Miami orders electric scooters off the streets ahead of Hurricane Dorian

Cities undertake many defensive preparations when major hurricanes are bearing down on them, but here’s a new one: Officials in Miami have ordered six companies that operate fleets of electric scooters to remove them from the streets before Hurricane Dorian hits and potentially turns them into dangerous flying projectiles.

NBC News reports that city officials directed the scooter companies Bird, Bolt, Jump (owned by Uber), Lime, Lyft and Spin to remove all scooters by noon Friday. Some scooter companies also said they’ve removed or thinned their fleets of scooters in the cities of Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Orlando. A Miami city commissioner even used the hashtag #scooternado in a tweet.

The latest update on Friday had Hurricane Dorian upgraded to an actual hurricane as a Category 3 major storm, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and moving northwest at 10 mph. It could make landfall on the state’s east coast as early as late Monday, then roll inland toward Orlando. The storm is expected to slow its forward speed in the coming days, which would help it gain strength and gather moisture from the Caribbean Sea, fueling heavy rains, a pushing storm surge and powerful winds.

Dockless electric scooters have exploded in popularity in cities across the globe in recent years. They weigh up to 40 pounds, are made of metal and feature a deck that swivels around the handlebar riser — not the kind of thing you want being tossed about by hurricane-force winds.

The Associated Press recently reported that it had found at least 11 deaths involving electric scooter riders in the U.S. since the beginning of 2018.


Rideshare, delivery apps pledge $90M California ballot fight

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Uber, Lyft and DoorDash threatened Thursday to spend $90 million on a California ballot measure if they can’t reach a deal with unions and lawmakers on legislation that would change the rights of their drivers and other so-called gig workers.

“We remain focused on reaching a deal, and are confident about bringing this issue to the voters if necessary,” Adrian Durbin, senior director of communications at Lyft, said in a statement.

The companies’ team-up comes as California lawmakers debate a bill that would make it harder to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees. As employees, workers are entitled to more wage protections and benefits.

But the ridesharing and on-demand delivery companies say labeling workers as such would upend their business model built around driver flexibility.

The California Labor Federation, which sponsored the bill, quickly vowed to fight a ballot measure.

“We will meet the gig companies’ absurd political spending with a vigorous worker-led campaign to defeat this measure to ensure working people have the basic job protections and the right to organize a union they deserve under the law,” said Steve Smith, the federation’s spokesman.

The companies say they would skip the ballot if they can reach a deal with Gov. Gavin Newsom and unions on a new piece of legislation that sets separate rules for drivers who work “gig” jobs.

This isn’t the first time an industry has pressured lawmakers to act by dangling the prospect of a long and costly ballot fight. Last year , beverage companies, the paint industry and a wealthy developer all withdrew initiatives at the last minute after striking deals with lawmakers.

The legislation faces a vote Friday in a key state Senate committee. California’s law would be the strictest on worker classification in the nation and potentially set a precedent for other states to follow, increasing the pressure on the companies.

Durbin and Davis White, of Uber, said the companies have agreed to set a base hourly wage of $21 for drivers, to pay into a fund that drivers could tap for portable benefits and to establish sectoral bargaining. That would allow drivers who work for various companies to bargain together.

DoorDash’s statement says the company supports a minimum pay standard, occupational accident insurance and protection from discrimination, but did not mention collective bargaining rights.

Proposed text for the ballot measure has not been released.

Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, the author of the bill on worker misclassification, suggested the campaign was hypocritical.

“Billionaires who say they can’t pay minimum wages to their workers say they will spend tens of millions to avoid labor laws,” she tweeted.

Nathan Click, a spokesman for Newsom, declined to comment.

Newsom, a Democrat, clashed with the State Building and Construction Trade Council earlier this week on the bill. But at least one union, the SEIU, has indicated a willingness to set new standards specific to gig workers.

Ann O’Leary, Newsom’s chief of staff, said in a statement Wednesday that the governor’s office is “aggressively fighting for the right of workers to organize and earn higher wages.”


