May 19th, 2017 Car News of the Day: Qualcomm tests wireless charging, Uber could fire Levandowski

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【Summary】Car News of the Day for May 19th, 2017.

Original Claire    May 19, 2017 5:41 PM PT
May 19th, 2017 Car News of the Day: Qualcomm tests wireless charging, Uber could fire Levandowski

Qualcomm demos wireless charging of EV

Smartphone chipmaker giant Qualcomm said on Thursday that it has demonstrated a wireless "dynamic charging" test in Versailles, France. In the test, two Renault Kangoo electric vehicles drove over embedded pads in the road, which transferred a charge to the vehicle batteries at up to 20 kWh at highway speeds.

After acquiring NXP Semiconductors for $38 billion, the leading phone chip supplier is believed to be the leader in the fast-growing automotive chips market.

Qualcomm Chief Executive Steven Mollenkopf has called automotive technology and Internet of Things - in which household objects like cars and refrigerators communicate - a "tremendous opportunity" for the company.

Honeywell Opens $300 million automotive refrigerant plant


To cater to the demand for eco-friendly automotive air conditioning system, Honeywell announced on May 16th that it launched the production of Solstice yf refrigerant in its $300 million plant in Geismar, Louisiana.

According to Honeywell VP Ken Gayer, half of the cars manufactured now in U.S. are using this product and it will convert to 100 percent by 2021.

The European Union required in 2013 that refrigerants must be less than 150 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Currently, more than 20 million cars contain eco-friendly refrigerants and Honeywell estimates the number will reach 40 million this year.

Uber threatens to fire ex-google engineer


Amid the lawsuit controversy, Uber General Counsel Salle Yoo made the demand in a May 15 letter to the ex-google engineer and Otto founder Anthony Levandowski, citing a court order. Yoo urged him to comply with the demand, either by denying taking files from Waymo, or turning the files over. Yoo added that failure to do so will result in his termination from Uber.

The letter from Yoo was attached to a May 18 filing in Waymo's trade secret theft lawsuit against Uber. Google Waymo claimed that Levandowski had downloaded thousands of confidential files from Waymo before he left and launched his own autonomous truck company Otto, which was quickly acquired by Uber for $680 million.

Levandowski's lawyer requested that the order to be amended, thinking it had imposed the impossible burden of forcing Levandowski to choose between his Constitutional rights against self-incrimination, or his job. Uber declined to comment about  this issue.

4 automakers agree to $553 million settlement of Takata airbag claims


In order to address the class-action economic loss claimed by owners of nearly 16 million vehicles with potentially defective Takata airbag inflators, four major automakers agreed to a $553 million settlement, according to the court documents filed on Thursday.

Toyota will contribute $278.5 million, followed by BMW at $131 million, Mazda at $76 million, and Subaru at $68 million. The funds are aimed at repairing more cars equipped with the faulty airbags. So far, Toyota has completed 31.89% of recalled cars, topping over Subaru with 31.37%, Mazda with completed repairs at 18.16%, and BMW at 16.48% of completion.

Meanwhile, lawsuits against Honda, Ford, and Nissan have not been settled.

Takata inflators, which can explode with excessive force and let out metal shrapnel inside cars, are blamed for at least 16 deaths and more than 180 injuries globally. Over 100 million inflators have been recalled by more than a dozen automakers.

Ford to invest $350 million in Michigan plant, creating 800 jobs


Ford Motor Company said Friday that it will invest $350 million to upgrade its Livonia transmission plant in Michigan as the company expands its lineup of powertrains. The upgrade will add 800 new jobs and begin at the end of this year.

This comes after Ford announced this week plans to cut its salaried workforce globally by 1,400 positions because of its falling stock price and dwindling profits. The investment is part of a previously disclosed commitment to invest $9 billion and create 8500 hourly jobs in U.S. in the next few years. Ford's investment will support the production of a new transmission for its front-wheel-drive vehicles.

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