New Electrics, New Laws, and Other Car News This Week

Revolutions aren’t slow, and they don’t usually involve booths, swag, and lawmakers up late in Sacramento arguing policy. But we saw stages set for two huge shifts this week: One was in Frankfurt, where automakers gathered to show off their latest and greatest concept cars, a melange of hybrid and electric shinies. The other was in California’s capital, where legislators passed a bill that promises to rewrite portions of the state’s economy , and the way some of its marquee companies—Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Doordash—deal with their workers. Come back here often , because these are big stories that are just beginning.
Plus, we dug into why some runway construction brought San Francisco’s airport—and its fliers—to their knees, and cities’ latest thinking on building for a self-driving-car future. It’s been a week; let’s get you caught up.

Headlines

Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week
  • Land Rover ups the high-tech wizardry in the 2020 hybrid Defender.
  • Why a spot of planned runway construction totally screwed over fliers at San Francisco’s airport.
  • Chinese electric-car maker Byton unveils its $48,000 production SUV , and you will want to watch the next Star Wars inside of it.
  • The Trump administration’s spat with California and carmakers over emissions—and, perhaps, the fate of the planet—continues, now with even more lawyers.
  • Cities aren’t sure when autonomous vehicles will arrive, but transportation officials are trying really hard to figure out how to prevent them from creating even more traffic .
  • California passes a bill that will transform many gig economy workers into employees .
  • But Uber doesn’t think the law will apply to its drivers —even if that’s what the lawmakers who wrote it had in mind.

Spectacular Near-Splat of the Week

A UK board this week released details on an April event that could have gone very badly—though it fortunately did not. Two skydivers were traveling at 120 mph in free fall in the sky above an airfield in western England when they were almost hit by two US F-15 fighter jets out of a nearby air base. The UK authorities chalked the incident up to a series of miscommunications and labeled the incident as a “medium” miss.

Stat of the Week

48%The share of all car trips in the most-trafficked US cities that are shorter than 3 miles, according to a report from the traffic analytics company Inrix. That, combined with warm climates and flat roads, make some American cities particularly well suited for scooter and bike trips: Honolulu, New Orleans, and Nashville.

Required Reading

News from elsewhere on the internet