Cast your eyes about the transportation landscape, and you’ll see plenty of high-wire acts. Take Tesla, which this week announced it would finally roll out a $35,000 Model 3, a year and a half after it began production of the sedan. Good news if you’ve been on the waiting list for the car; bad news if you’re a salesperson at one of Tesla’s stores, many of which will close to save money as the company moves to an online-only sales model. Or take Lyft. This week, the company beat big brother Uber to filing for its IPO. It released a slew of financial data, revealing that, yeah, the company is gaining ground on Uber. But also that it lost $911 million last year in the process. Running a transportation tech company today is all about balance.
Also this week, we learn how futuristic transportation company Arrivo convinced Colorado public officials to back its wild-eyed scheme, why congestion pricing talk is happening in a bunch of US cities, and how Polestar hopes its Polestar 2 will compete with other EV sedans. It’s been a week—let’s get you caught up.
Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week
- Sick of traffic, hurting for funding, and searching for ways to get people out of emissions-spewing cars, US cities are catching up with the rest of the world. At least four big ones—New York, LA, Seattle, and Boston—are considering congestion pricing, which would charge drivers more to enter certain neighborhoods or lanes at certain traffick-y times of day.
- Lyft beat Uber to the punch and filed for its IPO, officially unveiling financials that show the company is pulling in lots of new riders and revenue. But that growth comes at a heavy cost: Lyft lost $911 million last year.
- Tesla CEO Elon Musk fulfilled a nearly three-year-old promise and rolled out the Model 3 sedan at a $35,000 price point. But the cut comes at a cost: Tesla will close all of its stores, leaving only a brick and mortars to serve as info centers.
- Behold to the Polestar 2, the affordable-ish electric sedan that’s now selling for $63,000. Volvo's electric performance arm is betting that customers will want to buy a non-Tesla, non-SUV, not-quite-luxury electric vehicle. Game on.
- Is it time for Elon Musk to unplug? On Monday, the SEC asked a federal judge to hold the Tesla CEO in contempt for what it says is a violation of a settlement the agency reached with him last fall. The violation, of course, came in a tweet. Musk could face a major fine.
- Promises of futuristic transportation systems can be quite tempting for cities that are struggling with congested highways and subpar public transit systems—which helps explain why the Colorado Department of Transportation was into Arrivo’s hard-to-believe plan for obliterating traffic with high-speed sleds.
Helicopter-Related Moose Science of the Week
New York state scientists took the skies in the snowy Adirondack mountains this week to count GPS-collared moose. Follow along!
Stat of the Week
The year-over-year jump in pedestrian deaths between 2017 and 2018, according to a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. The report estimates 6,227 people on foot died on American roads in 2018—the highest number in over three decades.
News from elsewhere on the internet
- Daimler and BMW extend their partnership on “mobility services” and announce a collab on self-driving cars . They aim to deliver an autonomous system by the mid-2020s.
- Uber and Lyft plan to give longtime drivers money to buy stock when the ride-hail companies IPO.
- Put it on the calendar: Porsche says its second generation Macan crossover will be all-electric , and make its debut in 2021.
- FedEx joins the autonomous delivery robot fray .
- Reporter Alison Griswold got her hands on a scooter dataset from Louisville, and determined that the average Louisville scooter lasts less than a month .
- Chicago’s mayoral election has moved to the run-off stage, but neither candidate is in favor of Elon Musk’s Boring Company’s high-speed rail plan. Is it curtains for BoCo in Chi-Town?
- Caesar the No Drama Llama rides the light rail in—where else?—Portland, Oregon.
In the Rearview
Essential stories from WIRED’s canon
From 2012: Automaker Ford explores why everything breaks and fails eventually.