100 Car2go Mercedes hijacked in Chicago crime spree

Car2go, free-floating car-sharing service owned by Daimler, temporarily shut down its service in Chicago on Wednesday after dozens of Mercedes-Benz vehicles were stolen using the app.

The Chicago Police Department was alerted by Car2Go that some of their vehicles may have been rented by deceptive or fraudulent means through a mobile  app, a spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement to TechCrunch.

The news was first reported via tweet by Brad Edwards, a reporter with CBS Chicago. Edwards reported that sources said that many of the vehicles were allegedly used to commit other crimes. CPD did not provide any details about how the vehicles were used and said the investigation was ongoing.

Car2go launched in Chicago last June, the first time in four years that the company added a U.S. city to its ranks. The car-sharing company lets customers rent out vehicles on a short-term basis. Daimler’s diminutive Smart cars were once the lone option for Car2go customers. The company has expanded its offerings in recent years and now offers Mercedes-Benz CLA and GLA, as well as the two-door Smartfortwo vehicles.

CPD said 100 vehicles are still unaccounted for. It is believed that 50 vehicles, all of them Mercedes-Benz remain in the greater Chicago area. Police are questioning more than a dozen persons of interest.

CPD said it’s working with Car2go to determine whether there are any other vehicles whose locations cannot be accounted for.  At this time the recoveries appear to be isolated to the West Side, CPD said.

While the perpetrators appear to have gained access to the vehicles through “fraudulent means,” Car2go emphasized that no personal or confidential member information has been compromised.

TechCrunch received a tip from a user who received this “temporary pause in service” message when trying to use the app. Car2go confirmed the shut down and added that it will provide an update as soon as possible.

 

Car2go is going through a branding and organizational transition. Daimler  AG and BMW Group officially agreed to merge their urban mobility services into a single holding company back in March 2018 with a 50 percent stake each. In February, the companies announced plans to unify their services under five categories by creating five joint ventures — Reach Now, Charge Now, Park Now, Free Now and Share Now.

Waymo is gearing up to put a lot more self-driving cars on the road

Waymo is opening another technical service center in the Phoenix area, an expansion that will allow the autonomous-vehicle technology startup to double its capacity in the area as it prepares to grow its commercial fleet.

The new 85,000-square-foot center will be located in Mesa and is expected to open sometime in the second half of the year. The company’s existing 60,000-square-foot facility in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler will remain.

The former Google self-driving project that spun out to become a business under Alphabet opened its first location in Chandler, Arizona in 2016. Since then the company has ramped up its testing, launched an early rider program and slowly crept toward commercial deployment. The early rider program, which launched in April 2017, had more than 400 participants the last time Waymo shared figures on the program.

In December, the company launched Waymo One, a commercial self-driving car service and accompanying app. The service isn’t widely available yet and Waymo-trained test drivers are still behind the wheel. (Waymo does have driverless vehicles on public roads in Phoenix.)

This latest announcement signals that Waymo is still committed to its initial plan to eventually cover a large portion of the sprawling metropolis of Phoenix, which is about 600 square miles. Waymo currently operates in Chandler, Tempe, Gilbert and Mesa. It also means local residents will likely encounter more Waymo self-driving vehicles on public roads — an experience that hasn’t exactly sparked joy for some. (There have been several reports recounting fits of road rage directed at these autonomous vehicles.)

Waymo’s global fleet is about 600 cars, the large majority of which are in the Phoenix area. The new technical center will act as a second dispatch center as well as a place to maintain, clean and manage the fleet, according to the company.

It also means Waymo will hire more people in the months ahead. As Waymo noted in a blog posted Tuesday, this is not the first time it has grown its operations in Phoenix. Waymo expanded its full-service center in Chandler last year to 60,000 square feet, a facility that houses its operations and support teams, including fleet technicians, fleet dispatch, fleet response and rider support.

Tesla Model Y orders are now open

Customers can already place an order for the Tesla Model Y, a mid-sized crossover SUV that won’t go into production until 2020.

Tesla requires a $2,500 deposit to complete the order for the all-electric vehicle, according to information posted on its website. A disclaimer on the order form states that “production is expected to begin late next year.” Under that timeline, deliveries wouldn’t begin until late 2020 or possibly early 2021.

