Tesla will begin distributing a new version of its autopilot system to owners of the all-electric Model S sedan on Thursday. There is now increasing global regulatory scrutiny of Tesla driver assistance technologies.
Features of Tesla’s autonomous driving system have come under scrutiny in Germany. German newspaper Bild quoted a spokesman for the German Federal Road Transport Authority (KBA) as saying that the KBA is looking into Tesla’s automatic lane change feature and whether it is approved for use in Europe. At the same time, KBA is also in contact with the Dutch car agency responsible for approving Tesla vehicles for sale in Europe.
Growing scrutiny from regulators poses risks to the commercialization of Tesla’s self-driving car technology. Last week, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a second investigation into possible flaws in Autopilot. The latest investigation in Germany exacerbates the regulatory hurdles Tesla faces in the country. Tesla’s first factory in Europe, near Berlin, has been running slower than expected due to backlash from environmental groups concerned about water use and pollution.
Electric vehicle prices expected to skyrocket
With the average cost of gasoline more than doubling in two years, many Americans are considering buying their first electric car to offset rising fuel prices. However, there is a caveat: electric vehicles are becoming more expensive due to rising prices for raw materials. This can lead to a sharp rise in car prices in the coming years.
Both Ford and General Motors have shared examples of cost increases in their first-quarter financial results, leading to sharp revisions to their FY2022 commodity spending forecasts. GM nearly doubled its cost forecast to $5 billion, while Ford increased its forecast from $1.5 billion to $4 billion.
Battery prices may soon rise despite a steady decline for more than a decade. Sam Jaffe, vice president of Colorado-based research firm E Source, predicts raw material shortages could lead to a 22% increase in battery cell costs by 2026.
Many global car manufacturers have pledged to switch to electric vehicles by the end of the decade. At the same time, the price of lithium has reached record levels in recent months. Volvo CEO and President Jim Rowan expects battery supplies to become scarce “in the coming years,” as does Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares.
It’s worth noting that the price of the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range has gone up several times since February 2021, when it was $38,190. In March 2022, the price was already $46,990. Automaker Rivian has previously raised prices for its electric vehicles, with the R1T up 17% to $78,975 and the R1S up 20% to $84,000. Lucid also increased the cost of its Air luxury electric sedan by 13%.
As we have already reported, the average price of a new electric car in China is about 10% higher than the average price of a similar car with an internal combustion engine.
Has the future arrived? Electric cars are almost equal in price to conventional cars, however, so far only in China
A few years ago, enthusiasts talked about the inevitable reduction in the cost of electric vehicles, but skeptics stubbornly refused to believe in it. Today, electric cars are almost equal in price to conventional cars, although so far only in China.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the average price of a new electric car in China is about 10% higher than the average price of a similar car powered by an internal combustion engine. To feel the importance of this achievement, we must add that in the US and Europe, the difference in cost between electric vehicles and cars with internal combustion engines reaches 50%, even after taking into account government discounts. At the same time, many premium models do not provide any discounts.
More than half of the world’s electric vehicle production is concentrated in China, while sales of electric vehicles in the country tripled in 2021. Batteries and basic components for such machines are also produced in China.
Earlier, the deputies of the Committee on the Environment of the European Parliament supported the EU plan to ban sales of new cars with gasoline and diesel engines from 2035. The new rules must comply with 27 countries. Previously purchased cars with internal combustion engines can be operated at least until 2050.
Tesla autopilot caused crash, driver charged with murder
There was a new incident involving a Tesla car with autopilot on, which resulted in the death of two people. A Tesla Model S passed through a red traffic light at 119 km/h and crashed into a Honda Civic, killing the occupants of the last car.
The investigation confirms that the autopilot function was active in the car at the time of the accident. However, in the report, the judicial department believes that the fault lies with the driver and has nothing to do with the autopilot.
According to the Los Angeles District Court, the owner of the car was charged with “manslaughter in a vehicle.” By definition, vehicular homicide is the crime of causing death by gross negligence. This may involve drunk driving, reckless driving, or speeding.
The punishment for this varies greatly. For example, if minor speeding results in death, it carries a prison sentence of up to one year. However, if the driver is drunk or under the influence of drugs, the punishment will be much more severe. Based on the description of this charge, there is evidence that the driver was grossly negligent while driving.
A Los Angeles court said there was enough evidence to charge the Tesla driver with murder. However, the trial in this case has only just begun.
As we have already reported, Tesla has created a department dedicated to responding to litigation within the company. It includes both passive response and active pursuit. Elon Musk says this new department reports directly to him.
Skoda Afriq sports crossover unveiled
Skoda presented the finished car Skoda Afriq, created at the company’s Academy in Mladá Boleslav. For the first time, we wrote about a sports crossover, which was created by a group of students, in November. Now it has become a reality.
With the name Afriq, the concept car pays homage to the legendary Dakar Rally, and technically it is similar to many other rally cars. The students were actively assisted by the Skoda Motorsport factory team participating in the rally on Skoda Fabia hatchbacks.
Externally and in size, the Skoda Afriq is similar to the Kamiq crossover. The distinctive sides were welded rear doors, enlarged wheel arches and an increase in overall length from 4241 to 4362 mm. The rear wing, ventilation system and almost the entire interior, including the steering wheel, instrument panel, seats, seat belts and intercoms, were transferred from the Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo racing hatchback.
Skoda Afriq received transmission from Skoda Octavia 4×4. We are talking about a 2.0-liter 190-horsepower turbo engine, a seven-speed DSG “robot” and an all-wheel drive system with a clutch on the rear axle. To install the latter, the Czechs had to shorten the driveshaft and literally make the entire exhaust system from scratch.
The gas tank for the Afriq was also taken from the Skoda Octavia 4×4, and for independent suspension, the students completely redid the bottom of the donor Kamiq. The mass of the car was only 1350 kg, and in the back of it fit a portable water generator capable of producing drinking water from moisture in the air.
The car was created in a single copy.
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