Transportation

The big picture

Clean trucks are paving the road to the electric vehicle era

The impact of the pandemic on e-commerce is adding to the urgency.

Dec 4, 2020 - Economy & Business
Boeing expects to sell fewer planes over the next decade

The lowering demand is a direct result of the economic shock from the coronavirus pandemic.

Oct 6, 2020 - Economy & Business
Eyeing the end of gas-powered cars

"Europe and China have woken up to the fact that [the combustion engine] is dead."

Sep 25, 2020 - Economy & Business
Elon Musk is channeling Henry Ford in auto manufacturing

Musk is embracing many of Ford’s ideas like vertical supply chains and manufacturing efficiency

Aug 14, 2020 - Economy & Business
Poor communities at risk as strapped public transit starts up again

The pandemic and recent protests put a spotlight on transportation inequities, giving urban planners new motivation to get it right.

Jun 26, 2020 - Economy & Business
Transportation's looming overhaul

"It’s a gamble based on what you think will happen, but if you don’t do anything, then for sure you’re out of business."

Oct 18, 2019 - Energy & Environment

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The outlook for automakers gets cloudier by the day

Photo: Francois Lo Presti/AFP via Getty Images

The outlook for global automakers and suppliers continues to worsen, amid heightened risk from supply chain disruptions, including the ongoing semiconductor chip shortage.

Driving the news: IHS Markit slashed its forecast for global light-vehicle production in 2021 by 6.2% — about 5 million vehicles. It's cutting even deeper — 9.3% or about 8.45 million vehicles — for 2022.

DOJ sues American Airlines, JetBlue to block "unprecedented" alliance

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Justice Department on Tuesday sued American Airlines and JetBlue to block an "unprecedented series of agreements" that will consolidate the two airlines' operations in Boston and New York City.

Why it matters: The civil antitrust complaint alleges that the planned Northeast Alliance (NEA) "will cause hundreds of millions of dollars in harm to air passengers across the country through higher fares and reduced choice," the DOJ said in a release.

Delta variant fears curb fall flying

Travelers in the Miami International Airport. Photo: by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Continued worries about the Delta variant are derailing fall travel plans.

Driving the news: Thanksgiving domestic flight bookings in August were 18% lower this year compared with 2019, according to a new Adobe Digital Economy Index report out Monday morning.

Mike Allen, author of AM
Sep 20, 2021 - Economy & Business

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky to herald "travel revolution"

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Data: TSA. Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky will argue this week that the world is undergoing a "travel revolution," in which some parts of the industry stay shrunk but the sector ultimately comes back "bigger than ever."

Why it matters: Chesky, who faced the abyss when the world shut down last year, foresees a significant shift in how people move around, with more intentional gatherings of family, friends and colleagues — even if routine business travel is never what it once was.

Sep 17, 2021 - Economy & Business

What we're driving: The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder

2022 Nissan Pathfinder. Photo: Nissan

The Nissan Pathfinder has received a welcome makeover for 2022, going from run-of-the-mill crossover to stylish and rugged contender among family-friendly SUVs.

The big picture: It's the latest in a string of attractive models from Nissan, which has been mounting a turnaround effort after abandoning a profit-sapping discount strategy to fuel growth.

What's new: The 2022 Pathfinder was redesigned from the ground up, except for the carry-over V6 engine, which is now paired with a new 9-speed transmission.

I drove the $41,490 Pathfinder SL version with standard front-wheel-drive. (All-wheel drive is optional.)

  • It came with a $2,900 premium package that added features like a panoramic roof, heated second-row captain chairs and a 13-speaker Bose audio system.

The interior was spacious and comfortable, with one-touch access to third-row seating and desirable tech features like a 9-inch infotainment screen, Apple CarPlay, a wireless charging pad and a WiFi hotspot.

One cool feature: The hands-on, assisted-driving system (Nissan ProPILOT Assist) is linked to the car's navigation system, which means the Pathfinder knows when a curve or exit is coming up and will automatically slow down.

One annoying feature: The Pathfinder honked six times every time I exited the vehicle. It's Nissan's way of reminding drivers to check the back seat for kids or pets.

  • Hot-car deaths are avoidable tragedies, and a proposed law would require all cars to have a rear-seat-check reminder.
  • But safety advocates say technology that actually detects movement inside the vehicle is preferable.
  • It would also save my neighbors — and me — some annoyance.
Sep 16, 2021 - Economy & Business

Ford adds jobs to meet soaring demand for electric F-150 Lightning

Ford's first F-150 Lightning pickup truck prototypes are rolling out of the factory in Dearborn, Mich., for real-world testing. Photo: Ford Motor

The electric Ford F-150 Lightning pickup hasn't even gone on sale yet, but demand is so hot that the company is already expanding production.

