Hark, the electric car! EVs have had a blockbuster half-decade, regulation-wise, with big countries like China and US giving the nascent tech a boost in pursuit of their own climate goals. So this week wasn’t so much a departure as an exciting continuation of a trend. Audi released its E-tron SUV, complete with a glitzy, 1,500-person party in the Bay Area, and in addition to checking out the new ride, we took stock of all the new battery-charged autos on the market. Porsche continues to put out announcements about its Taycan sedan, due out around 2020: Now, it says the car will have a very fast charger. Plus, Tesla continues to make news, some of it good—its Model 3 got an impeccable review from American safety regulators—and some of it bad—it’s reportedly the target of a Department of Justice investigation. Win some, lose some.
In other news, senior writer Jack Stewart tracked down a self-driving tram experiment in Germany, I explored how cities are thinking about scooter-share data, and we took a look at the latest bicycle commuting numbers. It’s been a week; let’s get you caught up.
Tesla’s strange third quarter continues, with a report that the electric carmaker faces a Department of Justice criminal investigation over Elon Musk’s “funding secured” tweets. Tesla says the DOJ has only thus far requested documents of the company, which suggests, as one lawyer tells WIRED, that it’s just “nosing around” right now. But the probe is still another cloud—and a self-conjured one!—that the company must work around as it tries to ramp up Model 3 production.
In more positive Tesla news: The company’s Model 3 received a five-star crash rating in every category from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.
Say hello to the all-electric Audi E-tron, the German carmaker’s first battery-based SUV. WIRED contributor Eric Adams breaks down the specs, and senior writer Jack Stewart sees how the E-tron stacks up to the other electric competition.
The electric vehicle market is seriously heating up, which means carmakers have to find ways to distinguish their latest offerings. Porsche, due to roll out its electric Taycan in the US around 2020, has announced at least one: an electric charging station that can top your zoomer off with 250 miles worth of charge in just 15 minutes.
OK, yes, electrics are cool in automaker land. But so is old-fashioned speed. Ferrari this week announced its Icona line, starting with two cars that combine vintage design with a 0 to 60 time under three seconds. But good luck actually buying one, even if you’ve got seven figures lying around—it looks like the whole line is sold out.
Automated trucks will happen, eventually. But where will they happen? The traffic analytics company Inrix uses its fleet data to find where self-driving trucks’ key attributes—increased safety, fast shipments—are most needed. But will regulations help facilitate the development of the new tech in the right places?
In Potsdam, Germany, the wily engineers at Siemens are testing a driverless tram. (As of right now, the vehicles are passenger-free, too.) The company, like Waymo, is hoping to perfect the autonomous technology in a relatively unchallenging environment—one in which the vehicle traverses the same route, day after day, on tracks.
Cities have gotten a lot savvier since Uber and Lyft showed up on their streets less than a decade ago. As bike- and scooter-share companies continue their wheeling across America’s urban spaces, many government officials are demanding the startups hand over their trip data, I report.
The latest numbers from the American Community Survey show cycle commuting is down slightly—and a dramatic cycling gap between cities (and regions) persists.
WIRED’s 25th anniversary issue asked 25 WIRED icons to nominate the 25 people who will shape the industry’s future. And of course our icons wanted to talk drones. 23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki nominates Keller Rinaudo, cofounder and CEO of Zipline, the company that uses autonomous planes to fly medical supplies like vaccines and blood donations to hard-to-reach places. Zipline now fulfills about a fifth of the blood needs for Rwanda’s rural population, thanks to a contract with the country’s government.
IPO of the Week
It’s never too late to go public. Aston-Martin, the 105-year-old British carmaker that has ferried 007 around since 1964’s Goldfinger, announced this week its plans for an early October initial public offering, at $23.24 to $29.88 per share. That would make the company—which has made some lovely cars of late—worth around $5.3 billion to $6.7 billion.
Stat of the Week
The amount of time, on average, a late-model used Toyota Prius C spends on the the lot, making it the fastest-selling used vehicle in America, according to a survey by iSeeCars.com.
News from elsewhere on the internet
In the Rearview
Essential stories from WIRED’s pastWIRED turns 25 this month, which means we’ve been combing through our archives to see where we’ve been—and figure out where we’re going. Check out this 1997 take on the future of fuel cell-powered vehicles, which features a tech exec goading our writer into taking a sip of bus exhaust. (Everyone survives.)