Driving the Lincoln Aviator and flogging Abarths at Laguna Seca | Autoblog Podcast #593

In this week’s Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by West Coast Editor James Riswick and Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale. To begin, Greg takes a moment to remember the fastest woman on four wheels and former host of Autoblog‘s “The List,” Jessi Combs, who died this week. Then our editors turn their attention to the cars they’ve been driving, including the Lincoln Aviator, Ford Ranger and Nissan Frontier, as well as Joel’s recent stint in the Fiat 500 Abarth and Fiat 124 Spider Abarth, including track time at Laguna Seca. Finally, they turn their attention to a listener in Germany who is looking to replace an aging Volkswagen Eos with a newer convertible in this week’s “Spend My Money” segment.

Autoblog Podcast #593

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  • Remembering Jessi Combs
  • 2020 Lincoln Aviator and Aviator Grand Touring
  • 2019 Ford Ranger
  • 2019 Nissan Frontier
  • 2019 Fiat 500 Abarth and 124 Spider Abarth at Laguna Seca
  • Spend My Money


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M boss confirms there will be no BMW M5 wagon

The 2020 Audi RS 6 Avant will bring its head-turning looks and 591-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8 to the American market for the first time. It will compete in the same arena as the Mercedes-AMG E63 wagon, but BMW confirmed it won’t complete the trifecta by dropping the M5’s powertrain into a wagon.

The pieces are there, it’s only a matter of putting them together. The M5 uses a 4.4-liter V8 twin-turbocharged to 617 horsepower in its mightiest configuration, and European buyers can order a Touring variant of the 5 Series. BMW won’t tie the two ends to create an M5 Touring because Markus Flasch, the head of its go-fast M division, believes that’s what SUVs like the X3 M are for.

“Touring estates are not part of our M plan. If I asked customers in Austria, Switzerland, or Germany they would probably give it the thumbs-up, but we are a global company, and we have so many things to deal with on the powertrain side that we don’t go into products like this,” he told British magazine Car during an interview. The decision is clear, and it’s straight from the horse’s mouth.

The powertrain-related distractions luring BMW away from a hot-rodded wagon all orbit around electrification. M’s focus on performance doesn’t exempt it from the need to make cleaner, more efficient cars sooner rather than later, and the team Flasch leads is keeping every level of electrification — from mild to full — on the table. He explained BMW is developing it all, from 48-volt mild hybrid systems to fully electric vehicles, and M has access to these components.

He didn’t reveal which type of electrification will first find its way into an M-badged car, or when, but he called the technology “the biggest change” that will shape the firm’s upcoming models. And, regardless of what his team chooses, he’s committed to making sure the end product lives up to expectations. “We have to be very careful to preserve what M stands for,” he stressed. That means it needs to deliver sharp, engaging handling, not just a jaw-dropping zero-to-60-mph time.

BMW’s electrified technology will trickle into the M division when it’s ready. In the meantime, American enthusiasts seeking a quick BMW wagon are out of luck. Actually, Americans hoping to buy any type of new BMW wagon in 2019 will need to move abroad because the company confirmed the 3 Series Touring won’t return to our shores. At least the Austrian, Swiss, and German families begging Flasch for an M5 Touring can turn to Alpina, whose all-wheel drive B5 Touring pictured above packs a 608-horsepower evolution of the M5’s twin-turbocharged V8.


Autoblog Staff’s favorite Labor Day weekend accessories

Here at Autoblog we’re all excited for the coming Labor Day weekend. We’re taking road trips, staying home to enjoy the long weekend or heading to various tailgating parties to celebrate the start of college football. We’ve all got big plans and we wanted to share some recommendations for tools, coolers, speakers, and even hot sauces that we’ll be taking with us on our journeys.

Reese Counts, Road Test Editor – “I own a few JBL portable speakers. I keep one in my shower, one in my garage and one that I pull out if I’m hanging out in the yard. They’re relatively lightweight, waterproof and have batteries that last a good while. The sound quality is pretty good, and with their newer models you can daisy chain them together to play the same music from multiple speakers.”