Driving the news: The first Lightning prototypes are leaving Ford's Dearborn, Mich., factory for real-world testing, with the truck available to customers next spring.

Sep 16, 2021 - Economy & Business

New tolling systems are poised to hit highways

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Electric vehicles might be good for the environment, but they're terrible for state budgets, which depend on fuel taxes to pay for road maintenance. So states like Oregon and Utah are experimenting with new road user fees — known as "vehicle mileage taxes" or VMTs — that reflect changing mobility trends.

Why it matters: By charging drivers for the miles they drive — instead of taxing the gas they use — states can ensure that everyone pays their fair share for public roads. But some drivers might wind up paying more than they do now, and the preliminary technology involved is raising privacy concerns.

Sep 15, 2021 - Technology

Safety advocates push tech to save kids trapped in hot cars

Photo: SolStock via Getty Images

All vehicles could soon be equipped with warning systems aimed at preventing children from dying in hot cars, but safety advocates say a law working its way through Congress won't do enough to save lives.

Why it matters: Nearly 40 children die every year of heatstroke because they were left in the back seat by a parent or caregiver — or climbed inside a car on their own. Since 1990, approximately 1,000 kids have died nationwide, according to KidsAndCars.org.

  • Four have died this month to date, including a baby who suffocated in a car after her mother was shot and killed in Orlando, Florida, and twin toddlers who died in a hot car in South Carolina.

Driving the news: The bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the Senate last month would require new motor vehicles to have an alert system that would remind people to check the back seat upon exiting the car.

  • The House expects to take up the bill this month.
  • The law would replace a voluntary commitment by automakers to equip virtually every new car with a rear-seat reminder system by the 2025 model year.

Where it stands: Many new models now come with such reminders via a text message in the instrument cluster, typically accompanied by a chime, when the engine is turned off.

  • I drove a 2022 Nissan Pathfinder recently that annoyingly honked six times at me whenever I walked away from the vehicle; I finally realized it was the rear-seat reminder.
  • I repeatedly dismissed the warning on the steering wheel, but to permanently shut it off, I would have had to tinker with the car's settings.

How it works: Most rear-seat reminders are triggered by "door logic" — that is, the system recognizes that the driver opened a rear door at the beginning of the trip.

Yes, but: that technology doesn't know whether the driver opened the door to put groceries or a purse in the back seat — or to buckle in a child.

  • And it doesn't address the issue of unattended children climbing into a car by themselves — about 25% of all hot car deaths.

What's needed: Cars need more than just a dashboard reminder that can be easily ignored or dismissed by the driver, says Emily A. Thomas, automotive safety engineer at Consumer Reports.

  • They need technology that can actually detect the presence of a car occupant.
  • So far, only Korean models sold under the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands have ultrasonic sensors that can detect movement inside the vehicle — but they are not standard on all models.
  • The new Genesis GV70 SUV goes a step further with a more sensitive radar sensor that is able to detect a baby's breath.

What they're saying: Carmakers can — and should — do more, said Janette E. Fennell, president of KidsAndCars.org.

  • "You can't purchase a vehicle today that doesn't automatically turn off your headlights when you get out of the car. Who decided it's more important not to have a dead car battery than a dead baby?"

What to watch: The occupant detection systems that could prevent children from dying in hot cars operate on the same technology that autonomous vehicles will need in the future to detect and monitor passengers, she noted.

Sep 14, 2021 - Health

Massachusetts activates National Guard to help with school transportation

School buses on a lot at Washington St. and Melnea Cass Blvd. on Aug. 29, 2019 in Boston. Photo: Chris Christo/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) on Monday activated the state's National Guard to assist with school transportation.

Driving the news: Schools across the country are experiencing a shortage of bus drivers, which has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. More than 80% of school districts reported having issued finding an adequate number of drivers.

Airlines warn of ticket slump as Delta variant hits their recovery

Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Several major U.S. airlines indicated Thursday that their businesses have taken a hit from a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta variant.

Why it matters: A recent decline in bookings and an increase in cancellations have triggered a much lower revenue forecast for airlines than previously anticipated. The trend, which was earlier reported by AP, threatens to stifle the industry's rapid recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, which halted air travel in its early days.

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