Tesla Also Showed a Pickup During its Semi Presentation

Tesla made waves last night with the debut of its first-ever semi truck and its second-generation Roadster sports car, but those weren’t the only new Tesla products shown.

The automaker also debuted a rough design for a pickup truck during the presentation. As you may be able to tell from the sketch above, Tesla’s idea for a pickup is far from ordinary. This design concept is for a pickup based on the Tesla Semi and, as you can see, it would theoretically be capable of carrying a regular sized pickup in its bed. Unlike a regular, diesel semi-truck, however, you wouldn’t need a special license to drive this beast – just your standard Class D license.

Whilst this idea is neat, it’s far from being a reality. Tesla has a lot on its plate right now between the production ramp-up of the Model 3 and bringing the Semi and Roadster to market, so we doubt this zany idea for a huge pickup is a priority. If anything, it’s an interesting design exercise to help Tesla gauge the interest in electric pickup trucks both with consumers and commercial entities.

This article appears also at AutoGuide.com

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Volkswagen Blitzing China with $12 Billion Dedicated To Electric Vehicle Production

Volkswagen is substantially investing in Chinese electric vehicle production having announced $12 billion dollars earmarked for development and building electric vehicles in that burgeoning market.

The increase in VW’s commitment comes in response to upcoming regulations, including a 2019 requirement for automakers in China to adhere to EV production quotas. Its action plan includes the production of 15 new energy vehicle models (NEV) and 25 locally produced vehicles. Its local vehicle launch will start in the first half of 2018, in conjunction with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group (JAC Motors), Volkswagen’s joint venture partner.

The goal is to leverage JAC Motor’s local expertise and platforms to meet government regulations until Volkswagen is capable of venturing out on its own.

In a statement ahead of the Guangzhou Auto Show, Jochem Heizmann, president and chief executive of Volkswagen Group China, said that Volkswagen hoped to increase new energy vehicle sales to 400,000 a year by 2020, breaking a 1.5 million NEV annual sales goal by 2025.

“China is leading the way to the final breakthrough in the adoption of e-mobility and Volkswagen Group China is determined to be at the forefront,” said Heizmann.

All in all, Volkswagen’s long-term broader vision is to build electric versions of all of its 300 models, with expenditures of $24 billion dollars by 2030, per Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller’s September announcement ahead of the Frankfurt Auto Show.

China has been one of the world leaders in tighter emissions control regulations over the past year, with new schemes designed to increase EV production.

Among them is a mandate authorizing that 8 percent of Chinese vehicle sales account for electric vehicles, a credit system, and an outright ban on all petrol and diesel cars by 2040. These mandates have helped cooperation efforts between U.S. automakers and Chinese partners.

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Ford Files Autonomous-Drive Patent to Help Off-road Vehicles Navigate that Odd Rock Formation

This week Ford secured a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a new off-road autonomous driving system.

The patent focuses on off-road obstacle detection and response, with Ford describing a semi-autonomous/autonomous system using a combination of sensors, radar, LiDar, topographical map data, and cameras to digest and interpret data regarding off-road obstacle passage, redirection, and avoidance. An obstacle capable of being sidestepped or crossed over would alert and calibrate the vehicle’s active suspension system to move forward. A second alert warns passengers in the event an obstacle cannot be cleared.

A variety of new applications have been attributed to Ford’s latest offroading patent. Rollover risks would alert passengers to exit, and unsafe routes could trigger the system to suggest an alternative route. Multiple settings could be activated, such as a rock crawling, ditch crossing, or ground clearance avoidance modes that adjust the vehicle’s suspension accordingly.

Suspension settings would also adjust the vehicle’s suspension in full autonomous or semi-autonomous modes, calibrating its computer-controlled springs, shocks, roll-bars, ride height, and others.
Ford’s patent application includes details of a remote device override capable of nullifying the off-road system’s autonomous output to use the driver’s discretion.

Several diagrams produced by Ford describe the system in greater detail, illustrating scenarios with sketches and flowcharts with decision paths and outcomes based on a set of conditions (e.g., when the system detects a rollover risk.)

To date, there have been relatively few offroad autonomous or semi-autonomous assistance systems. One example is Toyota’s Crawl Control technology, which equips the Land Cruiser, 4Runner TRD, and Tacoma TRD with sensors to detect driving conditions and toggle acceleration and braking settings to each wheel for greater control. However, Ford’s patent enables the computer to take control of the entire vehicle without driver intervention.

No details have yet to be provided on a timetable or plan to put Ford’s new off-road autonomous driving system into production.

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