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In the past few weeks, conventional cars have been added to the list of endangered cars.
The electric car maker Tesla posted its first annual profit in its history. It was revealed that Hyundai has been negotiating with Apple to manufacture a driverless car. Startups like Rivian and Lucid are exploring completely new ways to manufacture vehicles. And General Motors said it would stop selling gasoline-powered cars by 2035.
“I’ve been writing about the auto industry for 19 years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” my colleague Neal E. Boudette told me. We discussed the future of cars and whether traditional automakers or tech-driven companies like Tesla and Apple would rule the next generation of the streets.
Shira: Are traditional automakers like GM taking electric vehicles seriously?
Neal: GM wouldn’t have said it would stop making internal combustion engines by 2035 unless it was dead serious. Ford and Volkswagen haven’t set a deadline, but they are spending tens of billions of dollars on developing electric vehicles. These companies believe there will be a turning point that will mean the death of traditional cars.
Electric vehicles, especially in the United States, are a fraction of the car sales. Maybe this is not a turning point?
The move towards electric cars could slow down, especially if there are economic downturns or raw materials shortages. But I don’t think there’s going back because of climate change and the determination of governments to fight it – including in China, some European countries, and the United States.
Put these developments into context for us.
When I saw the GM news, I sat back in my chair and thought about how revolutionary this was. GM has been making internal combustion engine vehicles for more than a century, and soon it won’t be.
We’re facing one of those big industrial transformations where we’re going to move from an old to a completely new approach and turn everything upside down.
Ok wow. Who will lead this new car world? Car company or technology company?
It’s not either or. The companies that succeed must think like the other side. Car companies need to adapt the mindset and expertise of tech companies, and vice versa.
The miracle of Tesla is that it completely changed the concept of a car from a mechanical product to software. Instead of a car being something that was made once and didn’t change much, Tesla made it like an iPhone. The braking system or transmission can be upgraded and adjusted after driving the vehicle.
Traditional automakers have been slow to catch on, but they could prove to be very strong competitors to this new mode. And they’re good at something Tesla still isn’t: they run the orchestra of tens of thousands of parts and assemble them to high standards at the rate of 100,000 or 300,000 cars a year.
What do you think of Apple? Vehicle project and his negotiations (now on holdit seems) with Hyundai to manufacture these cars?
It shows that Apple doesn’t want to do what Tesla did and want to build its own car factories and machines. In this case, it would be an interesting mix of Apple’s know-how and Hyundai’s manufacturing skills.
(Independent but strange: Tesla announced on Monday that it had bought $ 1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin and would like to accept the cryptocurrency as payment for its cars.)
Tip of the week
Make your car smarter – cheaply
As we envision the cars of the future, the Times consumer technology columnist Brian X. Chen suggested ways to make our vehicles a little more tech-savvy today.
Many people, including myself, still have “dumb” cars – vehicles with no internet connection and no touchscreen. What a novelty! However, I prefer a dumb car. Without a huge touchscreen in front of me while driving, I have fewer distractions. Plus, I can customize my setup to be as smart as I want it to be.
Here’s what you need to add some smarts to your car for not a lot of money:
A sturdy phone holder: Who needs an infotainment system when your phone can display maps perfectly? All you need is a place to mount your phone where you can see it without fiddling with it. I’m using an iOttie mount recommended by Wirecutter, The Times’ product recommendation site. It goes into the CD player in my car that has never been used.
A bluetooth adapter: To wirelessly stream your playlists and podcasts from your phone to your car radio, you need a bluetooth connection. There are many cheap bluetooth kits available that act as a wireless bridge between your phone and your stereo. The kit I use is no longer offered, but Wirecutter has a lot of newer options.
A phone charger: Beware of all those crappy phone chargers out there, especially the ones that are sold at gas stations. You want a long-lasting device that will quickly refill your phone’s battery. Wirecutter recommends chargers from brands such as Nekteck and Anker. If your car stereo has a USB port, you can plug in a regular phone charger cable instead and skip buying a separate car charger port.
Before we go …
A quick look at a looser Chinese internet: For a few days, an audio chat room app called Clubhouse provided the Chinese with a relatively bourgeois and unrestricted forum to discuss topical issues such as the Tiananmen Square and the country’s treatment of the Uighur minority. Then the government censorship came in, my colleagues Amy Chang Chien and Amy Qin reported.
50 states and a tangle of vaccine priority algorithms: Formulas that are used to sensibly distribute coronavirus vaccine doses in the United States sometimes have complicated dispensing schedules. “If these man-made allotments were scrapped,” a state health officer told my colleague Natasha Singer, “it would help us tremendously.”
Not all screen times are bad: Educational publication Chalkbeat writes about how teenagers at two homeless shelters in the Bronx are taking a creative approach by playing, discussing, and writing about video games.
A shot-by-shot remake of a Usher music video – but at home with a broom and a dog in a wig.
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