Elon Musk said what?

❝ In many ways, Tesla — Elon Musk’s lightning rod of a car company — is the perfect allegory for modern Silicon Valley. The ongoing psychodrama of personalities drowns out the amazing technical achievements that are happening all around us…

As usual, this has been a real “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” kind of week for Tesla. It had a disastrous earnings report card, and Elon keeps creating all the wrong sorts of headlines. But in the middle of this maelstrom, the company announced a new chip that is going to eventually become the brain for their electric car. This chip is not just any chip — it will be able to make sense of a growing number of sensors that allow the car to become better and better at assisted (if not fully automated) driving…

❝ Tesla’s module is based on two AI chips — each one made of a CPU, a GPU, and deep learning accelerators. The module can deliver 144-trillion operations per second, making it capable of processing data from numerous sensors and other sources and running deep neural network algorithms. Ian Riches, an analyst with Strategy Analytics, told EE Times that this is “effectively the most powerful computer yet fitted to a production vehicle.” And Tesla is going to make a next-generation module that will be more powerful and will consume a lot less power.

As usual, Om Malik provides more depth, analysis and understanding than most of his peers. Please, RTFA, gather in another chunk of insight into Elon Musk’s apparently endless journey to reinvent the automobile along with any other software and hardware he bumps into in his young life.

Saudi cleric says women who drive risk damaging their ovaries

A conservative Saudi Arabian cleric has said women who drive risk damaging their ovaries and bearing children with clinical problems, countering activists who are trying to end the Islamic kingdom’s male-only driving rules.

A campaign calling for women to defy the ban in a protest drive on October 26 has spread rapidly online over the past week and gained support from some prominent women activists. On Sunday, the campaign’s website was blocked inside the kingdom.

…Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan, the person quoted in the sabq.org report, is a judicial adviser to an association of Gulf psychologists…

“If a woman drives a car, not out of pure necessity, that could have negative physiological impacts as functional and physiological medical studies show that it automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upwards,” he told Sabq…”That is why we find those who regularly drive have children with clinical problems of varying degrees,” he said.

He did not cite specific medical studies to support his arguments.

Religious fundamentalists aren’t about to start invoking peer-reviewed science in attempts to defend the indefensible. Ideology, superstition, cultural hangups are sufficient unto themselves – especially when the questions raised deal with equal opportunity for folks that accepted custom says “should know their place”.

It all sounds the same to those denied opportunity whether in Saudi Arabia or one of our neo-Confederate states.

Study finds most EV drivers go 1,050 miles on $30/month

The average EV user drives 1,050 miles per month and spends around $30 dollars in charging costs, saves around $75 per month in fuel costs and sheds 360 pounds of CO2 emissions compared to “regular” drivers. Want to know the top three electric vehicle-ready cities in North America? Portland, Dallas, and Nashville.

This data comes from EV drivers who use PlugShare, a mobile and web application developed by Xatori, a technology company focused on building innovative software for connected cars. PlugShare has grown its nationwide charging network to more than 100,000 users and 11,000 charging stations across the U.S….

Ironically enough, the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle are behind Dallas and Nashville at numbers four and five, respectively. Los Angeles doesn’t even crack the top 10. The article doesn’t define the methodology for what city makes the EV-ready city cut, or what it actually means. As for Portland, that’s got to be the city in Oregon and not the one in Maine.


Wish I could crack the original cost for one of these critters for the going-to-town portion of our lives. Yes, I know none of the manufacturers are reaching anything like a small percentage of the scale required to begin lowering prices. Most of them are losing money as it is – though not as much as Republicans wish.

That number from PlugShare would save us about $45/month – and that’s not enough even for a couple of hermits who keep cars for decades at a time. 🙂

World’s 10 best engines

VW Jetta TDI, 2.0L 140-hp turbodiesel, 3rd consecutive award winner

The auto industry is embracing the age of electrification, and so too is the Ward’s 10 Best Engines list.

Both the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle and Chevrolet Volt extended-range EV earn their way onto the 2011 list, as selected by Ward’s editors after evaluating 38 vehicles with new or significantly improved engines for the ’11 model year.

But fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness are not the most important criteria for eligibility this year, as seen by recognition of the new 5.0L V-8 in the Ford Mustang GT, 5.0L V-8 in the Hyundai Genesis and the 3.0L supercharged V-6 in the Audi S4.

“We have something for everybody on this year’s Ward’s 10 Best Engines list,” says Drew Winter, editor-in-chief of Ward’s AutoWorld magazine. “It’s the most diverse mix we’ve ever had, as well as the most technologically advanced.”

