I have seen the taxi of the future, and it is indigo blue

Hiroshi Kayukawa, chief engineer of Toyota’s next generation taxi.  (c) Bertel Schmitt

Yesterday, I was given an early glimpse of the taxi of the future. It looks a little bit like the offspring of a mésalliance between a London taxi and an Escalade. It will be piloted by a legacy human driver, it won’t have Wifi, it will be powered by propane gas, and its color will be deep blue, if Toyota gets its wish.

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Volkswagen boss rips Elon Musk as destroyer of jobs and money

Matthias Müller (Picture: Volkswagen)

Car companies used to refrain from commenting on the competition, but the veil of propriety seems to develop more rips than the jeans of a grunge rocker. Last night, Volkswagen’s CEO Matthias Müller tore Elon Musk a big one, blasting the head of Californian carmaker Tesla as deficient of both social responsibility, and profits.

At an evening talk show in Passau, Germany, the moderator mentioned that Tesla “fascinates customers with its electric cars.” This triggered Müller to deliver a forceful statement he audibly had wanted to make for quite some time. Here is the video, along with a translation from Müller’s heavily Bavarian-tinged German:

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Mitsubishi Motors plots its comeback, and here is the plan

Osamu Masuko in Tokyo (c) Bertel Schmitt

According to widely-held Silicon Valley belief, it is impossible to turn a lumbering old legacy carmaker around. Alright, watch Osamu Masuko. He is the CEO of a 100-year-old Japanese carmaker named Mitsubishi Motors, and today, he announced the company’s “V-shaped recovery” at MMC’s HQ in Tokyo

The company fell into disrepute last year for having (like so many others) fudged fuel economy readings. Sales sagged. Nissan promptly bought a controlling interest in the company for a $2.3 billion song. (Attn. Silicon Valley: This is what a million-unit carmaker operating in the real world outside of the distortion field truly goes for.) The Mitsubishi purchase propelled the Renault-Nissan Alliance (now renamed Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance) to the top of all global automakers. Now is the time to turn the company around.

Basically, the plan calls for a 40% increase in sales, and a 30% increase in revenue by fiscal 2019 (which ends March 31 2020.)

“How will they do that?” asked @happy_roman via Twitter. @happy_roman once managed PR and later Marketing at Skoda, therefore, professional courtesy, and an explanation are extended.

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That legacy auto industry is just fine, thank you ever so much

Source: LMC Automotive

Should you – what with all the talk of “peak car” and imminent disruption – be worried about the long-term health of the auto industry, then there’s a simple cure. All you need to take is a global view, and a look into LMC Automotive’s monthly global review.

One look at their chart shows you that neither Uber nor robot cars can convince global auto sales to head downwards. Even the carpocalypse of 2008/2009 could not throw the graph off its secular trend. Two years after the sky dropped, the global sales plot snapped right back into its steady growth pattern. [Continue Reading]

Peak car in EU? Bacon saved by former basket cases

Is peak car reaching Europe? EU car sales took 10 long years to slowly claw back towards pre-crisis levels, and now, the downer: In September, passenger car registrations dropped 2% across the common market, says Europe’s auto manufacturer association ACEA.

Remember how Europe’s southern periphery seemed sick for many years? Interestingly, Europe’s former basket cases are now the bright spots. All over the South, healthy improvements are reported. Passenger vehicles sales in formerly near-dead Greece, for instance, were up nearly 30% in September.

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Toyota to launch cars that read your mind

Mind reading in action, subject dozed off (c) Bertel Schmitt

Elsewhere in the world, AI stands for artificial intelligence, and Elon Musk said that it will trigger World War III. In Japan, “Ai” stands for “love.” It was the first Japanese word I learned two hours after my arrival in Tokyo 12 years ago, and I promptly married the teacher. Taking a bow to the double meaning, Toyota today showed double-AI cars to a small group of reporters assembled at the company’s Tokyo HQ. We received a preview of mind-reading cars, driven by a lot of artificial intelligence, and a whole lotta love.

At the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, Toyota will show concepts of two cars, and a three-wheeled mobility device. Unlike other cars that run on hydrocarbons or electricity, Toyota’s concepts are driven by the power of love. Dubbed “TOYOTA Concept-i series,” the vehicles are “based on the idea that cars are among the manufactured goods that are preceded by the word ‘beloved’,” we heard today. “The TOYOTA Concept-i series aims to become a ‘beloved car’ of a new era guided by the concept of ‘more than a machine, a partner’.” So far for the press release (full version here.) Now comes the eerie part: [Continue Reading]

Did Tesla Stealthily Disclose Model 3 Ramp Issues?

The 5 Lakes bots

Controversy has haunted Tesla at every step of its extraordinary journey, making it hands-down the most argued-over automaker in the world. These controversies have touched on nearly every aspect of the California-based car company’s business, but they also share one core commonality: at their core, every Tesla controversy has been about disclosure.

Countless issues that might have been easily forgivable if disclosed early and fully have escalated into major controversies because of how the company communicates (or doesn’t) about the challenges they face. Never has this been more true than it is in the case of the most recent controversy about Model 3 production, which was kicked off last week by a Daily Kanban report. [Continue Reading]

Tesla Gigafactory solar power scrapped, insider claims

When Californian electric carmaker Tesla floated the idea of a monstrous battery factory, christened “Gigafactory” by Elon Musk, it was true to the heart of every fan of clean energy. The company circulated pictures of a monstrous roof made all from solar panels. The trouble is, like so many things announced by Tesla, it may not be true.

The pictures of a Gigafactory decked-out in solar panels are still on Tesla’s website, but recent drone footage of the Gigafactory  shows the battery plant devoid of any topside solar panels. There may never be any solar panels, a Gigafactory insider claims.

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