The Friday Five:The Billions in Backing, Broken Bridge, Blunted Bitcoin Edition

Liz Kim | May 14, 2021

This week, we reported about the refreshed 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan, the revived Ford F-150 Lightning, and the remarkable Subaru Solterra EV. We wondered if Chrysler and Dodge will survive a decade from now, explained what DC Fast Charging is and how it works, and compared the Kia Seltos and Subaru Crosstrek. And we published reviews of the 2021 Buick Envision and 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander.

But that’s not everything that was happening in the automotive space.

Hyundai Motor Group Plans $7.4 Billion Spend in the U.S. - Find the best Hyundai deals!

Hyundai Motor Group (HMG) announced this week that it would invest $7.4B to develop and manufacture future technologies right here in America. The company will spend most of the money growing its collection of electric vehicles, but HMG says it will also expand its hydrogen fuel cell technology and offerings.

2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 Top View

Furthermore, HMG is exploring the potential of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) – that’s flying cars to you and me – by acquiring an 80% stake in Boston Dynamics. Finally, Hyundai is partnering with Lyft and Aptiv to bring robotaxi service, with driverless pods, to market by 2023.

Fuel Flows to East Coast After Ransom Payment

It’s not like technology is prone to glitches or subject to malfeasance or anything. This week, a group of Eastern European hackers successfully extorted a $5 million ransom to restore the operation of one of America’s most effective methods to move fuel throughout the south and east coast: the Colonial Pipeline. 

When pipeline operations ground to a halt, chaos ensued as gas stations started running out of fuel. People waited in long lines to fuel up, and some behaved irrationally, even trying to transport gasoline in plastic grocery bags or open plastic buckets. In their trunks, no less.

Ransom paid, the system is once again operational, and the fuel is flowing once more. Some cyber experts said the criminals could have asked for $25-$35 million, and Colonial got off easy. So there’s that.

Massive Crack Closes Key Interstate Bridge

Did you know that the American Society of Civil Engineers gave America’s infrastructure an overall grade of C-? Years of neglect will do that. 

To address this situation, the Biden administration is working to pass a bipartisan infrastructure package that allocates $115 billion toward resolving long-standing problems. This week, the Hernando de Soto Bridge helped to underscore the urgency of solving them. 

Carrying critical Interstate 40 across the Mississippi River between Arkansas and Tennessee, the bridge is cracking and is now closed indefinitely. The closure means all vehicle traffic is diverted to a smaller bridge two miles away, but should something occur with that bridge’s structural integrity, the next closest bridge is 60 miles to the south. 

The Mississippi River is also an essential barge route for agricultural products, and for now, all barge traffic has also ground to a halt. 

Hey Alexa, What New Ford Models Have You? - Find the best Ford deals!

Ford is integrating Amazon’s Alexa voice-activated assistant into vehicles equipped with its new Sync 4 infotainment system. For now, that means the new Bronco, the F-150, and the Mustang Mach-E will get the technology. But as Ford makes the system more widely available, more Ford models will get the technology. 

With Alexa, you don’t need to connect your smartphone to the infotainment system or even push a button to activate the voice assistant. Plus, Ford will provide free Wi-Fi connectivity for three years so that Alexa will give you navigation directions, read your text messages to you, order stuff from Amazon – whatever. But it won’t have music streaming capabilities. 

Tesla Halts Bitcoin Payment for EVs - Find the best Tesla deals!

Thus spoke Musk. Since March, Tesla has accepted bitcoin for vehicle purchases, but no more. Head honcho and Saturday Night Live hosting alum Elon Musk now declares that the cryptocurrency is too environmentally unfriendly.

Apparently, the high-performance computers needed for the process of “mining” bitcoin – that is, decipher the coding and analysis – require power derived from coal and fossil fuels. Musk tweeted that he still supports cryptocurrencies but is looking at ones that “use less than one percent of bitcoin’s energy/transaction.”

Musk has stated that he would accept Dogecoin for a ride to the moon, as SpaceX prepares for its first commercial flight next year. During his SNL appearance, Musk inferred that Doge is “a hustle.”

The automakers and trusted publications are the sources of information for this article. It was accurate on May 14, 2021, but it may have changed since that date.

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