There are other clues on the order page, including that the seven-seat interior won’t be available until 2021. The Model Y will come standard as a five seater.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the Model Y on Thursday night at the Tesla Design Studio in Los Angeles. During the presentation, Musk didn’t mention that customers could order the Model Y. That’s a departure from previous events, notably the Model 3 reveal in March 2016, which prompted thousands of people to put down $1,000 deposits.

The Model Y bears a striking resemblance to Model 3, and for good reason. The Model Y shares about 75 percent of the same parts as the Model 3.

The vehicle, which will come in a standard, long range, dual-motor all-wheel and performance variants, is larger than the Model 3, allowing it to accommodate seven people (for those who opt to pay the $3,000 up charge). The order page of the Model Y shows that it comes standard as a 5-seater. To get the 7-seater configuration, customers have to pay an additional $3,000.

The Model Y also sits higher than the Model 3, a distinction that is more obvious once you’re sitting inside. One of the most distinguishing differences is the Model Y has a panoramic roof.

The standard range version will start $39,000 and have 230 mile range. However, Tesla will first produce the performance, dual-motor and long range versions. Customers who want the standard range version of the Model Y will have to wait until at least spring 2021. The performance and dual motor variants will be able to travel 280 miles on a single charge, while the long-range version will, as it sounds, have the longest range at 300 miles.

All of the variants are designed to have the same kind of performance as its smaller sibling. The performance version of the Model Y will be able to travel from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 150 mph.

But that kind of performance comes at a higher price. The performance version will start at $60,000. The dual motor variant will start at $51,000 and the base price of the long-range version will be $47,000.

The Tesla Model Y is a 300-mile range Model 3 doppelganger coming in fall 2020

At first glance, it appeared that Tesla Model 3 had a doppelganger.

After years of teasers and hints, Tesla CEO Elon Musk finally unveiled the Model Y, a mid-sized all-electric vehicle that is slated to hit the marketplace in fall 2020.

The Model Y bears a striking resemblance to Model 3. The vehicle, which will come in a standard, long range, dual-motor all-wheel and performance variants, is a bit larger than the Model 3, allowing it to accommodate seven people (for those who opt to pay the $3,000 up charge). It also sits slightly higher than the Model 3. One of the most distinguishing differences is that the Model Y has a panoramic roof.

And that’s where the differences start to fade away.

The Model Y has the same interior as the Model 3, including the same single 15-inch touchscreen interface as well as other features like the door handles.

The photo below is a Model 3. 

And now, the Model Y. Notice a slightly higher stance and shorter front end.

Other important specs

The standard range version will start $39,000 and have 230 mile range. However, Tesla will first produce the performance, dual-motor and long range versions. Customers who want the standard range version of the Model Y will have to wait until at least spring 2021. The performance and dual motor variants will be able to travel 280 miles on a single charge, while the long-range version will, as it sounds, have the longest range at 300 miles.

All of the variants are designed to have the same kind of performance as its smaller sibling. The performance version of the Model Y will be able to travel from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 150 mph.

But that kind of performance comes at a higher price. The performance version will start at $60,000. The dual motor variant will start at $51,000 and the base price of the long-range version will be $47,000.

Musk didn’t say where the Model Y would be produced, nor did he get into other details beyond the vehicle specs and a vague timeline.

He did provide a bullish forecast for the Model Y, stating towards the end of the event that he expects Y sales to exceed Model S and Model X combined. Tesla has sold more than 500,000 vehicles to date, including the Roadster, S, X and 3.

VW’s futuristic all-electric dune buggy embraces its 1960s’ roots

Volkswagen has added another member to its ever-expanding I.D. line of concept electric vehicles that’s meant to showcase the automaker’s electric future. This time it’s the I.D. Buggy, an all-electric dune buggy with some 1960s California subculture flair.

The I.D. Buggy, which made its global debut Monday at the 89th Geneva International Motor Show, is meant to show the versatility of the automaker’s modular electric drive toolkit chassis, or MEB. The MEB, which was introduced in 2016, is a flexible modular system — really a matrix of common parts — for producing electric vehicles that VW says make it more efficient and cost-effective.

