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Uber’s Travis Kalanick To Sell 29 Percent Of His Stake For $1.4 Billion 5
Jan
Posted by Michael Karkafiris in Reports, Uber on 01 5th, 2018


The former Uber CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick is planning to sell 29 percent of his stake in the ride-hailing company.

Kalanick, who has boasted in the past that he would never sell any of his shares in Uber, will earn around $1.4 billion from the transaction with the SoftBank Group and a team of investors who have already agreed to buy equity valuing Uber at $48 billion, according to Bloomberg which cites inside sources.

Kalanick, who currently owns 10 percent of the company, offered to sell as much as half of his shares but he had to trim back the amount due to the limits set in an agreement between Uber and the buyers.

If the transaction goes through, Kalanick will turn from one of the wealthiest people on the world on paper to an actual billionaire for the first time. He was pressed to resign last year from the CEO position, following Uber’s legal troubles and a series of government investigations into how the company is doing business.

The deal is expected to close later this month, and once it’s finalized, Uber will go through a number of reforms that will effectively reduce Kalanick’s influence at Uber.

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Uber Is As A Taxi Service, EU Court Rules 20
Dec
Posted by Michael Karkafiris in Reports, taxi, Uber on 12 20th, 2017


Uber should be classified and regulated like other taxi operators according to a ruling from European Union’s top court, a ruling that could impact more online services in Europe.

This is the latest in a long series of legal battles the ride-sharing company is involved in, with Uber arguing that they’re simply a digital application acting as an intermediary between drivers and customers looking for a ride and thus should be treated more lightly by EU regulations, Reuters reports.

“The service provided by Uber connecting individuals with non-professional drivers is covered by services in the field of transport,” the European Court of Justice said. “Member states can, therefore, regulate the conditions for providing that service.”

The case followed a complaint coming from a professional taxi drivers’ association in Barcelona, Spain which talked about Uber’s misleading practices and unfair competition from the ride-sharing company’s use of non-professional drivers, a service called UberPOP and which has since been suspended in Spain and other countries.

The European case is regarded as an indicator of how the so-called gig economy, which includes other services such as food delivery and more, would be regulated in Europe.

The court said that Uber “exercises decisive influence over the conditions under which the drivers provide their service” and that without the Uber mobile app “persons who wish to make an urban journey would not use the services provided by those drivers.”

This decision will not have an immediate impact on how Uber is operating in Europe currently, as it already has cut back the use of unlicensed drivers adhering to the local transportation laws.

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Uber User Charged Over $14,000 For 20-Minute Ride In Toronto! 13
Dec
Posted by Brad Anderson in Reports, Tech, Uber on 12 13th, 2017


If you’ve ever taken an Uber ride, there’s a good chance that you’ve been left flabbergasted by the cost added to your bill when factoring in the surge pricing. However, you’ve probably never been as shocked as one Uber user in Toronto recently was.

On December 8, a local from Toronto took an Uber for the roughly five-mile journey between 12a Widmer Street and 30 The Queensway. Typically, an UberX journey between these two spots will cost roughly $15 CAD but instead, the final bill ended up being more than 1000 times that.

A friend of the Uber user in question took to Twitter to share a screenshot of the crazy ride that cost an eye-watering $18,515.80 CAD ($14,394.55).

The Comeback reports that when the rider raised his concerns with Uber, the controversial ride-hailing company refused to back down from the excessive fair. Fortunately, Uber has since changed its mind, admitting that it was a mistake and issued a full refund.

“There was an error and we have provided a full refund. We sincerely apologize to this rider for his experience.

“We have safeguards in place to help prevent something like this from happening and we are working to understand how this occurred,” Uber said.

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VW Is Going After Uber With New Ride Sharing Electric Minibus 4
Dec
Posted by Michael Karkafiris in concepts, Electric Vehicles, MOIA, Uber, VW, VW Concepts on 12 4th, 2017


VW Group’s MOIA mobility startup has revealed a six-seater electric minibus concept specifically made for ride pooling.

The new concept was presented at the 2017 TechCrunch in Berlin just one year after its inception, featuring standalone seats with plenty of legroom and things like dimmable reading lights, USB ports and of course WiFi for the passengers.

