LG and Hyundai are building a $4.3 billion EV battery cell factory in the US

Korean companies LG and Hyundai are teaming up to build a new EV battery cell manufacturing plant in the US and have signed a memorandum of understanding to invest $4.3 billion in the project. The companies will each hold a stake of 50 percent in the joint venture, which will start construction on the new plant in the second half of 2023. Their new manufacturing facility will be located in Savannah, Georgia, where Hyundai is also building its first all-EV factory in the US. The battery plant is expected to be operational by 2025 at the earliest. After it starts production at full capacity, it will be able to produce 30GHWh of battery every year, which is enough to support the production of 300,000 electric vehicles.

LG and Hyundai are just the latest companies to invest in US-based battery manufacturing facilities over the past couple of years. Toyota announced in 2021 that it will build a battery plant in the country as part of a $3.4 billion investment, while Ultium Cells (GM's and LG's joint venture) secured a $2.5 billion loan from the Energy Department for the construction of EV battery facilities. More recently, Ford announced that it's spending $3.5 billion to build a lithium iron phosphate battery plant in Michigan. Lithium iron phosphate, which can tolerate more frequent and faster charging, costs less than other battery technologies and could bring down the cost of EVs.

Other companies could follow suit, seeing as the Biden administration is pushing to bring more EV and battery manufacturing to the US. Last year, it launched the American Battery Materials Initiative, which will give 20 companies $2.8 billion in grants in hopes of encouraging manufacturers to start battery production stateside and making sure that the US won't be heavily dependent on "unreliable foreign supply chains."

Hyundai and LG believe that the new facility can help create "a stable supply of batteries in the region" and allow them "to respond fast to the soaring EV demand in the US market." Hyundai Mobis, the automaker's parts and service division, will be assembling battery packs using cells manufactured in the plant. The automaker will then use those packs for Hyundai, Kia and Genesis electric vehicles. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/lg-and-hyundai-are-building-a-43-billion-ev-battery-cell-factory-in-the-us-121519593.html?src=rss

The Morning After: Ford and Tesla sign EV-charging pact

Ford has become the first major automaker to leap into bed with Tesla after the US government pushed to make EV charging more widely accessible. The carmaker has signed a deal, starting spring 2024, so selected Ford EVs can slurp down power at some Tesla Supercharger stations. As part of the pact, Ford said, from the 2025 model year, it’ll switch to Tesla’s open-source North American Charging Standard (NACS) on its vehicles. Meanwhile, existing models that still use the (more or less) global standard Combined Charging System (CCS) will be able to pick up a Tesla-designed adapter to bridge the gap.

The deal is surprising, especially given the relative power, size and prestige of the two companies involved. Ford, one of the world’s biggest car makers, is ceding control of its charger future to a relative minnow, albeit one that built a sizable own-brand charging network. Not to mention it runs the risk of creating a NACS–CCS EV-charging format war, which may erode consumer faith in EVs. After all, if you pull up at a gas station anywhere in the US, there should be a one-size-fits-all way to get fuel in your tank without worrying about the size of the pipe.

– Dan Cooper

The Morning After isn’t just a newsletter – it’s also a daily podcast. Get our daily audio briefings, Monday through Friday, by subscribing right here.

The biggest stories you might have missed

TikTok is testing an AI chatbot for content discovery

Twitter says startups can 'experiment' with its data for $5,000 a month

Twitch is raising prices for its ad-free Turbo service

YouTube Stories are going away on June 26th

Virgin Galactic completes its final VSS Unity flight test before space tourism debut

The best passive bookshelf speakers for most people

Google Play Games for PC is now available in Europe and New Zealand

Abode's entry-level Smart Home Security Kit only costs $160 but drops HomeKit support

The Arc internet browser lets you customize (or vandalize) any website

Acer’s 16-inch Predator Triton and Swift Edge laptops are for gamers and creators

Google begins opening access to generative AI in search

At least for those who signed up for the Search Labs waitlist.

