Will Toyota buy Google's robots? (AutoComplete, Ep. 21)What would Toyota do with Boston Dynamics? More Takata recalls, and inside Silicon Valley's secret test track.
[MUSIC] Hello, folks, welcome to AutoComplete. It's Roadshow's weekly podcast of all the news going on at the intersection of cars and technology. I'm Brian Cooley, Editor-at-Large. Interim chief Tim Stevens is overseas working on something very interesting. We'll talk about that soon. New on Road Show this week, in case you missed it, I took a look at Silicon Valley's kind of secretive test track. A place called gomentum station that is built at what used to be a naval weapons depot. Which, I used to cover some stories that, a long time ago before I was doing tech news. Went back there now, some 30 years later, and saw what it's doing now as a place for cars to learn to drive themselves. Check that out. Over at the roadshow.com. We also got our Chris Faulker in Detroit out in the new Sixteen Mercedes G Voggin, twelve cylinders. Forty years of history. Two hundred and twenty three thousand dollars and he's really conflicted. Check that out. And we have a brand new episode of our rivals series posting where we put a bunch of Cars that compete head on in the marketplace to our test. This time, we took a bunch of really mainstream sedans, the Civic, the Elantra, and the Corolla and tried them out head to head on the steep streets of San Francisco's hills. Not your typical, flat suburban driving. But let's see how they handle much tougher yet still urban terrain. An interesting take on those cars. All that waiting for you at The Road Show .com. Let's check out this week's news. Of course, more Takata recalls. It wouldn't be a week in automotive without it. Let's see, another 1.1 million cars and SUVs from GM, Volkswagen, Mercedes, BMW, Jag, Land Rover, and the Daimler van division got rolled into the latest total Of the Takata airbag recalls. Total now about 15 car makers, virtually every major car maker. 16 and a half million vehicles are now formally recalled in the US. Now know that there are still cars out there that will be recalled even though they're not yet formally so carrying these bad Takata igniters. We've got about 100 million vehicles around the world now. that have these bad Takata airbags in them, in various states of recall. The day before that announcement Ford recalled a variety of cars for airbag issues. This time on the passenger's side, not the driver's side. We've got '05 to '11 Mustangs, '06 to '11 Fusions, MKZ, Zepher, Milan Seven to ten edge and MKX and seven to 11 Rangers. Again, typically, with these it's not every car in those model years, it may be certain production runs. So don't just freak cuz I just rattled off your model, year, and make of car. You gotta do the check. Safercar dot gov. Or, you could do it the old school way and go to your dealer's service desk and say, check my vent, what's going on here? Now, with all these Takata recalls, and they're just getting into silly numbers now, there are still more that are coming, which is interesting. A report that came out from the senate, based on some NHTSA data, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this week, pointed out The Toyota, Fiat/Chrysler, Volkswagen, Mitzu, are the four car maker's they've documented that are currently still building and selling new cars with likely future recalled airbags. So the pipeline hasn't necessarily been cut off at the top yet. While we're still trying to work the bottom of the situation, where the cars have already gone out on the market and try to capture all of those. So this will continue to spread. This report said that the automakers said that yes they are still selling new cars that have these ammonium nitrate inflators in them which are the core of the problem with takata airbags. It's legal to sell them by the way. They're not breaking any laws. But they got to then, still, recall them by 2018. So there are cars that haven't even been sold yet, that are needing to be recalled later, once unlucky you or me buy them, then have to bring them back. It's just an amazing All slick. Across the auto industry with Takata. Interesting story coming out of the Nikkei news in Japan. Not yet confirmed by Toyota, that I know of. But Toyota, reportedly, is going to be buying Boston Dynamics and a company called shaft. These are both robotics firms that are owned by Alphabet. The parent of Google. What's interesting here is you might know Boston Dynamics, that name rings a bell. Boston did a lot of really, really interesting kinda creepy human and animal-like robots for the Department of Defense for the most part. You've seen these in videos the last couple years and they're amazingly anthropomorphic in the way that they move, react, are impossible to knock or tip over. Unfortunately their aspirations to sell those in mass to the Department of Defense cooled recently. As I understand, because these machines make so much noise, kind of blows your battlefield sneaky advantage. Right? But now Toyota's snapping up these companies. The question is, what will they use the technology for? Will they go into robotics that is in the form of a self driving car? Or are they really going to buy up this technology to continue their efforts at humanoid robots in homes. Which Toyota and Honda are almost uniquely focused on in the auto industry. Most other car companies don't care about making home partner robots that will help people that are, that have infirmities or disabilities what have you, but Toyota and Honda really do. Toyota in particular in this case. When we come back, we're going to check out the updates on the Nissan GTR including one that happens on the window sticker that's a little bit eye watering, and we'll also find out who made, just recently, the biggest investment in Uber when Auto Complete returns. [BLANK_AUDIO] [MUSIC] Welcome back to Auto Complete. I'm