Luggage can be stored next to the driver while the automated door and optimized handlebar make getting in and out of the car easier. No technical details were revealed, apart from a driving range of 300km (186 miles) and the ability to recharge up to 80 percent of its battery in 30 minutes.

“The car represents total comfort and is a crucial piece of our consistent service experience. We developed it using our co-creation process, which involved multiple rounds of potential users of various age groups testing cars and providing feedback. Many of the ideas from this process went directly into the development of the car. We’re also working on other future versions as well,” says Robert Henrich, MOIA COO.

MOIA’s entire “ecosystem” is scheduled to launch in Hamburg, Germany at the end of 2018, including the new electric minibus. The goal is to replace 1 million cars on European and U.S. cities by 2025. The first fleet of vehicles in Hamburg will start out with 200 cars and scale up to 1,000 in the coming years.

“In 2018, we’ll be ready to launch our ride pooling concept internationally and take the first steps toward our goal of reducing the number of cars in major cities by one million in Europe and the USA by 2025,” says Ole Harms, MOIA CEO.

The new ride-pooling service will work through a mobile application, similar to what other services are doing –including Uber. The app will tell you which cars are available and how much the ride will cost before you book a trip. MOIA will group passengers with similar destinations together through a special algorithm, in order to increase the capacity of each car and avoid detours.

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VW Is Going After Uber With New Ride Sharing Electric Minibus 4
Dec
Posted by Michael Karkafiris in concepts, Electric Vehicles, MOIA, Uber, VW, VW Concepts on 12 4th, 2017


VW Group’s MOIA mobility startup has revealed a six-seater electric minibus concept specifically made for ride pooling.

The new concept was presented at the 2017 TechCrunch in Berlin just one year after its inception, featuring standalone seats with plenty of legroom and things like dimmable reading lights, USB ports and of course WiFi for the passengers.

Luggage can be stored next to the driver while the automated door and optimized handlebar make getting in and out of the car easier. No technical details were revealed, apart from a driving range of 300km (186 miles) and the ability to recharge up to 80 percent of its battery in 30 minutes.

“The car represents total comfort and is a crucial piece of our consistent service experience. We developed it using our co-creation process, which involved multiple rounds of potential users of various age groups testing cars and providing feedback. Many of the ideas from this process went directly into the development of the car. We’re also working on other future versions as well,” says Robert Henrich, MOIA COO.

MOIA’s entire “ecosystem” is scheduled to launch in Hamburg, Germany at the end of 2018, including the new electric minibus. The goal is to replace 1 million cars on European and U.S. cities by 2025. The first fleet of vehicles in Hamburg will start out with 200 cars and scale up to 1,000 in the coming years.

“In 2018, we’ll be ready to launch our ride pooling concept internationally and take the first steps toward our goal of reducing the number of cars in major cities by one million in Europe and the USA by 2025,” says Ole Harms, MOIA CEO.

The new ride-pooling service will work through a mobile application, similar to what other services are doing –including Uber. The app will tell you which cars are available and how much the ride will cost before you book a trip. MOIA will group passengers with similar destinations together through a special algorithm, in order to increase the capacity of each car and avoid detours.

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Autonomous Ride-Sharing Fleets Could Slash Demand For Owner-Driven Sedans 4
Dec
Posted by Brad Anderson in Autonomous, Lyft, Reports, Tech, Uber, video on 12 4th, 2017


A new study suggests that the rise of autonomous ride-sharing fleets could halve the demand for owner-driven sedans in the United States by 2030.

According to consulting firm KPMG, the likes of Uber and other ride-sharing companies will initially roll out fleets of autonomous taxis in densely populated urban and suburban areas. As more companies, including Waymo and General Motors, enter the market with their own alternatives, the cost of using a self-driving taxi will drop drastically.

The result? A potential fall from the current 5.4 million sedans sold in the U.S. annually to just 2.1 million, as many individuals and families will opt out of owning a vehicle and simply hail a ride instead, CNBC reports.

If the study’s findings come to fruition, there could be just three or four carmakers building small and midsize sedans in the U.S. by 2030.

For the moment, it appears as though the SUV and crossover markets won’t be dramatically affected by the introduction of autonomous fleets.

