I'm headed to CES next week. If you're in Las Vegas, too, please come to the panel I'm moderating on autonomous public transportation Thursday morning at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Today's newsletter is 1,409 words, a 5-minute read.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Auto companies, counterintuitively, are trying to get people to give up their cars — by making shared transportation more appealing with vehicles that recognize you, anticipate your needs and customize your ride.
Why it matters: Ride-hailing apps are making urban congestion steadily worse. In San Francisco, people spent 62% more time sitting in traffic in 2016 than in 2010. Uber and Lyft admitted they're part of the problem.
Driving the news: Next week at CES, the world's largest tech show, carmakers and other suppliers will offer the most advanced look yet at their plans for ride-sharing of the future.
What they're saying: "We need to move beyond the car," argued Cruise CEO Dan Ammann in a recent blog post, a remarkable statement for a former president of General Motors, one of the world's largest carmakers.
Yes, but: Convincing more people to use shared transportation is a hard sell, as Ford learned with its defunct Chariot private shuttle bus service.
The bottom line: With the right combination of incentives — something more than a comfortable seat and a robust internet connection — people might be persuaded to leave their cars at home.
What to watch: Cruise says more details are coming at an event later this month. My guess is the company will take the wraps off an AV it's been developing with Honda specifically for ride-sharing.
Carlos Ghosn was under house arrest in Japan before fleeing to Lebanon last weekend. Photo: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images
When Carlos Ghosn simultaneously ran both Nissan and Renault, he skipped freely across the globe, racking up 150,000 flying miles a year.
Catch up fast: The former CEO of Nissan and Renault somehow eluded 24-hour surveillance in Japan, where he is facing trial on financial misconduct charges, and turned up in Lebanon, saying he had escaped the "rigged Japanese justice system."
Everything about this story is incredible, but perhaps no detail more intriguing than his alleged getaway vehicle: a large musical instrument case.
Ghosn's escape followed months of planning by associates, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
What to watch: Ghosn, who maintains his innocence, is planning a news conference for Wednesday. He's unlikely to reveal details behind his escape, but he will most certainly unleash pent-up anger against Japanese prosecutors and his corporate rivals at Nissan and Renault. Talk about must-see TV.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
In honor of the New Year and for the sake of safety, let's make some resolutions for how we communicate about assisted-driving technology and self-driving cars.
1. Don't call something self-driving if human supervision is required.
2. Don't refer to driver-assistance technology as partially self-driving.
3. Avoid gimmicky names for advanced safety systems; instead use clear language to describe what these features do.
Why it matters: Cars are more advanced than ever, with many potentially life-saving technologies like automatic emergency braking systems. But people need to know what they're buying and they need to understand the limits of these technologies, too.
My New Year's resolutions will be easy to keep if we follow the recommendations of four organizations — Consumer Reports, AAA, the National Safety Council and J.D. Power — which developed standardized names for 19 different advanced safety systems.
In plain English: The standard names and descriptions are simple, specific and based on their function. For example, each of these is a little different:
Read the full list here.
Contradiction: EPA advisers chide Trump's plan to ease auto emissions rules (Ryan Beene — Bloomberg)
Uphill climb: Starsky Robotics seeks potential buyers as autonomous startup struggles to raise funds (Clarissa Hawes — Freight Waves)
Send money fast: NIO's new SUV can't save the company from its current problems (Sean O'Kane —The Verge)
BMW X5 M50i. Photo courtesy of BMW
Over the holiday break, we drove the 2020 BMW X5 M50i to Michigan's snowy Upper Peninsula for a brief family getaway.
The big picture: The M50i is a souped-up version of BMW's midsize luxury SUV, delivering a faster, sportier ride than the standard X5.
With BMW's iDrive cockpit infotainment system, you can control features with the large iDrive controller knob mounted on the center console, or through the large touchscreen center display, cloud-based voice controls or simple hand gestures.
Driver assistance: The M50i comes with a full list of assisted-driving features, all with fancy names under BMW's "Driving Assistance Professional" package.
The bottom line: The BMW X5 M50i starts at $83,145, which is what you'd expect for a high-performance luxury SUV.