Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.
1st Gear: The First Self-Driving Crash Was Inevitable
The tragic (and frankly horrifying) crash death of Tesla Model S driver Joshua Brown during the use of Autopilot will be analyzed for years.
It’s proof that Tesla’s Autopilot is not a true “self-driving” system the way some people seem to think it is, that the semi-autonomous systems we have on cars now are not ready for full prime time use, and also that human attention and intervention is still necessary in driving and will be for a long time to come.
No car company wants to be tied to the first death in an autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicle. So what happens to Tesla from here, not to mention the technology? Via The Detroit News:
Analysts say the death report could hurt Tesla’s safety reputation and the company may opt for a voluntary recall or initiate a stop-sale of vehicles with the Autopilot feature. The incident also may add to apprehension among the public about self-driving cars.
“I’d like to say I didn’t see this coming, but it was inevitable based on the documented abuses of driver-assist technology we’ve been seeing on sites like YouTube,” said Karl Brauer, a senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “We do not yet have fully autonomous cars, though all the headlines about them might lead some people to think we do. This will be a big hit to Tesla’s reputation because the automaker has been seen as a leader in both passenger safety and advanced technology.”
Tesla declined to answer if it will disable Autopilot on its vehicles as a result of the accident, citing a statement that “Autopilot is designed to add a layer of safety to Model S and to ensure this, it’s important that customers use Autopilot responsibly and as intended.”
2nd Gear: Mobileye And BMW Take It To The Next Level
In an example of extremely unfortunate timing, BMW, Mobileye and Intel announced a joint venture today for autonomous systems not just for the German automaker but for other car companies as well.
And of course, Mobileye had to weigh in on what happened to the Tesla driver. Here’s a statement given to Street Insider:
“We have read the account of what happened in this case. Today’s collision avoidance technology, or Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) is defined as rear-end collision avoidance, and is designed specifically for that. This incident involved a laterally crossing vehicle, which current-generation AEB systems are not designed to actuate upon.
Mobileye systems will include Lateral Turn Across Path (LTAP) detection capabilities beginning in 2018, and the Euro NCAP safety ratings will include this beginning in 2020.”
Like I said, what we have now is not ready for prime time.
3rd Gear: Trucks, SUVs And Crossovers
Trucks, trucks, trucks. Via Automotive News:
Nissan Motor Corp., behind record crossover, truck and SUV deliveries, posted a 13 percent rise in June U.S. sales. Volume rose 13 percent to 129,495 vehicle at the Nissan brand, setting a June record, and 11 percent to 11,058 cars and light trucks at Infiniti.
The Nissan brand said its car sales also set a June record, with volume rising 13 percent to 75,059.
General Motors sales fell 1.6 percent, dragged down by Buick and GMC.
Ford Motor Co., riding another robust month for F-series trucks, recorded a 6.4 percent gain in sales for the month. F-series sales surged 29 percent to 70,937 trucks. Escape crossover deliveries gained 20 percent to 29,003 vehicles.
Also another record month of Jeep sales. Moving on!
4th Gear: Hertz Teams With Uber And Lyft
What happens to that Nissan Sentra after it’s done getting thrashed by people who rent it out of the Cleveland airport lot? It’s going to Uber and Lyft drivers! Via Bloomberg:
The partnerships, announced in statements Thursday, may mark a reversal for Hertz, which said in January that ride-sharing services were crimping growth. Uber and Lyft have been seen as a threat to auto-rental companies as travelers opt for an on-demand ride as opposed to driving a rented vehicle.
“Largely, Uber is a technology company, so if you think about who can provide fleet management services I think the list is rather short” and includes Hertz as well as Avis Budget Group Inc. and Enterprise Holdings Inc., said Northcoast Research analyst John Healy. Hertz is “already on the fringes of this business” and it could be a big market for the company, he said.
Mid-sized cars for Lyft and Uber drivers will rent for $180 a week, including all mileage and insurance costs, said Hertz spokesman Bill Masterson. A Lyft representative said the company’s drivers get a compact vehicle for $165 a week in Las Vegas and Denver, where it has had a pilot program with Hertz since last year.
5th Gear: A Housekeeping Announcement
Between the Tesla news, the Takata news and the Dieselgate news, I’ve all but run out of gears to give you today. So I will instead let everyone know that Monday, July 4 is a company holiday so your hardworking Jalopnik staff will be off grilling and doing Hellcat burnouts in honor of this great nation.
We will run patriotic features from the archives all day to keep you entertained in case you aren’t out enjoying your summer holiday.
Neutral: What Does This Crash Mean For Tesla? For Autonomy?
Where do the company and the tech go from here? Will this be a setback? It’s still what car companies and regulators want eventually: taking humans out of the driving equation to eliminate traffic deaths entirely. Whether you agree with that goal or not, the path to it will not be without casualties.