This year’s winners and the applications tested:

3.0L TFSI Supercharged DOHC V-6 (Audi S4)
3.0L N55 Turbocharged DOHC I-6 (BMW 335i)
1.6L Turbocharged DOHC I-4 (Mini Cooper S)
3.6L Pentastar DOHC V-6 (Dodge Avenger)
5.0L DOHC V-8 (Ford Mustang GT)
1.4L DOHC I-4/111kW Drive Motor (Chevrolet Volt)
5.0L Tau DOHC V-8 (Hyundai Genesis)
80kW AC Synchronous Electric Motor (Nissan Leaf)
2.0L DOHC I-4 Turbodiesel (Volkswagen Jetta TDI)
3.0L Turbocharged DOHC I-6 (Volvo S60)

Now in its 17th year, the Ward’s 10 Best Engines competition is designed to recognize powertrains that set new benchmarks in their respective vehicle segments.

The one thing they have in common is they all are stand-out performers in their own way and sell the value proposition of the vehicles they power,” Winter says.

RTFA. The editors delve into each award and why. Just a paragraph or two; but, gives you a taste of the breadth of modern prize-winning design coming from auto engineers around the world.

Detailed analysis of each is in the upcoming issue of Ward’s Autoworld magazine and will be online, next week.

Bentley recalls cars over fears of Flying B hood ornament

The distinctive “Flying B” that adorns the bonnet of Bentley cars has prompted a recall of almost 1,500 top of the range vehicles over fears it could impale pedestrians during an collision.

The metal motif is designed to retract in the event of an accident but a flaw has been found that in some models can cause the mechanism to fail. The fault has prompted the company, which was created in 1919, to recall 1,426 cars across the world including 298 in Britain…

Millionaire owners of the vehicles…have been told to bring in their cars for a one hour repair.

The Flying B badge at the centre of the recall dates back to the late 1920s, when W O Bentley was operating out of Cricklewood in north London.

It survived until the 1970s, when it was withdrawn for safety reasons…posing the risk of pedestrians being impaled on the badge although, according to Bentley, there have been no reports of any such accidents or injuries ever happening..

The probability of an event occurring is equal to the number of times the event has occurred in the past divided by the total number of opportunities for it to occur.

Zero divided by any rational number = less than zero.

Leo’s interview with Ford CEO Alan Mulally

The interview was recorded just before the start of CES. I thought I’d poke it out here on the site for a couple of reasons:

1. The North American Auto Show opens today in Detroit and Ford swept both Car of the Year – the Fusion Hybrid – and Truck of the Year – the Transit Connect. While I’m not ever likely to buy the former, the latter is in the running – though I’d prefer a pickup truck on the same platform.

2. That’s a good start to the show. There will be lots more – including coverage from the “fringe” counter-show which skipped the creaky Cobo Hall venue and is using nearby casinos [Uncle Dave will appreciate the difference].

3. Mulally is a geek.

4. Disclaimer – I own a little Ford stock. Not that they’d notice.

Cash for Clunkers program limited by Congressional cowards

In Europe, hundreds of thousands of car owners have taken advantage of government subsidies to get rid of their old vehicles and trade up to new ones. Car sales in Germany are up about 40 percent from a year ago.

But a similar so-called cash-for-clunkers program that starts in July in the United States is not expected to have nearly the same impact.

While the program, which President Obama signed into law this week, gives consumers a credit that is in line with the payments in Europe — up to $4,500 — what qualifies as a “clunker” in the United States is far more limited.

Further, the American program has $1 billion in financing, enough for about 250,000 consumers to use it, and ends Nov. 1, or sooner if the money runs out. Germany, on the other hand, originally expected to spend 1.5 billion euros to get 600,000 old cars off the road. But the program proved so popular, the government this spring raised the budget to 5 billion euros for two million cars and extended the deadline to the end of 2009…

“It’s better than nothing, that’s for sure,” said George Pipas, the Ford Motor Company’s chief sales analyst. “Anything to get consumers off the couch and give them a reason to go to the dealership.”

Perish the thought the overpaid politicians in Congress should do something that might help out working folks!

They’d rather continue to feather their nest, play kissy-kissy with lobbyists, whine about overspending our tax dollars – as if they hadn’t been doing that for the past eight years. 2010 is becoming more and more a target year to shove another couple dozen corporate lawyer-politicians out the door. Send them looking for an honest job.

China may reach 11 million car sales in 2009

China’s automobile sales will “definitely break the 10-million-unit barrier” in 2009, the China Passenger Car Association said, raising its forecast for the automobile industry this week on the back of a robust growth in vehicle sales in May, the fifth consecutive month it has climbed this year.

The association said “automobiles sales in China will touch 11 million units this year, on the basis of the total number of vehicles sold across the country in the first five months.”

Data released by the association showed that China sold 812,178 units of passenger vehicles, including minivans, sports utility vehicles, and multipurpose vehicles, in May, another monthly high…

Total passenger car sales in the first five months jumped 29.6 percent, to 3.64 million units from the same period last year, said the association.

China also has, for the fifth consecutive month, beaten the US as the world’s largest automobile market. “The growth in the passenger car segment will probably continue in June to hit a new monthly record, which will boost the whole-year sales to the 11-million-unit mark,” said Rao Da, secretary-general of the association.

This is a growth market that refuses to be halted by America’s effect on the global economy.

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