Now on to what's new in transportation: Today's Smart Brevity count is 1,267 words, a 5-minute read.
🚨 Situational awareness: Ford announced this morning that Jim Farley will become COO, making him the likely successor to CEO Jim Hackett. Automotive president Joe Hinrichs, the other contender, will retire after 19 years.
Nuro's R2 has no occupants, mirrors or windshield. Photo: Courtesy of Nuro
Regulators are starting to rewrite rules for self-driving cars to share the road with traditional vehicles.
The big picture: Automated test vehicles are allowed on public roads in some states — so long as they comply with existing safety standards written for human-driven vehicles.
Driving the news: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this week gave Nuro, a Silicon Valley startup, permission to bypass some existing safety standards in order to deploy its automated grocery delivery vehicles with no one aboard.
Why it matters: By granting Nuro the industry's first exemption for an AV, NHTSA determined the company's little delivery vans are as safe as other small, low-speed vehicles and that deploying them is in the public interest because it will help the agency shape future AV policy.
Exemptions are a temporary fix that could provide a path for AVs to be deployed until safety regulations are enacted.
Meanwhile: There's action on other fronts. After three years of stalled progress, self-driving vehicle legislation could be picking up momentum in Congress.
Yes, but: The bill could run into many of the same sticking points that killed previous efforts, such as legal liability and the split between federal and state authority.
Some industry groups are stepping in to try to fill the regulatory gap with measurable standards all AV companies can follow.
Tesla Model 3. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
While Tesla shares went into Ludicrious Mode this week, GM executives were on Wall Street pitching investors on their own vision of an electric, self-driving future. But as Bloomberg notes, the market isn't buying.
Why it matters: GM may be investing billions to transform its business for the future, but to many investors, Tesla's lead in the fledgling electric vehicle market is seen as insurmountable.
Catch up fast: During a four-hour presentation Wednesday, GM laid out an aggressive plan to extend its EV lineup and expand availability of its Super Cruise driver-assistance technology.
But it's not easy chasing Tesla, which sparked the market for EVs a decade ago and later convinced many that cars could drive themselves on Autopilot (even though it's not true).
Rivian CEO R.J. Scaringe with prototypes of Amazon's electric vans. Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
Amazon this week shared some fresh details about its plan to buy 100,000 electric delivery vans from Michigan-based Rivian.
Why it matters: The peek behind the scenes shows Amazon is serious about its plan to electrify its transportation fleet, while lending credibility to Rivian, a promising but unproven startup that also plans to produce its own line of electric pickups and SUVs.
Driving the news: Amazon released a video showing how the two companies are collaborating on the design of the vehicles, creating full-size clay models of the exterior and using virtual reality to simulate the driver experience.
What to watch: Amazon says the vehicles will begin making package deliveries in 2021. They hope to have 10,000 operating as soon as 2022, and all 100,000 by 2030.
Smart Columbus: Self-driving mass transit arrives on American streets (Kevin Miller — Bloomberg)
Compensation: Justice is elusive for Boeing's 346 plane crash victims (Courtenay Brown — Axios)
Green light: Uber gets permit to restart testing its self-driving cars in California (Munsif Vengattil and Neha Malara — Reuters)
Your author with the Silverado 2500, to scale. Photo: Bill Rapai/Axios
My ride this week is a 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500, a heavy-duty pickup truck with a hood that's almost as tall as I am.
The big picture: Heavy-duty trucks are meant for people doing serious work, like towing a large boat, a horse trailer or a camper — not for driving to the health club or supermarket, like I did.
Bigger all around: The 2020 Silverado HD is longer, wider and taller than its predecessor, with a gaping grille that reminds me of James Bond's steel-toothed nemesis, Jaws.
This truck's so big you really need the 15 surround-view cameras, including an innovative transparent trailer view (using an accessory camera mounted on the rear of the trailer).
The bottom line: The Silverado 2500 starts at $53,300. Mine came with a hefty $73,265 price tag.