The latest Hyperloop feasibility study aims to connect Cleveland and Chicago

The drive between Chicago and Cleveland can take about five hours. Taking the train is a little longer—six to seven hours, depending on how many stops the train makes. It’s easy to see why people would be interested in bringing a faster type of transportation to the corridor.

Enter Hyperloop, of course. The brainchild of Elon Musk, a Hyperloop is a system of transportation envisioned to carry cargo or passengers at speeds above 700 mph through low-pressure tubes. The train pods would hover above the track, using either magnetic levitation or air-bearings. Stretch a tube across the 344 miles between Chicago and Cleveland and simple math suggests you could cover the distance in half an hour, give or take.

At least, theoretically. No Hyperloop system has (publicly) broken a rail-speed barrier yet, and Hyperloop startups have generally focused on announcing new investments or miles-per-hour achievements rather than describing how safety would work in such a system if a pod were to break down and passengers needed to escape a vacuum-sealed tube.

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Experts say Tesla has repeated car industry mistakes from the 1980s

Production had been halted for much of last week in Tesla’s car factory in Fremont, California, and its battery factory near Clark, Nevada. In a Tuesday note to employees, CEO Elon Musk said that the pause was necessary to lay the groundwork for higher production levels in the coming weeks. Musk said he wants all parts of the company ready to prepare 6,000 Model 3 cars per week by the end of June, triple the rate Tesla has achieved in the recent weeks.

The announcement caps a nine-month period of turmoil that Musk has described as “production hell” as Tesla has struggled to ramp up production of the Model 3.

Tesla had high hopes for its Model 3 production efforts. In 2016, Musk hired Audi executive Peter Hochholdinger to plan the manufacturing process, and Business Insider described his plans in late 2016: “Hochholdinger’s view is that robots could be a much bigger factor in auto production than they are currently, largely because many components are designed to be assembled by humans, not machines.”

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Review: Subaru Crosstrek finds sweet spot between value and drivability

Subaru

In a world where seemingly every auto manufacturer is making SUVs (hello, Lamborghini!) and crossovers, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. Alfa Romeo does it by making an insanely fast and sporty crossover. Range Rover goes for an incredibly sleek look and a separate screen just for climate control. By contrast, Subaru just tries to make quality vehicles. That strategy has served the company well with the Outback, which has been at or near the top of the station wagon sales charts for what seems like forever. But can that strategy work with crossovers? Enter the Crosstrek.

All new for the 2018 model year, the Subaru Crosstrek is a mini crossover built on Subaru’s new Global Platform, which Subaru says offers 70-percent more rigidity. The Crosstrek has a raised suspension with Stablex dampers for a smoother ride. The old, familiar Subaru Boxer engine remains—in this case the usual 2.0-liter, direct-injection, four-cylinder suspect capable of cranking out 152hp (113.3kW) and 145lb-ft of torque (196.6nM); if you’re thinking that sounds a bit light, keep reading. The all-wheel drive Crosstrek has a seven-speed automatic transmission, but Subaru offers a six-speed manual transmission in the base and Premium trims. If automatic transmission is your thing but you like to take over sometimes, the Crosstrek comes with paddle shifters.

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Electrify America will deploy 2,000 350kW fast chargers by the end of 2019

As its legion of comment-posting fans love to point out, Tesla’s Supercharger network is a major part of that company’s success when it comes to selling electric vehicles. For over a century we’ve lived with cars that can be refueled in minutes, and old habits die hard. Even though the optimal solution is EV owners plugging in each night, the thought of being stranded with a slow-charging EV but hundreds of miles to drive in a day causes enough terror to rule out such cars for many potential drivers. If we want more people to make the switch, the answer then is more chargers and faster chargers. And Electrify America evidently agrees.

An offshoot of the Volkswagen empire created in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal, Electrify America has a quite ambitious plan. This week it announced it had picked suppliers for a new network of fast chargers across the country. Between now and the end of 2019, it’s going to deploy 2,000 fast chargers at a total of 484 charging stations. There are still a mix of competing standards when it comes to EV charging, so Electrify America’s approach is to offer them all.

That means 50kW CHAdeMO connectors and then dual-handle CCS1 chargers, capable of 50kW as well as either 150kW or 350kW (using liquid-cooled cables). Vehicles capable of charging at that higher rate aren’t on sale yet, but by sheer coincidence that matches the specs of forthcoming Battery EVs from… Volkswagen Group.

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Velodyne invented modern lidar—it’s about to face real competition

David Hall invented modern three-dimensional lidar more than a decade ago for use in the DARPA Grand Challenge competitions. His company, Velodyne, has dominated the market for self-driving car lidar ever since. Last year, Velodyne opened a factory that it said had the capacity to produce a million lidar units in 2018—far more than any other maker of high-end lidars.

Now Velodyne is starting to see some serious competition. Last week, lidar startup Luminar announced that it was beginning volume production of its own lidar units. The company expects to produce 5,000 units per quarter by the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, Israeli startup Innoviz is also getting ready to manufacture its InnovizPro lidar in significant volume. The company declined to give Ars exact production numbers, only telling us it has orders for thousands of units. Innoviz believes it can scale up manufacturing quickly to satisfy that demand.

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Tesla slams Reveal News as “extremist” after exposé on alleged factory improprieties

Reveal News, a non-profit organization based in Emeryville, California, published a story Monday concluding that Tesla “has failed to report some of its serious injuries on legally mandated reports, making the company’s injury numbers look better than they actually are.”

In turn, Tesla retorted Monday that Reveal is a “extremist organization working directly with union supporters,” adding that the story “paints a completely false picture of Tesla and what it is actually like to work here.”

Ars specifically asked Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Twitter whether he agreed with the use of the phrase “extremist organization” and under what criteria he makes such an assessment. He did not reply. We also put the same question to Tesla spokespeople, who similarly did not respond.

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Owl Car Cam review: A data-connected dash cam for car lovers

Dash cams excel at watching over you while you’re driving, but most take a break after you park the car. A new entry in the dash cam market, the $349 Owl Car Cam, promises to keep an eye on your vehicle even when the car is turned off and you’re not in the driver’s seat.

Using LTE connectivity and your car’s battery power, the Owl Car Cam constantly looks out for movement in and around your car and pings your smartphone if and when something or someone appears near your vehicle.

Some dash cams have external battery packs, and a scant few have LTE. But the Owl Car Cam boasts these features as ways to add levels of convenience and security that other devices can’t provide. The company hopes users will be willing to fork over more money upfront or pay a monthly fee for the ability to check up on their car whenever they please—and for their car to communicate with them when necessary.

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2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid: Put simply, it’s complicated

Honda

Honda spent the better part of the 1970s, 1980s and into the 1990s honing the simple. In fact, in the US, it was literally the company’s advertising slogan: “Honda. We make it simple.” However, it also ventured into the exhaustingly complex, as well, but that was fairly hidden from the mainstream. Remember its Formula 1 engines that shattered records? And don’t forget how the company’s roots in motorcycle engine development blew up engineering precepts. Honda combined oval pistons, V5 engines, and crankshafts that clustered the power pulses in a brief duration over the 720 degrees in a four-stroke cycle; in so doing, it created a kind of intrinsic traction control. To the racing nerds of the world, it was all fascinating, complex, and reliable to boot. Engineering precepts be damned.

But their road cars of the time? Mostly still simple. At least on the surface.

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