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Take This Car And PLUG IT

Eager hybrid owners can't wait to connect their cars to the power grid

7 min read

A funny thing has happened on what U.S. policy makers thought was going to be the high road to a hydrogen economy. Initiatives aimed at putting hydrogen fuel cell-powered cars on the road by 2020--visualized by President George W. Bush in his 2003 State of the Union address as the centerpiece of his plans to wean the country from fossil fuels--are taking longer than promised. At the time of the speech, hybrid-electric cars, which offer higher fuel efficiency than regular cars because of electric motors that help drive the wheels, were seen in the United States as but a minor detour or way station en route to a world of hydrogen fuel cells.

But they suddenly are looking like the main way to go, or even maybe the ultimate destination. Models produced by companies such as Toyota Motor Corp., in Toyota City, Japan, and Honda Motor Co., in Tokyo, are flying out of dealer showrooms. Among those who have been able to purchase hybrids (usually after a two- to six-month wait) are some early adopters--like a group of physics professors at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass.--who have made tinkering with hybrids their primary extracurricular activity.

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Chinese Joint Venture Will Begin Mass-Producing an Autonomous Electric Car

With the Robo-01, Baidu and Chinese carmaker Geely aim for a fully self-driving car

4 min read
A black car sits against a white backdrop decorated with Chinese writing. The car’s doors are open, like a butterfly’s wings. Two charging stations are on the car’s left; two men stand on the right.

The Robo-01 autonomous electric car shows off its butterfly doors at a reveal to the media in Beijing, in June 2022.

Tingshu Wang/Reuters/Alamy

In October, a startup called Jidu Automotive, backed by Chinese AI giant Baidu and Chinese carmaker Geely, officially released an autonomous electric car, the Robo-01 Lunar Edition. In 2023, the car will go on sale.

At roughly US $55,000, the Robo-01 Lunar Edition is a limited edition, cobranded with China’s Lunar Exploration Project. It has two lidars, a 5-millimeter-range radar, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and 12 high-definition cameras. It is the first vehicle to offer on-board, AI-assisted voice recognition, with voice response speeds within 700 milliseconds, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8295 chip.

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