Brian Cooley from Road Show at the roadshow.com. Tim Stevens is on the road this week. If you're a GT-R fan, really who isn't Latest on the 17 GT-R that we just gleaned from an early press event in Belgium with the car. Is the new MSRP is gonna be $110,000. Remember, the GT-R was kind of a steal when it first came out. What was it, about 70 grand? And then it's been creeping up ever since. And of course, that's before a lot of pretty lardy options you can put on it. Now it's $110,000 car base. We're getting up into low supercar. Part of that is the new titanium exhaust. Those aren't cheap, in this case clearly not. They revised the cabin, as we mentioned earlier. It's a much nice place now. And that is part of the cost increase. This is the one gets me. Silver paint, which to me is the best color on a GTR. There's a $3,000 option. Silver is like white it should be one of your basic colors right but in this case if you want that beautiful silver over a nice black interior which I think is just the best looking GTR, you're gonna pay 3 grand for the paint. It's just not that special a color, I found that a little bit odd. Uber's got a big investment that just came in from the government of Saudi Arabia, $3.5 billion, a huge investment, the largest ever in the company as I understand it, and this, of course, now values Uber at something like $63 billion. New York Times crunched those numbers. Just to indicate that even though Uber is this large, and seems very established company, they've still got a lot of folks saying I wanna get in, on what they still perceive to be the ground level. And that's what's so interesting about Uber, as big and comprehensive as it seems to have become, many betters are putting a lot of money behind the idea that it has just begun To grow and change the market out there for transportation services. Speaking of changing, the BMW is changing the i division. i3, the little electric car. i8, the super hot plug-in hybrid quasi-supercar Those were very much focused in the past. The I line on being electrified. Now their going to push the electrified part to the back burner a bit and say yeah our I cars will be electrified but the real significance of I, BMW now, is going to be autonomy. And this is interesting, because BMW is not one of the companies that come to mind first. When you talk about autonomous cars they come to mind like second, they are doing a bunch of work in the area but they haven't been at the very front of the pack in this area. That to me is changing now, they are moving their i division, their boutique technology. Technology showcase into self driving first and electrified second. So, keep an eye on those announcements. Apparently, has been quite a big shop link of the people and the mission of the eye division just this week, we're learning about. We told you about smart cities competition going on. Coming up in a few days, the 7 finalist are going to Washington DC to make their final pitches On why they should be selected as the city in the US to become a smart city with government help and government funding. The seven finalists are Austin, Texas, Columbus, Ohio, Denver, Colorado, Kansas City, Missouri, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco. Those are the seven. They're going to make their final pitch on June 9th. In Washington D.C., and they will get up to 40 million dollars from the U.S. department of transportation. It's being watched as being a very interesting competition, where you'll find companies like Uber, startups, many other companies all converging on whoever the winner is, to do some really interesting stuff. If you wonder why Model 3 is gonna cost so much less, I mean a lot less, below 40, certainly base Out the door. We're talking about now, carving away at the corners. Obviously it's gonna be, we expect a simpler car. You saw the interior, the cabin of it. It almost looks kinda like a kit car, like someone just made a basic car and stuck Like a tablet on a windshield mount. I'm sure that'll get dramatically revised before market, but one o f the ways they will cut corners, as I understand, Elon Musk says, yes, Model 3 users should not expect that they will have the same access to the Supercharger network that Model S and Model X users have always enjoyed. You know, Superchargers, where you get what, about 160, 170 miles of range in about a half an hour. It's an amazing charge technology. It goes a long way toward resolving long drive anxiety but Model 3 folks are likely gonna have to pay for that. I doubt it's gonna cost a ton of money considering all the other benefits they get from the car, however it is a class distinction, right? We're seeing some classism, if you will, amongst how Tesla services its different emerging tiers. A virus. A last note for you is either going to be great or horrible, it depends on what you thought about it originally, the Kia Hamsters are back. If you saw a movie this past weekend you may have noticed there were some ads before the movie and you may have seen that one of them was a Kia Hamster ad. Kia is back. I'm not sure these are on TV yet. We've got some you're looking at right there. It's a screwy thing, it's about 3,000 hours of animation work to bring the hamsters back. More of them than ever, and the ad makes no sense to me, but hey, it's a lot of fun. And I was a big hamster fan on the Kia campaign, so I'm glad they're back. I'm just not quite sure why they're having a hootenanny. And what that has to do with the Kia brand, but I guess it's all about making it more fun and positive and celebratory. You can't have too much of that. Thanks for watching. That's Auto Complete for this week. We're back at you in a week with more of the news in cars and technology, and every time you wanna hit the latest on what's happening with cars, you've gotta go to The Road Show, theroadshow.com. I'll see you next time when we check it all out. [MUSIC]