VIDEO



Uber-Waymo Trial Delayed As Judge Discovers Uber Withheld Evidence 3
Dec
Posted by Brad Anderson in Autonomous, Google, Reports, Tech, Uber, Waymo on 12 3rd, 2017


A U.S. judge has delayed the impending trial between Uber and Waymo after discovering that the ride-hailing company withheld evidence in a lawsuit filed by Waymo.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Alsup was provided with a 37-page letter fromr former Uber security analyst Richard Jacobs’ lawyer. Uber should have provided Waymo with a copy of this letter as both sides prepared their respective cases and, well, it didn’t.

In turn, Judge Alsup agreed to Waymo’s request for the trial to be delayed from its scheduled start next week, Reuters reports.

Speaking in the court, Judge Alsup hit out at Uber’s decision to withhold evidence: “I can’t trust anything you say because it’s been proven wrong so many times. You’re just making the impression that this is a total cover-up.”

In the letter, it is alleged that there was an organization within Uber dubbed ‘marketplace analytics’ whose sole purpose was “acquiring trade secrets, code base and competitive intelligence.”

In his testimony, Richard Jacobs said the operation within Uber aimed to gather data about competitors and erase any possible paper trail.

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Uber Teams Up With Mahindra To Test EVs In India 25
Nov
Posted by Michael Karkafiris in Electric Vehicles, India, Mahindra, Reports, Uber on 11 25th, 2017


Uber announced their new partnership with Mahindra to pilot electric vehicles on its platform in India.The plan is for Uber to deploy hundreds of electric vehicles on the streets of Delhi and Hyderabad by the March of 2018, with the option of expanding the pilot program to other cities.

“For how long this pilot will go on is difficult to predict. It will require adequate progress in engagement with our stakeholders before we plan to expand to other cities,” Madhu Kannan, Uber’s chief business officer for India, told Reuters.

With this move, Uber becomes the second company launching an EV pilot program in the country, following local rival Ola which has already launched its own program in Nagpur and plans to expand it on a large scale by next year.

As part of the deal, Uber will subsidize the cost of an electric vehicle for its drivers and Mahindra will also provide finance, insurance and maintenance. The two companies will also work with third parties to set up a charging infrastructure for the cars in Hyderabad.

Mahindra recently said that they plan to invest 6 billion rupees ($93 million) over the next three years for the development of electric models. The company is currently working on two passenger cars, including one with Ssangyong, which is owned by the Indian manufacturer.

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Uber Paid Hackers To Keep Breach A Secret; How To Check If You’re At Risk 23
Nov
Posted by Michael Karkafiris in Reports, Uber, video on 11 23rd, 2017


After suffering from a massive breach that had the data from 57 million riders and drivers stolen, Uber paid the hackers to conceal the event which was kept a secret until now.

The huge hack took place in October 2016 and only now the ride-hailing giant came forward and made the official announcement.

The stolen data included names, email addresses and phone numbers of 50 million Uber customers as well as the personal information on seven million Uber drivers, including around 600,000 driver’s license plates.

Uber claims that no social security numbers, credit card information, trip location details or other were taken during the attack. The company also says that it paid the two individuals responsible for the attack $100,000 in order to delete the stolen data and remain quiet.

Drivers who had their license numbers exposed are being individually notified, with Uber providing them with free credit monitoring and identity theft protection. The company is also in contact with regulatory authorities.

Uber has fired its chief security officer Joe Sullivan and one of his deputies for their role in keeping the breach a secret. During the time of the attack, Uber was in the middle of negotiations with U.S. regulators who were investigating separate claims of privacy violations.

The ride-hailing firm now acknowledges it had a legal obligation to report the hack to authorities and to the affected drivers. Instead, they decided to pay the hackers in order to delete the data and remain silent about the attack.

“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it. While I can’t erase the past, I can commit on behalf of every Uber employee that we will learn from our mistakes”, said Dara Khosrowshahi who became Uber’s Chief Executive Officer last September and claims he didn’t learn of the attack until recently.

“We are changing the way we do business, putting integrity at the core of every decision we make and working hard to earn the trust of our customers.”

Following Uber’s announcement, NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched an investigation into the hack while Uber was also hit with a lawsuit over the breach by a customer, seeking class-action status.

What should you do about it?

