Weekly Brief: Turkey Day Traffic Trauma Ahead of LA Auto Show

Thanksgiving is a time of appreciation, turkey legs, hot gravy, family reunions and, of course, the great American tradition of sitting in traffic.

Lots and lots of traffic. This year saw the worst gridlock of the year to date, because more Americans took to the roads for the holidays than at any time since 2005, according to AAA. The scene was particularly bleak in Los Angeles, with the 405 freeway brought to a near standstill two days before Thanksgiving and staying that way straight through the holiday. Talk about a good time to consider strategies for alternative mobility.

Wouldn’t you know it, the LA Auto Show opens in Tinsel Town this week. Recently rebranded Automobility LA, the show promises to shine a light on some of the most exciting, paradigm-shifting connected car news of the season. It remains to be seen exactly what that news will be this year, although we do know that Volvo plans to show up without a single car in tow. In its display area, under a banner emblazoned with the words This Is Not A Car, Volvo instead will highlight everything from the self-driving pilots it has underway to in-car delivery and car-sharing services.

Not all carmakers will be so avant garde. The show promises more than 60 vehicle debuts, including good old-fashioned gas-guzzlers, SUVs, pickup trucks, sports cars and sedans. There will also be a number of all-new electric vehicles on display. BMW will show off its Vision iNext concept EV while Audi displays its all-electric sports car, the e-tron GT, which will face off with the Tesla Roadster come 2020. Check back here for all the connected-car and mobility announcements that come out of the Auto Show next week. The show runs from November 30 to December 9 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

In other news, General Motor’s self-driving business unit Cruise announced that it’s expanding its operations with a new office in Seattle, Washington. The company is the number two contender for robo-taxis in the US, behind Waymo and it’s hoping that the 200-person office in Seattle can help close the gap. To be clear, Cruise doesn’t plan to do any testing of autonomous vehicles on the streets of Seattle. Instead, it wants to tap into the rich pool of software, robotics, and AI engineers in the area thanks to Microsoft and other tech companies. Cruise has road trials underway in California, Arizona and Michigan and intends to have a full-blown robo-taxi service up and running in 2019.


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