The Month in Transportation – February

By John Halpin | Associate Account Director

Welcome to our latest review of news from across the transportation world.

Every month, we’ll share interesting links, thoughts and more about the transformation of transportation.

Go west (for self-driving cars), young man

On February 28, the California Public Utilities Commission issued permits to General Motors (Cruise) and Alphabet (Waymo) to allow for passenger service in autonomous vehicles with safety drivers present.

So, if you’re in the Bay Area, you can book a fare-based, autonomous ride from Cruise in San Francisco, and from Waymo in parts of San Francisco and San Mateo counties. Cruise can operate at up to 30 miles per hour, while Waymo vehicles can travel at speeds up to 65 mph. If there’s heavy fog or heavy rain, the services will not be available.

Who’s interested in living on the edge by riding down Lombard Street (a.k.a. The World’s Crookedest Street) in a self-driving car?

How much range does your EV need?

Yeah, we know. Your decision on whether or not to buy an electric vehicle might depend on that long-overdue family drive to the Grand Canyon. Just where are all the charging stations along the way, anyway?

This article from CNET suggests that people worry too much about range when shopping for an EV, noting that more range means a more expensive vehicle. One example cited: A Nissan Leaf with 226 miles of range costs $6,600 more than the same trim level with 149 miles of range.

The lede paragraph sums things up well:

“If you’re considering an electric vehicle, don’t make the mistake of buying one with too much range. Unlike combustion engine cars with virtually unlimited range, electric cars make the most sense when they have the right amount of range, not a surfeit of it.”

5G: Great for download speeds, but maybe not planes

In early February, a congressional subcommittee hearing was held to address a controversy involving the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the rollout of 5G towers.

According to the Los Angeles Times, it seems that some planes encounter impaired visibility when in close proximity to 5G cell towers, but details are murky. The FCC claims that there’s enough buffer between towers and flight paths, and that 40 other countries have launched C-Band 5G service without any issues.

The FAA and aviation groups say that those countries have less powerful 5G signals or impose other restrictions on the service to prevent interference.

House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio might have hinted as to which side he’s on when he said, “Having a dropped call is way less serious than having a dropped airplane.”

Stay tuned for more information (probably via your faster wireless service, thanks to 5G).

Industry news: Meritor, Cummins join forces

Cummins has agreed to buy Meritor (an HMH client) for $3.7 billion, the companies announced on February 22. Cummins’ engines and components will join forces with Meritor’s leading-edge electric axle and brake technology to “position Cummins as one of the few companies able to provide integrated powertrain solutions across combustion and electric power applications,” according to a Meritor press release.

Connected vehicles offer new revenue streams

Remember BlackBerry, the really cool keyboard-centric phone that everyone had before smartphones entered our lives? Well, BlackBerry (the company, not the phone) QNX is the world’s leading embedded operating system for the automotive industry, used by all seven Tier 1 suppliers and nine of the top ten OEMs.

Auto Finance News reports on connected vehicle technology’s impact on the auto industry, noting that 95 percent of all new vehicles sold globally will be connected by 2030. The article identifies BlackBerry’s intelligent vehicle data platform (IVY) and Solifi’s open finance platform as two drivers of revenue and data-driven opportunities.

Spanning the globe in public transportation

We enjoyed this article from EcoWatch identifying “Eight Places with Awesome and Innovative Public Transportation.” Highlights include car trains in Switzerland, electric trains in Shanghai that travel at speeds up to 375 mph, solar-powered buses in Australia, and self-driving boats in Amsterdam.

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