At I/O, Google showed off SGE, its experimental system to incorporate generative AI inside its search results. Now, the company’s answer to Bing AI is open for testing, at least to users who signed up to the Search Labs waitlist. Once they’ve received the email saying they have access, they can type into the Google search bar – there’s no separate chat window like Bing – to get AI-generated search results, which they can either expand or choose to ask follow-up questions.

Continue Reading.

Neuralink receives FDA clearance to begin human trials of its brain-computer interface

It’s a small but vital step on the road to Elon Musk getting wires into people’s brains.

Neuralink, Elon Musk’s controversial brain-to-computer interface startup, claims the FDA has approved it to begin human trials. The regulator hasn’t yet confirmed the claim, and while the company has said it’s not yet recruiting for a human trial, this approval makes one possible. In a tweet, Neuralink wanted to celebrate the “incredible work” taken by its team to secure the FDA’s blessing, not mentioning it was rejected back in March after it was revealed that more than 1,500 animals implanted with the technology had died.

Continue Reading.

MoviePass relaunches nationwide with a new pricing model

$10 a month for three movies ain’t such a bad deal.

After months of testing, MoviePass’ all-you-can-eat cinema subscription has relaunched itself across the US. This new version will offer you a tiered subscription plan, with the lowest offering charging you $10 a month for three screenings. It might not be the crazy bargain the previous version offered, but it’s still a damn sight cheaper than most single tickets. And if you’re a real cinephile, you can pay up to $40 a month for 30 screenings, which is staggering on a per-movie basis.

Continue Reading.

Sci-fi strategy game 'Homeworld 3' has been delayed to February 2024

The further delay will enable developers to give the title more polish.

Image of the mothership, and fleet, from Homeworld 3
Gearbox Publishing / Blackbird Interactive

Homeworld 3, the long-awaited second sequel to the groundbreaking space-based RTS, has been further delayed until February 2024. It’s the second time the title has been pushed back, with developers Blackbird Interactive asking for more time to polish and refine the title. Given that Homeworld 2 debuted in 2003, the two-decade wait for a true follow-up (yes, I’m ignoring Deserts of Kharak) is going to test the idiom “good things come to those who wait” to its very limits.

Continue Reading.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-morning-after-ford-and-tesla-sign-ev-charging-pact-111556450.html?src=rss

Ford EV drivers will get access to 12,000 North American Tesla Superchargers next spring

Last February, the Biden administration unveiled its $5 billion plan to expand EV charging infrastructure across the country. Not only with the Department of Transportation help states build half a million EV charging stations by 2030, the White House also convinced Tesla to share a portion of its existing Supercharger network with non-Tesla EVs. On Thursday, Ford became the first automaker to formalize that pact with Tesla, announcing during a Twitter Spaces event that "Ford electric vehicle customers access to more than 12,000 Tesla Superchargers across the U.S. and Canada," starting in Spring 2024, per the company release.

Because Teslas uses a proprietary charger port design for its vehicles, Ford owners will initially need to rely on a Tesla-developed adapter connected to the public charging cable in order to replenish their Ford F-150 Lightning, Mustang Mach-E and E-Transit vehicles. Ford also announced that, beginning with the 2025 model year, it will switch from the existing Combined Charging System (CCS) port to Tesla's now open-source NACS charge port. These 12,000 additional chargers will join Ford's 84,000-strong Blue Oval charging station network.   

“Tesla has led the industry in creating a large, reliable and efficient charging system and we are pleased to be able to join forces in a way that benefits customers and overall EV adoption,” Marin Gjaja, chief customer officer of Ford Model e, said in the release. “The Tesla Supercharger network has excellent reliability and the NACS plug is smaller and lighter. Overall, this provides a superior experience for customers.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/ford-ev-drivers-will-get-access-to-12000-north-american-tesla-superchargers-next-spring-221752191.html?src=rss

Ford will add AM radio to EVs following concerns over emergency alerts

The next big update to your Ford EV might bring some decidedly old technology. Ford chief Jim Farley has revealed that the brand will add AM broadcast radio to its 2023 Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning models through a software update following discussions with politicians about the emergency alert system. It will also be included on all 2024 Ford and Lincoln vehicles, including the previously announced Mustang coupe.

