It’s always fun when the auto show comes to town. Any town, really, but this week, it all went down at the Geneva Motor Show. The Swiss fête is probably the most important show of the season, so automakers turned it out. There were electric car concepts. (Minivans, to be precise.) A Maserati with seats of lightweight woven nappa leather called Pelletessuta. Aston Martin's "rear shelf." If you love mind-blowing auto detailing, check it out.
Also this week, we looked into how scooter startups are thinking about labor, and what tens of millions of lidar research got self-driving company Waymo. (Hint: a new revenue stream!) It’s been a week—let’s get you caught up.
Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week
- As scooter startups struggle to get their business models right and actually make money, the Ford-owned company Spin is trying something new in its Los Angeles warehouse: It’s only hiring employees, not contract workers, to collect, fix, charge, and redeploy its scoots.
- Waymo diversifies its revenue stream and announces its first hardware product, a custom-developed lidar system made specifically for self-driving cars called—what else?—Laser Bear Honeycomb.
- How Amazon engineers and audiophiles, plus a very weird-looking acoustic test dummy with fully-formed ears, built the Echo Auto.
- Mercedes-Benz debuts an all-electric minivan with, sure, less-than-stellar performance specs. But who’s racing while schlepping the kids to basketball practice, anyway?
Meteorite Car Knob of the Week
If you’ve always wanted to own a little bit of outer space and then...put it in your car, have we got some news for you. This week at the Geneva Motor Show, Rolls-Royce showed off its 2019 Phantom Tranquility, which comes with a volume knob made from the Muonionalusta meteorite—the one that plummeted to Earth around 800,000 years ago.
Get the low-down on all the artful, probably unnecessary, and very auto luxe details (Engines! Leather! Seating Shelves!) from the Motor Show right here.
Stat of the Week
The projected fall in average estimated real-world CO2 emission rate for all new vehicles between model years 2016 and 2018, according to a report on automotive trends from the US Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA finds that the rate fell from 360 grams per mile in model year 2016 to 357 g/mi in 2017—a record low. The National Resources Defense Council said the new numbers were a signal that the federal government’s fuel-economy standards are working, and that the Trump administration should reconsider its plans to freeze them.
News from elsewhere on the internet
- Arizona prosecutors find Uber is not criminally liable for a self-driving car crash that killed a woman in Tempe last year.
- Trump administration to automakers : Choose a side on our fuel economy standard fight with California .
- On the brink of IPO, oft-quiet Lyft CEO Logan Green has to reconcile his environmental and social ideals with the realities of the ride-hail industry.
- Lyft lays off 50 workers in its bikes and scooters division. Also: “Our tipster estimated that a typical scooter rollout is making a loss of about $23 per scooter per ride ($2 per ride, versus $25 per ride cost).”
- The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority wants Elon Musk’s Boring Company to build a small people mover .
- Electric VW dune buggy !!!
In the Rearview
Essential stories from WIRED’s canon
Check out our 2006 coverage of what was then the latest-and-greatest in electric vehicle tech, a little car called the Tesla Roadster.
It’s been a week: Let’s get you caught up.HeadlinesStories you might have missed from WIRED this weekWe still don’t know whether the Tesla Model S stopped last month by some quick-thinking cops as its driver snoozed in the front seat was on Autopilot, the electric carmaker’s semi-autonomous highway driving feature.