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May 5th, 2017 Car News of the Day: EV sales surge in Europe, Uber under criminal probe

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【Summary】Cars News of the Day for May 5th, 2017.

Original Claire    May 05, 2017 3:29 PM PT
May 5th, 2017 Car News of the Day: EV sales surge in Europe, Uber under criminal probe

EV sales suddenly surge in Europe

The sales of battery-powered vehicles are taking off in Europe in the first quarter of 2017, soaring 38% compared with a gain of only 2.9% for all of last year. This jump is due to models including Renault SA's newly improved Zoe, that won over customers in Germany and Spain.

The new registrations for EVs increased to 32,627 from 23,703 in the EU, Norway, and Switzerland, according to a statement released by Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers,Association.

Although EV sales are increasing in Europe, the increase is much larger in America, where the sale of electric cars jumped 49% to 40,700 units in the same period, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (the US car market is 16 percent larger than that of Europe's).

Porsche opens its "Innovation Center" in Silicon Valley

r.jpgLuxury automaker Porsche is opening a new satellite office in Silicon Valley, California to help it get better connected to local startup and venture capital companies in the rapidly growing automotive technology hub.

The office will employ 100 people and be based in Santa Clara, according to the company's subsidiary Porsche Digital, which focuses on connected cars, smart mobility and autonomous driving. It plans to make more investments in Silicon Valley, meanwhile looking for additional companies to partner with in the area. Porsche previously opened its first two innovation centers in Germany, and plans to add a future office in China as well.

Uber under criminal investigation over its software "Greyball"

uber-greyball-evades-authorities.jpgThe U.S. Department of Justice has begun a criminal investigation into Uber Technologies, regarding a software tool applied to help its drivers evade local transportation regulators, two insiders who are familiar with the situation told Reuters.

The software known as "Greyball", was used to identify and circumvent government officials who were trying to repress Uber in areas where its services have not yet been approved, such as Portland, Oregon.

Uber had prohibited the use of Greyball immediately after the New York Times revealed the company's secret program in March. However, Uber claims the program was created to check ride requests, prevent fraud, and safeguard drivers. This criminal probe comes after a long series of legal and PR issues involving Uber. The company declined to comment on the Justice Department's investigation at this time.

ISRO unveils solar hybrid electric car in India

in1_1493712188_1493722871.jpgThe Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) that developed high energy, lithium ion battery for spacecraft, has revealed to media today that they've designed a solar powered, hybrid electric car, to transfer their battery technology into India's automobile industry.

The car is powered by lithium ion batteries using a solar panel. The solar panel will control the electronics of the vehicle to ensure steady power for a smooth ride. The Road Transport Department of India has requested ISRO to share its technology with the industry, yet the hurdle still remains on reducing its manufacturing cost so that the vehicle is affordable.  

VW in talks with E.ON, Gazprom on gas-powered vehicles

r.jpgVolkswagen has been in talks recently with E.ON and Gazprom to back its efforts for promoting cars running on natural gas, Chief Executive Matthias Mueller told Austria's ORF radio Wednesday.

As Europe's biggest carmaker, VW is striving to shift toward electric cars and fuel-saving technologies to lower its fleet-wide carbon dioxide emissions. VW is especially intent on rebuilding its image after the diesel scandal in 2015.

"We are now really trying to think out of the box and find solutions that can be helpful at least in this transition period of 10 to 20 years," Mueller said in the interview.

VW admitted in September 2015 to cheating on U.S. federal diesel emissions tests, and agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines, as well as compensation to the owners of the cars involved.

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