Ford cut AM radio from its 2023 EVs after data showed that less than 5 percent of customers used it, according to spokesperson Alan Hall. The company was also concerned about interference with the EV system, and was trying to reduce cost and manufacturing challenges. You could still stream AM stations, but conventional broadcasts weren't available.

The decision comes less than a week after a bipartisan group of senators and House representatives introduced a bill, the AM for Every Vehicle Act, to require the older radio format in new cars without charging a premium. They believe AM is "essential" during emergencies, and that removing it could put public safety at risk. A trade group that includes Ford, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, claimed the measure was unneeded as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can deliver alerts through FM, satellite and streaming.

This isn't an altruistic gesture, then, and it's unclear how Ford will address potential interference problems. Even so, this may be good news if you live in an area prone to natural disasters. You can buy EVs from Ford knowing you'll get potentially life-saving warnings. This also applies pressure to BMW, Tesla and other vendors that have dropped AM radio in newer cars.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/ford-will-add-am-radio-to-evs-following-concerns-over-emergency-alerts-164841361.html?src=rss

Vinfast’s first EV is almost ready for the world

If you want to lose a lot of money, become an automaker. Cars are incredibly difficult to build and scaling manufacturing is nearly impossible. It took Tesla years to get the Model 3 to market after bringing the Model S and Model X to the road. So Vietnam's VinFast decision to become an EV automaker after it spent a few years building vehicles based on BMW's platform is sort of insane. And yet, this week we had the opportunity to drive the VF 8, the first VinFast EV to land in the United States.

Driving the VF 8 in San Diego was a stark reminder of the difficulty of building a vehicle. While we were impressed with what the company has done, we also have to report that the VF 8 electric SUV needs work if it's going to truly compete with the rest of the US EV market.

Oddly, VinFast had us drive the lease-only California edition that's actually only available in the Golden State. It has a shorter range than its competitors and the standard version of the vehicle that's hitting US shores right now.

Overall though, we found the car needs a few more months of tweaks (most of which are software) to battle it out in the increasingly competitive mid-size electric SUV market. But don't count them out: VinFast has the foundation to be a major player sooner than you think. Watch our first drive video below for the full story.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/vinfasts-first-ev-is-almost-ready-for-the-world-190049624.html?src=rss

Google is bringing Zoom, Teams and Webex meetings to Android Auto

At I/O 2023 today, Google shared a few updates for both Android Auto and Android Automotive OS. Perhaps the biggest news is that Google is working with Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex to bring those virtual meeting apps to Android-equipped vehicles. If the thought of joining a video call in your car sounds like a driving hazard, don't worry: the meetings will be audio only with simplified controls on the infotainment display.

Google is also rolling out Waze in the Google Play Store for all vehicles with Google built-in. This means the popular navigation app will be available outside of just Android Auto and beyond Volvo and Polestar models. What's more, the company is allowing developers to integrate the instrument cluster with their navigation apps. As you might expect, this will put turn-by-turn directions in the driver's line of sight. Plus, developers can access vehicle data like range, fuel level and speed to give drivers even more insight on their trips. 

Waze for Android Automotive OS
Waze in the Chevrolet Blazer EV

Google has added new app categories to the Android for Cars App Library. That repository now allows developers to add IoT and weather apps for use in vehicles. For example, The Weather Channel app will be available alongside existing software like Weather and Radar later this year. The company is also making it easier for media apps (music, audiobooks, podcasts, etc.) to port their software to Android Auto and Android Automotive OS.

Additionally, the company has new categories for video and gaming apps in its library, with the goal of expanding to browsing apps soon. These are specifically designed for use when the car is parked or by passengers. YouTube is now available for all automakers to add to cars with Google built-in. Google says Polestar, Volvo and other "select partners" have committed to adding the video-streaming app via over-the-air updates. In terms of games, the initial slate includes Beach Buggy Racing 2, Solitaire FRVR, and My Talking Tom Friends. What's more, Google plans to add multi-screen support to Android Automotive OS 14, which will allow "shared entertainment experiences" between drivers and passengers. 

