Tesla and rival Nikola listed among most innovative and disruptive companies in freight

This year, the FreightWaves Research Institute conducted a study aimed at determining which companies are the most innovative and disruptive in the freight and logistics industry. From 500 companies, a panel of experts selected by the institute narrowed down the list to 25. These 25 companies represented the best that the freight and logistics industry has to offer, in terms of innovation, tech, and potential disruption.

Dubbed as the Freight.Tech25, the institute’s list of top companies included freight logistics heavyweights such as Amazon and J.B. Hunt. Standing near the top of the Top 25 list was Tesla, which placed third overall. Tesla was among the few automakers that made it to the Freight.Tech25, beating out Daimler, which placed 11th in the study’s rankings. Trucking startup Nikola Motor Company, which makes hydrogen-electric trucks, placed 24th in the Top 25 list.

FreightWaves (a publication behind the institute that conducted the study) has traditionally been quite bearish on Tesla, and in particular, Elon Musk. That said, the publication notes that behind all the drama and controversy surrounding its CEO, it is undeniable that Tesla has “set much of the conversation around autonomous (technologies) and electrification, and incumbents and OEMs across the globe are chasing them.” Led by the Tesla Semi and vehicles like the Model 3, the electric car maker seems poised to be a true disruptor in the transportation and logistics field.

Speaking in a symposium, James O’Leary, VP of NFI Industries fleet services noted that the long-haul industry today is becoming very particular about electrification. The NFI Industries executive had a name for the trend — the “Tesla Effect.”

“Nobody in North America was talking about electric vehicles until your local news outlets picked up the rollout of the Tesla Semi. That led basically to what we call the Tesla effect. Now shippers are asking their carriers where you are with electric vehicles,” he said.

Another surprising automaker that made it to the Freight.Tech25 is Tesla rival Nikola Motor, a company that creates hydrogen-electric long-haulers. Considering that the startup is yet to start the production of any of its vehicles, the company’s place in the FreightWaves Research Institute’s list is commendable. The institute has noted, though, that Nikola’s tech has received rave reviews in terms of fleet pre-orders. Thanks in part to the company’s practice of accepting orders without a reservation fee, Nikola has also reportedly received over $8 billion in pre-orders for its lineup of hydrogen-electric trucks — the Nikola One sleeper, the Nikola Two daycab, and the Nikola Tre, which is designed for the European and Australian market.

In true Nikola fashion, the trucking startup has issued a bold, optimistic statement on its official Twitter page, stating that while it was great to have made it into the Freight.Tech25, the company believes in the notion that “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” As such, Nikola declared that it “will never be okay with 24th place.”

For now, Tesla continues to test the Semi on US roads, with the company’s prototypes being sighted across several states. Just recently, even the matte black Tesla Semi prototype, which has remained unseen for months, was sighted charging in the Kettleman City Supercharger. Nikola, for its part, is preparing to hold its most ambitious event this coming April, where it is set to unveil its new hydrogen-electric trucks.

Tesla and rival Nikola listed among most innovative and disruptive companies in freight

Source

XE POWERED OPEL KADETT ESTATE

Who’d have thought that a Kadett estate could be turned into a show-stopper? Remco Gijzen’s been having a real gas confusing passers-by with his twin-cam Opel…

Opel Kadett E Estate

Everything has potential. That’s one of the undeniable constants of the modifying world. Sure, there are established ways of doing things, well-trodden paths which ensure that every modern showground is bristling with Mk5 Golfs on air-ride and E46s with CSL styling, but you’ll always find unexpected treats based on cars you’d never thought could be cool.

Opel Kadett E Estate

There was a Rover 75 estate on the scene a while back, slammed over WORK Seekers, it looked awesome. Someone’s buttered the mechanicals from a TT Quattro into an old Skoda 120. There’s a Xsara Picasso on hydraulics with chrome smoothies. No matter how unappealing a car may seem, it only takes one well-modified example to let you see it in a whole new light.

Opel Kadett E Estate

Take the Opel Kadett E estate, for example. What we’d know in the UK as a Mk2 Astra, this boxy station wagon (amusingly called the Kadett Caravan in Europe, for extra dork points) is something that we used to see everywhere in the 1980s, and never gave a second glance toward, as they were dull cars for pensioners, their spacious boots ideal for trips to the garden centre. These cars have all but died out because nobody gave a toss about them.

