Elon Musk has a simple solution for Tesla cars equipped with cameras capable of spying: Just don’t turn them on! It’s just that easy. All that and more in The Morning Shift for April 7, 2021.
1st Gear: I Wish America Was A Free For All In Car Tech In A Fun Way
Friend of Jalopnik John Voelcker points out on Twitter that America is basically a free-for-all when it comes to new-era car tech, in comparison to China, which is dropping the hammer on Tesla’s in-car cameras.
We do have issues with these cameras here in America, but the voice of dissent in our case is Consumer Reports. The news from China is that the military itself is pissed, as Reuters reports:
Cameras in Tesla cars are not activated outside of North America, the U.S. automaker said on its Chinese social media page on Wednesday, seeking to assuage security concerns in the world’s biggest car market.
Tesla faces scrutiny in China where the military in March banned Tesla cars from entering its complexes, citing security concerns over cameras in its vehicles, sources told Reuters.
At a virtual forum in Beijing in March, held not long after reports of the ban surfaced, Tesla founder Elon Musk emphasised the company’s business motivations for protecting user privacy.
“There’s a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information,” Musk said.
“If Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we will get shut down.”
Elon gave more comments that ring a lot like Amazon’s recent defense of “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you?” As Bloomberg reports:
Speaking virtually to a conference, Musk said that if Tesla ever used its cars to spy in China, or anywhere, the company would get “shut down everywhere.”
“If a commercial company did engage in spying, the negative effects to that company would be extremely bad,” he said at last month’s China Development Forum, a gathering organized by a unit of the country’s State Council.
America gets denied cool self-dipping laser headlights, but we have no problem with this?
2nd Gear: Rebuilding The EPA Sounds Like A Time
The news here is that the new EPA head wants to lay down harsher tailpipe emissions standards that were rolled back under Trump. What interests me is this discussion of rebuilding an administration that was gutted by Trump, as Bloomberg reports:
[EPA Administrator Michael Regan’s] first task is rebuilding the agency, which shed an estimated 700 scientists during Trump’s tenure. He also needs to rebuild morale among EPA employees who remained, including many who said they were belittled under Trump and are still distrustful of managers who went along with the old regime.
“The secret sauce here is returning back to the agency’s original mission, which is protecting people and natural resources, and creating a welcoming environment that’s focused and centered around scientific integrity, ethics and values,” Regan said. “We believe that we will attract some of the talent that left the agency during the previous administration, but we also believe that we will be really attractive to new scientists, new engineers, new legal minds.”
Regan is trying to bolster scientific integrity at the agency, which public health and environmental advocates say was diminished over the past four years. In one of his first major acts, Regan last week ordered the removal of dozens of members of two scientific advisory committees that guide the EPA’s work — a move designed to shrink the influence of industry and create a blank slate for rebuilding the panels.
If any of you reading this out there are one of the 700 scientists who got pushed out by Trump, email us at tips at jalopnik dot com.
3rd Gear: GM Very Serious About Side Ventures That May Or May Not Include Flying Cars
Nothing tells you a car company is more serious about something than a declaration about a tech that’s never made it past the Jetsons. That’s why I cast a suspicious eye towards GM’s new promotion of its side ventures, reported in Reuters:
The veteran GM engineer’s Global Innovation team is looking for new enterprises to expand the automaker’s sources of revenue well beyond vehicle sales and is incubating ventures from commercial delivery services to vehicle insurance, to address future markets worth an estimated $1.3 trillion. That doesn’t include flying cars, a market sector that alone could be worth $1.3 trillion, Fletcher told Reuters.
On a recent video chat, Fletcher counted silently before answering how many ventures her team is shepherding. “Just under 20,” she said.
Reuters did name several of these distinct ventures in a separate article, and they include expanding OnStar through apps and offering SuperCruise as a subscription service.
4th Gear: America Watches As Europe Gets Cool Hybrid Jeep
Europe has strict regulations pressuring car companies to build EVs and hybrids, much stricter than the regulations we have in America. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Europe is getting hybrid Jeeps before we are. We’ve already gone through this with the Renegade, up now is the revised Compass, as the Freep reports:
An update of the Jeep Compass compact SUV, which was revealed in Europe on Tuesday, will add loads of technology, including 4xe plug-in hybrid and new Android-based entertainment and connectivity systems.
The updated Compass is expected to debut later this year in Europe, with U.S. sales following in the first half of 2022.
The Compass also will get a wider grille and narrowed, LED headlights to create a face consistent with bigger upcoming Jeeps like the Grand Wagoneer and Grand Cherokee L.
This report is based on the European model. Not all its features will carry over to U.S. models. The Compass is a bit of a premium model in Europe. It’s a core part of Jeep’s identity there, where compact vehicles frequently sell at higher prices and offer more luxurious features and materials than in the U.S.
Sad to see America as a second-tier market for efficient Jeeps!
5th Gear: Nissan Sales In China Up 70 Percent Compared To This Time Last Year
I’m not sure if this is a case of Nissan getting the Chinese market right, or just a sign of how utterly depressed things were at the start of the pandemic. Either way, this is a big jump, as Reuters reports:
Nissan Motor Co’s passenger and light vehicle business in China increased unit sales by 70.6% year on year in the first three months of 2021, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
Neutral: What Was Your Experience Working In A Government Agency?
I’ve had a number of different bosses over the course of one job, but nothing like what I imagine it’s like working in one government agency during a transition from one administration to another. Maybe I’m wrong! Maybe it’s not so dramatic.