Elon Musk says Teslas will park themselves later this year – CNET

More neat tricks coming later this year.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Tesla created a sensation with the release of Smart Summon last year, which allows a Tesla to pick an owner up in some instances and the watchful eye of the owner to ensure everyone's safekeeping. However, the Summon feature could get even smarter by the end of 2020.

According to comments Tesla CEO Elon Musk made on Twitter this Thursday, the company is working to include a "Reverse Summon" feature as part of an expanded "Full Self-Driving" option numerous owners previously paid for. Passengers would be able to exit their Tesla and the car would find a parking spot all by itself. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on more information.

Musk said the company's working "super hard" to roll out stop sign and traffic light recognition first, which some owners with early access to the Autopilot software have already shown off. Next on deck is the Reverse Summon that will be included in a "core" software upgrade later this year.

When Smart Summon rolled out, we watched numerous instances of close calls as Teslas did their best to reach owners and pick them up from a parking lot or other areas. While novel, neat and a fun party trick, it's really not intended for public use with numerous other cars zipping around and pedestrians walking. We'll have to wait and see if the latest software update irons things out, especially if Musk foresees Teslas parking themselves without any guidance.

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Tesla Cybertruck Gigafactory: Missouri courts automaker with $1B offer – Roadshow

Made in Missouri? We'll see.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

This past March, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made some big news public. The automaker began looking at another location to build a second vehicle production plant to handle Cybertruck assembly, and perhaps even the Model Y.

Details on where this facility will plant roots are slim, though rumors circulated about the Nashville, Tennessee, area. All the while, though, Missouri's been working hard to court Tesla. On Monday, Toby Teeter, Joplin, Missouri's Chamber President shared a new website via Twitter dedicated to persuade Tesla's decision.

Among the benefits, Joplin touts lower labor costs, tax breaks, 1,000 acres worth of land at a discount and crucial access to essential logistics, such as trucking, rail and commercial air. Total, the incentives and savings amount to $1 billion, according to the local government.

The city also says it's the best place for EV production with some local battery production already anchored in the area with a skilled workforce ready and willing to build the electric pickup truck that took the internet by storm last year.

It's entirely unclear if Joplin is even on the shortlist, or if there is a shortlist at this time. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment when asked about the status of a Cybertruck Gigafactory. The automaker is, like so many others, working to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic at current and reportedly furloughed half of its sales and delivery staff last week.

But, if there will be a new production plant, I'd assume Tesla would need to decide sooner rather than later. The company previously said production will start in late 2021 for the most powerful Cybertruck model. In 2022, it will begin production of more affordable versions. Production plants aren't built overnight, so perhaps we'll learn more about a new Tesla factory in the near future.

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Lowest gas prices in the US falls to just 93 cents a gallon – Roadshow

Gas pump

Prices are falling very quickly.

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For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

If you've noticed gas prices falling dramatically in the last weeks, it's not unique to your city or even state. Kentucky was the first state in the US to see fuel prices drop under $1 per gallon, then Ohio has beat the record, but Kentucky stole it back on April 10.

After a station in Cleveland, Ohio, sold gas for 94 cents per gallon, a station in Kentucky took the crown with an advertised gas price for 93 cents per gallon, according to Gas Buddy. Incredibly, the price at the Cleveland-based station was actually up from March 29, when it sold a gallon of gas for just 89 cents.

In London, Kentucky, a BP gas station officially changed its digital marquee to advertise a gallon of gas for just 99 cents on March 19, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.  As of March 30, the station's lowest gas price actually jumped to $1.04 per gallon, according to Gas Buddy, but that's still mighty cheap. Drivers haven't seen 99 cent gas since 2002, when travelers began to take fewer trips and stayed closer to home following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Come 2003, fuel prices started to rise after the US invaded Iraq.

Fuel prices peaked in 2011 when the average price hovered around $3.80 per gallon.

Two things created the perfect storm for plummeting gas prices in 2020. While the world is justifiably focused on controlling the spread of COVID-19, the disease the novel coronavirus causes, Saudi Arabia also initiated a price war with Russia in the crude oil market. 

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As COVID-19 spread across China, mass quarantines began, which left citizens at home, off the streets and away from work. As the virus spread to Europe and North America, nations have taken similar measures and instituted lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders and closed venues such as bars and restaurants. It's easy to see why there'd be a drop in demand for oil -- more people at home means fewer trips in the car.

