When it comes to autonomous vehicle adoption, the conversation should pivot from “when” to “where it makes sense. - Photo via Depositphotos.

When it comes to autonomous vehicle adoption, the conversation should pivot from “when” to “where it makes sense.

Photo via Depositphotos.

How do you make sense of it all? Hot Takes is our ongoing analysis of recent mobility news from a fleet perspective. 

In the early days of telematics, implementation came with conversations about “Big Brother” tracking drivers’ every move. Today, the biggest trend in telematics is camera technology, both facing the road and trained on the driver. Cue the Big Brother talk anew. One carrier is paying drivers extra if they allow installation and it’s not a requirement. Is this the right approach

When it comes to autonomous vehicle adoption, the conversation should pivot from “when” to “where it makes sense.” Joe Moye of Beep, an Orlando, Fla.-based autonomous mobility solution company, explains specific industry applications where minimizing human intervention can have the biggest impact.

Anne Mellano of Bestmile, a mobility services platform provider, describes how autonomous shuttles are being deployed in last-mile transportation. These deployments require minimal new infrastructure and can get up and running quickly, while they move at speeds that are slower and safer than private autos.

One industry application in which autonomy will come sooner is package delivery. In Phoenix, Waymo is partnering with UPS on a pilot to shuttle packages using self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans from UPS stores to sorting facilities for processing. The stakes are so high between UPS, FedEx, and now Amazon that none can afford to stay on the autonomy sidelines. 

Staying on autonomy: Sure, envisioning a completely driverless environment is like imaging flying cars and jetpacks from The Jetsons. But autonomous technology continues to edge incrementally into automotive design. Updates to Cadillac’s Super Cruise include hands-free lane changing, bringing it closer to Tesla’s Autopilot system. General Motors is making sure to communicate that the system “will continue to require the driver to focus on the surroundings during the lane change.”

Over at Waymo rival Cruise, GM’s autonomous division, the vision of shared autonomous mobility is taking shape with Cruise Origin, a design made for driverless transportation: no steering wheel, pedals, knobs, or dials, meaning a lot more room for passengers with the same size as an SUV today. It’ll be deployed in ride-hailing services most likely in San Francisco, though no launch date has been announced.

Remember the time when you didn’t have to plunk down $500 to “reserve” a vehicle — you just went to a dealer and bought it? When it comes to vehicle electrification, welcome to the new hype machine: 

Between Elon Musk’s infamous Tesla Cybertruck reveal, an electric Ford F-150 prototype pulling a train, the star-studded unveiling of Ford’s Mustang Mach-E, and now GM’s video of the coming electric Hummer, there’s a whole lot of teasin’ going on with little in the way of concrete details. Let’s take it in stride until we get battery specifications, firm release dates, production numbers and availability, and real-world pricing.  

Another growth area in electrification, particularly on the commercial side, are the nascent makers of “skateboard” chasses and power systems that can be fitted with various bodies based on application. They just got some new competition in the U.S. as Australian SEA Electric has landed in California, in Torrance, Bobit’s hometown.

Sometimes we need to let go of our commonly held assumptions on battery electric vehicles (BEVs). The first: They aren’t automatically the “greenest” vehicles. Hybrid vehicles, yes, hybrids — with electric propulsion and internal combustion engines — took nine of the top 12 spots in the 23rd edition of the well-respected American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s GreenerCars’ ratings

The Toyota Prius Prime Plug-In Hybrid (which incidentally placed as the highest residual value of any vehicle in a Vincentric electric vehicle/gas-powered vehicle study) took the top spot. 

And while powering an electric vehicle is consistently cheaper than fueling an ICE vehicle if you do it at home, electricity can cost you almost twice as much if you’re not prudent with public charging stations, as these road trippers from Motor Trend found out. 

That said, the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) credits a drop in CO2 emissions from leased cars in the U.K. to a rise in BEV lease registrations

And finally, did you see the Fleet Forward Conference video recap? We’ll be announcing 2020 dates and venue soon. 

About the author
Chris Brown

Chris Brown

Associate Publisher

As associate publisher of Automotive Fleet, Auto Rental News, and Fleet Forward, Chris Brown covers all aspects of fleets, transportation, and mobility.

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