For instance, the two-seater buggy can be converted to a 2+2-seater and an additional electric motor can be added to the front axle in order to make four-wheel drive possible, the company said. The modular design allows for the composite upper body to be detached from the MEB chassis, which VW argues will open up a “world of possibilities for third-party manufacturers, as the original Meyers Manx kit did for the first buggies.” The Meyers Manx kit was the creation of California engineer, boat builder and surfer Bruce Meyers who modified the original Volkswagen Beetle to make it suitable for desert racing. 

The I.D. Buggy is equipped with a a 62kWh lithium-ion battery and a 201-horsepower electric motor in the rear to give it an expected range of 155 miles on the WLTP cycle, the company said. There are no doors or a roof in the two-seater, which VW says gives drivers the “purest experience of classic beach cruising.”

The vehicle has three-dimensional oval LED headlights and taillights and an LED VW logo. The automaker also touts the buggy’s body that seems to “float above the chassis,” an effect achieved by how its painted.

Volkswagen has been showing off its I.D. line of concept electric vehicles for several years now.  And some of them are even going into production. There is the electric all-wheel drive microbus called I.D. Buzz, a futuristic take on the family camper van that VW introduced as a concept in 2017, the I.D. Vizzion self-driving sedan concept, and of course, the I.D. Crozz SUV concept that was first shown at the North American International Auto Show  last year.

The I.D. Crozz and I.D. Buzz are going into production. It’s not clear if the I.D. Buggy will ever be anything more than concept.

Earlier this year, VW announced plans to spend $800 million to expand a U.S. factory in Chattanooga, Tenn., that will produce the automaker’s next generation of electric vehicles.

VW’s Chattanooga expansion is just a piece of the automaker’s broader plan to move away from diesel in the wake of the emissions cheating scandal that erupted in 2015. The company is also building a European facility in Zwickau, Germany, set to begin EV production in 2019 and adding EV-production at facilities in Anting and Foshan, in China, in 2020, and in the German cities of Emden and Hanover by 2022.

The Tennessee factory (along with the other new facilities) will produce EVs using Volkswagen’s MEB chassis. Volkswagen of America says it will offer the first EV based on the MEB platform to customers in 2020. Electric vehicle production at the Tennessee site will begin in 2022.

Daimler and BMW invest $1.1 billion in urban mobility services

Daimler AG and BMW Group officially agreed to merge their urban mobility services into a single holding company back in March 2018 with a 50 percent stake each. And now, they want to unify their services under five categories by creating five joint ventures — Reach Now, Charge Now, Park Now, Free Now and Share Now.

Both automakers plan to invest $1.1 billion (€1 billion) to foster these urban mobility services over the coming years. There are already 60 million people using one of the 14 services currently available.

Let’s go through the details. Free Now is the name of the ride-hailing company, which includes mytaxi, Kapten, Clever Taxi and Beat. Those services combined operate in 130 cities in 17 countries. Hive, a new e-scooter company, is also part of Free Now.

mytaxi, a popular app that lets you hail a taxi from your phone, already sent an email to its customers saying that the company will rebrand its service to Free Now later this year. It’s unclear what’s going to happen to the other brands. Chauffeur-Privé recently rebranded to Kapten, so it sounds like apps and services won’t merge overnight.

Charge Now already exists and is a network of public charge points for electric cars. It provides a white label service for car manufacturers as well. So nothing is changing there.

Park Now combines an existing service called ParkNow (I know, it’s confusing), ParkMobile, RingGo and Park-line. As the names suggest, they all operate parking services.

Share Now is all about free-floating services. Daimler and BMW each had its own service, DriveNow and Car2Go; they’re now under the same roof.

The new Reach Now combines moovel with an existing service called ReachNow. This one is a bit weird as moovel lets you access various transportation methods from a single app. You can find your itinerary, and book and pay for various services through the app. The old ReachNow is different as it’s a ride-hailing service in Seattle and Portland.

That wasn’t easy to unpack. It’s clear that things are still moving and plans aren’t set in stone when it comes to integrations and brand simplification. Eventually, BMW CEO Harald Krüger hopes that all of those services will converge and form an end-to-end service.

“We have a clear vision: these five services will merge ever more closely to form a single mobility service portfolio with an all-electric, self-driving fleet of vehicles that charge and park autonomously and interconnect with the other modes of transport,” he said in the release.

