Waymo Will Buy up to 62,000 Chrysler Pacificas for Ride-Hailing Service

Waymo will buy up to 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans for conversion into vehicles with self-driving technology. The minivans will be used in a ride-hailing service Waymo plans to launch in Arizona later this year. The deal could also lead to the integration of Waymo tech in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles customer cars.

"FCA U.S. and Waymo also announced today that they are beginning discussions about the use of Waymo self-driving technology, including potentially through licensing, in a FCA-manufactured vehicle available to retail customers," an FCA press release said.

Most companies developing self-driving technology in cars plan to use them in fleet operations, such as ride-hailing or delivery services. This allows companies to maintain greater control over the technology as it is rolled out, but it could prove to be a better option over the long term. FCA's interest in potentially selling self-driving cars to individual buyers is significant.

Waymo and FCA did not discuss a timeline for the start of ride-hailing operations or further details of the order, other than to say that deliveries will begin in "later 2018." FCA has already delivered 600 Pacificas to Waymo, which also has an option with Jaguar Land Rover to purchase up to 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace electric SUVs.

If Waymo really does take delivery of the full amounts of vehicles from both its FCA and JLR deals, the former Google self-driving car project will have 82,000 vehicles in its ride-hailing fleet. That would draw most current fleets of self-driving cars, but it may be what Waymo needs to operate a large-scale ride-hailing service.

Trump Pulls the Tariff Trigger, Other Countries Retaliate

Threatened tariffs on steel and aluminum imported to the U.S. were implemented on Thursday, reports USA Today, effective at midnight.

As previously threatened, steel imported from Canada, Mexico and the European Union will be subject to a 25 percent tariff. A 10 percent tariff on aluminum will also be placed against these countries.

Though ostensibly to protect American industry, many American organizations have spoken out against these tariffs. The American International Automobile Dealers Association, the American Automotive Policy Council, and even MillerCoors issued statements against the tariffs when they were first announced.

Soon after the announcement, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter to voice his reaction. Trudeau announced that Canada would be imposing the same tariffs on American products that the U.S. has imposed against Canadian imports.

The Mexican economic ministry said it would move to place tariffs on American pork, flat steel, apples, cheese, and other products. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, said that Europe would impose duties on a number of imports from the U.S. "This is protectionism, pure and simple," said Juncker.

There was even opposition to the tariffs from Trump's own Republican party. "This is dumb," said Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse. "Europe, Canada, and Mexico are not China, and you don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents."

The tariffs come just days after the Trump administration announced $50 billion of new tariffs on Chinese imports, as well as reportedly saying it wants to stop German luxury car imports.

Ford Denies Rumors of a Fiesta RS

The Ford Fiesta is already very dead in the U.S., but it’s alive and well in other markets around the globe. Being fully refreshed for 2018, rumors have been going around that a high-performance Fiesta RS might be slotted above the Fiesta ST as the king of small hot hatches. However, those rumors have been dashed by Ford Europe design director Amko Leenarts in an interview with Dutch outlet AutoRAI.

"We see no reason to bring a more powerful Fiesta model above the ST," Leenarts told AutoRAI. "The performance of the new Fiesta ST is already such a high level that a more powerful model is not necessary," adds Leenarts.

The hottest version of the previous-generation Fiesta (still current-generation in the U.S.) was the Fiesta ST200. Serving as an even higher-performance version of the Fiesta ST, the ST200 made an even 200 horsepower and 213 pound-feet of torque. Of course, we never got the ST200 in the States, but it’s hard to complain considering the ST we did get performed so well.

The new Fiesta ST will be powered by a 1.5-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine that will make 197 horsepower and 213 pound-feet of torque which is slightly better than what you might get from the four-cylinder in the outgoing model while consuming 11 percent less fuel. Ford says it will have a zero-to-60 mph time of 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 144 mph.

Even if there was a Fiesta RS, there would be little hope of it coming to the U.S.

