Are Software-Limited Features Like BMW Heated Seats Or Tesla Limited Batteries Good For The Customer?

Two recent stories -- about BMW charging a monthly fee to use the heated seats pre-installed in your car, and Tesla replacing a 60kwh battery with a 90kwh under warranty, but forgetting to software limit it to 60kwh, then finally applying the limit after two resales of the car as an (unknowingly accidental) 90 model, have opened up cans of worms about the question of software enabled and disabled features, and whether they are good or bad for the customer or just good for the company.

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Custom Robotaxi from Baidu

Baidu Apollo has released their own custom robotaxi plan. This one looks more like a regular minivan/custom taxi, but its steering wheel, there only for compliance purposes, is designed to be removed when the law allows, and that opens up the interior. They also say they can make it for about $37,000.

For more details see my Forbes.com story at Custom Robotaxi from Baidu

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All you need for a great EV road trip

I have written a guide of useful hints and tricks for doing an EV road trip and barely spending any time charging. I've done over 10,000 miles of EV road trips and you can to, once you get an EV.

Read this at Forbes.com:

All you need for a great EV road trip

I have two other articles on Forbes.com that I didn't publish here in the blog:

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Intentional communities in European towns in decline

You may have seen news coverage of various towns (mostly in Italy) that are selling houses for one Euro. There are even web sites to search for them.

This happens because many small towns face migration of their population to big cities. As population drops, houses get abandoned. These can become a blight on the city, possibly worsening its decline. To stop this, the cities seize the houses and give them away -- with some big catches.

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Towing a trailer with an F150 Lightning cuts range in half, but that's not the only change

Now that we can get good EVs, people are moving to SUVs and trucks, as they did with gasoline. It's better than gasoline of course, and cheaper, but there is a hidden cost in needing all that extra energy, beyond extra cost.

Read about that at Towing a trailer with an F150 Lightning cuts range in half, but that's not the only change

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Breaking Banks/Futurist Podcast on Keens and Stewards, Exploiting brain bugs and more

I recently did an episode of the Breaking Banks/Futurist Podcast. We go over many topics, and I hope you will like it all, but in particular I delve into two topics I have yet to complete my writings on. The first is my model of the great tribal war between the Keens (future-loving, more secular, liberal) and the Stewards (Past defending, less secular) which the Keens will win but are being dicks about.

EV charging prices are all over the map, how should they price it

Travel around and you will find EV pricing anywhere from free, to up to 60 cents/kwh, or sometimes by the minute, with session fees, flat fees, idle fees and more.

The problem is that unlike gasoline, electrical energy isn't the product. It's charging that is the service with a bit of product. How does it make sense to price it?

Read more on Forbes.com at EV charging prices are all over the map, how should they price it

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Michigan wants a smart highway on I-94. A dumb highway is better

A recent big announcement says the Cavnue consortium and Michigant will build a "Connected Autonomous Vehicle" corridor on I-94 outside Detroit. It's the classic "smart road" which special infrastructure and cars communicating with it.

But is it that smart, or is a dumb highway smarter in the end?

I outline the reasons in this Forbes site article at Michigan wants a smart highway on I-94. A dumb highway is better

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EV maintenance is really cheap, but the dark secret is the tires

I just did my annual maintenance on my Tesla -- adding wiper fluid and putting air in the tires. That's really it. But last year it was different. I had to replace my tires after only 29,000 miles, in part because I mistakenly never rotated them. But there's more to it than just that mistake, so the tires remain a special source of higher maintenance cost you need to worry about.

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What must robotaxis do to make people give up car ownership?

For the robotaxi business to be worth it, they must get customers who give up car ownership because of the service, and use it regularly. But since robotaxis will have a limited service area, what will they do to make it happen?

I discuss various strategies, including partnering with competitors and linking services areas in a new Forbes site column at What must robotaxis do to make people give up car ownership?

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Tesla teases a Robotaxi, are they crazy to give up off-lease plan?

Elon Musk has now teased that Tesla will build its own custom robotaxi, at low cost. This is at odds with their brilliant plan to turn off-lease Teslas into robotaxis, letting somebody else eat up 40% of the depreciation. Will they do both, or do they have a new plan up their sleeve for a small one-person pod?

Read about this in my new Forbes.com story at Tesla teases a Robotaxi, are they crazy to give up off-lease plan?

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I wish internet providers sold backup service

Comcast has been having a lot of outages this month. Since, like many, internet is vital to work and many things in the home, I would like to be able to have two internet providers, and fail over to the 2nd one when the first is out. I don't want to just have to pay double to have this -- I want to pay the backup provider much less because I am almost never using them. I want to pay them if I use them a lot, and better still I want my 1st provider to pay them if the 1st provider goes out.

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A fantastic gas station is not a great EV charging location

In my article last week, I outlined how Texas issued grants to build EV charging almost entirely at gas stations, including a chain of mega gas-stations known as Buc-ee's. Buc-ee's may be a great place for gas, but to understand why it may not be right for charging, you have to understand that for gas cars, gas stations are a destination where you get gasoline, and it is nice if they have amenities. For charging to work in its ideal way, you want to have destinations you were going to stop at anyway, which have charging as an amenity, so charging can take nothing from your day.

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Tesla’s Texas Charger Grant Applications Fail; It’s Bad For Texas But Reveals Tesla’s Super-Low Costs

I went digging in the numbers behind the Texas grants to pay 70% of the cost of installing Fast charging. All the grants went to gas stations (terrible places to spend 40 minutes) and Tesla's applications for its first stations which charge non-Tesla cars (required by grant) didn't make the cut -- even though they came in at only 1/5th of the price per charger of most of the other applications. In this new article, I discuss the issues around this -- what does it mean for Tesla to open up stations, why is Tesla so ridiculously cheaper, why did Texas make such bad choices and more.

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We find out what happens when SF Police pull over an unmanned Cruise robocar

From the earliest days, one of the most common questions was "What happens when the cops want to pull over a robocar or give it a ticket?" We find out a real answer in a video of SFPD stopping an empty Cruise robotaxi on the streets of San Francisco.

It wasn't actually that much of a mystery, and the major teams all have detailed first responder training and plans in place, and it happened here. This was a very rare case where it actually made sense to pull over this car, which was driving at night without its lights on, which is unsafe.

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