Tuesday, June 17, 2008

AXP Updates: Musk's Tesla, Tata, RIP SUVs, and More

The following are all from X PRIZE Cars:

Automotive X Prize News for June 1st, 2008 - This includes an article predicting costs of carbon fibers to be drop (allowing strong lightweight materials to be deployed in vehicles, thus increasing mileage), open source cars (like GLXP's FredNet?), ZAP Motors, Musk's Tesla, Aptera, the Cornell AXP team, and much more.

Automotive X Prize News for June 8th, 2008 - This week's AXP news includes Neil Young's effort, the Tata Nano, the electric Chevy Volt (not in the AXP but related), Progressive Insurance AXP sponsorship marketing value (I say wait for the actual races, which is when I think it will pay off if it does at all), and, of course, much more.

Automotive X Prize News: June 15th, 2008 - There's more about Tesla, and a Wired article with the following quote:

"The SUV as a lifestyle choice, as a personal statement, is dead," Aaron Bragman, an industry analyst at Global Insight, tells Wired.com. "People are downsizing from their big trucks to smaller cars."

What's surprising isn't that SUVs are dead, but how quickly they fell.


The shift has the auto industry reeling. U.S. auto sales plummeted almost across the board last month - among the biggies, only Honda and Nissan posted gains - amid a staggering decline in light truck sales: 37 percent at General Motors, 25 percent at Ford and 12 percent at Toyota. The Japanese automaker saw sales of its Tundra pickup fall 33 percent.

Ouch. Even if gas prices go down 1 or 2 dollars/gallon for a sustained amount of time (it could happen, but counting on it would be a gamble), it could be many years before consumers feel confident they won't go back up. It's time for some serious innovation by auto manufacturers that want cars that are fuel efficient to sell and comfortable enough to sell.