US Special Operators Need A Battle Ready Buggy They Can Cram Into A V-22 Osprey

U.S. Special Operations Command is looking to find a light tactical vehicle that is more capable than its existing all-terrain vehicles, but can still fit inside a V-22 Osprey tiltrotor in a combat-ready configuration. The new requirements effectively concede that the larger internally-transportable vehicles American special operators have access to at present are not truly capable of performing those missions.

U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Atkinson gave new details about the effort to develop a new “purpose built” internally-transportable vehicle (ITV) at the National Defense Industry Association’s annual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference earlier in May 2018. Atkinson is presently the program manager in charge of the Family Special Operations Vehicles, or FOSOV, for Special Operation Command’s Program Executive Office (PEO) Special Operations Forces (SOF) Warrior. The FOSOV includes a wide array of different vehicles, including militarized all-terrain vehicles, upgraded civilian trucks, and larger Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) types.

“We want something beefier than MRZR with more performance and additional life,” he said. According to the Marine officer, U.S. special operations forces presently rely heavily on Polaris Government and Defense MRZR-2 and MRZR-4 all-terrain vehicles, which it refers to collectively as Light Tactical All Terrain Vehicles (LTATV), for so-called “fly and drive” operations involving the V-22.

This means that the aircraft can land and special operators can drive their vehicles straight off and be ready to go for the mission at hand without needing to reattach any weapons or other components. Lighter all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles also have this capability, but have more limited payload capacity than the MRZRs. These various light vehicles give special operators added mobility after inserting into remote or austere locations where it might not even necessarily be possible to operate more traditional military trucks.

US Army Special Forces soldiers train to drive MRZRs.

The problem is that none of these types of vehicle offer significant mounted firepower or protection for the occupants that those larger, purpose-built vehicles offer. According to Jane’s 360, Lieutenant Colonel Atkinson said the specific goals of the new ITV program were to provide better lethality and survivability over the MRZR, as well as a boost in mobility and range.

“They aren’t being used really … no one will approve any real operation with MRZR,” an unnamed U.S. Marine Corps special operator told Marine Corps Times in January 2018. “We’ve used them for recon in training but not in real life.”

That being said, there is photographic proof that U.S. Army special operators have employed the all-terrain vehicles in combat in Iraq and Syria. In particular, pictures emerged from the campaign to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS terrorists in 2016 showed Special Forces soldiers in MRZRs working closely with Kurdish forces close to the front lines.

Regardless of the differing opinions between the services, finding an acceptable design is easier said than done. For as long as the V-22 program has existed, special operations forces, as well as the Marines in general, have been interested in a combat worthy vehicle that can fit inside the aircraft.

A MillenWorks H<a href=elicopter Transportable Tactical Vehicle, which the Marines evaluated in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a possible internally-transportable option for the V-22, as well as the CH-53 series of helicopters." />

The Marine Corps ultimately procured a number of variants of a jeep from a company called American Growler, which proved to be costly and controversial. Since at least 2015, the service has been looking for a suitable replacement for those vehicles.

In 2014, Special Operations Command had begun evaluating General Dynamics Land Systems’ Flyer 60 light vehicle as a possible ITV. This design does fit inside an Osprey, but not in a mission-ready form.

In the end, American special operators began receiving a version of the larger Flyer 72, which the U.S. military now calls the M1288 or the Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1. Though still billed as an ITV, this type is too big for the V-22 and can only squeeze inside larger CH- or MH-47 Chinook or CH-53E helicopters in a truncated configuration.

The video below shows personnel loading Flyers onto V-22s and MH-47 Chinooks, but with many systems removed and stowed beforehand.

On top of that, U.S. special operations forces have questioned whether it offers enough firepower and protective features to be truly useful during operations where there is a higher likelihood of direct combat. In January 2018, The War Zone was first to report that Special Operations Command planned to pay defense contractor Military Systems Group more than $3 million for new turrets that could accept a Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station, or CROWS.

