Disrupting the Truck Industry with Tough, Electric, Luxury Vehicles

Disrupting the Truck Industry with Tough, Electric, Luxury Vehicles

Amazon and Ford Motor Company have invested heavily in Rivian, a new start-up aiming to do for pickup trucks and sports utility vehicles (SUVs) what Tesla did for cars.

Rivian focuses on combining power, electrification, and fun. The vehicle designs are slick, but the challenge of manufacturing them looms over the company.


Video Spotlight: see the video on Rivian vs. Tesla


This post is based on the New York Times article, Meet the Man Quietly Building the Tesla of Trucks, with Jeff Bezos Aboard, by N.D. Schwartz, July 2, 2019, and the YouTube video, What EV Start-Up Rivian Is Doing That Tesla Isn’t, by Business Insider, June 11, 2019. Image source: Images by Victoria J Baxter/Getty Images

Discussion Questions:

1. On what market opportunities does Rivian want to capitalize?

Guidance: It is actually quite unclear. On one hand, the article mentions that the trucks are meant to be “lifestyle,” rather than work vehicles; on the other, Amazon’s interest in the company seems targeted at its distribution network. What is certain is that it is attempting to carve a niche in the expanding pickup and SUV markets.

2. What are the external threats to the company’s future Continue reading

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Toyota Catches Up On Safety Features For 2020

Toyota Catches Up On Safety Features For 2020

June 26, 2019

To further goof-proof its vehicles, Toyota plans to add two new safety features to some 2020 model vehicles.

One prevents rollaway accidents by automatically switching the car to “park” if it is left running.

The other averts carbon monoxide poisoning in an enclosed area like a garage by automatically shutting off the engine if it’s left running.

These features are increasingly important with hybrid cars that sit silent when the gas engine is off, yet the car is not completely shut down.

Toyota lags behind Ford and GM in implementing these features.  Consumer Reports believes its policies that downgrade ratings on vehicles lacking such safety checks has led to greater willingness on the part of automakers to add these important features.


Video Spotlight: AutoComplete: Future Toyotas will be able to shift to Park and shut themselves off if you forget


This post is based on the Consumer Reports article, Toyota announces fixes designed to prevent rollaway and carbon monoxide deaths, by Jeff Plungis, June 13, 2019; and the YouTube video, AutoComplete: Future Toyotas will be able to shift to Park and shut themselves off if you forget, by Roadshow, June 13, 2019. Image source: Shutterstock / Continue reading

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IKEA and Ori Partner for Robotic Product Design

IKEA and Ori Partner for Robotic Product Design

IKEA is partnering with Ori, an American startup, to offer robotic furniture that fits a bed, couch, desk, and storage in less than 115 square feet of space.

That’s an ideal solution for small apartment dwellers.  With a push of a button, a bed can slide under the unit or a desk can be retracted to open up floor spaces, turning limited quarters into smart spaces.


Video Spotlight: Robotic furniture transforms studio apartments


This post is based on the Engadget article, IKEA is working on robotic furniture for small apartments, by Christine Fisher, June 5, 2019; and the YouTube video, Robotic furniture transforms studio apartments, by NJ.com, December 22, 2017. Image source: Ingram Publishing

Discussion Questions:

1. What are the factors that drive IKEA to create a line of robotic furniture?

Guidance: Ori is a technology start-up that has designed furniture for modern living in very small spaces. Ikea wants to take advantage of the urban living trend where space is valuable and scarce, and people struggle with the challenge of small apartment living.

2. What is the operational significance of IKEA’s robotic furniture?

Guidance: The robotic furniture represents IKEA’s latest innovation in Continue reading

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