All Transportation stories

Oct 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

Roadie taps crowd-sourced same-day delivery for holiday purchases

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Roadie, an Atlanta-based company that got its start using gig drivers to deliver lost baggage for Delta Air Lines, now figures to play a big role in delivering holiday purchases this year.

Why it matters: Demand for same-day shipping exploded during the pandemic, and is likely to increase even more during the holidays. Traditional parcel carriers have strained to keep up, often slapping surcharges on deliveries, leaving a lane for Roadie to help manage peak demand.

Oct 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

Trucking into the hydrogen era

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

After years of unmet promises, hydrogen vehicles could finally be catching on. If so, it'll be a convoy of clean semi-trucks — not a bunch of quirky passenger cars — leading the way.

The big picture: We've been hearing about zero-emission, fuel-cell vehicles for decades as the answer to our worries about fossil fuels and climate change. But even now, the economic and practical challenges are still too difficult to overcome — except, perhaps, for commercial truck fleets.

Oct 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

Waymo's driverless taxis open to the public in Phoenix suburbs

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

After two years of tightly controlled operation in Chandler, Ariz., Waymo is opening up its driverless taxi service to the public.

Why it matters: This is a big deal — a real driverless taxi service, with no one in the driver's seat — that is open to anyone who downloads the Waymo One app.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 9, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Amazon shows off its new Rivian electric delivery van

Screenshot of Amazon video about its electric vans.

Amazon has taken the wraps off the first electric delivery van developed with the Rivian, the EV startup slated to begin mass producing vehicles for the e-commerce giant.

Why it matters: It shows that Amazon is moving to turn its pledge to be carbon neutral by 2040 into concrete steps and technology deployment.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

Oil giant Total invests in hydrogen truck startup Hyzon Motors

Image courtesy of Hyzon Motors

The huge multinational oil-and-gas company Total SE is investing in the hydrogen fuel cell truck and bus startup Hyzon Motors, the companies announced this morning.

Why it matters: It's the latest sign of increasing interest in hydrogen-powered heavy vehicles amid moves by startups and legacy automakers alike. It also shows how European-headquartered oil giants are boosting their alternative energy portfolios, even though hydrocarbons remain their dominant business lines.

Bringing public transit back from the coronavirus pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Cities urgently need to convince residents that it's safe to ride public transit if they want to recover from the coronavirus-induced double whammy of dwindling ridership and higher fixed costs.

Why it matters: Urban transit systems are cleaner than ever, yet they suffer from public perceptions that the filth-o-meter is still in the danger zone — and that traveling in enclosed spaces (other than one's own car) is inherently parlous.

Oct 6, 2020 - Economy & Business

Boeing expects to sell fewer planes over the next decade

(Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

Boeing expects demand for commercial airplanes over the next decade to be 11 percent lower than what it was forecasting just a little over a year ago — a direct result of the economic shock from the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Yes, but: Long-term growth rates should return after 2030, the company said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The pandemic upended what had been a long, steady ascent for the global aviation industry, with U.S. domestic passenger traffic down 70 percent and by as much as 90 percent internationally.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 6, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Here come the hydrogen trucks

The XCIENT Fuel Cell heavy duty truck. Photo courtesy of Hyundai

Hydrogen-powered heavy trucking is becoming more and more of a thing, even as it's unclear whether fuel cells or battery electrics will ultimately win the long race to decarbonize road freight.

Why it matters: Heavy diesel trucks and industrial vehicles are a huge source of carbon emissions worldwide, and a number of legacy automakers and startups are moving ahead with electric and hydrogen models.

Oct 2, 2020 - Health

Traffic fatality rates spiked during the pandemic

An impaired driver was critically injured in this crash. Photo: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

There were fewer cars on the road last spring during the height of the pandemic, but traffic fatality rates increased 30% in the second quarter as evidence suggests drivers engaged in more risky behavior, federal officials say.

Why it matters: The sharp reversal in what had been a three-year trend toward lower traffic deaths raised alarms within the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, where officials vowed to dig deeper.

  • "We've never seen trends like this and we feel an urgency ... to turn this around as quickly as possible," NHTSA deputy administrator James Owens said.

What they found: Total traffic volume fell 16% during the first half of 2020, NHTSA said in a release, while traffic deaths fell just 3%.

  • The fatality rate during the second quarter was 1.42 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, sharply higher than the first quarter rate of 1.10, which was in line with historical trends.
  • A second NHTSA study of trauma centers found seriously injured or fatal crash victims took risks during the pandemic that included speeding, driving impaired, and not using their seat belts.
  • For example, the study revealed a higher prevalence of alcohol, cannabinoids, and opioids in crash victims during the quarter compared to the months prior to the pandemic.

The bottom line: Risky behavior, along with a potential reduction in law enforcement and safety messaging during the pandemic, could have contributed to increased fatality rates, NHTSA concluded.

Oct 2, 2020 - Economy & Business

What I'm driving: 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

2020 VW Atlas Cross Sport SEL Premium R Line. Photo: Volkswagen

I just turned in the keys on a 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport, a slightly smaller and sportier version of the seven-passenger VW Atlas.

The big picture: SUVs are the clear preference for consumers these days, so manufacturers are carving up the SUV market to make sure there's an offering for everyone.