This remotely-operated system, which can accept various weapons, such as the .50 caliber M2 machine gun and 40mm Mk 47 automatic grenade launcher, would allow the gunner to remain within the safety of the vehicle’s main cabin when engaging enemy forces. General Dynamics is already offering additional armor suites for the Flyer series and has proposed adding active-protection systems to the vehicles.

A Flyer 72 with one layer of additional armor and the Iron Fist active protection system.

The M1288s will almost certainly be unable to unable to fit inside the V-22 or even larger helicopters with those various features installed, especially the CROWS, which will dramatically increase its overall height. These additions could also have a significant impact on the vehicle’s payload capacity and performance.

We don’t know what Special Operations Command’s exact requirements are for the new vehicle, but these past and existing examples demonstrate the very real difficulties in combining the desired capabilities with a platform that fits inside the V-22, or even larger aircraft. There’s also a cost factor that could come in to play.

MRZRs have a unit cost of less than $40,000. The prototype Flyer 60 in a dedicated ITV configuration that Special Operations Command bought in 2014 had a price tag of nearly $500,000.

A 2015 briefing slide detailing the Flyer-based ITV.

General Dynamics has since stepped up production of the Flyer series and is adding new types, including a multi-purpose version akin to a lightweight pickup truck called the Flyer 72 Tactical Utility Vehicle, so those costs have likely dropped somewhat since then. However, these larger vehicles will never be as inexpensive as an all-terrain vehicle.

According to Jane’s 360, Lieutenant Colonel Atkinson specifically noted that PEO SOF Warrior had limited funds available for the new project at present. And as of 2017, Special Operations Command had more than 850 MRZR-2s and -4s in service.

A breakdown of the FOSOV fleet as of 2017.

Replacing any significant portion of these vehicles could easily become an expensive proposition. But if American special operations forces are increasingly reluctant to use those all-terrain vehicles on actual missions, any cost savings might be a moot point.

We won’t have to wait long to see what defense contractors propose to fill this apparent capability gap. Atkinson says that an evaluation of various vehicles will begin in the third quarter of the 2018 fiscal year – which began in April 2018 and ends in June – and hopes there will be an actual contract award in either 2019 or 2020. Special Operations Command plans to issue a new LTATV contract in the 2021 Fiscal Year, which it could conceivably combine with this new ITV program.

What seems clear is that special operations still have a very clear desire for a combat-ready vehicle that they can drive straight out of an Osprey and that they are far less than pleased with their current options.

Contact the author: jtrevithickpr@gmail.com

Uber CEO Says He’s Open to Working With Waymo on Self-Driving Cars

Just months after the two companies settled a major legal dispute, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said he is open to working with Waymo on self-driving cars, including using Waymo cars in Uber's ride-hailing network.

"We're having discussions with Waymo. If something happens, great," Khosrowshahi said at Recode's Code Conference in California. He said deploying Waymo autonomous cars on Uber's network simply makes financial sense because it would increase utilization rates of those cars.

Khosrowshahi's statements came only a few months after Uber and Waymo settled a self-driving car lawsuit. Waymo sued Uber in 2017, alleging the ride-hailing company used trade secrets stolen by engineer Anthony Levandowski. In February, Uber agreed to give Waymo a 0.34-percent stake in the company—worth around $245 million—and assure Waymo that it would not use any of the company's trade secrets.

Uber's self-driving car testing program was halted in March after a fatal crash in Arizona. The state subsequently suspended Uber's testing permit, and the company chose to withdraw from Arizona. Once investigations into the crash are complete, Uber plans to resume testing in Pittsburgh, Sacramento, and San Francisco. But Pittsburgh has already said that Uber will have to follow stricter rules, including limiting cars to 25 mph.

Meanwhile, Waymo has announced plans to launch an autonomous ride-hailing service in Arizona before the end of this year. The former Google self-driving car project will also add up to 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace electric SUVs to its fleet. But Waymo lacks experience operating a ride-hailing service, and Uber could provide access to its large pool of existing users. It's conceivable that the two companies could help each other out.

