Pure, simple, clean and utilitarian. This Urban EV Concept is a stark departure from Honda's current vent-laden design language and is all the better for it. The digital displays at the front and back are an interesting idea and could definitely have some interesting applications in advertising, amongst other things. Let's hope that the production vehicle, set to be launched in 2019, resembles this concept as closely as possible.
Correction, 9/09/2017: Some readers have pointed out that the Tesla Model X does, in fact, come standard with autonomous emergency braking (AEB). After calling the Tesla Store in St Leonards, Sydney, I can confirm that all new Tesla Model X and S vehicles come standard with autonomous emergency braking and forward collision warning. The system works as follows:
- From 0-40 km/h the Forward Collision Warning (FCW) system will warn the driver of an impending collision.
- Above 40 km/h, the Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) system will apply the brakes if it detects an impending collision. There is no upper speed limit after which the system will not work, however, the likelihood of the car coming to a complete stop before the potential accident will decrease at higher speeds.
I'm not sure why the particular Model X tested by CarAdvice did not have AEB. Even if the Model X tested was an older model, I would assume that Tesla's fleet of loan/review cars is kept up-to-date with the latest software. I will update this article if I receive further information on the particular Model X used by CarAdvice.
It's important to note that the key point of the article, that essential safety features such as AEB should not be compromised in favour of software development, remains valid. From October 2016 towards the end of April 2017, new Tesla vehicles sold did not have any form of AEB.
The original article continues below:
Paul Maric, reviewing the Tesla Model X 75D for CarAdvice:
"But here is the problem. While we had the car on loan, all the data collected by 'Hardware 1' Tesla vehicles is obsolete. Hardware 1 was Tesla's first iteration of cameras and sensors used for AutoPilot, autonomous emergency braking and radar cruise control.
Now that the camera and sensor count has increased, all of that 'self learning' data is wiped and new data needs to be collected. With other car brands, they test this technology first, implement their learnings and release the vehicle to market. Tesla, instead, uses its customers effectively as test pilots until it has enough data to enable those features.
That means our test car didn't have features like autonomous emergency braking, automatic high beam lights, automatic windscreen wipers, side collision warning, lane departure warning, high-speed automatic steering, automatic lane change, semi-autonomous parking and Tesla's Summon self-parking feature.
You read that right – this car, with an on-road price tag of over $180,000 doesn't have automatic windscreen wipers. That's technology standard on a $20,000 Mazda 2 – even the entry-level $14,990 Mazda 2 has autonomous emergency braking as standard.
We don't really care what excuses Tesla has for this technology being non-existent at the moment, it's not good enough. It's not good enough for a $50,000 car, let alone one worth almost $200,000. Even the top-specification Model X P100D worth over $300,000 doesn't have this technology. You're kidding, right?"
It's understandable that Tesla, as a new player in the automotive industry, needs to be seen as technologically ahead of other automakers to differentiate itself. It's also understandable that in order to maintain this lead, the company will frequently trial and test beta software.
However, basic safety features should never be compromised in favour of software development. When a $14,990 Mazda 2 right at the budget end of the market comes standard with AEB, it's fair to say that the industry across the board can and should deem AEB a safety feature as essential as an airbag. For a $180,000 car to not have this feature is shameful.
It doesn't matter whether the Model X will have this feature soon, or has had it in the past, or that this is a temporary problem. AEB is now a feature so essential that there should never be a point in any vehicle's life-cycle where it is not standard. The fact is, if you walk out of a Tesla showroom right now with a Model X, you cannot have AEB. Tesla has compromised on a crucial safety feature today in favour of better autonomous driving at some point in the future. That is inexcusable.
At this point, I have to reinforce what Paul says in the second paragraph of the quoted excerpt. Tesla may be one of the few (if not the only) manufacturer that delivers seamless, over-the-air software updates to improve their car, much like how Apple updates the iPhone or Google with the Pixel. It should rightly be applauded for this. But other manufacturers also don't remove safety features from their cars and then use the customer as a pawn when developing their replacements. Instead, they take time to develop and throughly test these features to a point where they reliably work well before selling the car to the customer. A comparably priced car from another manufacturer may not have software that will be improved in the future, but it will also come out of the box (so to speak) with essential safety features like AEB that will reliably work well, and won't be removed in the future.
