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Month: November 2018

Self-driving Volvo trucks to transport stone from Norwegian rock quarry

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Volvo is taking its commercial truck business autonomous. Last week, the company announced that experimental self-driving trucks will lug stone from a Norwegian rock quarry to a port where the raw materials are shipped elsewhere.

The agreement between Volvo Trucks and Brønnøy Kalk AS will see six self-driving trucks move limestone from a quarry to a nearby port. It’s the first agreement of its kind for Volvo Trucks and a unique one at that. Rather than Brønnøy Kalk AS purchasing the trucks for its business, Volvo Trucks will be paid for the service. Charges will incur for every ton of limestone delivered from the quarry to the port. Along the way, the self-driving trucks will tackle five kilometers (about 3.1 miles) of travel before they reach the port.

DON’T MISS: Volvo begins delivering cars through its subscription program

Raymond Langfjord, Managing Director of the mine, said the new service is a game-changer for the business and imagined it will help increase efficiency dramatically. And it’s needed as the market goes more global and competition increases for the Norwegian mine.

The trucks will have an onboard operator should anything go wrong, but Volvo Truck is confident the vehicles will have no issues making their way through tunnels, the mine itself, and out to the nearby port.

Volvo said tests are ongoing at the quarry and each has been carried out successfully. They’ll continue through the end of 2019 before the new service goes fully operational.


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2019 BMW i3 Review, Ratings, Specs, Prices, and Photos

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Rear engine, carbon fiber, and an exotic shape might get hearts soaring, but the 2019 BMW i3 takes a different tack.

This year, the small electric BMW gets a bigger battery over last year’s version by nearly one-third, but its 42.2-kwh battery and 153-mile range still fall short of competitors.

We give the 2019 BMW i3 a 5.6 on our overall scale, which is weighted heavily toward the i3’s electric powertrain. Its comfort and features belie its high price of more than $44,000 to start. The i3 is available with or without range extender, with or without an uprated motor (i3s), and in Deka, Giga, Mega, and Tera trim levels that BMW calls “Worlds.” (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Review continues below

The i3’s looks have aged better than we imagined, although it’s still an oddball on the road. The i3 harks back to a not-so-distant past when “eco-friendly” wasn’t mainstream.

The i3 is small, with a futuristic shape that may not ever arrive in the present. The interior is toned down compared to the outside, simple, and chic without being nerdy.

The i3 is powered by a 170-horsepower electric motor that drives the rear wheels. It’s paired this year to a 42.2-kwh battery that provides up to 153 miles of range, according to the EPA. A sportier i3s is available that bumps the power output to 184 hp but uses the same battery and is rated the same for range.

A range-extended version adds a small 2-cylinder gas-powered engine that adds roughly 90 miles of range.

Like all electric cars, the i3’s instant torque is fun to drive and it is brisk compared to other cars powered by gasoline alone, but the i3 (and i3s) fall short of sporty compared to some other electrics.

Its skinny tires give up grip quickly but are a boon to overall efficiency. The i3 manages to be comfortable despite tall tires.

The i3 surprisingly offers four passenger doors, but the rear doors are small and swing open in the opposite direction of driver and passenger doors. Rear seat riders shouldn’t be tall, just 31 inches of leg room cramps leggy passengers from sitting comfortably in the rear. About 15 cubic feet of cargo space is available with the rear seats in place, nearly 40 cubes with the second row folded.

The i3 lacks a complete set of safety ratings, but what’s in so far is good. The IIHS rates the i3 as “Good” in all crash tests it’s performed but rated the headrests as “Acceptable.”

The i3 is available in four trims that rise in price but offer mostly similar equipment. For more than $44,000 to start, buyers get a 10.2-inch touchscreen with one year of Apple CarPlay compatibility, 19-inch wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, and cloth upholstery. The sportier i3s adds $3,200 to the bottom line, and the range-extending gas engine adds more than $3,800 to the already-high price.

The i3 qualifies for a federal tax rebate up to $7,500 and may be eligible for state or local rebates.

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Scooter renter Lime gets into the car-share business

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Lime, best known for bicycle and scooter rentals, wants to try its hand at the car-share business. The company will launch a fleet of Fiat 500 models across Seattle in a bid to expand its business.

The company announced the car-share service will begin this week with the Fiat 500s spread out across the city. Lime users will see the cars marked as icons on the company’s smartphone app. They won’t be difficult to miss since Lime has branded and painted them white with various shades of lime green.

Lime has operated bike sharing in Seattle for just over a year, and recently tried to launch a scooter sharing service in the city. Local officials blocked the launch for the scooter business, but did so for every company—not just Lime. Pete Dempster, the program manager of LimePod, said most customers take trips that are just three miles long, which provides ample opportunity for the company. The service won’t break the bank, either. A Lime car will cost $1 to unlock and 40 cents per mile driven.

ALSO SEE: Lyft beats Uber, launches its own scooter service

Customers can unlock the cars via the smartphone app; no key is necessary.

Lime even covers paid parking for those who rent out one of its 500s. The company inked a deal with the city to cover up to $1,730 per car, per year. Lime plans to launch about 500 cars in Seattle. 

The company isn’t alone in recognizing different needs in urban environments. General Motors launched its Maven mobility service that also rents out vehicle via a car-share service. It has since expanded to include long-term rentals for freelance workers and peer-to-peer car sharing.

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