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Although fuel prices have fallen far from last summer’s peak, the pain at the pump will not soon be forgotten. That’s particularly true in the United States, still the world’s biggest automobile market, where people have long enjoyed cheap energy and could therefore barely believe they were paying US $4 for a gallon of gasoline ($1.05 per liter).

Clearly, U.S. car buyers have abandoned hulking SUVs for smaller, fuel-sipping hybrid electric vehicles, sticking auto dealers with unsold gas guzzlers and lengthening the waiting lists for hybrids. But it’s hard to say whether the swing in demand is wide enough to create a market for the new car from Venture Vehicles. The Contoocook, N.H.–based start-up will introduce the three-wheel VentureOne plug-in hybrid in 2010.

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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
Purple

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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