectiontunic-y outfits that recall a Roman emperor or maybe a hipster monk, until you get down to the nether regions where, on a few of the outfits, the material disappears or bunches up and there it is: dick on display.
A collective ewww, put it away rang out after the images surfaced online from the Parisian catwalks, where the fall/winter collections are being showcased.
There the dicks are, looking like little woodland creatures peeping out of the undergrowth. Very wrong.
But not for the models. One told The Guardian: It was not a thing at all. (He was talking about wearing the outfit, not being bitchy about the size of a colleagues dick.)
Owenss understated penises may have been out-glammed by Tom Fords penis necklace. But perhaps there is an argument, a good political and cultural argument, for mens fashion that shows off your tackle, though not showcasesin Owenss case, the clothes in Paris had cutouts around the models male members and were more peekaboo than picture frame.
The groundbreaking Chevy Bolt EV hits its first ever diner stop in Oceano, California
Image: mashable/ chris taylor
Last week I was one of the first journalists in the world to take the Chevrolet Bolt EV on a road trip-up. Unaccompanied, hewing vaguely to a road prescribed by General Motors reps, I drove the electric car through thick soups of fog and oases of sunshine on the most beautiful chunk of the California coast.
The route between Monterey and Santa Barbara was designed not just to be photogenic, but also difficult, curvy and with plenty of mounds in the way. I drove the first part of the journey at tremendous range-slashing speed, and used all the AC I wanted on the second, sunnier chunk. I wasn’t a cold air hog, but nor was I trying to sip electricity.
Nevertheless, I ended my 242.2 -mile trip with more than a few electrons to spare. The automobile practically laughter as it told me it could have traveled at least another 16 miles on its giant LG-built battery, which takes up the entire undercarriage of the car, before it even thought about choking.
The official EPA estimate of 238 miles, which we reported earlier but learned about off the record that day, actually seemed somewhat conservative in that moment. The dashboard screen had shown its first warning, but it wasn’t flashing red yet. Maybe we could go another 20 miles, the so-called confidence gauge indicated archly.
And maybe, only maybe, another 23.
I started to feel like I was in a 21 st century version of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer test-drives a automobile and sucks the salesman into a game of find just how far they can drive the ga gauge into the red.
“Let’s just go for it, like Thelma and Louise! ” the supposedly sensible Bolt EV seemed to scream.
This is a big deal. When an electric car can go a total of 265 not-very-carefully-driven miles without needing so much as a gulp from the grid, tectonic plates have shifted in the auto industry.
The Bolt has passed an important middle-class milestone: you can drive for a full and harried run week, at the distance of the average American commute, with miles to spare for evening jaunts, and you won’t have to think about plugging in until Saturday.
More than merely early adopters will likely consider Chevy’s new car, which should expense no more than $30,000 after tax deductions. The torque-filled thrill of near-silent electric driving is not just for elites any more.
( And the relatively quiet facet of it genuinely hits you when you spend hours hearing it, or rather not hearing it the strange is a lack of internal combustion voices on a long road trip .)
If Elon Musk isn’t shaking his Iron Man fist at the sky today, he ought to be.
Moreover, this is a General Motors automobile. Guess about that. This is GM. This is supposedly staid, old-school Motor City. This company is the answer to the question posed by the award-winning 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car ?
Now, in the space of a decade , not only has the automobile giant made up for its gaffe in pulping the EV1 all those years ago, it has leapfrogged Tesla in brisk and thoughtful way. If Elon Musk isn’t shaking his Iron Man fist at the sky today, he ought to be.
In fact, the Bolt ought to send a jolt of worry through any EV automaker who assumed the lumbering giants of Detroit were too slow, too entrenched in gasland to properly play the planet-saving game. It’s no longer true. The automobile that simply overtook you is a Chevy.
Take a seat
Is it perfect? Does it have the tact of a Tesla Model S? Certainly not. This is still a mass-produced vehicle, a mid-9 0s Windows PC to Apple’s mid-9 0s Macintosh. Not that the metaphor works, precisely, since the Bolt has Apple CarPlay, but you get the idea. It was perfectly acceptable to favor the mass-market Windows 95 to the overly exclusive, then-hard-to-find Mac system, despite its design advantages.
