Weekly Brief: Tesla and Airbnb launch home-charging-station partnership

In this week’s Brief: Tesla, Airbnb, Apple, The Guardian, BMW, DriveNow, British Arriva, European Commission, eVADER, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, GoMentum Station, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Garmin and Pioneer. 


Be free. Go far.


That’s the new tagline for a Tesla and Airbnb partner initiative that will outfit high-end Airbnb rental homes with state-of-the-art charging stations. Tesla is giving the charging stations away for free but hosts have to cover the cost of installation. Once they do, they get added to a “Tesla-ready property” list.


If you’re tempted to ask if Tesla owners who are happy to fork over $100k for an uber luxurious car are actually the type of people who will stay at an Airbnb property, rather than just spend a night at an uber luxurious boutique hotel, we say go ahead, we’re wondering the same thing. At the same time, the notion of the electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure expanding by way of private residences partaking in the sharing economy opens up some pretty interesting hypotheticals.


The initiative kicks off on the California coast, and Tesla says it plans to expand to give its drivers more room to roam; click here to learn more.


It was a big week for electric vehicles all around, as rumours returned that a self-driving, electric Apple car is not only in the works but getting close to fruition. The Guardian reported that Apple was searching for a place to test a self-driving prototype. An engineer from Apple’s top secret Special Project group put in a request for more information about timing and availability from GoMentum Station, a sprawling California naval base turned autonomous vehicle testing ground. In the past few years carmakers like Honda and Mercedes-Benz have tested their cars there. Apple didn’t confirm anything though, and The Guardian didn’t have any more leads, so the iCar remains where it started — perhaps the next big deal, perhaps nothing at all. 


BMW deployed 400 BMW i3s to Copenhagen as an expansion of the DriveNow ridesharing concept already rolled out in the US, UK and Germany. British Arriva, the largest bus operator in Copenhagen, is a 50-50 partner with BMW on the DriveNow project in Denmark, so the goal is to heavily integrate the EVs with public transportation, thus relieving traffic, emissions, and strain on traditional public transportation options in the process.


A European-Commission-led project to pioneer an audible pedestrian alert system for EVs concluded after three years of research and testing. The final version of the system, called eVADER, features a camera built into the windscreen and programmed to recognise pedestrians and cyclists. Six loudspeakers beam sound at the target to announce the EV’s oncoming presence; the sound is up to five decibels lower than the sound of a conventional engine. The system is expected to influence future EU legislation, and perhaps US legislation, too, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced plans to make such systems mandatory in the the US in the coming years.


Outside of EV news, the 2016 infotainment rollout continues, with new brands unveiling next-gen features by the day. Latest is Lexus, which outfitted the GS line with an updated Lexus Entune that includes Siri Eyes Free Mode, full-screen maps and navigation, and split screen navigation and climate/audio control. There’s also a new MyLexusandBeyond app to keep track of vehicle diagnostics and maintenance needs.


The all-new Honda Pilot will launch with Garmin navigation on-board. That means voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation and preloaded maps so that navigation doesn’t go dark when cell reception does. Garmin says it’s inked a four-year deal with Honda and will be integrated into a number of Honda vehicles in the future. 


The Honda Pilot will also include an optional batch of ADAS features called Honda Sensing that earned it a 2015 TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Honda Sensing includes forward collision and lane departure warnings, adaptive cruise control and road departure mitigation.


Finally, either the CD isn’t dead, or Pioneer’s new line of aftermarket CD infotainment units are about to die with it. The units allow car owners with older vehicles to add connected in-dash technology, from Bluetooth to Pandora streaming to Siri Eyes Free functionality. But a CD drive is still featured prominently in the units — a real throw back to the 1990s-era cars that the infotainment units will likely end up in. Have their drivers evolved with the times? We’re about to find out.


The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.


Andrew Tolve is a regular TU contributor.


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