Sam joins Leo to talk about Tesla's new beta self-driving program that you can buy for $10,000. But when you buy it, the car will monitor your driving for a week and then decide whether you deserve the upgrade. It's looking for risky behavior and has to do with insurance and sharing driving data. Sam doesn't think anyone should rely on self-driving software. It's nowhere near ready for the average driver.
Sam joins Leo to talk about a new RoboTaxi service called Moovit being tested in Munich, GER using an auto-driven taxi by Neo called the ES8. Sam says that what's interesting is that the ES8 has "battery swapping," where the car's battery would be able to be swapped out by simply pulling into a station. The swap takes about three minutes and is fully automated. So EV drivers won't have to wait an hour to charge their battery. Sam says commercial fleets and taxis; battery swapping makes a lot of sense. But for a regular consumer, it's isn't really that practical.
Sam joins us today to talk about the new electric Cadillac Lyric. Sam says that it's built on the same platform as the Hummer RV and that GM wants to make all Cadillac models electric within the next few years. It'll have at least a 300-mile range and a 33" LCD screen that runs from the driver side, past the center console - one continuous screen. The Lyric is expected to go into production February of 2022.
Check out Sam's WheelBearings podcast here.
Sam joins Leo to talk about Ford's second-generation driving assist software called "Blue Cruise." Level 2 means the system is capable of performing steering and speed control, but the driver still must be alert to take over should the need develop. So no crawling in the back seat. Blue Cruise is a hands-off system, like Chevy's Super Cruise, but they are limited to divided highways. Ford has about 130,000 miles of divided highways mapped, while GM has around 200,000. No stop signs or traffic lights. That also means no cruising on city streets.
Sam joins Leo to talk about the upcoming CVX cellular vehicle to vehicle communications system that will soon be added to all new cars. The system will enable cars to communicate with each other or with traffic control systems to advise on road conditions and events that occur while you're driving. First-generation will work with LTE networks but will transition to 5G as the coverage grows. The result will be ultra-low latency peer-to-peer networks that can react as road conditions and other issues change. The system will be rolled out in the third quarter of 2022.
Sam joins Leo to talk about GM's new Sierra truck that has supercruise that's a little bit too much like Ford's Blue Cruise. So much so that Ford is suing them for trademark infringement. One of the key features of the hands-free system is that it will only operate on a mapped highway, while Tesla's will work on any road. Sam says that a more conservative approach is the right move, saying you don't want to make your customers beta testers for a self-driving system that may not work as expected.
Elon Musk announced this week that Tesla will replace round steering wheels with a yoke-based design in X/S models starting immediately. Originally an option that customers could pick, the yoke will now be standard moving forward, with no ability to choose a round steering wheel. Leo says that not only is that a difficult proposition for those who were taught to steer at 10 and 2, but the steering ratio remains at 14-1, something the Yoke is not designed to accommodate.
Sam says that computer processors have been in cars since the late 70s, as manufacturers have sought to improve the efficiency of car engines. But with each new feature, Sam says it seems that another processor gets added to the overall car design. Now just about everything in your car is controlled by a processor, and they're getting more and more powerful. The more advanced a car is, the more code to control it. Some cars have over 100 million lines of computer code. So they are quite complicated and powerful. But with the rise in power, comes a rise in price.
Software development and the use of computers in today's cars have contributed to the rise in car prices over the last few years. Leo says that up to 40% of a price of a car can be attributed to the development of car computers and software that operates them. Add to that, Leo says that the worldwide chip shortage, and not only are cars more expensive, but car manufacturers are making fewer of them.
Sam joins Leo to talk about the Lexus 500H, a hybrid that will have the Toytota Team system, the brand's first hands-free driving system. It will also use LIDAR, which is different from the RADAR found in most cars with hands-free driving options. It's chiefly interactive, sending out a laser to read the 3D space around the car, but it falls short in measuring distance and speed. But its higher resolution can see through the 3d space to pick up details RADAR may not see.