The technologists ran under the handgun here, and the creative constriction seems to have sharpened their humors. I found no trace of the aerodynamic problems the car was rumored to have. It handled much better than the Chevy Volt, the confusingly, similarly named hybrid vehicle. Compare the Volt to the Bolt and you have a quantum leap in evolution.
Take the seat, an often underestimated function of driving. Because the car needed to be as lighting as possible in every area, the seat was redesigned from the ground up. “This is the most highly engineered seat we’ve ever done at GM, ” Bolt EV Chief Engineer Josh Tavel said before the drive, boasting in detail of the eight strategically placed springs.
He was right; it was a significantly more comfortable auto to plant yourself in than the Volt, in which I’d driven to the start of the test drive. It may not seem that much different at first, but after a few hundred miles your ass will thank the engineers.
Tavel was also responsible for the confidence gauge. This was designed to avoid the problem in other electric cars, such as the otherwise wonderful and zippy little Fiat 500 e my wife rentals, where the number of miles in the car’s current range maintains bouncing around during driving, attaining it a useless metric.
There’s a reason for that: how you drive keeps changing, what kind of terrain you drive holds changing, and the algorithm is constantly changing to keep up with your new reality. Still, “it freaks people out, ” Tavel concluded.
Hence the best case scenario miles, the worst case scenario miles, and the middle example that the confidence gauge offers. It’s the fuzzy logic of an algorithm turned into a game, a test. Who doesn’t want to win, to pass, to aim for the best case scenario?
Even with range anxiety effectively removed from the equation by the car’s massive scope it feels like it’s never going to run out I felt my driving style shift subtly, virtually subconsciously on the second half of the trip. I wanted to hit the high end of that scope. I wanted to reward the confidence gauge’s confidence.
I wasn’t too much of a fan of the car’s second driving mode, “Low, ” which effectively grinds the brakes a bit any time you’re not accelerating. Braking is essential to recuperating battery charge and hitting the high calculate, but Low was a bit much; it spoiled the blissful quiet.
I did enjoy the paddle, round the back on the left of the steering wheel. Pump it gently and you get a little braking impact; enough tiny staccato taps and a please green line appears under the confidence gauge, while a battery symbol pops up to tell you the car is regenerating.
( Turns out you don’t actually need to brake with your foot. If GM wanted to go all Apple on us, it could withdraw existing brake pedal altogether in a future iteration .)
All in all, it was a very pleasant drive in a very pleasant, genuinely game-changing car. It may not look like much on the outside, but on the inside, believe the hype. Well, don’t believe all the hype. I didn’t use all the Bolt’s bells and whistles, likely to be used in pricier trims, and didn’t need them.
For example, the rear-view mirror turns into a wider-angle rearview screen when you’re reversing if you flip a button. Which is high-tech as heck and clever and all, but who needs it when you’ve got the exact same reversal position on the car’s 12 -inch main screen?
But on the whole, here I was in a auto that I could drive long distances without feeling as fatigued as normal, and surely not as guilty from gas expenditure. In fact, it felt so good I just wanted to keep going, past Santa Barbara, past the gas car capital of Los Angeles, all the way down to the border.
Meszaros was born in Hungary and joined Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus in 1973. He performed for U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and became friends with Michael Jackson after Jackson saw him performing, said Varga.
Ralph Nader published his auto-safety takedown Unsafe at Any Speed 51 years ago.
Since then, the bestselling book has become synonymous with national crash-protection standards and GMs uncommonly dangerous (as Nader saw it) Chevrolet Corvair.
The notorious compact car saw two generations of production from 1960 to 1969; it had an air-cooled flat-six engine placed in the rear, rather than under the hood, which made it susceptible to spin-outs, and it lacked a simple roll-bar to protect passengers in the event of a flip. Its single-piece steering column would impale a driver upon impact, Nader said.
But descriptions of its lethal design were overblown. In 1972, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a 134-page report clearing the Corvair of Naders accusations. (The 196063 Corvair compares favorably with contemporary vehicles used in the tests … and is at least as good as the performance of some contemporary vehicles both foreign and domestic,” it said.) GM also redesigned the suspension in 1965 models. In recent years, the average prices for Corvairs from any year have reached an all-time high.
What Nader did was start an era during which there was more awareness of safety and the manufacturers. The product itself almost became irrelevant at that point, said Tom Libby, an automotive analyst for IHS. The book was the major pivot point for the industry.