Uber and Waymo are bitter rivals in self-driving cars, but partnerships are nothing new in this sector. Both Uber and Waymo have already sought outside help. They both buy cars from existing automakers, for example. A partnership could greatly accelerate the deployment of autonomous cars.

Matt LeBlanc To Leave BBC’s Top Gear

A little over two years after taking the reigns from Jeremey Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May to headline the world's most popular car show, actor Matt LeBlanc has announced that he'll be leaving Top Gear at the end of next season, the BBC reports.

Unlike the unplanned departure of the original trio—not to mention LeBlanc's original co-host Chris Evans—the former Friends star is making his own decision to step down, citing the extensive time commitments needed to film Top Gear in a statement explaining his surprising move.

"[The] time commitment and extensive travel... takes me away from my family and friends more than I'm comfortable with," LeBlanc said, according to the BBC. "It's unfortunate, but for these reasons I will not be continuing my involvement with the show. I will forever be a Top Gear fan and I wish the team continued success. Thanks for a great drive."

Top Gear initially struggled after Clarkson, Hammond, and May left in 2015, with the new hosts struggling to find the chemistry that made the old trio so appealing. But by all accounts, the show has been hitting its stride since LeBlanc, Rory Reid, and Chris Harris took over the main presenting duties, with the latest season drawing solid reviews from fans and the press alike. The bizarre battles between LeBlanc and Harris in particular have been fun to watch.

LeBlanc may have seemed an odd choice at first, but the combination of his global appeal (the BBC points out that Top Gear is shown in over 150 markets around the world) and his actual driving skills made him a great fit for the show. Before becoming a host, he had set the Top Gear "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" course record with the Kia Cee'd as a guest in 2012.

But as the star of two other TV shows—Man With a Plan on CBS, and Episodes on BBC2/Showtime—it appears he's made a choice to pull back from this endeavor. Now the question is, who will replace him? It will likely need to be someone else with a similarly-broad recognition. We'll find out soon enough—provided they don't demolish the set first.

National Donut Day Is Time to Make the Donuts the Gearhead Way

Thursday is National Donut Day, a day to celebrate circles with holes in the middle of all types. Since The Drive is an automotive site we're particularly interested in donuts involving burning rubber, so we talked with rally driver, stunt driver-coordinator, TV personality, and BFGoodrich Performance Team Member Andrew Comrie-Picard aka "ACP," to get some tips on how to make donuts the gearhead way.

If you're a rally fan like me, you've probably known about ACP for years. He's competed in Rally America, Canadian Rally Championship, and American Rally Association events, as well as the Baja 1000, X Games, and Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

Otherwise, you might know him from TV shows such as Car Saviors and Ultimate Car Buildoff. And although you might not realize it, you've also seen him in Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2 as a stunt driver. He was also the stunt coordinator for the Netflix show Fastest Car, which we recommend binge watching.

So how, exactly, do you make a donut? First, you need the right car, something rear-wheel-drive with a limited-slip differential with enough power to break traction. You don't need a ton of power, though. Comrie-Picard says my old Subaru BRZ is a great car for this. A manual transmission is preferred, but not absolutely necessary.

Next, you need a safe, legal open space on private property where you have permission to engage in such shenanigans. We all know what happens when you try to look cool while leaving Cars & Coffee.

With all the disclaimers out of the way, let's get to the meat and potatoes...I mean, donuts.

First, rev up the engine, then dump the clutch to get the back wheels spinning. Then apply the brake with your left foot while continuing to modulate the throttle with your right foot to control wheelspin. Turn the steering wheel to one side, then let off the brake slightly to let the car roll. If you do it right, you should be able to pivot the car around the inside front wheel, or, if you wish, make a wider circle and countersteer into the slide.

Of course, having the right tires makes a huge difference as well. Comrie-Picard says there are more than 200 parts to a tire, even though all you see is a black rubber donut. There can be up to four types of rubber, an inner bladder, the sidewall, nylon and metal belts, the metal bead, and other components depending on the design of the tire.

