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Today’s Pickup: New York City administration is walking the talk on sustainable urban transit

 Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Good day,

New York City’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) is setting an example for sustainable urban transit by allowing city employees to rent vehicles when on official duty, rather than providing them a dedicated car during the length of their tenure. Founded in 2012, the program has found great success with DCAS believing it teaches its employees that owning vehicles is not necessary to travel around.

To make this work, the city administration contracts with private car rental companies rather than maintaining its own fleet. This is practically viable as DCAS can increase or decrease the available car strength based on demand or emergency needs. Two years back, DCAS expanded its fleet by adding 50 battery-electric sedans that can be used by any city employee for official work. The shared electric vehicle fleet now stands at 70 Chevrolet Bolts. Currently, the fleet share program has around 800 vehicles under its umbrella, with the agency planning to hit 1,000 shared vehicles by 2019.

Did you know?

Chinese online merchandise sales rose 25% to 7.02 trillion yuan ($1.05 trillion) in 2018, representing 18% of total retail sales, compared with 11% in 2015, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Quotable:

“Just how [diesel] is made, it has that wax in it. Naturally, when the fuel gets cold that wax will start to come out and the fuel will start to gel up. So you have to have the right additives in there to keep it from waxing up and plugging fuel filters.”

– Jon Shimel, service manager at JX Truck Center, on an uptick in semi-truck repairs due to the extreme winter

In other news:

Amazon is hauling cargo in self-driving trucks developed by Embark

Embark integrates its self-driving systems into Peterbilt semis, rather than building its own vehicles completely from scratch. Generally, Embark trucks operate on roads with test drivers on board. (CNBC)

When Brexit happens, will hunger pangs follow?

Food retailers warn that supermarkets and food outlets would be the first to feel the impact of Britain crashing out of the European Union with no deal. (NY Times)

Can Amazon and Walmart disrupt the shipping business?

To stay competitive, both retail companies are adding drivers, trucks, and higher salaries with plans to add more. (The Motley Fool)

Waymo met with more than 12 carmakers in 2016 on driverless tech

Waymo met with more than 12 carmakers including Volvo in 2016 as the Alphabet Inc. unit sought manufacturing partners for its autonomous vehicle technology. (Bloomberg)

Lyft and Juno sue over rules to raise pay for ride-hail drivers

Lyft and competitor Juno each filed lawsuits against New York City yesterday in an attempt to thwart rules that will raise driver wages. (Quartz)

Final thoughts:

Electric vehicle owners across the Midwest are coming to terms with the harsh reality of driving their battery-powered cars in below-freezing temperatures, as the battery range plummets due to the icy environment it is made to run in. Owners have complained about slow charging during such winters, with vehicles also taking a long time to warm up before they can be taken out.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk had promised last week that improvements will be made in the upcoming software update, but it has not still seen the light of day. Meanwhile, tips for driving an electric vehicle during the winter has been doing its rounds. Battery engineers advice drivers to warm up the car before they plug it in for charging, and also before they take the car out. Another useful tip would be to use seat warmers instead of the central car heater as it sucks in a lot more battery power.

Hammer down everyone!

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Vishnu Rajamanickam, Staff Writer

Vishnu writes editorial commentary on cutting-edge technology within the freight industry, profiles startups, and brings in perspective from industry frontrunners and thought leaders in the freight space. In his spare time, he writes neo-noir poetry, blogs about travel & living, and loves to debate about international politics. He hopes to settle down in a village and grow his own food at some point in time. But for now, he is happy to live with his wife in the middle of a German metropolitan.
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