Hughes Thinks Inside the Box

A new telematics system may give troubled Chrysler the smartest cars on the road

3 min read

In a month or so, the financially strapped company soon to be formerly known as Chrysler will roll its 2010 models into its remaining showrooms. Some will carry a nondescript box, about the size of a high school textbook, that will ”change the way we relate to our cars.”

Or at least so says Tom Taylor, vice president for engineering development at Atlanta-based Hughes Telematics. To show how the device will ”become an entity in the life of the person in the vehicle,” Taylor pulled up to IEEE Spectrum’s New York City offices in an SUV outfitted with the game-changing hardware. Soon enough, I wished I was in the market for a high-end vehicle—that’s where envy-inducing technologies debut, long before they trickle down to the cars a tech journalist can afford.

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We Need More Than Just Electric Vehicles

To decarbonize road transport we need to complement EVs with bikes, rail, city planning, and alternative energy

11 min read
A worker works on the frame of a car on an assembly line.

China has more EVs than any other country—but it also gets most of its electricity from coal.

VCG/Getty Images
Green

EVs have finally come of age. The total cost of purchasing and driving one—the cost of ownership—has fallen nearly to parity with a typical gasoline-fueled car. Scientists and engineers have extended the range of EVs by cramming ever more energy into their batteries, and vehicle-charging networks have expanded in many countries. In the United States, for example, there are more than 49,000 public charging stations, and it is now possible to drive an EV from New York to California using public charging networks.

With all this, consumers and policymakers alike are hopeful that society will soon greatly reduce its carbon emissions by replacing today’s cars with electric vehicles. Indeed, adopting electric vehicles will go a long way in helping to improve environmental outcomes. But EVs come with important weaknesses, and so people shouldn’t count on them alone to do the job, even for the transportation sector.

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