Mercedes Drive Pilot Moves a Big Step Closer to True Autonomous Driving

First Up 08/03/22

Mercedes Drive Pilot Moves a Big Step Closer to True Autonomous Driving

There are few things more frustrating than getting stuck in rush hour traffic, a mix of sheer boredom punctuated by the occasional moment of panic. But what if you could use that time to relax, letting your car deal with all the hassles of driving? That’s the idea behind the new Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot. The system is one of a growing number of technologies coming to market in the push for true hands-free driving. But it’s the first to reach what is technically known as “Level 3” autonomy. According to Mercedes, Drive Pilot can handle virtually anything a human driver would at speeds up to 37 mph, allowing a motorist to relax, even watch videos on the car’s infotainment screen. To get a feel for what Drive Pilot is really like to use, The Detroit Bureau headed over to the automaker’s sprawling proving ground in Immendingen, a couple hours’ drive from Mercedes headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. Click here for the full story.

Automakers Press Manchin for Changes to EV Tax Credit Proposal

Automakers want U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin to revisit his proposal to restructure the $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit, raising fears it could be largely unworkable because of new sourcing requirements for battery components and critical minerals. Manchin on Tuesday expressed little interest in revising his proposal reports Automotive News. "Tell (automakers) to get aggressive and make sure that we're extracting in North America, we're processing in North America, and we put a line on China," Manchin, D-W.Va., told reporters. "I don't believe that we should be building a transportation mode on the backs of foreign supply chains. I'm not going to do it." Manchin said the United States builds its own gasoline-powered vehicles and engines. "Now all of a sudden - now we can't?" the senator asked. "Come on." Automakers say privately the percentage targets for critical minerals and battery components sourcing are too high and rise too quickly. Asked about automakers' concerns, Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., said, "we're having some discussions related to that." The bill includes rising requirements for the percentage of North American battery components by value and would disallow any batteries any batteries after 2023 with any Chinese components. Click here for the full story.

A Handful of States Are Driving Nearly All U.S. Electric Car Adoption

California — no surprise — leads the U.S. in electric vehicle ownership, accounting for 39 percent of all EVs registered nationwide. Look more closely at the numbers, however, and it turns out EVs represent less than two percent of all vehicles on the road in the Golden State. Reality check: We're a long way from a "tipping point" for electric vehicles. In fact, the EV revolution has barely begun in the U.S. and it's playing out in super-slow motion — even in places where plug-in cars make the most sense. Why it matters: Automakers are pouring billions of dollars into electric vehicle development in the face of urgent warnings about climate change. But with more than 278 million cars, SUVs, and pickups overall on U.S. roads, the historic shift away from gasoline will take years, if not decades, to play out. Axios is tracking the transition, using monthly vehicle registration data from S&P Global Mobility. The latest data: 4.6 percent of the new vehicles registered in the U.S. this past May were electric, according to the research firm's most recent data. Click here for the full story.

Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Kia Slump Drags on Behind Low Inventory

The sales slump at Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. has reached a year and U.S. deliveries at Hyundai and Kia fell in July for the fifth-straight month as microchip shortages and stretched supply lines continue to undercut light-vehicle output and shipments. Automotive News reports sales dropped 21 percent at Toyota Motor last month, with deliveries down 21 percent at Toyota and 23 percent at Lexus. It was the 12th consecutive monthly decline for the Toyota division and Lexus’ sixth straight decline. Toyota said it ended July with 104,790 vehicles in stock — 14,258 at dealers and 90,532 in port or transit — or a 16-day supply. Volume skidded 47 percent at Honda Motor, with Acura off 59 percent and the Honda division down 46 percent. The Honda brand's biggest sellers continued to post sharply lower sales last month: Accord, off 56 percent; Civic, down 67 percent; CR-V, down 31 percent; HR-V, off 69 percent and Pilot, down 27 percent. Sales dropped 12 percent at Hyundai and 11 percent at Kia last month, mostly on weaker car volume. Click here for the full story.

No Worries About U.S. Demand for Now, Japan's Subaru Says

Japan's Subaru expects strong demand from U.S. car buyers to continue, a senior executive said amid growing concern about a slowdown in the world's largest economy. Chief Financial Officer Katsuyuki Mizuma's confidence highlights the split between consumers struggling to afford basic necessities amid record inflation and those with the resources to continue spending on bigger-ticket purchases. Subaru has a backorder of about 50,000 vehicles and retailers only have between four to five days’ worth of stock in the U.S., Mizuma said. Reuters reports the automaker sold 19 percent more cars in the U.S. for the first quarter year-on-year, the biggest growth of any region. It expects U.S. sales to grow by around a quarter this fiscal year, to 636,000. The maker of the Forester sports utility vehicle is not the only Japanese automaker to be relatively bullish on North America demand lately. Mitsubishi said it saw robust demand for new cars for the three months to June 30 and could not keep up with supply. Nissan was also confident about its outlook in the United States and said the increase in sales volumes would offset negative factors such as inflation or higher interest rates. Click here for the full story.

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