JBL 4 Charge – $119.95

JBL Clip 3 – $59.95

Alex Kierstein, Senior Editor – “I really like my Yeti can cooler. Works really well and is actually reasonably priced for something Yeti.”

YETI Rambler Colster – $24.99

John Snyder, Senior Editor, Green – “If you’re tailgating, someone’s probably grilling, and if you want to go down as a legend, bring a six-pack … of hot sauces. Sure, you can do the typical Tabasco, Frank’s or Sriracha, but if you really want to make lifelong friends and lasting memories, getting creative with condiments is a solid way to do it (yes, I live by weird rules). These are my go-to hot sauces.”

Hot Sauce


“Marie Sharp’s: This is my current favorite. Made in Belize, it gets its heat from flavorful habanero peppers. It’s made with carrots, onion and garlic, too, which is surprisingly delicious and helps keep it from being runny. There are different heat levels available. I go through a lot of this stuff, so I buy it by the two-pack.

Clancy’s Fancy Hot Sauce: Made in Ann Arbor, Michigan, this is a unique hot sauce with an apple cider vinegar base. If you want to take it to the next level, mix it with mayo for a spicy aioli that goes great as a dip or a burger topping.

Tapatío: I see Cholula at a lot of burrito joints, but I’m always pumped when I see Tapatío instead (not to throw shade at Cholula — it’s good too). It’s a similar, but more satisfying traditional red sauce. It’s cheap, too. I love the tagline: “Es una salsa … Muy salsa.”

Pepper Plant: This one is always a hit at the barbeque, or even at breakfast. It’s a little on the salty side so it makes a fantastic marinade, too. For whatever reason (probably the saltiness) this one tastes extra special when you’re drinking a beer with your grilled delights. There are other flavors, too. The garlic style is excellent if that’s your thing. After all, Pepper Plant is made in the Garlic Capital of the World.

Endorphin Rush: I was recently introduced to this one at The Inn at Newport Ranch on California’s Lost Coast when I was there to drive the 2020 Subaru Outback. A staff member saw me eyeing the hot sauce selection at breakfast, and dashed off to the kitchen to grab this chef’s favorite from reserve. Boy, it packs a wallop, so warn any adventurous eaters before a taste test. It’s a tomato-based sauce — no vinegar — and it provides a little sweet and savory before the searing pain begins.

Sambal Oelek: Better described as a chili paste than a hot sauce, this comes from the Huy Fong Foods, the same company that sells the Sriracha in the famous rooster-adorned squirt bottles. I use Sambal a lot in dishes, especially when I want to spice up a stir fry. The thing is, this makes an excellent condiment as well. If you like the flavor of fresh chilis without all the frills, reach for this, but bring a spoon — the jar’s wide mouth doesn’t make for precise pouring.”

Alex Malburg, Associate Producer – “During BBQ cookouts, you have the grill master, the games master, but you also always need the music master. I take this mighty little speaker with me where ever I go because you never know when you need to KICK OUT THE JAMS!”

Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM – $69.99

Chris McGraw, Senior Producer – “Normally when game day rolls around I throw on my maize and blue Air Jordan 1s and cheer on the Wolverines, but after a day full of walking around, unfortunately blisters have become common. That’s why I was so pumped when Nike released team-specific Pegasus models this year. I have been running in Pegasus shoes for over 10 years, and they are my go to shoe for any activity. They are super comfortable and, in recent years, have really started to look great too. You can spend all day in these, they are equally at home walking around Ann Arbor or just walking from the couch to the fridge. Go Blue!”

Michigan Wolverines Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 – $159.98

Greg Migliore, Editor-in-Chief – “I like to throw on a side of vegetables when I’m grilling basically anything. Asparagus, peppers you name it. Sometimes I put the veggies straight on the grill, but when I need a basket, this one is solid. There’s different shapes and sizes out there, but the Weber model fits nicely on most grills, leaving room for steaks or chops, too. If you want to keep all of the juices in, layer the basket in foil, which I’ll do if I’m working with olive oil or sauces.”