YouTube for Android in cars
YouTube inside a Polestar vehicle

Google says Android Auto will be available in almost 200 million cars by the end of 2023. The company also says that the number of cars with their infotainment systems powered entirely by Android Automotive OS with Google built-in should nearly double by the end of the year. That latter figure is spurred by adoption by automakers like Chevrolet, Volvo, Polestar, Honda, Renault and more. In March, GM announced it would phase out Android Auto and CarPlay in its EVs in favor of Android Automotive.

Follow all of the news from Google I/O 2023 right here.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/google-is-bringing-zoom-teams-and-webex-meetings-to-android-auto-200029169.html?src=rss

Volvo’s compact electric SUV will be called the EX30

Volvo has revealed the name for its upcoming fully electric small SUV in a teaser showing its official launch date. The vehicle is called EX30, and a previous report from the Auto Express suggests that it's targeting MINI's electric vehicles. Volvo first teased the compact SUV when it announced the EX90, which the company calls its "safest car ever," last year. Apparently, it shares several design components with the EX90, including its sharply angled hatchback form factor and its tail light. 

The EX30 will reportedly use the electric vehicle platform developed by Volvo parent company Geely. Smart, an automative brand established as a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and Geely, already used the platform for its compact electric SUV called the #1. That's why Auto Express expects the EX30 to be available as a 268-horsepower single-motor vehicle like the #1 or as a 400-horsepower four-wheel drive vehicle similar to Volvo's older EVs.

Like other automakers, Volvo Cars aims to go fully electric by 2030 and unveiled its first electric vehicle, the XC40 Recharge SUV, back in 2019. It also launched a curvier version of it, the C40 Recharge, in 2021. The automaker will officially unveil the EX30 on June 7th, when the vehicle will also be available for pre-order in select markets. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/volvos-compact-electric-suv-will-be-called-the-ex30-090534679.html?src=rss

Qualcomm is buying auto-safety chipmaker Autotalks

Qualcomm has agreed to acquire an Israeli fabless chipmaker called Autotalks, and according to TechCrunch, the deal will cost the company around $350 to $400 million. Autotalks creates chips and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication technologies dedicated towards boosting road safety for both ordinary and driverless vehicles. In its announcement, Qualcomm said that Autotalks' "production-ready, dual mode, standalone safety solutions" will be incorporated into the Snapdragon Digital Chassis, its set of cloud-connected assisted and autonomous driving technologies. 

Nakul Duggal, senior VP of automotive for Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., said in a statement: "We have been investing in V2X research, development and deployment since 2017 and believe that as the automotive market matures, a standalone V2X safety architecture will be needed for enhanced road user safety, as well as smart transportation system... We share Autotalks’ decades-long experience and commitment to build V2X technologies and products with a focus on solving real-world road user safety challenges. We look forward to working together to deliver global V2X solutions that will help accelerate time-to-market and enable mass market adoption of this very important safety technology."

For makers of driverless and driver-assisted vehicles and systems, ensuring people that their technologies are safe is of utmost importance if they want to win them over. They may have to offer safety features that can assuage people's fears in order to get ahead of their rivals, since most people remain apprehensive about self-driving cars.

