VW fires jailed Audi CEO Rupert Stadler

VW AG has ended its contract with Rupert Stadler, removing the embattled executive as CEO and from the Audi and Volkswagen boards several months after he was arrested for his involvement in the cover-up of diesel emissions cheating at the company. Stadler, who began working at Audi in 1990, is the latest executive at parent company […]

VW AG has ended its contract with Rupert Stadler, removing the embattled executive as CEO and from the Audi and Volkswagen boards several months after he was arrested for his involvement in the cover-up of diesel emissions cheating at the company.

Stadler, who began working at Audi in 1990, is the latest executive at parent company Volkswagen AG to be ousted in the wake of the diesel emissions cheating scandal that erupted three years ago. The scandal has implicated numerous executives and several brands under VW Group, including Volkswagen, Audi and even Porsche.

The diesel emissions scandal broke in 2015 when it was revealed that Volkswagen Group’s so-called “Clean Diesel” vehicles had been fitted with software designed to cheat emissions tests.

Volkswagen fired its CEO Martin Winterkorn in 2015 for his connection to the scandal. Winterkorn was later charged with conspiracy and wire fraud in a U.S. court. Three years later, his replacement, Matthias Müller, was also removed as Volkswagen CEO and replaced with Herbert Diess.

Stadler was suspended as CEO following his arrest by German authorities in June in connection with a criminal investigation into the diesel emissions cheating. Stadler is still in jail.

Bram Schot has been acting as temporary CEO since Stadler’s arrest.

Here’s VW’s statement:

The supervisory boards of Volkswagen AG and AUDI AG have today consented to the conclusion of an agreement with Rupert Stadler on the termination of his offices as a member of the board of management of Volkswagen AG and chairman of the board of management of AUDI AG as well as of his service agreements. Mr. Stadler is leaving the companies with immediate effect and will no longer work for the Volkswagen Group. Mr. Stadler is doing so because, due to his ongoing pretrial detention, he is unable to fulfill his duties as a member of the board of management and wishes to concentrate on his defense. The contractual execution depends on the course and outcome of the criminal proceedings.

Stadler joined the company’s board in 2003. He was made chairman of Audi AG four years later. In 2010, Stadler was appointed to Volkswagen AG’s board.

Instana raises $30M for its application performance monitoring service

Instana, an application performance monitoring (APM) service with a focus on modern containerized services, today announced that it has raised a $30 million Series C funding round. The round was led by Meritech Capital, with participation from existing investor Accel. This brings Instana’s total funding to $57 million. The company, which counts the likes of […]

Instana, an application performance monitoring (APM) service with a focus on modern containerized services, today announced that it has raised a $30 million Series C funding round. The round was led by Meritech Capital, with participation from existing investor Accel. This brings Instana’s total funding to $57 million.

The company, which counts the likes of Audi, Edmunds.com, Yahoo Japan and Franklin American Mortgage as its customers, considers itself an APM 3.0 player. It argues that its solution is far lighter than those of older players like New Relic and AppDynamics (which sold to Cisco hours before it was supposed to go public). Those solutions, the company says, weren’t built for modern software organizations (though I’m sure they would dispute that).

What really makes Instana stand out is its ability to automatically discover and monitor the ever-changing infrastructure that makes up a modern application, especially when it comes to running containerized microservices. The service automatically catalogs all of the endpoints that make up a service’s infrastructure, and then monitors them. It’s also worth noting that the company says that it can offer far more granular metrics that its competitors.

Instana says that its annual sales grew 600 percent over the course of the last year, something that surely attracted this new investment.

“Monitoring containerized microservice applications has become a critical requirement for today’s digital enterprises,” said Meritech Capital’s Alex Kurland. “Instana is packed with industry veterans who understand the APM industry, as well as the paradigm shifts now occurring in agile software development. Meritech is excited to partner with Instana as they continue to disrupt one of the largest and most important markets with their automated APM experience.”

The company plans to use the new funding to fulfill the demand for its service and expand its product line.

How the Audi e-tron compares to the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace

Audi just announced its first production electric vehicle. Called the e-tron, the EV is a mid-size SUV loaded with technology with an unofficial range of over 300 miles. It’s nicely equipped, and with a starting price of $74,800, it sits between the Jaguar I-Pace and the Tesla Model X. The e-tron is most similar to […]

Audi just announced its first production electric vehicle. Called the e-tron, the EV is a mid-size SUV loaded with technology with an unofficial range of over 300 miles. It’s nicely equipped, and with a starting price of $74,800, it sits between the Jaguar I-Pace and the Tesla Model X.