Opel Kadett E Estate

And then, out of nowhere, this shimmering green vision of magnificence appeared on the show scene, and suddenly everyone had to have a bit of a rethink. It twists your melon, unexpectedly falling in love with a car you’d never cared about before. It takes some getting used to.

Opel Kadett E Estate

The master of the double-take here is Remco Gijzen, a Dutch entrepreneur with a penchant for the offbeat. Indeed, with his proclivities leaning toward the East German unusualness of the Trabant, a booted Astra is near enough mainstream in his world. It certainly represents the fulfilment of a lifetime’s ambition for him. “I was fourteen years old when I first got the bug for modified cars,” he explains.

Opel Kadett E Estate

“It was at a Trabant meet in Zwickau, Germany, although it was the Kadett GSi that became my boyhood dream.” The car that we know as the Mk2 Astra GTE, it’s understandable that a fresh young petrolhead would become infatuated with this iconic hot hatch – and when he reached the age of eighteen, Remco bought one. “I was infected by the Kadett E virus!” he laughs.

Opel Kadett E Estate

Three more GSis followed – two of which he still has – along with a T5 Transporter and, yes, a Trabant, all having been eagerly modified… but it’s the Kadett Caravan which offers perhaps the clearest window into this offbeat modifier’s psyche.

Opel Kadett E Estate

“I’d built one of these Caravans before, just as a winter car, and I always regretted selling it,” Remco recalls. “So I bought this one back in 2010 – and it’s fair to say it’s been through a few different renovations since!”

Opel Kadett E Estate

He’s not kidding. And while the car did actually sit fallow for around six years while Remco got his new business up and running, he attacked the thing with great vigour once the vision of the finished product had crystallised in his mind. Keen to roll up his sleeves and tick things off the growing to-do list, our plucky hero took care of about 95% of the mods on the car himself, working to a vision that encapsulated the performance of the GSi, the imposing profile of the Caravan, and the stance of the modern show sweetheart.

Opel Kadett E Estate

The engine is a 2.0-litre XE, as you’d find in a GSi/GTE, but here it’s been converted to run on twin Weber carbs, which sounds utterly sublime – particularly combined with Remco’s own home-brewed stainless exhaust system. It nestles jewel-like in a fully shaved bay, the top mounts raised and the fluid reservoirs and battery relocated.

Opel Kadett E Estate

“I custom-built the air-ride system too,” he says. “It uses Air Lift Performance components with 3P management and Koni Yellows at the back, with modifications to the front legs and rear axle; all the suspension points on the chassis have been raised to get everything as low as possible – as a result, the trailing arms lie on the ground when it’s aired out! There are Powerflex bushes throughout and every component has been powdercoated; I also made new camber plates for the front, and shortened steering rods.”

Opel Kadett E Estate

The interior is an absolute work of art too. The rear’s been gutted, with a flat floor fabricated to provide a home for the air-ride system, and Remco’s installed a swanky gold-painted rollcage with bolt-in door bars. Have you ever seen a Kadett estate with a ’cage? This may well be a first. The seats are pretty special as well, being top-spec Cobra items with custom Players stitching. Why Players? “Well, I don’t go to a lot of shows, as I prefer to be in the garage tinkering,” he admits, “but the Players Classic at Goodwood is one of my favourites.” Again, all the work inside’s been carried out by this unstoppable force of nature – the Alcantara trimming, the seat frames, the superstructure for the air lines, the works.

Opel Kadett E Estate

Naturally there’s no point going to these extreme lengths if you’re not going to lavish the same level of attention on the exterior, and Remco’s really gone to town here. Just look at those flawless panels – we’ve got no proof to back it up, but we’re going to say that this has to be the straightest, cleanest Kadett E Caravan in the world. It must be. And to accentuate that flawlessness, he’s shot the whole thing in a unique shade of crystal green, using just a few select embellishments to act as breaking detail: GSi bumpers, Kamei spoiler, tinted headlights, Irmscher taillights, Astra F door handles. It’s at once an exercise in subtlety and a boisterous slap in the face.

Opel Kadett E Estate

“Really, I just want to see how far I can go,” Remco shrugs. “I do as much as possible myself so that I can learn all the techniques. In addition, it was a personal challenge to get the car as low as possible while maintaining the original look and parts. I think old-school cars modified the old-school way always look the best, but obviously I like to modernise things to complete my vision.