You want a tire that is predictable at the limit and that communicates exactly what the tire is doing. As a BFGoodrich Performance Team Member, ACP, of course, prefers BFGoodrich tires.

As far as making donuts and other stunt driving goes, ACP says that drifters, rather than racers, tend to make the best stunt drivers. Sliding a car around isn't fast, but it looks good, and that's what people want to see in movies and TV shows. A fast lap can be boring for the untrained eye to watch because it's so controlled.

Drivers accustomed to racing have a hard time going against their natural car control instincts to immediately correct a slide rather than letting the car hang out a bit. Also, drifters are already used to a filming schedule consisting of "wait, wait, wait, wait, perform like a superhero," because that's what drift events are all about as well.

But if you're not a drifter, don't let that stop you from trying—in a safe controlled environment with permission, of course.

Here’s How Mercedes-Benz Encased A 1979 G-Class in 52 Tons of Amber Resin

The original Mercedes-Benz G-Class was an extant dinosaur in automotive world, soldiering on mostly unchanged for nearly four decades after its introduction in the late Seventies. But with the all-new 2019 model evolving onto the scene, Mercedes wanted to celebrate and preserve its DNA in the most fitting way possible—by encasing an original 1979 Geländewagen in over 50 tons of amber-colored resin. Y'know, like a certain cane-topping mosquito.

"Stronger Than Time," as the project is titled, caused quite a stir when it was revealed at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show back in January. Some loved the Jurassic Park reference, others thought it was a waste of a perfectly good truck, but everyone wondered just how the company managed to suspend the G-Wagen in a perfect cube. Well, a new behind-the-scenes video answers all your burning questions.

Working in a facility that looks more like a dino-DNA lab than an art studio, the team hoisted the vehicle into the air, tipped it on its side, and suspended it in a large, cube-shaped chamber with open sides. Then the long pour began, with over 10,000 gallons of resin filling the space around the truck layer by painstaking layer as side panels were slowly built up around it to act as a mold.

Conditions had to be perfectly controlled to prevent lines and bubbles from forming, but after 90 days the cube was complete. Unfortunately, all this took place in Hamburg, Germany—around 4,000 miles from Detroit. So after a little spit shine, the team packed up the frozen Geländewagen and sent it across the ocean on a container ship. Unlike so many important packages, it arrived at its destination intact and crack-free, ready to be displayed

The downward, off-kilter angle of the 1979 G-Wagen is meant to suggest it was caught in the middle of an off-road expedition, engulfed by a giant wave of synthetic resin and preserved for eternity. And if you're still sore about the loss of an irreplaceable truck, remember—they can always drill into this one, snag some DNA, and bring it back to life.

New York City Takes Away 300 Public Parking Spots to Promote Car Sharing

As if finding a parking space in New York wasn't hard enough, the city is taking away 285 spaces and reserving them for car-sharing services like Zipcar. The move already has New Yorkers fuming, reports The New York Times.

This will be the first time car-sharing services will get designated parking spaces on city streets, according to the paper. Right now, some companies keep cars in parking garages, but others do allow users to leave cars parked on the street in designated areas. City officials claim reserving on-street parking for car sharing will encourage more people to use the services, in turn lessening dependence on individually-owned cars and reducing traffic and greenhouse gas emissions.

But New York City already has relatively low rates of car ownership. Just under half of all adults own cars, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation. That's far below the national average of 92 percent, notes The New York Times. City officials claim expanded availability of car sharing is still needed to serve neighborhoods with limited public-transit infrastructure.

The 285 parking spaces are located mainly in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, according to The New York Times. The neighborhoods were chosen because they are currently underserved by car-sharing services, and have relatively few parking garages. Of the designated car-sharing spaces, about 230 will be on streets, and 55 will be in municipal lots. Signs designating spaces as reserved for Zipcar and Enterprise CarShare have already gone up, and companies have been given permission to tow privately-owned vehicles.

