Waymo self-driving trucks hit the road in Texas – Roadshow

Waymo self-driving semi truck

To Texas!

Waymo

Texas will see more of Waymo in the months and years to come. On Tuesday, Alphabet's self-driving car division said it's officially ready to deploy its autonomous trucks in the Lone Star state.

The deployments follows months of Waymo testing its Chrysler Pacifica-based autonomous car prototypes on Texas roads to map areas for the self-driving trucks. With mapping, the trucks will test along I-10, I-20 and I-45. The interstates are ripe for "promising commercial routes" across the state, Waymo said. The company added Texas has a very high freight volume, which makes it a prime area to test autonomous vehicles.

Waymo isn't the only big name hitting the roads in Texas. Earlier this year, TuSimple marched ahead with the first stage of its autonomous freight network. Stage 1 sees TuSimple trucks on routes through Texas and other southwestern states, with more areas of the country to be added through 2024.

But Waymo hasn't been idle this year, either. It previously announced a partnership with Fiat Chrysler to build self-driving Ram vans, and Volvo hitched up with the company to work on an autonomous ride-hailing vehicle.

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As Tesla Battery Day approaches, Elon Musk hints at major capacity increases – Roadshow

Longer ranges could be in the near future.

Tesla

Something's stirring over at Tesla. The company's highly anticipated Battery Day is just on the horizon, and ahead of the event, CEO Elon Musk shared some insight into energy density via Twitter.

Replying to a Twitter thread surrounding the possibility of an electric airplane, Musk said batteries with 400 watt hours per kilogram are highly likely in the next three to four years. And not just one-off units, either, but mass produced batteries with long lifecycles, too.

This type of energy density could provide 50% more energy density compared to today's batteries, noting today's batteries used in the Tesla Model 3 feature an energy density of about 260 Wh/kg. The more energy packed into a battery, the longer the driving range for a vehicle.

In conjunction with Musk's comments, Tesla itself released a teaser showing a peculiar pattern with numerous dots. Reuters reported the pattern could hint at silicon nanowire anode, which if realized, could help Tesla achieve more energy dense batteries with longer usable lives. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla Battery Day teaser

Silicon nanowire anode, is that you?

Tesla

This year's been rife with speculation surrounding Tesla battery news. From Panasonic's pledge to boost energy density in the years to come, to China's CATL's work with Tesla on a "million-mile" battery, there's been no short supply of energy-related news. Tesla also applied to become a utility provider in the UK earlier this year, just as we learned more about the company's Autobidder system to manage their energy production and sell electricity back to the grid.

We've got less than a month to go before Battery Day kicks off on Sept. 22, and we'll surely hear more before then. Musk likes to share on Twitter. A lot.

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Tesla, Ford and others push for appeal in FTC-Qualcomm legal battle – Roadshow

Qualcomm Snapdragon

Tesla and others want the FTC to appeal for the sake of competitive markets.

Qualcomm

Chip maker Qualcomm won its day in court, but a number of technology companies and major automakers have called on the US Federal Trade Commission to appeal the ruling in joint letter.

On Monday, companies such as Tesla, Ford, Honda, Intel, HP and others urged the FTC to appeal a ruling made earlier this month surrounding Qualcomm's patent licensing procedure. Reuters first reported the news following the letter's publication.

The issue at hand surrounds Qualcomm's practice of requiring companies using its chips to sign a patent license agreement before actually selling any chips. Each company signed onto the letter says this practice will make future connected vehicle technology more expensive as the practice weeds out competition.

Qualcomm originally lost its case in May 2019 and the judge presiding over the case wrote the chip maker's practice "strangled competition." However, in the latest appeal, a three-judge panel ruled in the company's favor.

The FTC declined to comment, but the automakers and tech companies underscored their feelings surrounding the matter in the letter.

"This decision would endanger domestic competitiveness, as well as weaken the ability of the FTC to protect consumers through future enforcement actions. Qualcomm's licensing practices reinforced its product monopoly, excluded rivals, and harmed the competitive process."

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Rolls-Royce Ghost shows off fancy star cluster interior in final teaser – Roadshow

Rolls-Royce Ghost teaser

This looks like a proper Rolls.

Rolls-Royce

Next week, we'll finally see the new Rolls-Royce Ghost, but in the meantime, the British luxury marque has one final teaser to dish out, and it's about the super-fancy interior this time.

Called the "illuminated fascia," the interior panel features the Ghost name in block letters with gorgeous star lights around it. In total, Rolls-Royce said, it worked in 850 stars inside over two years of development on this feature alone. When the Ghost is not running, the stars disappear, but come to life as soon as the driver fires the car up.

Under the pretty design sits 152 LED lights and a 2-millimeter-thick light guide with over 90,000 laser-etched dots to provide light to the stars in a uniform fashion. It also gives the stars a twinkling sensation.

