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Uber’s Big Loss, Boeing’s 787 Trouble, and More Car News This Week

It’s summertime, and the profits are measly. Nonexistent, actually: Uber this week announced it lost $5.2 billion this past quarter, while posting record low revenue growth. Rival Lyft did better, losing just $644 million in the same span. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi called the loss a “once in a lifetime hit,” since much of it came from stock-based compensation costs in the wake of its IPO. Seeking profitability, both companies offered hints that they will ease off undercutting the other with subsidized rides. Yup, the days of the cheap Uber ride may be waning.

Elsewhere in corporate schadenfreude, Boeing continued to work on a fix for its troubled 737 MAX, while a researcher found security vulnerabilities in the code of its 787 Dreamliner jet. We also witnessed a pivot to electric cars from a major auto industry supplier, checked in with the self-driving trucks roaming Texas, and more. It’s been a week—let’s get you caught up.

Headlines

Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week

  • We’ve heard a lot of boasting about going electric from automakers: GM promises a “zero emissions” future without offering a date; Ford used an electric F-150 to tow a train. But seeing industry supplier Continental divest from R&D in internal combustion engines in favor of EV components is a hard-to-deny sign that the age of the battery-powered car truly is nigh.
  • It’s been five months since the FAA grounded the 737 MAX after a pair of deadly crashes, and Boeing is still working on a fix for the troubled plane’s software. Turns out, that involves flying a test plane up and down off the coast of Oregon.
  • You know how having your friend punch you in the arm is a good way to distract you from the pain of a stubbed toe? Maybe that’s how the folks at Boeing felt when a security researcher revealed he had found flaws in the code for the 787 Dreamliner.
  • Limited regulations, good weather, and a whole lot of freight to move: Why Kodiak and other AV trucking companies have flocked to Texas.
  • Electric cars still make up a tiny percentage of new car sales, but they’ve now been around long enough to start appearing on used car lots—and the deals are pretty good.
  • Almost exactly a year after opening—and 11 months after the discovery of cracks that forced its closing—San Francisco’s Salesforce Transit Center is coming back online, after some serious engineering work.
  • Mayoral candidates in Salt Lake City are talking about making public transit free, and polls say residents are for it. But cost isn’t the only thing pushing people into cars—you have to make the service useful if you want people to use it.
  • In their battle for ride-hail supremacy, Uber and Lyft have spent years subsidizing rides. But their competition is reaching something like a detente as the now-public companies seek profitability. That may mean the days of super cheap rides are coming to an end.

Hot Mess of the Week

Why did the kid with the rolly bag cross the highway? Because an August Thursday became one of the busiest days ever for a very much under construction LaGuardia Airport and everything fell apart.

Stat of the Week

$16,000

The cost of the powertrain for an electric vehicle, according to new research from consulting firm AlixPartners. Thanks to high-priced batteries (which are steadily getting cheaper), that’s 2.5 times as much as the cost of the powertrain for an internal combustion engine, which is about $6,500. (Based off a 55-kWh battery pack with a 170 kW motor and a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine.) The gap also creates what AlixPartners calls a “profit desert,” which automakers shifting to an age of EVs will struggle to cross.

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