Friday, November 22, 2019

Volkswagen executive sentenced to maximum prison term, fine under plea deal

Enlarge reader comments 114 Share this story On Wednesday, a US District judge in Detroit sentenced Oliver Schmidt, a former Volkswagen executive, to seven years in prison for his role in the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal of 2015. Schmidt was also ordered to pay a criminal penalty of $400,000, according to a US Department of Justice (DOJ) press release. The prison term and the fine together represent the maximum sentence that Schmidt could have received under the plea deal he signed in August. Further ReadingVolkswagen executive tells judge he was “misused” by VWSchmidt, a German citizen who lived in Detroit as an emissions compliance executive for VW, was arrested in Miami on vacation last January. In August, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and to making a false statement under the Clean Air Act. Schmidt’s plea deal stated that the former executive could face up to seven years in prison and between $40,000 and $400,000 in fines. Last week, Schmidt’s attorneys made a last-minut..

Elon Musk confirms Tesla is building its own chips for Autopilot

Enlarge / Elon Musk in 2016. PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images reader comments 101 Share this story Tesla is building its own custom AI chips, CEO Elon Musk acknowledged on Thursday night according to reports from CNBC and the Register. "Jim is developing specialized AI hardware that we think will be the best in the world," Musk said at a Tesla-organized party. "Jim" is Jim Keller, a well-known chip engineer that Tesla recruited last year to lead Tesla's Autopilot hardware efforts. Keller has held key positions at both AMD and Apple. The stakes for Tesla are high. The first version of Tesla's Autopilot were based on chips supplied by Mobileye, a leading supplier of autonomous car technology that is now owned by Intel. But the two companies had a bitter falling out last year, and Tesla built a new version of Autopilot without Mobileye's help. This new version of Autopilot relied on chips from Nvidia. Further ReadingReport: Tesla is bleeding talent from its Autopilot div..

The Grand Tour season 2: the one where Hammond nearly dies…...

EnlargeAmazon reader comments 86 Share this story Warning: this post contains some spoilers about the first episode of the new season of The Grand Tour. Some say it's the greatest car show... in the world. Others say it started well but had a very patchy first season. All I know is that The Grand Tour came back to Amazon Prime on Friday for a second season. If you loved the first season of The Grand Tour, you'll have a fine old time with season 2. The idea behind the show is to keep all the bits that you loved about Top Gear but without pissing off the BBC's lawyers. And based on the season preview clips we saw during the intro to the first episode of season 2, there should be plenty of that in store—particularly the episode that features a Bugatti EB110 and a Jaguar XJ220. But if you find Jeremy Clarkson's antics boorish, be warned; on that front, season 2 is very much more of the same. As possibly the most-pirated TV show ever, you probably don't need me to..

PepsiCo reserves 100 Tesla Semis, likely at $20,000 a pop

EnlargeTesla reader comments 193 Share this story Reuters reported on Tuesday that PepsiCo had recently placed 100 reservations for Tesla Semis. The order is the largest public one to date and may have cost the food and beverage manufacturer as much as $2,000,000. (The Wall Street Journal reported in November that Tesla had bumped the price of reservations from $5,000 each to $20,000 each.) However, PepsiCo did not comment on how much it actually paid Tesla or whether its reservations were to buy the trucks outright or lease them. Further ReadingIs a 200-300 mile range enough for Tesla to break into electric trucking?PepsiCo told Reuters that it plans to use the trucks to distribute sodas and snack foods to retailers within a 500-mile radius of its manufacturing centers. The company said it is analyzing routes to find the optimal use case—either sending lighter snack loads longer distances or shipping heavy beverages shorter distances. PepsiCo’s US fleet currently relies on 100,000 c..

Toyota not giving up on fuel cell, but now banking on...

This one—the Prius Prime plugin—might be the pick of the bunch.Jonathan Gitlin reader comments 116 Share this story On Monday, Toyota pledged that “by around 2025” every new Toyota or Lexus model vehicle will have an electrified version, whether it be a hybrid electric, a plug-in hybrid electric, or a battery electric version. The Japanese automaker also said that it is updating its sales goals to target selling 5.5 million electrified vehicles annually by 2030, including more than one-million zero-emissions vehicles (that is, battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles) annually. Toyota reportedly sold 1.4 million hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) in 2016. Toyota has had success with its line of fuel-efficient hybrids for 20 years, but, for a while, the company was tepid about the future of full battery-electric models and seemed to favor a future of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV). Toyota has argued that running a car exclusively on battery power adds extra weight to the vehi..