Use of car-sharing services is on the rise, with around 1.4 million U.S. users in 2017, according to The New York Times. But in New York City, parking spaces are just as valuable as any other kind of real estate. The city has already eliminated spaces in many neighborhoods for bike lanes and docks for the CitiBike bike-sharing program. But it hasn't let up on strict enforcement of parking rules, and there wasn't exactly a surplus of on-street parking spaces to begin with. Some drivers are also reportedly angry that the city is handing over public land for exclusive use by private companies.

It's unclear whether more car sharing will reduce traffic, but it may depend on how the services are used. A 2010 study on roundtrip usage found that one share car could eliminate nine to 13 privately-owned cars. But Susan Shaheen, an adjunct professor at the University of California Berkeley's Transportation Sustainability Research Center, told The New York Times that her research showed one-way car sharing does not substantially reduce traffic.

In New York City, Zipcar and General Motors' Maven service require users to bring cars back to designated parking spaces or garages after a trip. Daimler's Car2Go only requires users to leave cars within a designated "Home Area," not a specific spot. That was also the policy for BMW's ReachNow, but the service is pulling out of New York effective June 5.

New York does have an extensive public transit system, but that system, particularly the subway, is widely criticized due to lack of maintenance and unreliable service. It remains to be seen whether taking away parking spaces and neglecting public transit will actually convince New Yorkers to take up car sharing.

Preview: Formula Drift Round 4 in New Jersey This Weekend

With three rounds complete in the 2018 Formula Drift season, we have begun to see some FD drivers separate themselves from the rest of the competition. Round 4 of the 2018 season, Formula Drift's 100th round, will bring the competitors to Wall, New Jersey at Wall Speedway this weekend.

To recap, Kristaps Bluss took the top spot at Round 3 at Road Atlanta. The Drive previously wrote that Bluss was one of the drivers who had yet to show his 2018 best, but he did at Road Atlanta. Bluss' win torpedoed him into fifth place overall in the 2018 Formula Drift championship standings.

Keep it #FD100. Celebrate 100 Rounds of FD with us at @advanceautoparts RD4: The Gauntlet presented by @blackmagicshine at Wall, NJ on June 1-2. Tickets: Link in Bio #FormulaDRIFT #FormulaD #FDXV #FDNJ

A post shared by Formula DRIFT (@formulad) on May 29, 2018 at 1:49pm PDT

The top spot in the 2018 Formula Drift championship is still held by Fredric Aasbo and his Papadakis Racing Toyota. Aasbo, who came in second place at Road Atlanta, currently has 260 points and a 37-point lead over second place driver Chris Forsberg. Forsberg himself was pushed high into the championship standings from his win back in Orlando. He has held onto a top three spot by coming in third at Road Atlanta.

Behind Aasbo and Forsberg is the Worthouse duo of James Deane (208 points) and Piotr Wiecek (191 points). Deane and Wiecek have been a force in the 2018 season both having some of the most consistent runs in qualifying and during battles.

Bluss is holding down the fifth spot with 174 points. Forrest Wang, Ryan Tuerck, Justin Pawlak, Daijiro "Dai" Yoshihara, and Aurimas “Odi” Bakchis round out the top 10.

Regarding Round 4 at New Jersey it is anyone's to win. We have seen how capturing a win this early in the season can catapult drivers into the Top 5 of championship standings. Aasbo has been on the podium at each of the rounds of the season so far, so you can assume he will find himself somehow there at New Jersey.

Forsberg has begun to find himself on the podium more and more after having a bad first round at Long Beach. Bluss will want to capitalize on his first ever Formula Drift win and continue that momentum into New Jersey. The Worthouse duo of Deane and Wiecek who have consistently put down the strongest runs at every round thus far, will also be ones to watch at New Jersey this weekend.

Formula Drift Round 4: The Gauntlet takes place June 1-2. The Drive will be in attendance this round and you can find the coverage of the event right here on our site.