Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Car industry update: Eight great reads

May 9, 2017

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The auto industry is a never-ending source of business stories. These six articles will get you up to date before plunging in. ("Google Self-Driving Car" image by "smoothgroover22" via flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)
The auto industry is a never-ending source of business stories. These six articles will get you up to date before plunging in. ("Google Self-Driving Car" image by "smoothgroover22" via flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

The automotive industry has never been a richer source of business stories. Driverless cars, millennial buyers and President Trump’s initiatives to keep manufacturing jobs at home are compelling topics that readers love. Before tackling your next automotive piece, these eight car industry reads will provide valuable background and insight.

A Business Insider slideshow pinpoints the biggest car stories of 2016, including the profitable boom in the U.S. car market, alarming shifts in the business of car-financing that could lead to underwater car sales, and both the Chevy Bolt’s entry into the electric vehicle market and the fact that Ford won Le Mans. Oh, and there’s Trump.

Tech Crunch has its own roundup of the past year’s significant auto news. The slideshow includes briefs on such hot-button issues as blockchain, using augmented reality to assist in car repairs, 3-D printing and driverless initiatives like platooning, in which entire fleets of self-driving vehicles take to the roads together, reducing congestion.

The Chicago Tribune tackles such issues as the true meaning of a “crossover,” why road atlases still matter and a $400,000 Rolls-Royce with his-and-her umbrella ports. There’s a mix of solid industry news to absorb as well. Also worth a read is the Trib’s take on car-buying millennials. 

Self-driving and flying cars

Establishing standards for self-driving cars is a contentious topic. The New York Times explains the argument for everyday efficiency: By standardizing a car’s computer operating system, vehicles will reduce the need for multiple processors, which require excess cables, making a car heavier and more expensive to fuel. The article also weighs whether standardization can intrude on innovation.

Taking a deepish dive into autonomous cars, Wired magazine looks at the tricky subject of rating the reliability of robo-cars. The California DMZ’s “disengagement report” details how often humans have to take over the wheel, with data from every major player, from Waymo (Google) to Ford. While inconclusive, the results are worth a read.

Neil Winton of Forbes reports that Europe’s Airbus has developed what we’ve all been waiting for since The Jetsons: a flying car. Called the Pop.Up, this supersize drone comes with a clip-on passenger module and a range of 62 miles. Finally, for reporters reluctant to leave the land of make-believe, the likelihood of a flying fleet of Ubers is explored in Financial Times.

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