Corvair enthusiasts love their cars, said Jonathan Klinger, a spokesman for Hagerty, a Michigan-based company that insures collectible and vintage cars. Part of it is probably they have always been in defense mode, having to explain that the car isn’t as dangerous to the general public as it is made out to be, because the Corvair is certainly not the death-trap that Mr. Nader was trying to illustrate.
In fact, Naders book contained just one chapter that discussed the Corvair. And numerous vehicles throughout automotive history were similarly configured and potentially dangerous to drive. Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Porsche, and Triumph used similar swing-axel designs in their cars at the time, for instance; if you dont know what youre doing, a 1970s-era Porsche 911 Turbo can be extremely unsettling to drive.
The focus on the Corvair was a way to expose the manufacturers in general about things the public had not been aware of, Libby said. If it wasnt that car, it would have been another.
And, thanks to the passage of decades of road time, Corvairs are better understood now than they ever have been in the past.
When they first came out, the service stations didn’t know how to work on them, and now after all this time you’ve got this tremendous dedicated group of Corvair people, and any quirk the car may have is fully understood, Klinger said. They are a very easy vehicle to work on. Thats what makes them beautiful and fun to drive.
Chevy made the first Corvairs as simple, four-door sedans (in 500 and 700 trim levels) with a three-speed manual transmission that came standard. A two-speed automatic was optional. Soon after, two-door coupe versions arrived, plus a 900-series Monza edition that had sportier seats and a more athletic, four-speed, manual transmission. By the end of its run, the series included coupe, convertible, sedan, and four-door station wagon body styles, plus even a van and pickup truck variant.
Americans bought them as fun drivers that had a particular style behind the wheel, because of their independent suspension and a rear engine configuration that was unique for an American car. They cost well under $3,000 brand-new. They even earned the nickname the poor mans Porsche.
The Corvairs looked different from anything on the market at the time, too. They didnt have the pony-muscle curves and powerful V8 engine of the popular Mustang, and they were smaller than the heavy, cruiser sedans that GM and Ford were making otherwise. Plus, the turbo-charged engines in later models and compact bodies made them seem faintly foreign, more like something from Wolfsburg, Germany, than from Motown.
There were valid complaints about the cars: The heating system would sometimes leak noxious fumes into the cabin; the cars would leak oil like sieves; the tires were often overinflated in order to compensate for dicey handling; and the polished metal dashboards would blind drivers when the sun hit them. Those idiosyncrasies have failed to deter modern buyers.
This is a wonderful road car, Jay Leno said on his YouTube show about his 66 Corvair Yenko Stinger. A lot of people put down the Corvair, but I consider it one of the 10 best General Motors cars of all time because it was just so different from anything else they built. They really handle. Theyre built nicely. Theyre a lot of fun.
Affordable and Aplenty
I first became aware of the obsession while talking to Brandon Pendleton, a DJ friend who lives in Miami. The guy owns a caf racer motorcycle, runs his own music production studio, and rides expensive fixie bicycles. He could afford to own plenty of vintage cars, but the Corvair seeped into his veins before anything else.
Pendleton paid $6,500 for his 1961 900 Monza five years ago. He loved the pristine white exterior and scarlet interior, plus it had only 90,000 original miles when he bought it.
I dont drive too fastits just a cruiser, Pendleton told me. But his care for the car pays off: So far, hes not had to deal with any big maintenance problems on it.
According to Hagerty, the average price of a mid-level Corvair in satisfactory and drivable condition today is $6,600, with later models of the 500 line averaging closer to $9,700. Examples in mint condition can run to $20,000 or even, very rarely, $30,000.
Values have leveled a bit in recent years, but Klinger doesnt expect a plunge. The best idea is to buy one, work on it, have fun with it for a year or two, then sell it for as much or a little more than you paid for it. Despite a slight dip in value for earlier models, Corvairs made from 1965 to 1969 have risen nearly 12 percent in value, on average, since 2011. Corvairs from 1968 are up 23.78 percent over the same period, with models from 1966 and 1967 up in value nearly as much.
More important, now is the time to buy. (I like this red, 102-horsepower soft top with chrome and a new stereo that will go on sale in Mississippi in October.) Car prices are generally higher in the spring, when people are thinking of road trips and summer rallies; early autumn leaves many collectible owners debating whether to pack their vintage babies up for winter or just sell them before the cold comes, in order to avoid the hassle and expense of storage.