Review: The Stelvio is Alfa Romeo to the very core

EnlargeMarlowe Bangeman reader comments 72 Share this story In 1995, after years of declining sales, Alfa Romeo stopped selling its 164 sedan and said goodbye to the US market. Fans of the Italian automaker—and I count myself among them—were crushed. I’ve owned a pair of Spiders—a 1973 and a 1982—and was once a card-carrying member of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club. American Alfa fans watched from afar as the company continued launching new vehicles in Europe, hoping that the iconic badge would cross the Atlantic once more. Further ReadingAlfa Romeo’s 4C Spider is the junior supercar Ferrari hasn’t builtThose hopes came to fruition a few years ago when Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which owns Alfa Romeo, began selling the 8C Competizione and a new 4C Spider. But if you want to crack the American market, you’re going to need more than a pair of pricey roadsters. Further ReadingIf Ferrari built an M3: The 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia QuadrifoglioEarlier this year, we reviewed the Giulia Quadrifogli..

A sea of calm behind the wheel: The 2018 Audi Q5,...

EnlargeMarlowe Bangeman reader comments 70 Share this story The Q5 has long been one of Audi’s best-selling models in the US. And what’s not to like? It’s a respectable-looking and functional mid-size crossover, slotting in between the bite-size Q3 and the three-row Audi Q7. With a base MSRP of $42,475, the Q5 competes with stalwarts like the BMW X3, Lexus RX450, and Acura RDX, as well as upstarts like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio (look for our review soon). But the Q5 was getting a bit stale, as it hadn’t seen any substantive changes since its introduction in 2008. With the 2018 model, Audi has updated the Q5, making this a good time to check in with its workhorse. What’s new in 2018 Further Reading2018 Audi SQ5: A danger to sports sedans or window dressing over good bones?Gone is the old 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine, replaced by a... 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine. This year’s model offers 252hp and 273lb-ft of torque, an improvement on 2017’s 220hp and 258..

Volkswagen executive tells judge he was “misused” by VW

Enlarge / Volkswagen AG Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) vehicles sit parked in a storage lot at San Bernardino International Airport (SBD) at dusk in San Bernardino, California, U.S., on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Volkswagen agreed last year to buy back about 500,000 diesels that it rigged to pass U.S. emissions tests if it can't figure out a way to fix them. In the meantime, the company is hauling them to storage lots, such as ones at an abandoned NFL stadium outside Detroit, the Port of Baltimore and a decommissioned Air Force base in California. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesGetty Images reader comments 8 Share this story In a letter to the US federal judge who will sentence him on Wednesday, former Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt wrote "I must say that I feel misused by my own company in the diesel scandal or ‘Dieselgate'." Schmidt is one of the most senior executives to be charged in the diesel emissions scandal that rocked Volkswagen ..

Tesla beats deadline, switches on gigantic Australian battery array

Enlarge / Tesla Powerpacks in South Australia. These batteries are only half of what will soon be the largest lithium-ion installation in the world at 129MWh.Tesla reader comments 6 Share this story On Friday, Tesla switched on the massive 100MW, 129MWh battery installation it built in South Australia, just as the state is about to head into the grid-taxing summer season. The installation was completed last week, ending a bet between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Australian billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes. The bet was made in March, when Musk tweeted to an incredulous Cannon-Brookes that Tesla could build and install a massive lithium-ion battery installation in "100 days or it is free." Further ReadingElon Musk on batteries for Australia: “Installed in 100 days or it is free”Last year in South Australia was a bad one for blackouts caused by weather and grid failure. Some blamed the intermittency of renewables for the issues—wind has become a big player in the region's energy mix. Stor..

The Boring Company proposes 125-150mph “Loop” for Chicago express train request

Enlarge / An artist’s rendering of an electric skate.The Boring Company reader comments 40 Share this story On Wednesday, the city of Chicago opened a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for an express train that would take passengers from the city’s O’Hare airport to downtown. The system would have to be completely privately funded—Chicago says no taxpayer money would be used for it. Further ReadingElon Musk’s Boring Company is digging a 10-mile tunnel in MarylandElon Musk’s Boring Company—a tunneling company that the SpaceX and Tesla CEO started last year—will respond to the request. Musk hopes to get to the second round when bidding will take place. On Wednesday evening, he tweeted that his company “will compete to fund, build & operate a high-speed Loop connecting Chicago O’Hare Airport to downtown.” Musk’s reference to a “Loop” is explained more clearly on The Boring Company’s FAQ page: “Loop is a high-speed underground public transportation system in which passengers are transport..

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