Ends of eras can be bittersweet. Back at the opening of 2010s, there was much optimism about new transportation technology—how it might, say, make it easier to abandon personal cars in favor of “sharing economy” solutions. This week, the Daimler- and BMW-owned service Share Now announced it would depart from the US, the latest sign that more companies are probing whether those sorts of transportation businesses can make money in the long term.
This year also marks the end of federal tax credits for Tesla buyers; the company has sold enough cars that it’s aged out of the program. Does that mean that electric vehicles are off and running, or that there’s lots of work to do? Well, probably both.
Still, going into the 2020s, we at WIRED are feeling optimistic about lots of things on wheels. For example: electric bikes. Check out our review of the Christini Fat E-5, which features a 1,000-watt motor, 50 miles of range, and all-wheel drive. Who needs a car-share when super-bikes are on offer? It’s been a week—nay, a decade. Let’s get you caught up.
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Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week
Meet the giant surveillance balloons floating above the southwest US, part of one company’s plan to collect and sell high-res images of Earth to the government and private companies.
This all-wheel-drive e-bike was built to combat winter and win.
A GM and Tesla lobbying effort fails to extend the federal electric vehicle tax credit, which means those seeking to buy EVs from those companies in 2020 won’t get a little extra help from the federal government.
A racing champ critiques cinema’s greatest driving scenes, including moments from The Fast and the Furious movies and Talladega Nights.
The North American collapse of Share Now (née Car2Go) marks the end of a transportation era.
The National Transportation Safety Board reviewed last year’s fatal crash of a New York City sightseeing helicopter, and called the rotorcraft—which killed five when it plunged into the East River—a “death trap.”
How the Air Force resurrected old F-16s and transformed them into drones for live-fire exercises.
Pricey Half-Second of the Week
One of the most fun things about owning a Tesla is the constant tweaks and improvements. This week, the electric carmaker rolled out an especially merry one: For $2,000, owners of dual-motor Model 3s can take a half-second off the car’s 0 to 60 time. A click and a virtual credit card swipe will take speed demons from a 4.4-second acceleration time to just 3.9 seconds.
Stat of the Week
The share of US residents 16 and over who reported driving under the influence of marijuana in 2018, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control—accounting for 12 million people in all. Eight percent, or 20.5 million, said they had driven under the influence of alcohol that year. Researchers are still working to understand the associations between marijuana use and motor vehicle crashes. But they have found that “co-use” of pot or other illicit drugs with alcohol definitely increases the risk of impairment, and of a crash.
News from elsewhere on the internet
Boeing says it will temporarily stop making the troubled 737 MAX amid the company’s difficulties obtaining permission from US and global regulators to put the airplane back into service.
Uber will pay $4.4 million to settle a 2017 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sex discrimination charge stemming from numerous reports of sexual harassment.
California regulators want to know why ride-hail companies don’t believe a law written to transform their drivers into full-time workers doesn’t apply to them.
Uber partners with aerospace company Joby Aviation, with plans to launch a “flying taxi” service by 2023.
WaPo investigates what your car knows about you: “Mason … extracted the data from a Chevrolet infotainment computer that I bought used on eBay for $375. It contained enough data to reconstruct the upstate New York travels and relationships of a total stranger. We know he or she frequently called someone listed as ‘Sweetie,’ whose photo we also have. We could see the exact Gulf station where they bought gas, the restaurant where they ate (called Taste China), and the unique identifiers for their Samsung Galaxy Note phones.”
Related: Car hacking got more common in 2019.
The California DMV now will allow self-driving, light-duty vehicles doing commercial work—like delivery—to test on public roads.
In Ohio: “We have a lot of needs right now, and Hyperloop is sucking a lot of the oxygen out of the room.”
Behind the scenes at the SoftBank Vision Fund, which is responsible for huge investments in transportation tech.
2019 was a terrible year for cyclists in New York City.
In the Rearview
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