As nations began to tackle COVID-19 in an aggressive manner, Saudi Arabia slashed prices on its crude oil, which some analysts believe could create a surplus in the supply chain. It's a basic economic principle where more supply and less demand mean lower prices. Prices could even hit negative territory as companies run out of room to store surplus oil.

Will the entire US see gas prices drop to under a buck? It's unlikely, but drivers will certainly see far cheaper prices than they're used to. De Haan also tweeted that there's a high likelihood we'll see the average national gas price drop to $1.49, and it's possible the cost will fall lower. On March 18, De Haan counted 16 states where the lowest gas price recorded was already $1.50 per gallon.

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First published March 19.

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Nissan looks to transform into a much smaller automaker, report says – Roadshow

Tough times at Nissan.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

Once an automaker with big aspirations, Nissan has reportedly grappled with reality and the fact it cannot sell nearly as many cars as it imagined the company could. We're talking about a company that targeted sales of 8 million vehicles per year at one point; Nissan sold around 5 million during 2019.

Thus, Nissan is reportedly readying big changes to its operations, Reuters reported Friday. Citing senior sources close to the discussions, the outlet reported the automaker could cut 1 million vehicles from its annual sales target globally through 2023. That, readers, is a massive number.

Reuters detailed the implications of such a decision and said it would be akin to closing three to four production plants and laying off thousands of workers on top of another plan to cut its workforce by 10% already. The annual sales target could fall even more as automakers deal with the reality that is the coronavirus outbreak and its effects on car buying.

These plans reportedly have major implications for Nissan's operations this year and through 2022. Whether the sources refer to new vehicle plans, production or other corporate implications is unclear.

While the sources said nothing is final, one source underscored that, at a minimum, downsizing is "a given." Nissan did not immediately return Roadshow's request for comment.

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Post-coronavirus China car market could hold positives for other countries – Roadshow

A sign of hope, perhaps.

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For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

China this week removed lockdown measures for numerous areas across the country after 76 days to control the coronavirus outbreak, and as the government slowly allowed citizens to move around more fluidly, some automakers are seeing positive signs of encouragement.

According to a Thursday Reuters report, officials are watching China's car market start to rebound, and the industry could return to pre-pandemic levels of activity this summer. Of course, we need to take this information with more than a few grains of salt, and this assumes China keeps the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, largely under control without stringent lockdowns.

Both Volkswagen and Daimler said showroom traffic and demand have returned to pre-pandemic levels in China. A senior official at the National Development and Reform Commission, Cai Ronghua, underscored the massive sales drops in the country were temporary and didn't reflect an organic drop in demand. Vehicle sales in China have slumped somewhat in the past year, but the sharp 79% drop was blamed entirely on lockdowns due to contain the COVID-19 disease.

Nonetheless, this should provide a small spark of hope to automakers nervously looking at Europe and the US, still deep in the COVID-19 pandemic. Auto sales took a nose dive in March and Q1 as US states one by one issued stay-at-home orders and closed nonessential businesses like car dealerships. April will surely shape up worse than March and could put an even bigger damper on Q2 results. The hope is car buyers do finally emerge when governments start to relax some social distancing guidelines to boost the industry.

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Post-coronavirus China car market could hold positives for other countries – Roadshow

A sign of hope, perhaps.

Getty Images
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

China this week removed lockdown measures for numerous areas across the country after 76 days to control the coronavirus outbreak, and as the government slowly allowed citizens to move around more fluidly, some automakers are seeing positive signs of encouragement.

According to a Thursday Reuters report, officials are watching China's car market start to rebound, and the industry could return to pre-pandemic levels of activity this summer. Of course, we need to take this information with more than a few grains of salt, and this assumes China keeps the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, largely under control without stringent lockdowns.

Both Volkswagen and Daimler said showroom traffic and demand have returned to pre-pandemic levels in China. A senior official at the National Development and Reform Commission, Cai Ronghua, underscored the massive sales drops in the country were temporary and didn't reflect an organic drop in demand. Vehicle sales in China have slumped somewhat in the past year, but the sharp 79% drop was blamed entirely on lockdowns due to contain the COVID-19 disease.

Nonetheless, this should provide a small spark of hope to automakers nervously looking at Europe and the US, still deep in the COVID-19 pandemic. Auto sales took a nose dive in March and Q1 as US states one by one issued stay-at-home orders and closed nonessential businesses like car dealerships. April will surely shape up worse than March and could put an even bigger damper on Q2 results. The hope is car buyers do finally emerge when governments start to relax some social distancing guidelines to boost the industry.