For someone looking for a very reasonably priced collector vehicle a little different than what you typically see, the Corvair is an excellent candidate, Klinger said. It’s not a vehicle that you would want to buy in hopes of tremendous price appreciation, but its a fun, honest, simple collector car. I hope to own one myself some day.
Electric avenues that can transmit the suns energy onto power grids may be coming to a city near you.
A subsidiary of Bouygues SA has designed rugged solar panels, capable of withstand the weight of an 18-wheeler truck, that theyre now building into road surfaces. After nearly five years of research and laboratory tests, theyre constructing 100 outdoor test sites and plan to commercialize the technology in early 2018.
We wanted to find a second life for a road, said Philippe Harelle, the chief technology officer at Colas SAs Wattway unit, owned by the French engineering group Bouygues. Solar farms use land that could otherwise be for agriculture, while the roads are free.
As solar costs plummet, panels are being increasingly integrated into everyday materials. Last month Tesla Motors Inc. surprised investors by unveiling roof shingles that double as solar panels. Other companies are integrating photovoltaics into building facades. Wattway joins groups including Swedens Scania and Solar Roadways in the U.S. seeking to integrate panels onto pavement.
To resist the weight of traffic, Wattway layers several types of plastics to create a clear and durable casing. The solar panel underneath is an ordinary model, similar to panels on rooftops. The electrical wiring is embedded in the road and the contraption is topped by an anti-slip surface made from crushed glass.
A kilometer-sized testing site began construction last month in the French village of Tourouvre in Normandy. The 2,800 square meters of solar panels are expected to generate 280 kilowatts at peak, with the installation generating enough to power all the public lighting in a town of 5,000 for a year, according to the company.
For now, the cost of the materials makes only demonstration projects sensible. A square meter of the solar road currently costs 2,000 ($2,126) and 2,500 euros. That includes monitoring, data collection and installation costs. Wattway says it can make the price competitive with traditional solar farms by 2020.
The electricity generated by this stretch of solar road will feed directly into the grid. Another test site is being used to charge electric vehicles. A third will power a small hydrogen production plant. Wattway has also installed its panels to light electronic billboards and is working on links to street lights.
The next two sites will be in Calgary in Canada and in the U.S. state of Georgia. Wattway also plans to build them in Africa, Japan and throughout the European Union.
We need to test for all kinds of different traffic and climate conditions, Harelle said. I want to find the limits of it. We think that maybe it will not be able to withstand a snow plow.
The potential fragility joins cost as a potential hurdle.
Were seeing solar get integrated in a number of things, from windows in buildings to rooftops of cars, made possible by the falling cost of panels, Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Pietro Radoia said. On roads, I dont think that it will really take off unless theres a shortage of land sometime in the future.
O. J. Simpson, one of the most heinous and depraved killers in modern American history, is up for parole consideration.
If the Nevada Parole Board has a conscience, it will never set him free. He is a threat to society and will always be so.
Simpson was found guilty in 2008 of armed robbery, kidnapping and 10 other charges after he and his friends, brandishing guns, stormed into a Las Vegas hotel room to steal sports memorabilia. The former football stars lawyers argued that their client was simply retrieving his own property. The jury didnt buy it for one minute. He was sentenced to 33 years, but eligible for parole after nine years.
The crimes were a consistent pattern of conduct for Simpson. When he gets angry, he resorts to violence and lawlessness. He will do it again if he is allowed to walk out of the Lovelock Correctional Center. He is a ticking time bomb. Freedom will allow the fuse to be set again.
The Nevada parole guidelines identify more than a dozen factors for board members to consider. For example, the board wants to know whether Simpson has a clean record in prison or has been disciplined. Has he completed recommended educational courses and treatment? Has he refrained from gang activity, drugs and alcohol?
His score will be calculated in a mathematical formula. Most inmates with a good score are paroled. While Simpson should score well, the severity of his Nevada crimes weighs against him. Armed robbery and kidnapping under the threat of bullets are extremely serious crimes. So, parole is not an easy touchdown for the Hall of Famer. There are reports that he is worried. He should be.
The parole board can consider prior convictions in determining whether Simpson might be a recidivist criminal. He was convicted of beating his wife in 1989, so that may be examined. However, since he was acquitted in his famous double murder trial in Los Angeles in 1995, it does not technically count as a prior offense.
