Waymo to Offer Driverless Rides to Public in Arizona

First Up 11/08/17

Waymo to Offer Driverless Rides to Public in Arizona
Waymo, Google's self-driving car affiliate, is testing self-driving vehicles without safety drivers in Arizona and plans to offer driverless rides to the public in the next few months, reports Automotive News. During a keynote speech at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Waymo CEO John Krafcik showed a video of the company's test vehicles driving on Arizona roads without human supervision. He said the vehicles are able to operate within the Phoenix area without requiring predetermined routes or other outside help. "This wasn't just a one-time ride or a demo," Krafcik said. "What you're seeing now marks the start of a new phase for Waymo and the history of this technology." Other manufacturers have been running self-driving test vehicles on public roads in California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and other states, but those all have human operators behind the wheel. Waymo said it has been running driverless vehicles in Arizona, where law does not require self-driving vehicles to be supervised by a safety driver, since mid-October. Read more here

First in 25 Years: Automaker Plans Detroit Area Plant
A Mumbai-based automaker says it will open the first new auto assembly plant in southeast Michigan in more than 25 years, reports The Detroit News. Indian automaker Mahindra Group plans to open a 150,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on Rex Boulevard in Auburn Hills. Details will be shared at a news conference at the plant Nov. 20. The company also recently opened a 250,000-square-foot warehouse in Pontiac. Mahindra’s technical center and North American headquarters, currently based in Troy, will relocate to the new Auburn Hills manufacturing facility, Mahindra spokesman Rich Ansell said Friday. The roughly 40,000-square-foot Troy building will still serve as a prototyping facility. The company did not reveal how many new workers the new Auburn Hills facility would employ, but said in a media advisory it has tripled its employment in the Metro Detroit area over the last 18 months. For more, click here

Study: Brand Loyalty, Growing Mass Market Interest Give Rise to Luxury Segment Sales
Luxury sales have steadily grown over the past three years due to the segment’s consistent owner loyalty and growing appeal among mass market vehicle owners, according to recent data from Jumpstart Media. Auto Remarketing reports that the luxury segment currently accounts for 13 percent of total sales, up 3 percent from 2014, shows the company’s latest auto shopper study in collaboration with Ipsos Connect, “Today’s Luxury Auto Owners: How Emotion, Experience, And Loyalty Drive Purchase Decisions.” At 36 percent, a larger number of mass market owners say that they are interested in upgrading to a luxury vehicle. Across Jumpstart sites, 34 percent of shoppers are researching luxury vehicles, up 4 percent from 2014, according to the company. Read more here

This Month's Hottest Lease Deals on Luxury Crossover SUVs
In a recent post Forbes discussed how luxury sedan sales are sputtering these days, with upscale SUVs taking over as the vehicles of choice for aspirational buyers and lessees. A decade ago, luxury-brand sedans accounted for 7.6 percent of new-vehicle sales in the U.S. and upscale SUVs represented 4.2 percent of the market, but these standings are now reversed, with luxury SUVs at around 7 percent of all sales, and sedans dropping to 4.9 percent of the new-vehicle market. Though the laws of supply and demand suggest those looking for a new luxury sedan would be able to strike a better deal and/or take advantage of richer automakers’ incentives – there’s an $8,000 cash rebate being offered this month on remaining 2017 versions of the redesigned-for-2018 Lexus LS, for example – leasing continues to offer a sufficiently attractive alternative for cash-conscious upscale SUV intenders. To that end, Forbes is featuring what it considers to be the 10 best lease deals being offered on luxury crossover SUVs this month in the accompanying slide show. Click here to view the show and read more about Forbes’ picks.

The Biggest Problem with Electrified Cars May Be Car Buyers
The biggest enemy of electric cars in America may be the average car buyer. When news of the GOP tax plan broke, there was plenty of talk that the plan to kill the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles would make the cars an even tougher sell among mainstream consumers. CNBC reports that may be true for some buyers, but electric vehicles may be facing issues that even an incentive may not solve. For example, out of 16 million unique users every month, fewer than 5 percent of searches on car-buying site KBB.com are for electric or hybrid vehicles, Kelley Blue Book analyst Rebecca Lindland told CNBC. "Car buyers don't see hybrid and electric vehicles as providing the right solutions for their wants and needs, even though the vehicles often can," she said. consumers will warm to electrified vehicles. Younger buyers show higher interested in electrified vehicle, for example. Charging infrastructure is improving. Several manufacturers are planning new models, which will increase the range of choices for buyers. Read more about the challenges facing EVs here

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Gas Prices Rise for Most Americans. Here's Why. [USA Today]