With the Chicago Auto Show wrapping up as we write this, we bring you all the auto industry news you need to be up to date. Check back next edition for the latest news from the show, and more.
AV Startup Aurora secures funding from Amazon among others
A few weeks ago we reported that Aurora – the self-driving car company that has already partnered with Volkswagen and Hyundai – was seeking additional funding. Now they’ve reported a $530 million cash injection in series B funding. The Series B round was led by Sequoia and includes investment from Amazon as well as T. Rowe Price Associates.
This new investment takes the company’s valuation to a staggering $2.5 Billion despite being just two years old. Aurora is led by Chris Urmson, the former CTO of Alphabet’s Waymo, and Sterling Anderson, who led the design and launch of the Tesla Model X.
Electric cars struggle in cold weather
With the recent polar vortex chilling many of the USA’s residents to the bone in recent weeks, attention has turned to electric cars, and their poor performance in frigid temperatures. Car owners took to social media during the freezing spell to complain about their vehicles’ lack of performance, and now a new study by AAA has confirmed what many electric car owners already know – that cold weather can slash the car’s range by as much as 40%.
AAA tested a range of different cars, including the Volkswagen E-Golf, BMW i3s, Chevy Bolt, and the Nissan Leaf at 20 degrees to see how each car performed. The report states that driving range fell by 12% with no heater on in the car, and by 41% when the heater was activated. They also tested the cars in high temperatures and found a 17% reduction in range when the air-con was active.
Ford aims to boost consumer confidence in self-driving cars
Ford has been trailing a new light-based communication system to win the trust of pedestrians. The experimental vehicles, tested on real city streets, used colors from purple to turquoise to indicate to pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users that the self-driving cars were about to stop and give way or pull away into traffic. While Ford reported a high level of trust in the responses, the car used was not actually self-driving, a human operator was in fact hidden inside a modified car seat.
Ford’s Europe core lighting manager Thorsten Warwel told Tech Radar “Fundamentally, people need to trust autonomous vehicles and developing one universal visual means of communication is a key to that.”
Cars.com reveals its top picks for 2019
Auto website cars.com has published its Best of 2019 Award winners, and there are some surprises. Here’s a couple of highlights. Their top car of the year is the Genesis G70 – once produced under the Hyundai brand, but now a premium brand in its own right. The G70 is the smallest of the Genesis cars, and also the least expensive, but it still packs a big punch. Cars.com praised the excellent steering and motion dynamics, and the easy-to-use interior touchscreen.
For family car of the year, the site plumped for the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica. The Pacifica also came top in both 2017, and 2018, and it seems nothing is ready to knock this family minivan off its pedestal as yet. It’s the first minivan to offer a hybrid model, and the site also values its easy-open power sliding doors, and hearty V-6 engine.