To compare with the approach of a conventional manufacturer, look at the new Audi A8 that has recently been launched. This vehicle today arguably has a superior autonomous driving ability than Tesla's Autopilot. I'm sure Audi could have launched this car 18-24 months ago without AEB or any self-driving features, and then have progressively implemented those features via software updates as it developed its self-driving technology. Instead, Audi took the development time and resources to ensure that these self-driving features work reliably well from the first instance that customers use them. The company is even confident enough with this technology to accept liability if the vehicle crashes whilst driving itself.
There's little doubt that Tesla's focus on technology and making great electric vehicles has caught the attention of the wider public, and has pushed the rest of the industry to compete. However, putting the customer's safety at risk today, by removing AEB, in order to develop self-driving software that will be available at some vague point in the future, is an act by Tesla that is reckless and almost criminal.
Above: Tesla's Model X and Audi's A8
From the Jaguar press release:
"From 2020 all new Jaguar Land Rover vehicles will be electrified. The company made the announcement at its inaugural Tech Fest, a series of debates and a free public exhibition about the future of mobility.
Dr Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Officer, said: “Every new Jaguar Land Rover model line will be electrified from 2020, giving our customers even more choice. We will introduce a portfolio of electrified products across our model range, embracing fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles. Our first fully electric performance SUV, the Jaguar I-PACE, goes on sale next year.”
It's great to see another manufacturer following in Volvo's footsteps and also committing to an entirely electrified vehicle lineup in the near future. Nevertheless, it is important to note the very broad remit that Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has given itself to satisfy this commitment to an electrified lineup; namely 'fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid' vehicles. The term 'mild-hybrid' is quite vague, and could mean simply producing a normal combustion engined car with a capacitor or larger battery to enable automatic engine start-stop and/or regenerative braking, similar to Mazda's i-ELOOP or Peugeot's e-HDI Micro Hybrid technology.
This decision is a step in the right direction. Let's hope, however, that the company decides to focus on fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles rather than slightly modified combustion engine vehicles that are branded as mild hybrids.
From the Jaguar press release:
"Imagine a future of autonomous, connected and electric cars where you don’t own a single car, but instead call upon the vehicle of your choice where and when you need it. That’s a future vision Jaguar Land Rover is exploring with Sayer, the connected steering wheel that could be the only part of the car you own."
Why would you need a steering wheel at all if cars of the future are completely autonomous? I would think something less conspicuous and nostalgic would be more appropriate than talking to an obsolete relic of the past. Perhaps a wearable device or something akin to the smartphones that we already use to request a taxi or an Uber.
Just revealed, here are my initial thoughts on the new Bentley Continental GT:
- The blue paint in the press photos is sensational.
- The exterior design, whilst being an evolution of its predecessor, is clearly much better resolved. The front grille and bonnet are now flush and integrated with the rest of the front bodywork, creating a much more refined appearance than the slightly lumpy previous Continental GT.
- The same can be said of the rear styling. The crisp tail, uncorrupted by spoilers, combines very well with the ovoid tail lamps and exhaust pipes to develop a wide and low appearance. This is a welcome improvement from the ungainly rear of the previous Continental GT.
- I'm very intrigued by the 'Super Formed' process that is used to make the side body. Whilst the exact method is unclear, it has clearly resulted in sharper, more muscular haunches that serve to add further width and definition to the tail.
- With regard to interior architecture, the separated, dual-cockpit design with vertical centre console has been swapped out for a wraparound dashboard with a much stronger focus on the horizontal plane. This is clearly a positive change as it develops a roomier, more airy and open feel to the interior.
- The interior also appears to be a successful melding of VW Group infotainment with Bentley's traditional craftsmanship. This is probably best exemplified in the three sided 'Bentley Rotating Display', which replaces the 12.3 inch infotainment display from the Porsche Panamera with Bentley's own analogue instruments when not in use.
- The new dual-veneer wood, and option of diamond knurling, are both exquisite, and create further opportunity for personalisation as expected at this end of the market. This level of craftsmanship, combined with VW Group technology, is a step up from other GT competitors such as the Aston Martin DB11.
- Being based on the new MSB platform jointly developed with Porsche and also used in the new Panamera, this Continental should be a much sportier drive than its VW Phaeton based predecessor.
Overall, the new Continental GT is a very impressive vehicle at first glance, with stunning interior and exterior styling. Perhaps more than any other GT, it demonstrates how advanced technology from one of the world's largest automakers, together with traditional craftsmanship, is an unbeatable combination.