The e-tron is most similar to the Jaguar I-Pace though the Audi is slightly better equipped. The e-tron packs a 95 kWh battery over the Jaguar’s 90 kWh battery. It’s also slightly larger and rated to tow 4,000 lbs.

Comparing the e-tron to the Model X gets messy. Tesla sells the Model X in three flavors: mild, hot, and on fire. The mild version starts at $72,100 and packs a 75 kWh battery good for 237 miles. Spend $88,600 to get the 100D and its 100 kWh battery that’s rated for 295 miles. And for $125,800, buyers can get the P100D that’s good for 298 miles and a 0-60 time of 2.9 seconds.

Autonomous driving modes are available for purchase on each version of the Model X. Audi and Jaguar do not offer autonomous driving on the e-tron or I-Pace.

Spec for spec, the e-tron, I-Pace and Model X offer advantages over each other. Here are the most important technical specifications for each vehicle along with the Toyota RAV4, the top selling SUV in the United States.

Here’s how I see each vehicle’s advantage:

Audi e-tron

  • Best price-to-battery ratio: Buyers get a 95 kWh battery on the base model. For the money, the Audi is the best value when it comes to the range it can travel.
  • Competent controls: Audi installed the same dual-touchscreen system found in its high-end A8 luxury sedan. The top screen handles infotainment while the bottom screen handles climate control and text input. Both screens offer tactile and audio response when touched.
  • It looks and feels like an Audi: The e-tron does not stand out, which could be a good thing for some buyers. It looks and feels like an Audi SUV.
  • Audi is not releasing the range yet: The EPA must certify the e-tron before Audi can advertise the range of the e-tron. Without those numbers, it’s hard to place where the e-tron sits in the landscape. But today at the e-tron launch event, the company hinted at a range that’s superior to that of the Tesla Model X.

Jaguar I-Pace

  • Early reviews of the I-Pace praise the driving: The I-Pace is a crossover and it drives like one. It’s sporty and confident and it has the lowest stance of the three EVs listed here.
  • The I-Pace is a Jag: The I-Pace has the quickest time to 60 mph out of the bunch and is capable of hitting the mark in 4.5 seconds. That’s the same as a 2016 Audi TTS Coupe. However, the more expensive Tesla P100D is much, much quicker with a 0-60 time of 2.9 seconds.
  • Well equipped yet the cheapest: Starting at $69,500, the I-Pace is the least expensive of the bunch. And at that price, it’s well equipped

Tesla Model X P75

  • It’s a Tesla: The Model X looks like nothing else on the road inside and out. To some, it’s a big draw while others shy away from the attention-getting design.
  • The Model X is deceptively large: The Model X comes with five seats, but two jump seats can be added to the rear area. With all the seats down, the Model X has an available storage volume of 88 cubic feet — that’s just 6 cubic feet smaller than a Chevy Tahoe.
  • The Model X can drive itself: The Model X can be equipped with Autopilot, Tesla’s self-driving system that can pilot the SUV on its own.
  • More options: The Model X P100 offers more range and the Model X P100D offers more range and insane performance.

The e-tron hits the US market in the middle of 2019, and by then, there will be additional competitors to compare.

The Audi e-tron SUV is an electric shot at Tesla

This is the Audi e-tron. The electric SUV seats five, starts at $74,800 and in official Audi testing, experienced a range of well over 300 miles on a charge. The e-tron will hit Audi dealerships in the middle of 2019, and prospective buyers can reserve one right now for $1,000. This is Audi’s first production […]

This is the Audi e-tron. The electric SUV seats five, starts at $74,800 and in official Audi testing, experienced a range of well over 300 miles on a charge. The e-tron will hit Audi dealerships in the middle of 2019, and prospective buyers can reserve one right now for $1,000.

This is Audi’s first production electric vehicle and perhaps one of the most significant EVs to be announced since the Chevy Bolt. It has everything Audi buyers expect: Quattro AWD, technology-first cockpit, and a familiar fit and finish. The e-tron is launching to a market with few competitors. It’s most similar to the new Jaguar I-Pace. Both vehicles offer similar technology and creature comforts for a similar price. But in a way, the Audi is joining forces with the Jag to compete with Tesla .

The e-tron is packed with a 95 kWh battery pack that powers electric motors on each axle. All-wheel drive is standard, and the vehicle packs two ways to recoup lost energy. Right now, at launch, Audi is not releasing official range numbers and the EPA has yet to certify and release its own numbers.