Qualcomm expects the automotive industry to be one of its biggest sources of growth and revenue over the coming years. At CES last year, it unveiled the Snapdragon Ride Vision platform, which is an "open, scalable and modular" tech automakers can use to build cars. And in late 2022, it said its automotive business pipeline, or its revenue-generating opportunities, had jumped to $30 billion from the $10 billion it announced during its previous earnings report. The company also said back then that it estimates its automotive business revenue to hit $4 billion by fiscal year 2026. It credited the Snapdragon Digital Chassis for the expansion of its future business opportunities, and Autotalks' acquisition could grow its customer base and client offerings even further. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/qualcomm-is-buying-auto-safety-chipmaker-autotalks-120131989.html?src=rss

Tesla unveils Model S Plaid track package that unlocks a top speed of 200 MPH

Tesla has unveiled a $20,000 track package for the Model S Plaid, finally allowing it to reach the 200 MPH top speed the automaker promised when it was first announced. The Model S Plaid vehicles the company delivered after they became available could only reach around 163 MPH, which is fast, but not 200 MPH fast. Turned out Tesla put a limitation on its software to prevent it from reaching its full potential. According to Electrek, the company wanted the vehicle to have bigger brakes first, so they could slow down better from really high speeds. 

When you visit the Model S Plaid order page, you'll see a note when you click the 200 MPH stop speed spec that the indicated spec requires paid hardware upgrades. The new track package will set you back $15,000 for a carbon ceramic brake kit package, or $20,000 for the brake kit and a wheel and tire package optimized for performance and track usage. You will need the ceramic brakes to be able to unlock the vehicle's top speed, but you can also purchase just the wheel and tire package for $6,000

The automaker first started offering the ceramic brake kit for $20,000 back in 2021, but it has yet to start installing it on customers' vehicles. (While there was a company that was able to push past the Model S Plaid's software limitations last year, it had to hack into the vehicle's software and install third-party brakes.) The new track package pages have a clear date for their availability, though: They will be out in June 2023 and can be purchased from the Tesla app.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/tesla-unveils-model-s-plaid-track-package-that-unlocks-a-top-speed-of-200-mph-085856818.html?src=rss

Ford’s upgraded Mustang Mach-E offers more range at a lower price

Ford is restarting sales of the Mustang Mach E for this year, and your patience has paid off if you missed your chance the first time around. The crossover SUV's starting price has dropped $3,000 to $42,995 (before a $3,750 federal tax credit) for an RWD Standard Range trim, with a matching price cut for its $45,995 AWD counterpart. They're also more capable vehicles — all Standard Range variants use lithium iron phosphate batteries that extend their range to 250 miles (RWD) or 226 miles (AWD) while adding 45HP. They now take a more reasonable 33 minutes to charge from 10 percent to 80 percent on a DC fast charger, and they're more likely to reach maximum capacity through AC charging at home.

The hardware for BlueCruise hands-free highway driving is now standard. You'll still have to pay to unlock it, but you now get a 90-day trial that lets you activate if and when you're ready. You can still pay for three years (now $2,100 instead of $1,900) if you're already sold on the concept. BlueCruise 1.2 adds turn signal-activated lane changes and repositioning that keeps you away from semis and other vehicles that might intrude into your lane.

Higher-end models also have their share of price cuts. The Premium Standard Range models are dropping by $4,000 to reach $46,995 for an RWD configuration and $49,995 for AWD. Buy a California Route 1 AWD Extended Range and you'll pay $56,995, or $1,000 less. And if you insist on the most powerful model, the GT is down $4,000 to $59,995.

Crucially, there's a better chance you'll get a vehicle in the first place. Ford is scaling up Mustang Mach-E production for the second half of the year to help meet demand. The automaker doesn't say when you can expect to receive a new order, but you may not have to rush to purchase like you did before.

The price cuts come just months after Ford slashed Mustang Mach-E prices up to $5,900, and reflect "lower costs" on Ford's end. The brand previously said the switch to lithium iron phosphate batteries would help it make 600,000 EVs per year by the end of 2023 by expanding capacity, lowering production costs and reducing the need for shortage-prone resources like nickel.

Ford is also under pressure to drop prices, mind you. Tesla has cut prices multiple times in 2023, and the Model 3 now starts at $40,240. A cheaper, upgraded Mustang Mach-E could keep customers interested, even if it doesn't get the full $7,500 tax credit that applies to Tesla's sedan.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/fords-upgraded-mustang-mach-e-offers-more-range-at-a-lower-price-161151398.html?src=rss