Uber drivers can find out if their data was stolen on this link. Uber says that the affected accounts belonging to riders are currently monitored and have been additionally updated with extra fraud protection but there’s currently no official way of finding out if your rider’s account has been breached.

Uber claims that outside forensic experts “have not seen any indication that trip location history, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers or dates of birth were downloaded”.

That’s not exactly reassuring so you may want to take some real precaution measures, like changing your password, set up credit monitoring, going through your accounts for any suspicious activity and even issuing a credit freeze to allow you complete control over new transactions.

VIDEO



Uber Creating Tech To Eliminate Motion Sickness In Autonomous Cars 22
Nov
Posted by Brad Anderson in Autonomous, Reports, Tech, Uber on 11 22nd, 2017


Uber is hoping to ensure its upcoming fleet of self-driving vehicles don’t trigger car sickness among passengers.

To do so, the ride-hailing company has applied for a patent on a selection of technologies to counter motion sickness, The Guardian reports.

In the patent are features like light bars and screens that signal the car’s intentions, vibrating and moving seats, and a flow of air that targets the face and other parts of the body in order to prevent passengers from getting sick. Uber doesn’t intend on providing stimulation to mimic the experience of the car moving, but instead wants to distract the brain when the car turns, accelerates or brakes.

In the patent, Uber says, “With the advent of autonomous vehicle technology, rider attention may be focused on alternative activities, such as work, socializing, reading, writing, task-based activities and the like.”

“As the autonomous vehicle travels along an inputted route, kinetosis (motion sickness) can result from the perception of motion by a rider not corresponding to the rider’s vestibular [balance and spatial orientation] senses.”

One intriguing feature of autonomous vehicles from Uber could be seats that automatically adjust their pitch, roll and/or yaw depending on what the car is doing.

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Uber Fined $8.9 Million In Colorado For Employing Unqualified Drivers 21
Nov
Posted by Brad Anderson in Reports, Tech, Uber on 11 21st, 2017


Uber has been fined $8.9 million in Colorado for allowing 57 people to drive with the company despite not meeting requirements.

During a probe into the ride-hailing company, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission said it discovered 12 drivers with felony convictions, 17 with significant moving-vehicle violations and three drivers with a special license only issued to those with drunk-driving convictions.

In a statement issued to Automotive News, commission director Doug Dean said the drivers should never have been permitted to work for Uber.

“We have determined that Uber had background check information that should have disqualified these drivers under the law, but they were allowed to drive anyway.”

Uber claims that it had made an error in its background check process in Colorado and is working to correct the issue.

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Uber Getting Thousands Of Autonomous Robo-Taxis From Volvo 20
Nov
Posted by Sergiu Tudose in Autonomous, Reports, SPA, Tech, Uber, VOLVO, Volvo XC90 on 11 20th, 2017


Volvo will be supplying ride-sharing giant Uber with up to 24,000 autonomous drive compatible vehicles between 2019 and 2021.

These cars will be based on Volvo’s fully modular Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), which is currently being used on the Swedish automaker’s 90-series cars, as well as on the new XC60 SUV.

“The automotive industry is being disrupted by technology and Volvo Cars chooses to be an active part of that disruption,” said Volvo boss, Hakan Samuelsson. “Our aim is to be the supplier of choice for AD ride-sharing service providers globally. Today’s agreement with Uber is a primary example of that strategic direction.”

These base XC90 premium SUVs that will be supplied to Uber feature all necessary safety, redundancy and core autonomous driving technologies required by the ride sharing company. The only thing left for Uber to do is add its own self-driving features.

“We’re thrilled to expand our partnership with Volvo”, said Uber’s head of auto alliances, Jeff Miller. “This new agreement puts us on a path towards mass produced self-driving vehicles at scale.”

When asked when Uber might be debuting these self-driving cars in the U.S., Miller told Autonews that it’s “sooner than most people think,” adding that his company’s objective is to “be able to operate them [the cars] without anyone behind the wheel in select cities and environments.” In other words, he’s talking about Level 4 autonomous driving, as level 5 is still far off into the future.

“I don’t know of anyone in the world who is saying they will be able to do Level 5, which is autonomous all the time everywhere in every use case.”

Even though Uber won’t be fiddling with the XC90’s powertrain, Miller also said that several modifications had to be made to the car’s steering and braking systems.

