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December 2016
  
Dear Wheego Enthusiast,

    Happy Holidays!

In this issue: 
  • Federal Tax Credit for Charging Stations Expiring
  • Michigan Gives Silicon Valley A Run For Its Money In Self-driving Car Race
  • China to Set Communication Standard for Autonomous Cars After 2018

Federal Tax Credit for Charging Stations Expiring
If you purchased an EV charging station this year, don’t forget to claim your tax credit – up to 30% of the cost of the unit, with a cap of $1000. The credit expires at the end of 2016 and is not expected to be renewed.
 
Michigan Gives Silicon Valley A Run For Its Money In Self-driving Car Race
Excerpted from an article by Neal E. Boudette and Bill Vlasic  for Financial Review
In the race to develop self-driving cars, Michigan is suddenly aiming to give Silicon Valley a run for its money. The Motor City has been the centre of the United States auto industry for more than a century. But as computer chips and software have become increasingly important in automobiles, Silicon Valley has seemed to take the lead, especially in the development of the supersmart cars of tomorrow.
Google and Tesla, for example, have been at the forefront in creating cars with the ability to drive themselves. And many automakers have opened California outposts to become part of the high-tech scene. Uber and Lyft, the app-based ride-hailing services, are both based in San Francisco. But Michigan is trying to regain the high ground. General Motors, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are all engaged in autonomous vehicle projects based in Detroit's environs. And the state government is laying the ground for even more self-driving development work. The latest step came this month when Gov. Rick Snyder signed a package of laws to permit more extensive testing of self-driving cars on public roads, while clearing the way for use of autonomous vehicles in trials by ride-hailing services.
"We are opening a new portal for autonomous technology," Snyder said in an interview. "This helps reinforce the message that Michigan is a place of innovation."
The passage of the Michigan's new laws come as Uber battles with California authorities over the company's test of self-driving cars in San Francisco. The state contends Uber has not obtained the necessary permits, although Uber has continued picking up passengers with its autonomous test cars. Nevada and Arizona are also vying to lure companies that are testing and developing self-driving cars. What's at stake is a potential economic boost the millions of dollars automakers and others are spending on research and engineering, and the high-paying jobs they are creating. The city of Pittsburgh is also intent on competing with Detroit as a self-driving technopolis. Because of some pioneering research in self-driving technology at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh has emerged as a key development site. Uber is using autonomous cars to provide rides in one section of the city, a project for which Bill Peduto, the mayor, said he was happy to "roll out the red carpet." Delphi Automotive, a maker of automobile components, is also working on self-driving systems in Pittsburgh. Even before Michigan passed its new laws, the state was gaining ground. Earlier this year Google's self-driving car project, now called Waymo, partnered with Fiat Chrysler to develop a fleet of 100 self-driving minivans and opened a technical office in Novi, Michigan, near Detroit. The modified Pacifica vans, engineered in Michigan and assembled at Fiat Chrysler's plant in Windsor, Ontario, just across the river from Detroit, were delivered to Waymo on Monday. The two companies tested the first prototypes at Fiat Chrysler's proving grounds near Ann Arbor. The Canadian province of Ontario means to play its own big role in self-driving technology. Earlier this year, General Motors announced that it would create up to 1,000 engineering jobs, many focused on autonomous driving software development, in a suburb of Toronto. And this week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially opened BlackBerry's self-driving research centre in Ottawa. It is based around a company formerly known QNX Software Systems, which has a long history as a supplier to auto companies. Back in Michigan, Ford is expanding its autonomous car efforts at its headquarters in Dearborn. It has built 30 self-driving cars and aims to have a fully automated car, with no steering wheel or pedals, in volume production by 2021. Ford intends for those cars to be first used in urban, ride-hailing fleets. The University of Michigan has created a 32-acre centre for testing self-driving vehicles in Ann Arbor. Called MCity, the 32-acre facility has streets, intersections, traffic lights and road signs that provide a realistic environment where companies can hone autonomous vehicles before putting them on public roads. The university has also broken ground on a much larger, 335-acre site that was once the home of a World War II bomber factory. Michigan's new laws allow the testing of autonomous vehicles that have no steering wheel or gas and brake pedals. California prohibits testing of such cars on public roads. Michigan is also allowing more extensive testing of autonomous trucks traveling in groups or platoons.
"There's the wrangling going on between the tech companies and the authorities in California over what is and what isn't allowed," said Karl Brauer, a senior editor at Kelley Blue Book, an automotive research firm. "Meanwhile, in Michigan, you get the sense that it's 'What can we do to help you?'"
General Motors, the nation's biggest automaker, said last week that it planned to soon begin testing its autonomous vehicles on Michigan roads. The company added that it would also build its first self-driving Chevrolet Bolts already available as an all-electric car for human drivers at an assembly plant in the Detroit suburb of Orion Township. GM is not saying when self-driving cars will be available for sale, but that it expects the Bolt will initially be for ride-hailing services. The addition of autonomous vehicles early next year may help secure the long-term future of the Orion Township plant, which makes the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact as well as the Bolt. GM's decision to centralize its production of self-driving models in Orion Township is a big step toward making Michigan a manufacturing hub for autonomous cars.
"We expect to be the first high-volume auto manufacturer to build fully autonomous vehicles in a mass-production assembly plant," Mary Barra, GM's chief executive, said at Friday's announcement.
GM has already been testing autonomous Bolts at its technical centre in Warren, Michigan, as well as on public roads in San Francisco and Scottsdale, Arizona. But Barra said Michigan's new law would help make the state the centre of its winter-weather tests.
"Being here where we can get the cold, snow and all the different weather conditions," she said, "is very important."

China to Set Communication Standard for Autonomous Cars After 2018
Excerpted from an article by Jake Spring in Automotive News

China will revisit in 2018 the standards for vehicle-to-vehicle communication that are vital for driverless cars and lay out a common national standard after that, according to the chief of the Society of Automotive Engineers of China. China's aim to establish a national standard could speed the implementation of driverless cars in the world's biggest auto market, contrasting with a patchwork of state laws and standards in the United States that some in the industry say could hold back development.
Earlier this year, SAE-China -- under the direction of China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and with input from every major Chinese automaker -- set out to interpret vague directives for the automotive industry in sweeping 13th Five Year Plan and "Made in China 2025" policy. The resulting 450-page roadmap, issued in October, lays out specific policy objectives for virtually every aspect of the automotive industry, including driverless vehicles and electric cars, for three five-year periods to 2030. The document, however, stopped short of establishing a unified standard for cars to communicate with each other and surrounding infrastructure (V2I), both of which are crucial for autonomous vehicles to be successful. China will "lay the foundation" for V2V and V2I standards in 2018 in the next update of the roadmap, with a more exact standard to be developed between 2020 and 2025 and agreed to by all automotive brands, SAE-China Chief Fu Yuwu said. China's method of central unified planning could prove to be more effective than countries like Japan, which is struggling to make its big three automakers agree on standards, he said. "You can't fundamentally use different channels [of communication] right? So in the end we need a unification process," Fu told Reuters. "This will be complicated and difficult but is in the best interests of the industry."


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