While it sounds like a wild dream, it’s interesting to see that Daimler and BMW are both very serious about mobility services. They know that they can’t just be car manufacturers, and must expand beyond their traditional role.

It’s a competitive industry with well-funded giants, such as Uber and Didi. And if Daimler and BMW want to remain relevant, they need to invest and develop these services.

Daimler and BMW invest $1.1 billion in urban mobility services

Daimler AG and BMW Group officially agreed to merge their urban mobility services into a single holding company back in March 2018 with a 50 percent stake each. And now, they want to unify their services under five categories by creating five joint ventures — Reach Now, Charge Now, Park Now, Free Now and Share Now.

Both automakers plan to invest $1.1 billion (€1 billion) to foster these urban mobility services over the coming years. There are already 60 million people using one of the 14 services currently available.

Let’s go through the details. Free Now is the name of the ride-hailing company, which includes mytaxi, Kapten, Clever Taxi and Beat. Those services combined operate in 130 cities in 17 countries. Hive, a new e-scooter company, is also part of Free Now.

mytaxi, a popular app that lets you hail a taxi from your phone, already sent an email to its customers saying that the company will rebrand its service to Free Now later this year. It’s unclear what’s going to happen to the other brands. Chauffeur-Privé recently rebranded to Kapten, so it sounds like apps and services won’t merge overnight.

Charge Now already exists and is a network of public charge points for electric cars. It provides a white label service for car manufacturers as well. So nothing is changing there.

Park Now combines an existing service called ParkNow (I know, it’s confusing), ParkMobile, RingGo and Park-line. As the names suggest, they all operate parking services.

Share Now is all about free-floating services. Daimler and BMW each had its own service, DriveNow and Car2Go; they’re now under the same roof.

The new Reach Now combines moovel with an existing service called ReachNow. This one is a bit weird as moovel lets you access various transportation methods from a single app. You can find your itinerary, and book and pay for various services through the app. The old ReachNow is different as it’s a ride-hailing service in Seattle and Portland.

That wasn’t easy to unpack. It’s clear that things are still moving and plans aren’t set in stone when it comes to integrations and brand simplification. Eventually, BMW CEO Harald Krüger hopes that all of those services will converge and form an end-to-end service.

“We have a clear vision: these five services will merge ever more closely to form a single mobility service portfolio with an all-electric, self-driving fleet of vehicles that charge and park autonomously and interconnect with the other modes of transport,” he said in the release.

While it sounds like a wild dream, it’s interesting to see that Daimler and BMW are both very serious about mobility services. They know that they can’t just be car manufacturers, and must expand beyond their traditional role.

It’s a competitive industry with well-funded giants, such as Uber and Didi. And if Daimler and BMW want to remain relevant, they need to invest and develop these services.

Daimler and BMW invest $1.1 billion in urban mobility services

Daimler AG and BMW Group officially agreed to merge their urban mobility services into a single holding company back in March 2018 with a 50 percent stake each. And now, they want to unify their services under five categories by creating five joint ventures — Reach Now, Charge Now, Park Now, Free Now and Share Now.

Both automakers plan to invest $1.1 billion (€1 billion) to foster these urban mobility services over the coming years. There are already 60 million people using one of the 14 services currently available.

Let’s go through the details. Free Now is the name of the ride-hailing company, which includes mytaxi, Kapten, Clever Taxi and Beat. Those services combined operate in 130 cities in 17 countries. Hive, a new e-scooter company, is also part of Free Now.

mytaxi, a popular app that lets you hail a taxi from your phone, already sent an email to its customers saying that the company will rebrand its service to Free Now later this year. It’s unclear what’s going to happen to the other brands. Chauffeur-Privé recently rebranded to Kapten, so it sounds like apps and services won’t merge overnight.

Charge Now already exists and is a network of public charge points for electric cars. It provides a white label service for car manufacturers as well. So nothing is changing there.

Park Now combines an existing service called ParkNow (I know, it’s confusing), ParkMobile, RingGo and Park-line. As the names suggest, they all operate parking services.

Share Now is all about free-floating services. Daimler and BMW each had its own service, DriveNow and Car2Go; they’re now under the same roof.