“Those are two elements that we are making modifications to so the vehicle can operate as a Level 4 autonomous vehicles as opposed to just Level 2 or Level 3. We also have to embed sensors around the vehicle. In addition to what you see on the roof, there are several sensors behind the fascia of the vehicle.”

Of course, the fact that they’re starting off with the existing XC90 makes things easier on both companies.

“This would not be possible if it was a special [one-off] vehicle,” confirmed Samuelsson.

While providing Uber with these AD-compatible cars, Volvo will also use them for its own independent autonomous car strategy, which should lead to the release of a fully autonomous model in 2021.

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UK Tribunal Says Local Uber Drivers Are Employees 15
Nov
Posted by Brad Anderson in Reports, Tech, Uber on 11 15th, 2017


An employment tribunal in the UK has concluded that Uber drivers in the country are not independent contractors and instead, employees of the ride-hailing company.

At the heart of the case were James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, two men challenging Uber on behalf of a group of 19 drivers. They alleged that the company had denied them basic protections awarded to employees by suggesting that they were self-employed.

The ruling means that Uber must ensure its drivers in the UK receive a minimum wage and paid time off, points which will conflict with the firm’s current hiring model that involves workers without formal contracts.

In an interview with The New York Times after the tribunal ruling, Aslam said thousands of drivers will be affected by the decision.

“You can hide behind technology, but the laws are there, and they need to be obeyed and respected. The impact of this ruling could affect thousands of drivers, and not just drivers but millions of workers across the U.K. It just means we can’t be exploited,” he said.

This isn’t the first time Uber has caused headlines in the UK. In September, London’s regulator of public transportation, Transport for London, decided against renewing Uber’s license to operate in the capital city.

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Uber Accepts $10 Billion Investment, Will Limit Kalanick Influence 15
Nov
Posted by Brad Anderson in Reports, Tech, Uber on 11 15th, 2017


Uber has accepted an investment of up to $10 billion and will limit the control of former chief executive Travis Kalanick.

Bloomberg reports that Uber has agreed to let SoftBank Group Corp and other firms invest up to $1 billion in the ride-hailing service. The companies will then proceed with a tender offer in coming weeks to purchase up to $9 billion in shares from existing investors.

In a statement, Uber said the investment will secure its longevity.

“We’ve entered into an agreement with a consortium led by SoftBank and Dragoneer on a potential investment. We believe this agreement is a strong vote of confidence in Uber’s long-term potential. Upon closing, it will help fuel our investments in technology and our continued expansion at home and abroad, while strengthening our corporate governance.”

As part of the deal, Uber shareholder Benchmark Capital will drop a lawsuit it has against Travis Kalanick. The former chief executive will retain his position on the firm’s board of directors and keep his power to appoint two extra seats. However, further changes he may want will require a majority approval from the board.

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Study Says Ride-Hailing Services Will Lead To Declining Car Sales 14
Nov
Posted by Sergiu Tudose in Electric Vehicles, Lyft, PHEV, Reports, Study, Uber on 11 14th, 2017


According to a study by IHS Markit, global car sales will be on the decline over the next two decades as consumers are set to embrace on-demand car-hailing services.

While about 80 million vehicles per year are currently sold in the U.S., Europe, China and India, these numbers are anticipated to drop to 54 million over the next 23 years.

The study also points to all-electric vehicles accounting for about 19% of all-sales by the year 2040, with plug-in hybrids accounting for another 14% of sales. Meanwhile, cars powered by petrol or diesel will make up about 62% of new car sales in the previously-mentioned markets.

“A great ‘automotive paradox’ – where more travel via car than ever, but fewer cars will be needed by individuals – will be a defining quality of the new automotive future,” said IHS Markit, vice chairman, Daniel Yergin, while adding that this shift is “just the beginning.”

The mobility service industry itself will buy more than 10 million cars in 2040 in the four markets analyzed in this study. This would mark a significant increase compared to the roughly 300,000 used in 2017, reports Autonews.

Ironically, even though fewer cars will be sold in the future, demand for petroleum is expected to go up, from the current 98 million barrels per day, to 115 million barrels in 2040 – however, it’s important to note that cars will only account for a third of total oil demand.

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