Nevertheless, there is another way the parole board could apply the double murder against Simpson, even though he was found not guilty. Under the provision entitled aggravating factors, board members can consider the following:
other information that concerns the Board that the inmate may be a risk to public safety if released on parole.
In other words, the board is entitled to conclude that releasing Simpson would pose a threat to society because of his established propensity for violence. The decision can be based on reliable information and evidence such as court proceedings and judgments.
Indeed, the parole board could take judicial notice of the verdict in 1997 by a civil jury in the wrongful death case brought by the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. The jury unanimously found that Simpson committed the brutal killings, awarding the plaintiffs $8.5 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages.
On this basis alone the Nevada board members should deny Simpson parole.
Simpson has a long and frightening record of violence: beating his wife, cutting his ex-wifes throat and nearly decapitating her, stabbing Goldman more than 30 times, then later committing armed robbery and kidnapping.
Simpson is an inherent danger to society and it is too risky to let him walk free.
Evidence Simpson Is a Killer
As a lawyer, I have tried cases. As a reporter, I have covered hundreds of trials. From the courtroom, I saw all of the evidence presented in Simpsons 1995 murder trial. I can say without hesitation that I have never witnessed such compelling and overwhelming evidence of guilt.
Simpsons blood was dripping away from the crime scene. Sophisticated DNA testing proved conclusively that the blood dropped at the murder scene belonged only to O. J. Simpson. The chance that it was someone elses DNA was one out of 170 million. He had fresh cuts all over his hand.
The blood of both victims and Simpson was spattered and smeared throughout the interior of his Ford Bronco. Limo driver Allan Park testified he observed a man he believed to be Simpson entering his home shortly after the murders. Fresh drops of Simpsons blood were found on the driveway and foyer of his home. Nicoles blood was found on Simpsons socks in his bedroom, and his own blood was found on the same socks.
Simpson normally wore size 12 shoes, and bloody shoe prints matching that very size were found leading away from the bodies. The bloody companion to the glove ripped off at the murder scene was found on Simpsons property. A receipt showed Nicole bought the same gloves for her husband.
Another receipt showed Simpson bought a 12-inch knife six weeks before the murders, and a replica of the knife proved to be a precise match to the wounds on the victims. Hair with the same characteristics as Simpsons was found on Goldmans shirt and on the knit cap worn by the killer and left at the crime scene.
All of this evidence and much more is a part of the official court record which may be considered by the parole board if it has any desire to examine the truth of whether Simpson is a killer who is fully capable of killing again. And he knows he got away with it, thanks to arrogant and inept prosecutors, a seemingly incompetent judge, and gullible jurors who were dazzled, if not confused, by Simpsons so-called dream team of clever lawyers.
The notion that all of the evidence was planted in an elaborate scheme to frame Simpson was ludicrous. The criminal jury was fooled, but not the civil jury. And the parole board in Nevada should not be fooled either. The board members have a duty to protect society and an obligation to examine the evidence against a killer who wants his freedom.
If the parole board does not have the time or willingness to study all of the evidence presented in the civil trial, it should simply turn to Simpsons sworn testimony. Unable to invoke his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination in a civil trial, he was forced to take the witness stand. Simpson melted under cross-examination, erasing any doubt about his guilt.
The acquittal of O. J. Simpson did immeasurable damage to Americas faith in our system of justice. But trial by jury is an imperfect system. Sometimes guilty people go free.
For this very reason, the Nevada parole board should refuse to permit a proven killer to walk free again.
Gregg Jarrett is a Fox News Anchor and former defense attorney.
Ford Motor Co ., the 114 -year-old automaker that set the world on wheels, is turning away from its original mission of selling sedans to the masses.
The company responsible for launching the modern carmaking epoch with Henry Ford’s assembly line will pivot away from being a full-line automaker, shrinking its passenger-car lineup and shifting merely to low-volume, high-margin models.
The reason? Years of coming up short on a long-held profit-margin target. Earnings letdowns cost former Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields his task in May, and his replacement Jim Hackett has since laid out plans to reorient the company around lucrative sport utility vehicles and pickups, plus play catch-up on the trends that are sweeping the automobile industry: the rise of electric, autonomous, connected and shared vehicles.
” Let’s are aware of: We are not satisfied with our performance ,” Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks told analysts Tuesday.” For the past seven months, we have undergone a rigorous appraisal to ensure we are fit as a business and are building the choices that will create the Ford of tomorrow .”