Inside is reminiscent of current Audi SUVs. Drivers are presented with Audi’s virtual instrument panel and several touchscreens. The top center-mounted screen handles infotainment and navigation duty while the bottom is for climate control and text input. The cabin is equipped and outfitted similarly to the rest of Audi’s line, but the design language is unique to the e-tron.

It’s clear Audi designed the e-tron to appeal to traditional buyers looking to jump into electric vehicles through familiar means. The e-tron looks and feels like the rest of Audi’s lineup. And that’s probably the point. The vehicle maker took its established formula and plugged it into electric vehicles. The result is something new yet familiar.

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The Audi e-tron

The outside of the e-tron screams Audi. Sharp headlights, flowing body panels, and an angular, aggressive grill. It looks like a new version of Audi’s mid-size SUV, the Q5. The main design difference comes by way of four small accent lights on the side of the headlights and tail lights. They are designed to look like a battery meter, and the result is a clever, though subtle nod to the e-tron’s electric power plant.

Clad in aluminum, the e-tron’s battery weighs about 700 kg (1,543.2 lb) and is comprised of 36 pouch-type cells, the same type of system Jaguar and Chevy use in their electric vehicles, while Tesla uses cylinder-type battery cells.

Audi says e-tron’s battery can be recharged to 80% in 30 minutes using a 150 kW charger.

The e-tron ships with a Level 2, 240-volt/40 amps residential charger that’s also compatible with 120-volt household outlets. Through a partnership, buyers will have the option to use Amazon Home Services to ready their homes with an installation of a home charger.

E-tron buyers gain access to the nationwide charging network, “Electrify America” and can use up to 1,000 kWh of charge over four years. Audi says by 2019 this network will include five-hundred 350kW chargers throughout 40 states.

An electric motor is mounted on each axle motor, though both are not used at all times. At moderate speeds, there is a bias to the rear motor. When the rear motor is unable to provide the vehicle with the desired powered, the front motor kicks on.

The dual motors and single stage transmission work together to get the e-tron to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. The tow rating is set at 4,000 lbs which is good enough for a small U-Haul trailer or a couple of jet skis. Audi says official horsepower and torque numbers will be released at a later time.

Like other electric vehicles, the e-tron recovers energy through braking and deceleration. But Audi took driving efficiency one step farther.

Using navigation and radar and camera data, the e-tron can predictively prompt the driver to release the gas pedal at appropriate times. If the vehicle knows the driver should slow down, it will tell the driver in the name of efficiency.

Power is returned to the battery from practically all braking situations whether through natural deceleration when the driver releases the accelerator or when the friction brake system is engaged. Audi says this system is responsible for up to 30 percent of the e-tron’s range.

The brakes are electric. When the driver presses the brake pedal, a control unit computes how much pressure needs to be applied, and an electric motor supplies the appropriate pressure. Audi says this system is 30% lighter than traditional vacuum brakes.

The amount of energy the e-tron can recover is selectable by the driver via a paddle on the steering wheel. There are three settings. In the highest setting, the e-tron aggressively recovers energy every time the driver releases the accelerator, which allows for one pedal driving. But in the lowest setting the e-tron coasts without any braking resistance.

Drivers are presented with few traditional switches and buttons. Most of the controls are contained on two touchscreens. The top, center-mounted screen is 10.1-inches while the bottom is an 8.6-inch screen that’s mounted in a way that the driver can access it while their hand is resting on the gear selector. Both screens provide tactile and audio feedback.

This dual screen setup is different from the single, massive screen found in Tesla’s electric vehicles. The top screen handles infotainment, navigation, telephone, and vehicle settings while the bottom is for climate control and entering text for navigation. This layout more closely matches the traditional placement found in other vehicles, which will likely reduce the learning curve often associated with getting in a vehicle with just touchscreens.

This dual touchscreen system is not unique to the e-tron. It’s the same equipment Audi employs in its high-end sedans, and will likely trickle down to other Audi models in coming generations.

The driver is presented with Audi’s digital instrument panel that the carmaker has been using for several vehicle generations. In this instance, the instrument cluster is presented on a 1,920×720 display with e-tron specific graphics. The driver can configure the screen to display the speedometer, power meter and infotainment screens in various fashions. Buyers can also opt for a heads up display.

Audi built a companion app for the e-tron. Through the smartphone app, owners can input navigation destination, set battery charging times and schedule service with local dealers.

