Carvana still can’t get it right in Illinois, we have more details on the crash involving GM’s Cruise self-driving taxi last month and Hyundai is eyeing a very cheap, very small entry-level EV. All that and more in The Morning Shift for Tuesday, July 19, 2022.
1st Gear: Illinois Remains a Problem
Back in mid-May, Illinois revoked Carvana’s license to sell in the state after various complaints from customers that the company was failing to transfer titles to new owners, and instead abusing temporary out-of-state registrations. Before the end of that month, Carvana’s license was reinstated under strict provisions, where it was required to “register titles through Illinois remitters” and couldn’t issue titles or temporary tags itself, according to Repairer Driven News.
That didn’t last long, though. Automotive News reports that just this week, Carvana has once again lost the privilege to sell in Illinois because it hasn’t been following that order from the state:
The state says the online seller has been issuing car buyers temporary registration permits from outside Illinois, not using a licensed third-party to transfer titles and not processing the registration paperwork through the Secretary of State’s office.
Illinois suspended Carvana’s dealer license May 10 after customer complaints. The Secretary of State issued a stay May 26, allowing the company to resume sales.
Carvana didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The state says it suspended sales again because Carvana was not transferring titles within 20 days of sale nor issuing Illinois temporary registrations to Illinois buyers. It also says Carvana would issue temporary registrations up to four to five times from different states for the same vehicle.
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So in short, Carvana’s ability to do business was temporarily revoked because it was completely flouting its after-delivery due diligence, though Illinois allowed it to continue provisionally, so long as it routed all title-related activities through a third party. The company decided to not do that and basically change nothing, landing it in hot water again, so its dealer license has been revoked, again.
It’s unclear how long this suspension may last and what Carvana will have to do to end it, but in the meantime, the Illinois Secretary of State Police says that anyone dealing with titling or registration issues in the state should give it a ring at 630-693-0551.
2nd Gear: Cruise Passenger Transported to Hospital After June Crash
New details have come to light regarding the accident involving a Cruise self-driving taxi and Toyota Prius on June 3 in San Francisco, where occupants in both vehicles reportedly suffered minor injuries. From Automotive News:
The Cruise vehicle carried three adult passengers in its rear seats, police said. Paramedics transported one of those passengers to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries following the June 3 collision, according to police.
Two occupants in the Toyota Prius, a male driver and female passenger seated in the rear, were treated for injuries at the scene and released. A Cruise official had written in a June 10 report that occupants of both vehicles were treated for “allegedly minor injuries.”
A police spokesperson said no citations were issued and no arrests were made following the crash, which occurred at the Geary Boulevard and Spruce Street intersection. But the crash remains “an open investigation,” according to the spokesperson, who said the ongoing nature of that probe prevented her from discussing how the crash occurred.
The Cruise autonomous vehicle was attempting to make a left turn at the intersection, while the oncoming Prius, reportedly speeding in the rightmost turning lane, traveled straight. The Cruise vehicle stopped before turning, but the Prius ultimately struck the Cruise taxi’s rear passenger side.
In a regulatory filing, Todd Brugger, vice president of global markets at Cruise, wrote that the Cruise AV had come to a stop in the road before completing its turn and that the oncoming Prius had been speeding.
But those details have not been independently verified. Cruise, a General Motors affiliate, declined to release video footage from the crash. The driver of the Prius could not be reached for comment.
Separately, reports obtained from the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management said the Prius was operating as part of Uber’s ride-hailing service at the time of the crash.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a special crash probe into the incident on July 7, the day the California DMV report was publicized. Since then, a letter sent to the California Public Utilities Commission from an individual claiming to be a Cruise employee, dated May 19, has also come to light. In the letter, the individual expressed concern that GM’s self-driving unit isn’t taking safety seriously enough and launched the service for the public too early.
3rd Gear: Hyundai Considers Affordable EV for Europe
Hyundai sells an A-segment car in Europe called the i10, a car I can’t ever think about without laughing to myself over the way James May pronounced its name in this old episode of Top Gear. Anyway, its replacement could be a battery-electric vehicle, Automotive News reports:
The automaker is working on a battery-powered minicar, but it will take some time to develop a production-ready version, said Hyundai Motor Europe’s marketing chief, Andreas-Christoph Hofmann.
“Everybody in the industry knows the target of this kind of vehicle is 20,000 euros,” he told the Automotive News Europe Congress in Prague.
Hofmann said city cars are tough to sell profitably because of their low pricing and due to the technical problems in electrifying small vehicles.
This is something we’ve heard before, from executives at Volkswagen and Audi. Nevertheless, it’s encouraging that manufacturers are still willing to give it a shot — at least once prices have come down enough.
4th Gear: The Latest Chinese Phone Maker Building an EV
Xiaomi, a consumer electronics company best known for making smartphones and smart home devices in China, also wants to make cars. We’ve known this for some time now, though that ambition hasn’t yet materialized in a vehicle. It may happen very soon, according to local source Sina Tech by way of CNEVPost:
Xiaomi’s car-making progress is approaching a major point, with its founder Lei Jun set to debut an engineering prototype of the company’s first model at a public event in August, Sina Tech said today, citing sources connected to the company and its partners.
Lei is so invested in Xiaomi Auto that he will spend almost two-thirds of his time in the office building where the car business is located separately whenever he is at Xiaomi’s tech park, these people said.
Xiaomi’s engineering prototype will undergo a series of tests after its debut, including its first winter test, the people said, adding that other tests will also be conducted in parallel.
Xiaomi is aiming for a 2024 mass-production of its first model and is accelerating things, according to Sina Tech.
Xiaomi has historically been referred to as “the Apple of China” owing to its penchant for minimalist design and holistic, ecosystem-driven approach to its products line. The car isn’t aiming for full autonomy like the iPhone maker’s, but nevertheless if Xiaomi can build it, it’ll have achieved something that still continually vexes its inspiration.
5th Gear: Toyota, Daihatsu, Suzuki
Toyota, which owns Daihatsu as well as a small stake in Suzuki, the beautiful people that make the Jimny and Swift, will unite with its partners in the interest of making small electric vans for Japan. Per Automotive News:
The models will be developed for a project to promote the widespread use of electrified vehicles and eventually for the mass market. The project, due to begin from January 2023, will see the vehicles being used to transport goods between Tokyo and Fukushima prefecture.
Around 580 vehicles will be built for use in the project.
Toyota said it will work with minivehicle specialists Daihatsu and Suzuki Motor Corp. to develop small electric commercial vans, aiming to begin production next year and commence mass-market sales at a suitable time.
Toyota will also join forces with Isuzu and Hino to make small fuel-cell-driven trucks. We will never see any of these cars, but I bet they’ll be adorable and the sight of one on the internet will fill me with bittersweet delight and jealousy.
Reverse: George Washington Carver Arrives in Dearborn
On this day 80 years ago — July 19, 1942 — George Washington Carver met with Henry Ford in Dearborn. Ford had invited Carver with an interest in developing a synthetic rubber alternative, as rubber was low in supply during the war. The two began corresponding in 1934 and had met several times previously, both in Michigan and at the Tuskegee Institute, where Carver was a professor.
Neutral: The Family Grows
A good friend of mine with zero prior interest in motorsport or cars told me yesterday that he’s now a Formula 1 fan. This has happened to me maybe like six times in the past four years or so, and it’s never any less delightful. I’ve fallen out of F1 as of late, but watching people I love arrive to it on their own always puts a smile on my face.