Two recent stories -- about BMW charging a monthly fee to use the heated seats pre-installed in your car, and Tesla replacing a 60kwh battery with a 90kwh under warranty, but forgetting to software limit it to 60kwh, then finally applying the limit after two resales of the car as an (unknowingly accidental) 90 model, have opened up cans of worms about the question of software enabled and disabled features, and whether they are good or bad for the customer or just good for the company.
I wrote before about the accursed "beep beep" that big machines make when they back up -- and even a few cars. There is an answer to it, and that answer has just come out of patent. So what can we do to ban the beep and make safer systems that don't destroy the peace and quiet of the air?
Read about that in this Forbes.com story at We cam finally do away with the accursed beep-beep
On road trips many people like to have a cooler. For my most recent trip I graduated to getting a 12v compressor fridge, a real fridge that, in theory, needs no ice. I presumed that in an electric car, with a giant battery, running the fridge would be no problem (it uses up only about 2 miles worth of range electricity per day.)
That turned out not to be the case due to a bad way the Tesla 12v system is designed. I wrote up this story of the ins and outs of using a fridge in a car, and how to fix the 12v problem in this new story on Forbes.com
I got a chance to visit the Energy Observer, a French boat powered by solar and wind with hydrogen energy storage as it visited SF while sailing around the world.
Hydrogen doesn't work so well in cars, but it can make sense in other places like aircraft, trucks and grid. But what about on a boat?
Read my analysis at Aboard the Energy Observer, a French hydrogen/solar/wind powered boat
Gas stations are a business -- they sell gasoline at a profit. But EV charging isn't like that, and almost no EV charging stations are run with the primary goal of selling electricity at a profit to customers.
Some want the business, but will it work? Is this a temporary or permanent situation?
I explore that in my new Forbes site article at Can EV charging be a business?
While we've all been obsessed with the big elections, some notable news in California, where a corporate sponsored bill to reverse California AB5 on gig-drivers passed. AB5 would have required drivers for companies like Uber to be employees and not contractors.
What would Uber have done if it had not passed, or what can they do if an employee rule passes somewhere else? I discuss these issues in a new story on Forbes.com:
Uber, following Lyft, announced a big push towards electric rides, declaring all rides will be electric by 2030. That's a good goal, but as I outlined earlier, there are reasons your Uber is not usually electric today. They need to find ways for lower-income drivers to own electric cars and a place to charge them overnight, and also briefly during the day, and we have to wait for the cars to get cheap. I outline the issues in this new article on Forbes.com
I'm fairly convinced that soon we'll see ambulances switch to e-VTOL flying machines. So many advantages, hard to see downsides. Nobody is going to complain about noise and privacy issues of an ambulance. This announcement by an e-VTOL company and an air-ambulance company of a collaborative project is thus interesting, if preliminary. However, it's also interesting that they view hydrogen as the fuel. H2 has lost in cars, but has some positive attributes for planes, particularly an ambulance.
In EV charging, there's a big contest to see who can be the fastest, with 250KW and 350KW chargers competing with Tesla's superchargers. But charge-really-fast is "gasoline" thinking and it's much more expensive. For the same money, for example, a corporate parking lot would be better served with 40 Level 1 (2KW) chargers and 4 Level 2 (7KW) than 15 Level 2. And a new generation of cheaper 50KW chargers in places we stop for an hour could make more sense than 250kw ones.
If you read my earlier report on efforts to convert CPAP machines into ventilators with new firmwware the good news is that the feared massive ventilator shortage seems (for now) to have been avoided.
If we shut down public areas, we're going to need a lot of online shopping and home delivery. How can we do that in a virus-infected world? Here's some plans for how to make it happen even with gig workers (who aren't driving Uber and Lyft much any more.)
I outline some of the ways to make it work in this Forbes.com article.
I think driving navigation is a great thing, but the UI is all wrong. It needs to work to understand me, to see the routes I have driven with it 100 times, and only tell me when there is something unusual I need to know, not where to turn to get to my house (or telling me "You have arrived at your destination" at my driveway.) The ideal navigation system, on a commute, won't even say a word to me unless there is traffic that means I should not take my standard route. How do we make it smarter?
Hyundai has put a solar panel on an electric car. Turns out that's "false green" and may end up using a lot of the solar energy to cool down the car after you park it in the sun. What do the economics on solar panels in cars look like?
Tesla advertised that the Model 3 is the safest car ever based on NHTSA's tests. NHTSA wrote them a letter saying, "stop saying that, you can't compare these scores across different weight classes."
Here's some analysis of who is right and why Tesla wins in the end at NHTSA and Tesla spar over safety claims
RV parks already have the infrastructure for charging electric vehicles on road trips. They just need somewhere decent for the road trippers to sleep and they can exploit a whole new market. Some already rent little cabins. If they add glamping tents they can serve customers at a low cost and could quickly fill out the many gaps in the EV trip network. In my new Forbes site article, I outline the things they could do, and give some advice to drivers too.
Ever watched solo "cheaters" go by in the carpool lane and been angry? Turns out carpool lanes don't really work and often make congestion and throughput worse, which is why they are converting them to "HOT" (carpool+toll) lanes where they can, to let enough solo drivers in to properly use capacity.
Turns out carpool cheaters create a similar result, and if the fines and enforcement are tuned, they can pay a similar amount.