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Toyota, Denso work to promote coronavirus treatment development – Roadshow

Andrew Krok/Roadshow
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Toyota has already stepped up to build personal protective equipment for health care workers on the front lines amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. Now the company will take an even more active approach in combating the disease.

The automaker said Tuesday that Denso, which Toyota still holds a stake in, will work with a Canadian company to support research into a COVID-19 drug treatment and infection control. To be clear, neither Toyota nor Denso are suddenly in the business of researching and developing medicines. Instead, the two will actively promote this research project with their own expertise.

The company, called D-Wave, is working with Denso in the Canadian project, which provides free access to a quantum computer. The research projects aims to invite various countries to use the incredibly powerful technology to research and develop drug treatments to effectively combat the novel coronavirus.

To date, there is no treatment for COVID-19 and no vaccine to protect populations, which has left experts working at lightning speed to develop a therapeutic drug treatment to help ease severe symptoms.

Toyota is working in numerous other ways to support its home country, Japan, as the country works to keep the virus under control. Additional efforts include a possible transportation network for those not severely ill. The thought is Toyota can keep those with less severe symptoms away from the public with a group of vehicles used purposefully for a portion of the population, or those in quarantine.

Here in North America, Toyota's already started manufacturing face masks for health care workers and seeks a partner to build respirator masks.

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Broadcasters buy in to air Torque Esports virtual race series – Roadshow

Torque Esports racing series

It's not real life, but hey, it's definitely something for those missing motorsports.

Torque Esports

We don't know when we'll see real life motorsport return to the track as the world works to control the coronavirus outbreak. Even though the hope is racers take to the grid sooner rather than later, plenty of organizations are starting to look at esports more seriously.

In the coming weeks, we'll see one of the biggest pushes yet for virtual motorsports as the Torque Series virtual racing series heads to 60 broadcasters globally. The series said on Wednesday the group of broadcasters will show upcoming events and past highlight reels that it expects will find their way to 600 million homes.

Networks include CNBC here in the US and Eurosport across the pond. The latter will add the series to its broadcast schedule starting April 18. So what exactly will racing fans find in the Torque Series? Two championships.

The first is the longer-running of the two called the The Race All-Star Series. It pits the best Formula One, Formula E, IndyCar and other drivers against the world's top sim racers. The organization reserves the second series, the Legends Trophy, for veterans of numerous real world race series, such as F1, IndyCar and more. They include some pretty big names, such as Jan Magnussen, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jenson Button.

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For the Race All-Star Series, real world drivers and sim racers will compete for points and a $30,000 prize to donate to the charity of their choice. The Legends Trophy winner will receive $10,000 for donation to their favorite charity.

The Torque Esports series hopes this won't be a simple substitute for motorsport, but a legitimate form of entertainment for the years to come. Esports has long been a growing industry around the world, and with so many people staying home, I'd venture more than a few are looking to branch out and give esports a look. Look for Saturday's races to start at noon eastern time in the US.

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Jeep Gladiator Maximus: Ready to rock (crawl) and roll – Roadshow

There are plenty of upgrades onboard, but most notably, there's a supercharged 6.2-liter V8.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Hennessey

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Tesla Model 3 with 400-plus miles of range coming — for China, report says – Roadshow

More range for China, it seems.

Twitter

Tesla production in the US may be in a holding pattern for now, but in China, the carmaker's plant in Shanghai is back online and cranking out electric cars. And the company might have a special longer-range model just for China coming in the near future.

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Tesla plans to soon launch a Model 3 with 404 miles of range, according to sources familiar with the matter. Note that China and the US do not use identical systems to rate an EV's range, so it's not clear what kind of range this particular Model 3 would receive on the EPA cycle. Here in the US, the least expensive Model 3 returns an estimated 280 miles of range, though pricier versions return an estimated 322 miles.

Nevertheless, it'd be a major boost from the current Model 3 variant on sale in China, which goes 280 miles on a single charge. Tesla started building cars locally this past January with a starting price of about $45,000. According to Bloomberg's sources, the new Model 3 variant will start around $50,000, but that could change as the company finalizes details.

Most importantly, the longer-range model would, like the current variant, qualify for government subsidies to help Chinese buyers bring a Tesla home. The company will certainly need to pull out all the stops as the country begins to slowly ease restrictions following mass lockdowns and quarantines during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tesla did not immediately respond to Roadshow's request for comment.

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