But how does the feature actually remain hidden? It's more than just slapping some covers on. Instead, a piano-black finish goes under the knife for laser treatment, and then a coat of black lacquer goes atop it. One additional layer of lacquer goes on for a hand polish to bring it to Rolls-Royce standard across the entire cabin. I mean, have you seen a Rolls-Royce interior before? It's perfection and nothing else.

The stars will come out in just a week's time when Rolls-Royce reveals the Ghost on Sept. 1. We know the firm will have a whole lot more to share about this "Post Opulence" sedan, its whisper-quiet engineering and its new all-wheel steering system.

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Tesla Model 3’s new, Model Y-like frunk might mean more range – Roadshow

A heat pump will be excellent for cold weather.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

It appears Tesla is quietly preparing for a major improvement to the Model 3, hiding underneath a subtly redesigned frunk, or the front trunk.

Photos sent to a Canadian Tesla fan site of a newly delivered Model 3 showcase a redesigned frunk area. Not only is the frunk redesigned, but it matches the Model Y's. And what's one notable feature the Model Y includes and the Model 3 thus far hasn't? A heat pump.

That's led the owner to speculate the change comes in preparation for a heat pump installed to mimic the Model Y's design. The two electric cars share a platform after all, so the change likely wouldn't be anything too drastic. It's likely Tesla's preparing to roll the option out, but sent the engineering and design to production already. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The change also reveals a narrower frunk, though it's deeper now. Again, the reduced width suggests Tesla needed space for something else. Like a heat pump.

Why's a heat pump such a big deal? Well, foremost, it helps create a more efficient EV. Instead of the battery using its energy to create heat for the climate control system, a heat pump can simply take heat as a byproduct from other parts of the car and send it to the HVAC system. It's especially helpful for those driving EVs in cold weather. Range often suffers as the car's battery works to provide energy for numerous different things.

We'll keep an eye out for any sort of official announcement, but it seems pretty clear the Model 3 is in for a heat pump-sized upgrade.

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Tesla stock price crosses $2,000 per share – Roadshow

Who would've thought we'd see the stock at $2,000 per share?

Tesla

On Thursday, Tesla achieved yet another incredible milestone, thanks to the stock market. A single share of the electric carmaker reached $2,000 per share momentarily around 10:04 a.m. PT.

The massive rally saw the stock surge roughly 6% and add over $100 to a share's price. No major event seems to have flipped the switch, but the uptick does come ahead of Tesla's planned stock split.

The company said earlier this month it will enact a five-for-one stock split. Starting Aug. 21, every shareholder will receive a dividend of four additional shares of common stock per every share they held prior to the date. Shareholders will receive their additional shares on Aug. 28 and Tesla plans to trade with the stock-split starting Aug. 31.

Clearly, there are those who want in on what could be an opportunity. Of course, it all relies on Tesla continuing to perform and wrack up milestones.

And thus far, the automaker's done just that. Tesla's second quarter earnings report revealed a four consecutive quarters for the automaker with a profit on the books -- a $104 million profit, to be exact. We also learned Tesla will build its new US-based Gigafactory in Austin, Texas. There, the carmaker will assemble the Cybertruck and the Model Y for the eastern part of the country.

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Teslas accounted for over 80% of EVs sold in first half of 2020, data shows – Roadshow

The Model 3 is mighty popular.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

In today's round of pretty unsurprising news, Teslas are mighty popular in the US. In fact, Teslas made up just over 80% of all electric cars sold in the first half of 2020.

Data from Buy Shares, a company focused on providing financial and stock market education, shows Americans purchased 87,398 electric cars in the first half of this year. Of that tally, 71,375 of them were Teslas. The Model 3 is by far the automaker's most popular vehicle with 38,314 sold, but according to this data, the EV maker still managed to move 18,861 Model Y SUVs despite a factory shutdown and the coronavirus pandemic.

The Model X found 9,500 homes and 4,700 Model S sedans went home with owners in the first half of this year as well. The Model 3, Model Y and Model X make up the top three EVs sold in the first half of 2020, and the only car to break Tesla's streak is the Chevy Bolt EV. The brand sold 8,370 Bolt EVs, interrupting the Teslas and placing ahead of the Model S.

The rest of the chart features some pretty measly numbers compared to Tesla and the Bolt EV from other top selling EVs so far. The closest any other brand gets is Nissan, which sold 3,006 Leafs in the first half of 2020.

Tesla's enjoyed years of rapid growth, and so far, it's not clear what can stop the company from growing. One thing is certain, though: More automakers have impressive electric cars on the way and they'll surely help sort out whether Tesla continues to enjoy a competitive advantage.

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Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing may rocket past 200 mph – Roadshow

2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing teaser

There's more than what meets the eye going on here.

Cadillac

Confirmed: The 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing and CT4-V Blackwing will both have a steering wheel. On Thursday, GM's luxury division shared the first image of what it calls the cars' "performance steering wheel."

That's wonderful, but after some deliberation between the Roadshow team, we think we cracked into some juicier news: The CT5-V Blackwing may go faster than 200 mph.

