It was an exciting week to be an electric vehicle fan--if a real up-and-down one. On Monday, Elon Musk welcomed investors to Tesla's Palo Alto headquarters for the company's first Autonomy Day, where he made some serious news: He promised an all-electric, 1-million-car fleet of self-driving Tesla taxis would roam the Earth by next year. The electric carmaker, which loves to do things differently, used the event to tout its new self-driving chip, and double down on its aggressive and heterodox approach to autonomous vehicles. Who cares if the self-driving experts are skeptical? By Thursday, electric vehicle fandom got messier.
Allow me to get a bit philosophical here: History is only smooth in retrospect. Few earth-shaking shifts are inevitable. Change only looks easy from a rocking chair. Which is all to say, it was a rocky week for electric vehicles, the motorized transports that are supposed to help us save the planet. Tesla underperformed in its first quarter production and delivery numbers, pulling that one-step-back routine after taking two steps forward in late 2018.
We spend a lot of time talking to researchers here at WIRED Transport. Those are the gals and guys filling the spreadsheets, tapping out the algorithms, and splaying in fear as they ride yet another roller coaster for science. This week, we spoke to engineers and developers who have sacrificed mind and body to solve problems, ones like car sickness and unfair school bus schedules. They want to create tools that work for disabled farmers, and electric trucks that drive themselves. Hard stuff, sure, but there's fun to be had along the way.
He says a panel of experts found a smarter way to fix tunnels damaged by 2012's Hurricane Sandy--and according to engineers we spoke to, Cuomo might be right. Will the city stick with its plans, formed over the course of three years, to revamp bike and bus lanes and pedestrian spaces? Meanwhile, we're still a little stuck on 2018, which was filled with exciting advances for Tesla, scooter-share, and even self-driving cars (sometimes). It's been a few weeks. Let's get you caught up.
On the floor of the New York Auto Show this week, Genesis showed off its sweet little Mint concept, an electric two-seater with a very abbreviated sedan body. The Hyundai luxury arm does not, however, have any plans to put the adorable thing into production--perhaps because, as we learned this week, getting world-changing tech into the market takes a fair amount of elbow grease. Elon Musk's Boring Company is slowly making its way through the necessary paperwork to make its DC to Baltimore Loop concept a real, live thing. Uber is rounding up the oodles of cash it needs to develop self-driving vehicles. "Flying taxi" engineers are trying to get their concepts past now-nervous aviation regulators.