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Racing the Competition

The e-tron has few competitors but only one that matters: The Tesla Model X, long the lone option for buyers seeking an electric SUV. The Model X is slightly larger, a bit quicker and can be a lot more costly than the Audi e-tron. It also has less range than the unofficial numbers provided by Audi before the e-tron is certified by the EPA

The Tesla is a head turner while the Audi looks like just another Audi. The Tesla packs autonomous driving modes while the Audi only has adaptive cruise control. The Tesla can seat up to seven while the Audi seats five. And the Tesla can beat exotic sports cars to 60 miles per hour.

The Tesla Model X interior feels like something different while the Audi e-tron feels like a new take on something familiar.

Both vehicles start out at similar prices. The Tesla Model X starts at $72,100 with a range of 239 miles. The Audi e-tron begins at $74,800 with an unofficial range of over 300 miles. However, to get the extra range in the Tesla, buyers have to opt for pricier packages. A Model X with a 295-mile range starts at $88,600, and the sports-car fast P100D begins at $125,800 — Tesla’s self-driving features cost an additional $5,000.

In contrast, Audi offers the same powertrain and battery throughout the e-tron’s trim levels. For $81,700 buyers get the same range as the base model but gain additional creature comforts like a heads-up display, massaging seats and parking assist technology. For $86,700 buyers can opt for the First Edition package that includes larger, 21-inch wheels, limited paint, and interior trim and a night vision mode.

The Audi e-tron closely matches up with the Jaguar I-Pace. Jaguar recently announced its electric crossover and is nearing delivery of the first vehicles. Compared to the e-tron, the I-Pace has a similar range, speed, and slightly less interior space. Pricing for the I-Pace starts at $69,500.

The e-tron and I-Pace represent a new breed of electric vehicles even more so than a Tesla EV. Both of these vehicles come from corporations with massive manufacturing might and, while they look and feel futurist, they also look and feel mass produced. And that’s a good thing. If electric vehicles are to become mainstream, the automotive giants need to build them at the same level as traditional automobiles.

Coming Next Year

The Audi e-tron will hit the United States in the middle of 2019. Buyers can reserve the vehicle starting today with a $1,000 refundable deposit.

When the vehicle hits dealers, it will be Audi’s most expensive SUV and among the most expensive vehicles available from Audi. But compared to competitors, the e-tron is priced in the middle of the pack.

The e-tron will hit the market at a pivotal time for electric vehicles. Automakers are just starting to stake their claims in the marketplace. Chevy went downmarket with the affordable Bolt. Jaguar is hitting the crossover market with the $69,000 I-Pace. Tesla is the premium player in the field with the Model X. The Audi e-tron sits in a sweet spot between the Jag and the Tesla. The pricing is slightly more than the Jag but is well equipped to stand tall against the larger and more expensive Model X.

The e-tron’s success will likely come from consumer awareness. Car shoppers need to know Audi has a new electric vehicle, and Audi seems to understand this. Even before the car launched, the company started advertising the EV with a big-budget TV spot during the Emmys. Since the car doesn’t hit the market for nearly a year, Audi has plenty of time to get the word out. However, that also leaves plenty of time for new competitors to hit the market and for the landscape to shift.

ChargePoint is adding 2.5M electric vehicle chargers over the next 7 years

Electric vehicles still make up just a fraction of the cars, trucks and SUVs on the road today. But that’s changing: the number of electric and plug-in hybrid cars on the world’s roads exceeded 3 million in 2017. By 2025, there are expected to be 20 million electric vehicles in just North America and Europe. […]

Electric vehicles still make up just a fraction of the cars, trucks and SUVs on the road today. But that’s changing: the number of electric and plug-in hybrid cars on the world’s roads exceeded 3 million in 2017. By 2025, there are expected to be 20 million electric vehicles in just North America and Europe.

And that means the world is going to need a lot more chargers.

ChargePoint, the California startup that provides infrastructure for electric vehicles, said Friday it will expand its network of chargers nearly 50-fold over the next seven years. The company, which has more than 53,000 chargers in operation today, has committed to a global network of 2.5 million charging spots by 2025.

The majority of these new EV chargers will be evenly split between Europe and North America, with smaller percentages in Australia and New Zealand, the company said Friday at the Global Climate Action Summit.

ChargePoint has raised more than $292 million since its founding in 2007. It’s used the funds to add chargers to it network, including an expansion last year into Europe. The company secured a $82 million funding round, led by automaker Daimler in May 2017. A month later the company announced another $43 million in funding from German engineering giant Siemens to bolster its European expansion.