The new Reach Now combines moovel with an existing service called ReachNow. This one is a bit weird as moovel lets you access various transportation methods from a single app. You can find your itinerary, and book and pay for various services through the app. The old ReachNow is different as it’s a ride-hailing service in Seattle and Portland.

That wasn’t easy to unpack. It’s clear that things are still moving and plans aren’t set in stone when it comes to integrations and brand simplification. Eventually, BMW CEO Harald Krüger hopes that all of those services will converge and form an end-to-end service.

“We have a clear vision: these five services will merge ever more closely to form a single mobility service portfolio with an all-electric, self-driving fleet of vehicles that charge and park autonomously and interconnect with the other modes of transport,” he said in the release.

While it sounds like a wild dream, it’s interesting to see that Daimler and BMW are both very serious about mobility services. They know that they can’t just be car manufacturers, and must expand beyond their traditional role.

It’s a competitive industry with well-funded giants, such as Uber and Didi. And if Daimler and BMW want to remain relevant, they need to invest and develop these services.

Cadillac’s first electric vehicle will be a crossover

Cadillac revealed Sunday what will likely be the first electric vehicle in the luxury brand’s portfolio. And surprise, it’s a crossover.

The images of the full-size crossover SUV, which was unveiled during a debut party for the 2020 Cadillac XT6 in Detroit, kicks off a transformation of GM’s luxury brand. On Friday, GM announced plans to turn Cadillac into its lead electric vehicle brand in a bid to compete against Tesla as well as a host of other automakers bringing EVs onto the market.

Cadillac first electric crossover

Not much is known about this crossover yet. Cadillac said the name of the electric crossover and additional details about the vehicle will be revealed closer to launch.

This vehicle will not be based on the electric architecture found on GM’s Chevrolet models, the Volt or the Bolt EV. GM is starting with a clean slate and developing a new battery electric architecture, which Cadillac will be the first to use.

The most advanced components within the platform are the drive units and battery cells, which will be used throughout GM vehicle lineups in different countries, according to the automaker. The EVs can be configured in front-, rear- or all-wheel drive, and the output of their battery systems will be adjustable based on vehicle and customer needs, GM said.

The battery system also will be adjustable, based on vehicle and customer requirements.

This appears to be the beginning of an  aggressive product acceleration for Cadillac. Fresh off of the XT6 crossover reveal, Cadillac also hinted at both a future Escalade and an upcoming performance sedan. Cadillac said it plans to introduce new models at the rate of roughly one every six months through 2021.

GM is getting into the electric bike business

General Motors said it plans to bring two new electric bikes to market next year — one folding and one compact — as the automaker makes a broader push into electrification and other ideas that try to move beyond its traditional business model of producing and selling gas-power vehicles.

The automaker didn’t have a lot of information to share about the e-bikes or its ultimate plans. For instance, Hannah Parish, director of General Motors Urban Mobility Solutions, wouldn’t say if GM plans to launch a bike-sharing service as a result of these two new products.  “I can’t say anything is on or off the table at this point,” she added.

Here’s what is on the menu. The bikes will be “smart” and “connected” and somehow inspired by GM’s OnStar, the company’s subscription-based communications, in-vehicle security and emergency services feature found in cars. Parish wouldn’t elaborate what that might look like. We’ll have to wait until next year.

The bikes are also equipped with safety features including rechargeable front and rear LED lights. And the electric propulsion on the bikes were designed by GM engineers who created a proprietary drive system. 

“We know that people who live in urban areas, like myself in downtown Toronto need different opportunities to use different types of transportation when they going and doing different things. We know that congestion in cities is a problem and the e-bikes feed right into our efforts,” Parish, director of General Motors Urban Mobility Solutions told TechCrunch.

 

GM revealed two eBikes – one folding and one compact.

For now, GM is focused on naming the e-bikes. And it’s turning to the public to help. The company launched a brand-naming campaign Friday as part of its broader e-bike announcement. Folks who want to name the e-bikes can go to www.eBikeBrandChallenge.com. The participant with the winning selection will receive $10,000. Nine other runners-up will each receive $1,000.

Entries will be accepted until November 26. The winning submissions will be announced January 31, 2019.