Tesla Is Making A Big Change To Its Driver-Assistance Tech

Illustration for article titled Tesla Is Making A Big Change To Its Driver-Assistance Tech
Photo: Raphael Orlove

I don’t know how much we should ever believe anything Tesla says until it’s staring us in the face, but the company did announce a big change coming to its driver-assistance tech. Tesla is dropping radar and going camera-only. All that and more in The Morning Shift for May 26, 2021.

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1st Gear: Autopilot Is Ditching Radar To Go All-In On Cameras

Tesla claims that this will help get its cars ready for genuine self-driving (as opposed to the assistance that Autopilot actually does), as Bloomberg reports:

Tesla Inc. updated its website Tuesday to announce that Model 3 and Model Y cars built for North America and shipping this month will no longer be equipped with radar.

On Tesla’s earnings call last month, CEO Elon Musk called radar one of the last “crutches” the EV maker wants to do away with in its pursuit of full autonomy, which has proven elusive so far.

Musk has been famously opposed to lidar technology, which uses pulses of laser light to detect objects. He’s since soured on radar, which uses radio waves to do the same thing. Tesla’s sensor suite previously relied on radar as well as eight cameras.

All of this being said, I don’t know how much we should trust anything Tesla says about prepping for full self-driving. The company has been making big money off reservations promising this tech that has still not materialized, and it needs that hype to keep going.

2nd Gear: I Guess Lamborghini Is Worth More Than $9 Billion

Big news this week has been that somebody wanted to buy Lamborghini for €7.5 billion, or a bit over $9 billion USD. Lamborghini parent Audi is not interested, according to Automotive News:

Audi has no plans to sell Lamborghini, a spokesman for the carmaker said after media reports about a 7.5 billion euros ($9.19 billion) offer for the sports-car brand.

“This is not the subject of any discussion within the group,” the spokesman said. “Lamborghini is not for sale.”

The Swiss Quantum Group, together with the British investment company Centricus, are planning to submit a “Letter of Intent” on Wednesday, according to Automobilwoche, the German affiliate of Automotive News Europe.

I guess Audi believes a handful of Italians making carbon fiber rocket sleds is worth more to them than a few billion. Good on them.

3rd Gear: Even GM Is Saying Its Battery Joint Ventures In Ohio And Tennessee Should Be Union

GM plans on making batteries in a joint venture with LG Chem in Ohio and Tennessee. GM does already have plants in Ohio and Tennessee, and they’re union plants. That includes GM’s Spring Hill plant in Tenn, which used to be the Saturn plant of all things!

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In any case, even GM is saying not to be surprised if these new battery programs are union shops, as Reuters reports:

General Motors Co (GM.N) said on Tuesday the United Auto Workers union is “well positioned” to represent more than 2,300 workers at new U.S. joint venture battery plants with Korea’s LG Chem (051910.KS).

The UAW said it looks forward to starting discussions with GM on the “joint venture to produce batteries in Ohio and Tennessee so workers will have a voice at the table in order to create good paying union jobs and benefits.”

The UAW wants U.S. automakers to recognize the union at joint-venture battery facilities. The union has said it represents about 48,500 U.S. workers at GM, though the automaker says about 49% of its U.S. workforce, or 46,000 workers, were represented by the UAW, as of the end of 2020.

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I would say this sets a good precedent for EV development in America staying union, though I don’t know if we’d be hearing this talk if the UAW wasn’t strong with GM in those states already.

4th Gear: EU Reducing Fines Over German Automakers Blocking Emissions Reduction Tech

I am enamored with this story mostly in that Germans have a fun name for some of their top colluding car companies I hadn’t heard before. From Reuters:

BMW and Volkswagen are set to face reduced EU antitrust fines over clean air technology after regulators narrowed the scope of an investigation, a person familiar with the matter said.

[...]

The EU competition watchdog had said previously that the case involved the “circle of five,” namely BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen Group’s VW, Audi and Porsche brands.

The EU case will only focus on selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems, which reduce nitrogen oxides from diesel car emissions through the injection of urea (also called AdBlue) in the exhaust gas stream, the person said.

The Commission said in its 2019 charge sheet that the German carmakers colluded to restrict the size of AdBlue tanks between 2006 and 2014.

EU regulators scrapped earlier allegations that the group delayed new cleaner particulate filters for gasoline powered cars from 2009 to 2014.

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The “circle of five” could not sound more like a cabal! Great name.

5th Gear: Aston Pissed Its New Billionaire Is Acting Like A Billionaire

Aston Martin was getting set up for glory, with its new DBX SUV on the way and big plans for racing its new hypercars at Le Mans. What it did not have was enough money to get there, so it entered into a bit of a deal with the devil. Billionaire Lance Stroll came in and funded the company enough to get the DBX going. That’s doing just fine. It’s just that everything else about Stroll is not that great, as the Financial Times reports:

Luxury carmaker Aston Martin suffered an investor rebellion at its annual meeting, with sizeable votes against the company’s pay report and executive chair Lawrence Stroll.

[…]

Shareholder advisory groups Glass Lewis and ISS had flagged Aston’s decision to pay executive bonuses last year as a potential flashpoint, as well as the company’s lack of female board members.

[…]

The carmaker has only one female board member, making it one of the worst FTSE 350 groups for board diversity, according to the government-backed Hampton-Alexander review.

[…]

While Stroll decided to work for a salary of £1, the carmaker’s chief executive Tobias Moers last year received a package worth £1.5m, including a bonus of £142,000 and payments of £900,000 for leaving Mercedes during the year. 

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I, personally, am just mad that Aston has ditched its Le Mans hypercar plans for some mid-tier F1 ambitions. Lame.

Reverse: Production Started In 1908!

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Neutral: How Are You?

I am trying to figure out if I’ll ever be able to afford a trip to Taiwan to bike around the country and see all the factories where bikes are made. Probably not!

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

DISCUSSION

yeardley68
hoser68

Neutral: In an expected move, work is ending WFH next Tuesday.

My company, like many others is inconsistent on how to deal with this. Monday we got a message from the VP telling us that anyone not wearing a mask would be fired and to not come into work if there was any way to do your work at home. Tuesday, the COO told us all to come in a week from now. I assume the masking requirements will remain in place.

It’s been a year since I’ve been expected to work 8 hours a day in the office. I worked an 8 hour day last week and it was a big adjustment and felt weird. I’m sure it will be a week or more before it feels normal to be in my office 8 hours a day again.