Opel Kadett E Estate

And like I say, I’ve got the Kadett E virus – you don’t often see these three-door station wagons, it makes this a fun and unique project.” And with that, he’s hit the nail on the head. Everything has the potential to be an awesome show winner with a jaw-dropping stance and electrifying performance – even a dull Opel estate can become an aspirational dream car. It only takes one well-modified example to let you see it in a whole new light.

Opel Kadett E Estate

TECH SPEC Opel Kadett

Styling:
Custom green paint, Kamei front spoiler, GSi bumpers, Astra F door handles, tinted headlights and indicators, Irmscher taillights.

Tuning:
2.0-litre 16v XE, twin Weber carbs, custom 55mm stainless steel exhaust system with Simons silencers, shaved engine bay with fluid reservoirs and battery relocated.

Chassis:
8×16” ET28 BBS RS wheels with 1.5” lips, custom Air Lift Performance air-ride with 3P management, Koni rear shocks, raised front top-mounts, polybushed throughout, rear disc conversion.

Interior:
Retrim in cloth/Alcantara, Cobra bucket seats with custom Players/Air Lift branding, Beltenick 5-point harnesses, custom rollcage in gold with bolt-in door bars, Opel Motorsport steering wheel, stripped rear with custom flat floor.

Words Dan Bevis Photos RonV

Source

Tesla rolls out classic Pole Position game for in-car touchscreen with controller support

It’s great when Tesla CEO Elon Musk delivers on a seemingly random tweet, and the latest Tesla version 9.0.2018.48.12 firmware update does just that, plus a couple of other bonuses. Last month, the tech mogul teased the coming of new Easter Eggs for all Model S, Model X and Model 3 before the holidays. The odd combination of “romance” and “toilet humor” subsequently spawned wide speculation along with a lineup of further game and feature requests. Alas, as Tesla over-the-air updates begin rolling out, Tesla drivers are finally getting the full, “most fun” software experience as promised.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s new in Tesla’s firmware update 2018.48.12:

  • Mobile App – Car preconditioning via the Tesla app now includes the ability to turn on seat and steering wheel heaters.
  • Romance Mode – A virtual fireplace to be enjoyed in a (maybe) cold parking area, given that it blasts heat, preferably with a partner awesome enough to appreciate the experience. A simple tap to the screen will begin a song along the lines of “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green or Marvin Gay’s “Sexual Healing” to ensure the mood resembles the name of the mode setting it.

Photo credit: Model 3 Owners Club

  • Emissions Testing Mode – A prank feature that allows users to play fart noise sounds from specific vehicle seats on demand. The option to fart when using turn signals is also available as well as the choice of fart style one wishes to execute. Options available: Not a Fart, Short Shorts Rapper, Falcon Heavy, Ludicrous Fart, Neurastink, Boring Fart (aptly named), and I’m So Random. A whoopee cushion icon is provided to clarify this feature’s overall intent. Each fart mode is a reference to various elements comprising the world of Tesla’s famous CEO. See for more insight: The Boring Company, SpaceX, and Neuralink.
  • Pole Position – A new version of the existing TeslAtari game based on the arcade classic, this one being set on Mars and appropriately named “Mars Madness”. A heavily digitized Falcon 9 rockets across the track before the race begins, allowing drivers to speed around and take in the regolith scenery. Watch out for billboards!
  • TeslAtari Game Controller Support – Video game controllers are now compatible with TeslAtari games via front vehicle USB port.

As an avid gamer, Elon Musk has made it clear that his Tesla sights will continuously aim to bring the most interactive fun to the company’s vehicles as possible. In another recent Twitter discussion with the official account for “Niche Gamer”, Musk mentioned the desire to bring a retro-style game called “Blazing Chrome” into the TeslAtari realm. With an AI-apocalypse theme, the game would be a natural fit for a product arising from an AI-wary CEO like Tesla’s.

Since its Version 9.0 firmware release, TeslAtari has proven to be both a popular addition to the company’s electric vehicle software and a successful step towards the “gamification” of the Tesla experience. Aside from the latest “Mars Madness” addition, the games currently hosted in the software include a non-Mars version of Pole Position, Tempest, and Missile Command. In August of this year, Musk announced that Tesla was looking to employ video game developers to deliver “max playability & creativity” to the company’s vehicles. That being said, these latest fun additions are sure to be part of a large family of entertainment features to come.

Watch the video below for a demonstration of Pole Position on TeslAtari:

[embedded content]

Tesla rolls out classic Pole Position game for in-car touchscreen with controller support

Source