How in the world do we get that from this shot of the steering wheel? Well, you see, automakers love to leave Easter eggs behind all the time. You just need to have the right pair of eyes and oftentimes a good noggin. If you look closely underneath the "V" badge on the steering wheel, there's a series of seemingly useless figures and numbers. ">322," it reads.

2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing teaser

"Greater than 200 mph," if we're reading this correctly.

Cadillac

For those well versed in hex code, "&#62" translates to "greater than," or more bluntly, the ">" symbol. And the "322?" That just so happens to be 200 mph when converting from 322 kph. So, that weird hodge-podge of numbers and figures reads "greater than 200."

We'll remind you the last CTS-V made history as the fastest Cadillac ever with a 200 mph top speed, perhaps acknowledged on the instrument cluster that clearly shows "200."  It may be that Cadillac's ready to break its own record with the CT5-V Blackwing. As for why it's likely the CT5-V Blackwing and not the CT4-V Blackwing, these performance sedans are rumored to boast carryover engines from the CTS-V and ATS-V.

The latter ran a twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 and muscled 189 mph. The CTS-V, meanwhile, romped around with a supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V8 borrowed from the previous Corvette Z06. If one of them is to break 200 mph, it's going to be the one with the massive, supercharged V8 under the hood.

Aside from our hunch, the teaser photo doesn't show off anything too groundbreaking. The steering wheel wears some lovely materials, such as carbon fiber, leather and a red racing stripe at the 12 o'clock mark. There's also a "V" button attached to this wheel and it looks like both cars will perhaps run a fully digital instrument cluster. The right side of the photo bears a ghostly blue wash, which we imagine is to hide the already confirmed manual transmission sitting there.

Rumor has it Cadillac wanted to show both of the cars this year, but the coronavirus pandemic shuffled plans around. In today's announcement, the brand said both cars will launch in summer of 2021, meaning we'll likely see both the CT4-V Blackwing and CT5-V Blackwing bow in the early part of next year.

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Good guy Volvo will cover trainee auto technicians’ tool costs – Roadshow

Volvo Technician Tool Program

Volvo wants to attract modern mechanics and hopes this gesture sweetens the deal.

Volvo

Here's something you may not know: Aside from paying for their education and certifications, budding auto technicians also need to supply their own tools if they dream of working at a new-car service center, more often than not. The tools aren't cheap, costing thousands of dollars for everything necessary.

Volvo wants to help. In a bid to attract young technicians looking to start a career, the Swedish car brand will cover the essential tools as part of its Volvo Technician Tool Program. A tech will have permanent access to everything needed in a Wurth Tools 72-piece set. The carmaker estimates the program could save newly trained techs up to $20,000 in the process.

Volvo Technician Tool Program

Some of the tools provided to Volvo techs.

Volvo

What does Volvo get out of this? Modern mechanics better suited to work on the gadgets and computers embedded in today's vehicles, and hopefully some dedicated employees to handle repairs.

The program's been a work in progress for the past six months as Volvo identified the essential tools needed, and it said the response has been incredibly positive so far from Volvo dealers. The 72 tools will accomplish over 80% of work technicians perform, the automaker says.

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Mercedes-AMG One supercar takes its F1 powertrain to the track – Roadshow

It's no easy task to turn an engine meant for the top echelon of motorsport into one suitable for a road car. But that's what Mercedes-AMG set out to do with the One. Now, the final iteration of the powertrain is ready to hit the track for high-speed testing.

Mercedes-AMG announced Tuesday that the One has entered the crucial testing phase after some lengthy delays. With the final engineering work completed, the highest ranking Project One managers gave the green light to test the car with full power: 1,000 horsepower, to be exact. And not just one test car either, but several. It's clear the One has made significant progress since we last saw the supercar testing in 2018.

For those outside of Formula One circles, sitting in the middle of the supercar is a turbocharged 1.6-liter V6 engine paired with four electric motors. It's the exact unit powering the firm's F1 cars every weekend during the season, and Mercedes has utterly dominated in recent years. It also helps it has Lewis Hamilton to wheel the car to victory, but there's no denying the German team has its power unit completely sorted out.

And what's wild is the noise translates from the F1 car to the One street car. The video provides a few snippets of audio from the supercar as it flies around the track and it's mesmerizing to hear the sound on something other than a Grand Prix circuit. Mercedes-AMG underscored it's been a hell of an undertaking; aside from running at maximum performance, the One must also operate in a totally electric mode. When the car is blasting around, F1 cars aren't the quietest machines on the planet, so careful consideration went into engineering something that could actually meet production standards.

All the while, the high-performance testing lets engineers work on the intricate active aerodynamics system as well. With so much at work, the firm wants to ensure the One delivers on its handling promises.

After testing wraps up at AMG's own proving grounds, the team plans to take the supercar to the 'Ring; the Nürburgring, that is. Deliveries of the One are expected to start in 2021 and each one costs $2.72 million. Not that it matters, as all 275 cars have been spoken for by now.

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