The network expansion comes at an auspicious time for automakers, a number of which are planning to roll out electric vehicles in the next several years. Tesla has its own network of chargers that it calls superchargers. The automaker has invested heavily to build out the network, which is now 1,342 stations with 11,013 superchargers globally.

Only Tesla vehicles can use that network, which aims to promote long-distance travel. Other automakers that are beginning to sell EVs will rely heavily on third-party EV providers like ChargePoint. It’s estimated that at least 40 new electric vehicles models will be introduced in the next five years. Jaguar will start delivering its first EV, the i-Pace crossover, to customers in the U.S. this fall. Audi plans to introduce its first electric vehicle, the etron, on Monday.

Audi starts mass production of its first all-electric SUV

Audi began production of its first all-electric SUV on Monday, three years after the German automaker unveiled a concept version of the vehicle at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt. The company won’t reveal the production-version of the Audi e-tron SUV until Sept. 17, in a what promises to be a splashy event in San […]

Audi began production of its first all-electric SUV on Monday, three years after the German automaker unveiled a concept version of the vehicle at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt.

The company won’t reveal the production-version of the Audi e-tron SUV until Sept. 17, in a what promises to be a splashy event in San Francisco.

Audi, which is owned by Volkswagen Group, has been working towards mass production of the e-tron quattro for years now, offering periodic updates and teasers on the pricing, range, and interior design. The Audi e-tron is being produced at Audi’s factory in Brussels, which has been undergoing an extensive renovation since 2016 to prepare for the new vehicle. The Brussels factor has become the cornerstone of Volkswagen Group’s electric vehicle plans.

Audi rebuilt the body shop, paint shop and assembly line at the Brussels factory, the company said. It also set up its own battery production there.

The five-seater SUV will have DC fast-charging capability of up 150 kilowatts. The company has previously said the SUV would have a 95 kwh battery with a range of more than 500 kilometers (about 310 miles). That range has since been adjusted to somewhere around 250 miles, although the global reveal later this month should provide finalized numbers. Sales of the e-tron SUV are expected to begin by the end of the year.

UberAIR to take flight with help from UT Austin and U.S. Army Research Labs

After three months of discussions, Uber Elevate has selected The University of Texas at Austin as its partner alongside the U.S. Army Research Laboratory to develop new rotor technology for vehicles that the company will use in its uberAIR flying taxi network. The news is the latest step in Uber’s plans to get demonstration flights […]

After three months of discussions, Uber Elevate has selected The University of Texas at Austin as its partner alongside the U.S. Army Research Laboratory to develop new rotor technology for vehicles that the company will use in its uberAIR flying taxi network.

The news is the latest step in Uber’s plans to get demonstration flights off the ground in the megalopolises of Dallas Ft. Worth; Los Angeles, and Dubai. The ultimate goal is to have uberAIR services commercially available in those cities by 2023.

To achieve that, Uber has set up some rigorous specifications for its vehicle and the traffic management system used to operate uberAIR, developed in conjunction with several aircraft manufacturers and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Specifically for the vehicle, Uber is requiring a fully electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle that has a cruising speed of 150 to 200 miles per hour; a cruising altitude of 1,000 to 2,000 feet; and a range of up to 60 miles for a single charge.

The company isn’t the only one racing to own the sky taxi space for urban transport. Chinese drone manufacturer Ehang; Aston Martin; Rolls Royce; Audi and Airbus and other, smaller, startup vendors are all trying to make flying vehicles. Ehang has been touting manned test flights of its drone already.

Uber, on the other hand is trying to build out the service in much the same way it did with car hailing so many years ago.

The company actually unveiled its thoughts on air travel and design a few months ago at its Elevate conference.

At UT, a research team led by Professor Jayant Sirohi, one of the country’s experts on unmanned drone technology, VTOL aircraft, and fixed- and rotary-wing elasticity will examine how the efficacy of a new flying technology, which uses two rotor systems stacked on top of one another and rotating in the same direction.

Called co-rotating rotors, the new technology will be tested for its efficiency and noise signature, according to a statement from the university. Preliminary tests have shown the potential for these rotors to work better than other approaches while also improving versatility for an aircraft.

“There’s a lot of things to be done,” said Sirohi. “We are not doing vehicles. we’re doing a specific rotor system on one of the engineering common reference models that Uber has released.”

The reference model is a benchmark for what the aircraft should do in field tests and eventually operations, Sirohi said. “We are pursuing these technologies to see what the gaps are in where we are today and where we need to be,” Sirohi said.