Ford shares plunged 7 percentage, the steepest drop since July 2016, to close at $12.18 on Wednesday. The stock rose only 3 percent in 2017, trailing Tesla Inc.’s 46 percentage surge and General Motors Co.’s 18 percent jump.
Before delivering a presentation at the Deutsche Bank Auto Industry Conference, Shanks warned that adjusted earning will fall this year to $1.45 to $1.70 a share, down from about $1.78 last year. While Wall street had been expecting a fell from 2017, the low aim of the company’s guidance is worse than what analystswere anticipating.
” It appears that nothing is sacred at Ford ,” Joe Spak, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, wrote Wednesday in a report to clients.
Ford’s automotive business earned simply a 5 percentage profit margin last year, less than its average since 2010 of about 6 percentage, according to Shanks. The company hasn’t achieved its 8 percent objective in any year since the global recession, he said.
The automaker flagged its expectation for weaker earnings two days after Executive Chairman Bill Ford said the company founded by his grandfather is going “all in” on electric cars. Ford kicked off this week’s Detroit auto show by pledging to invest $11 billion to bring 40 electrified vehicles to marketplace by 2022.
Hackett, 62, last year took over an automaker that absence a model to compete with autoes like GM’s Chevrolet Bolt or Tesla‘s Model S. On Tuesday, Hackett rejected the idea that Ford is behind.
” Ford is going to aim ahead to where it has to be ,” he said at the conference Automotive News World Congress in Detroit.” Because it has to be ahead in order for people to believe our strategy isn’t about catching up to somebody else .”
Executives did, however, acknowledge that Ford has to change course. That will include cutting auto lines that no longer sell well.
” We know we must evolve to be even more competitive and narrow our full line of nameplates in all marketplaces, to a more focused lineup that delivers stronger, more profitable growth, with better returns ,” Jim Farley, Ford’s president of world markets, said in a statement.
The biggest factors contributing to Ford’s expectation for lower gain this year are the rising cost of commodities, including steel and aluminum, and adverse effects from currency exchange rates, in part due to Brexit. Those expenses represent a $1.6 billion headwind to earnings this year, Shanks said.
The profit forecast prolongs the payback from spending on autonomous vehicles and other technology that Hackett’s predecessor, Fields, had been promising to investors before his ousting in May. Earning will rebound over hour, Shanks said in a phone interview.
” We surely consider us on a route toward the margins that we have been targeting for a very long time ,” Shanks told, referring to the 8 percent target.” Not this year or next year, but within the next several years .”
In addition to electrifying its lineup, Ford is reallocating investment toward crossovers and rugged off-roaders amid slumping demand for passenger cars in its home market. The Lincoln luxury brand, already highly reliant on models like the Navigator, will orient toward SUVs in the future.
Ford projects it will boost the share of its sales from SUVs by 10 percentage points — all at autoes’ expense — over the next couple years to cash in on more lucrative models that American customers want.
” We’ll have more utilities ,” Shanks said.” We will be simplifying, if you will, our participation in the car segments to move into sub-segments that have more margin and are more attractive .”
GM surprised Wall Street earlier Tuesday by predicting steady profit this year to be followed by another earnings jump in 2019. A redesigned Chevrolet Silverado pickup and fresh crop of crossovers are helping money CEO Mary Barra’s ambitious plans to put robotaxis on the road in a ride-sharing fleet next year and roll out 20 all-electric models by 2023.
Ford also announced it will start being more transparent about its own bets on mobility. Within the slides Shanks presented, the company disclosed it lost about $300 million in this business last year.
According to Wired , Project Loon–which is described as “a network of balloons traveling on the leading edge of space, designed to extend Internet connectivity to people in rural and remote regions worldwide”–would allow Puerto Rico residents to get voice and data service.
Alphabet will use 30 Loon balloons to float more than 12 miles above the ground that will help connect the island’s wireless networks to users’ phones. Each balloon can serve virtually 2,000 square miles, and according to reports, that should be enough for service all over the island and perhaps portions of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Robots are the next step in using technology to explore sexuality .
As Wired points out, Alphabet utilized the balloons to provide phone service in Peru after flooding ravaged the country, but Puerto Rico might be a little tougher. “Things are a little more complicated because we’re starting from scratch, ” an Alphabet spokesperson told Wired . “Loon requires be integrated with a telco partner’s network–the balloons can’t do it alone.”