Auto IQ weekly news roundup, including Ford, GM, Google, Porsche and VW



Tom Phillips
09/06/2019

This week, we’ve been pondering the whether electric cars can stimulate the senses in the way that an ICE-powered car can.

We decided to take it literally, too, taking a look at how the cars we’re used to trigger each sense, and how an EV might do the same, or different. Feels especially pertinent in the week that Porsche unveiled its first electric car – the Taycan.

Here’s a couple of other stories that we spotted this week:

Ford bugs out

Interesting article from Ford’s autonomous vehicle systems core supervisor, Venky Krishnan, about the work the firm is doing to keep its self-driving car sensors free of bug splats and bird poo. Apparently, Ford already has over 50 patents on the subject, and the article goes on to detail how the firm has devised a way to channel air up and around roof-mounted sensors that help blow insects out of the way.

Sometimes this isn’t enough, so an algorithm-driven water jet figures out when and how severe a particular bug splat is and squirts it out of the way. Interesting stuff…

GM goes Google

Across the other side of Detroit, GM has announced that it has partnered with Google to add the latter’s full Android Automotive OS, including its voice assistant, navigation and in-vehicle apps, to Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles from 2021. GM joins Volvo and Polestar – the Polestar 2 E being the first car to launch with the full system – and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance in going all-in with the Google system.

GM says its decision was driven by customer feedback that said they ‘prefer an embedded technology experience in the vehicle, and increasingly expect seamless integration between the tech in their hands and the tech in their vehicle,’ which is a long way of saying customers are fed up with the fact that their phone’s apps are miles better than anything offered in their car. Having experienced the Google Automotive system ourselves, we reckon it’s a smart decision.

Elon Musk and the Taycan

Regardless of whether you think the new Porsche Taycan is a rival for a Tesla Model S, it’s hard not to be intrigued by how Tesla CEO Elon Musk would react. Luckily we didn’t have to wait long, with Musk tweeting ‘Um @Porsche, this word Turbo does not mean what you think it does,’ in reference to the EV adopting Porsche’s ICE-powered car naming conventions.

Naturally, the chat that follows revolves around Tesla’s use of the word Supercharger and Autopilot, which could be equally disputed.

Musk also tweeted that the Model S will be out on the Nürburgring next week, with the Taycan’s time of 7 minutes 42 seconds in its sights. It’s likely to be a close-run thing. And, if the Tesla goes quickest, it’s likely to go by the book too, entering its record in the new-for-2019 official standardised lap record table, which Porsche elected not to do.

Electric new-old Beetle

VW is really hammering the message hard that its electric powertrain components are flexible and modular. Its latest application is a kit of parts derived from those used on the newly-uprated e-Up to electrify the classic Beetle.

The new-old e-Beetle has been put together by VW partner eClassics, and will debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week. It has a top speed of 150kmh (93mph) and a range of 200km (124 miles). The e-powertrain parts are also being developed to power the classic VW Bus and a Porsche e-356 is also on the cards.

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