Honda Says It's Doing A Semi-Autonomous First

Illustration for article titled Honda Says Its Doing A Semi-Autonomous First
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Honda has big hopes for semi-autonomous cars, Continental is on struggle street, Rivian reveals its service plans, and Lyft wants in on food delivery. All that and more for The Morning Shift for November 11, 2020.

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1st Gear: Honda Says It’ll Be The First To Mass Produce Level 3 Cars

This is, ostensibly, a fuck you to Tesla, since Tesla claims it is “very close” to Level 5 but is probably nowhere near. Still, I find Honda’s claim hard to get very excited about it. Audi, for example, said in 2017 it would do this before giving up earlier this year. Volvo has said it won’t even bother with Level 3, because Level 3 autonomy (here is a primer on the levels if you need) is probably fairly dangerous.

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From Reuters:

Japan’s Honda Motor Co said on Wednesday it will be the world’s first automaker to mass produce sensor-packed level 3 autonomous cars that will allow drivers to let their vehicles navigate congested expressway traffic.

“Honda is planning to launch sales of a Honda Legend (luxury sedan) equipped with the newly approved automated driving equipment” before the end of March 2021, Honda said in a press release.

[...]

Japan’s government earlier in the day awarded a safety certification to Honda’s autonomous “Traffic Jam Pilot” driving technology, which legally allow drivers to take their eyes off the road.

“Self driving cars are expected to play a big role in helping reduce traffic accidents, provide transportation for the elderly and improve logistics,” said Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

Honda’s system has the same name as Audi’s failed one, though it’s unclear to me if that’s a branding thing or it’s the same tech.

2nd Gear: Lyft Wants In On Food Delivery

The food delivery business has very understandably exploded amid the pandemic, to such a degree that Uber Eats is the only real bright spot for Uber at the moment. Well, Lyft now wants in on that too.

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From Reuters:

Unlike larger rival Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft has no food-delivery business to fall back on. That means that while Lyft is largely unable to offset the decline in trips, it also avoids Uber’s added costs in scaling the Eats business.

But Lyft President John Zimmer on Tuesday said the company was looking to enter what it considered an untapped market by offering delivery services for restaurants without launching a full-fledged, consumer-facing platform for food delivery.

“What we’re hearing from restaurants is they’re looking for a partner who will not charge 30 percent commission, but still offer delivery service,” Zimmer told Reuters in an interview ahead of the earnings release, adding the service would offer new income opportunities to drivers.

While Lyft said it was in the “early days” of building such a business, the offer is aimed at undercutting the prices Uber, GrubHub Inc. and other food-delivery services charge restaurants for every order — a method that has drawn opposition from some restaurants and lawmakers.

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I will take this opportunity to urge you to make your delivery orders by simply calling to cut out the middle man of Uber/GrubHub/Seamless. Restaurants that aren’t chain fast food joints need all the help they can get these days.

3rd Gear: Rivian Is Fleshing Out Its Service Plans

I was a Rivian skeptic—kind of still am if I’m honest—but the Michigan startup is looking more and more like the real deal. Automotive News has the scoop on how Rivian will approach servicing.

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From Automotive News:

Rivian plans to have a fully operational service network ready before most customers take delivery of their battery-electric R1T pickups and R1S SUVs, CEO RJ Scaringe told Automotive News.

Customers will have two options for repairs that cannot be carried out by over-the-air software updates: They can visit a brick-and-mortar service center or schedule mobile service to fix vehicles at their homes and businesses.

In a wide-ranging interview with Automotive News Publisher Jason Stein on Tuesday’s Daily Drive podcast, Scaringe for the first time addressed how Rivian will offer service for its vehicles without a traditional dealership network.

“We’re launching a large number of service centers throughout the U.S., really in the next nine months, 41 service centers. In addition to those service centers, we’re building a very robust network of mobile service [providers] that will come to you, your business or your home,” Scaringe said.

[...]

“What we deeply believe is that a significant majority of service operations necessary on a vehicle can be done remotely, can be done with our mobile service network, which from a customer’s point of view simplifies things dramatically. They no longer have to think about dropping their vehicles off. Service just happens, when customers are at their house or at their office,” Scaringe said. “We have not talked about it, but there is a massive amount of building that is happening behind the scenes within Rivian to set up the teams, infrastructure and the digital platforms, and of course all the physical assets to make that happen.”

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Electric cars simply have fewer parts that need regular servicing than internal combustion engine cars, so the idea of mobile service providers is pretty realistic.

4th Gear: The Biden Administration Will Look A Lot Like The Obama Administration When It Comes To Cars

This isn’t so surprising; I very much welcome politics becoming boring again. Do you remember Barack Obama? Nice guy. Seems forever ago.

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From Reuters:

President-elect Joe Biden’s transition teams for the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department will be run by several agency alumni who served under President Barack Obama and helped craft regulations like the Clean Power Plan and tougher fuel economy standards for vehicles.

The head of the EPA team is Patrice Simms, an environmental attorney at Earthjustice, which has filed more than 100 lawsuits against President Donald Trump’s administration. He worked as deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s environment division.

Other Obama EPA lawyers have also been named, including Joe Goffman, general counsel at the agency under Obama EPA chief Gina McCarthy, and Cynthia Giles, who was assistant administrator in the EPA’s enforcement office.

The Trump administration rolled back Obama-era fuel economy standards and stripped California of the ability to set zero emission vehicle rules. Both actions remain under appeal.

Biden vows to “establish ambitious fuel economy standards” and to negotiate them with workers, environmentalists, automakers and states.

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5th Gear: Continental Not Doing Great

The German auto parts supplier/tire manufacturer said that it wasn’t expecting things to get better anytime soon. This is all because of “restructuring.”

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From Marketwatch:

Sales for the year are expected to come in at around 37.5 billion euros ($44.30 billion) and its adjusted earnings before interest and taxes margin is seen at around 3%.

In 2019, the German car-part supplier’s sales stood at EUR44.48 billion, while the adjusted EBIT margin was 7.4%.

It warned that additional restructuring costs and impairments will be booked in the last three months of the year, but it didn’t disclose their size. They will affect its reported EBIT and net profit significantly, it said.

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Reverse: The Dukes

I watched way too much of this show as a child.

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Neutral: How Are You?

I am awake and alive and slightly hungover and blogging and drinking coffee and well I guess that could be said of any day for the past few hundred. What a year it has been!

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.

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DISCUSSION

I think we’re glossing over the real story here. There’s a Honda Legend?