Weber Stainless Steel Vegetable Basket – $14.98

James Riswick, West Coast Editor – “Do I like college football? I do not, so I definitely won’t be attending a tailgate party. However, I know people who do, and for that venture, they purchased one of these: A beer pong table with your college allegiance printed upon it. I went to Pepperdine University, a dry-campus school with no football team (it was a real riot). Even it’s represented here.”

Foldable Tailgate Table – $149.99

Eddie Sabatini, Manager of Video Production – “I’ll be using the long weekend to do projects around the house. First up is garage security. I had my bike stolen from my garage about a year ago, so I’ve since added cameras to my house but I want better coverage on the garage. I have two of these on my house, one on the back door and one on the front door but I’m thinking of something a little cheaper for the garage since the Ring floodlight does capture some footage of the garage. This wireless option is on my list. 

The other garage project I want to tackle this weekend is adding storage/organization solutions for my garden tools and other random stuff. These are the options I’m currently looking at: this rack is an Amazon choice. I have this storage shelf in my basement and it’s been good so I’m thinking of adding one to the garage. And I’m not sure I have the joints to support this, but I really want some overhead storage like this rack.

After these projects, I’ll be drinking an IPA or three.”

Ring Floodlight Camera – $249.00 here

HeimVision HMD2 Wireless – $79.99 here

Berry Ave Broom Holder – $13.97 here

AmazonBasics 3-Shelf Shelving Storage Unit – $30.54

FLEXIMOUNTS 4×8 Overhead Garage Storage Rack – $179.99

Autoblog is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to certain products. These deals are available through our affiliate partnerships. Deals are subject to our partners’ schedule and availability.


2020 Aston Martin DBX Spied Up Close With Full Production Body

Aston Martin is just about ready to dip its toes into the SUV game.

Unveiled about four and a half years ago, the Aston Martin DBX concept will morph into a production model at the end of the year. While the nameplate will be carried over unchanged, we can’t say the same thing about the showcar’s sleek styling since the road-going model will lose some of the pizzazz while adding rear doors in the process for better practicality.

Prepare to cross off another brand from the list of automakers that don’t have SUVs as the DBX will be the first high-riding model from Gaydon. Better late than never, the Urus and Bentayga rival has now been caught while undergoing last-minute testing. The prototype had all the final body panels in place, as well as the production-spec headlights and taillights.

Gallery: 2020 Aston Martin DBX SUV new spy photos

A typical Aston Martin trait, pop-out door handles should lend the side profile a cleaner side profile as already seen on another British SUV, the all-electric Jaguar I-Pace. While looks are indeed subjective, there’s no arguing the DBX won’t look like a typical SUV thanks to design influences from the company’s sports cars and grand tourers.

You can tell it’s a high-performance SUV just by checking out at the sheer size of the brakes at both axles, while the look-at-me dual exhausts at the back denote it’s not your average sports utility vehicle. Also noticeable is the roof-mounted spoiler with a central fin, along with a rather large built-in spoiler on the tailgate. At the front, the lower corners of the grille are flanked by what seem to be slightly angled LED daytime running lights.

Underneath the hood will reside AMG’s twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 at first, with Aston Martin’s own 5.2-liter V12 also packing a pair of turbos to arrive at a later date. The Wales-built SUV is expected to inherit the electrical architecture from Mercedes and probably the infotainment system and some of the switchgear as well judging by a batch of interior spy shots we published back in April. An electrified DBX using Mercedes hybrid tech is reportedly in the pipeline, but it will come after the conventionally powered versions.

Series production of the first Aston Martin SUV will kick off in 2020.

Photos: CarPix


Waymo urges NHTSA to ‘promptly’ remove requirement for steering wheel, pedals


WASHINGTON — Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc, on Thursday urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to “promptly” remove regulatory barriers for cars without steering wheels and brake pedals.

Automakers must currently meet nearly 75 auto safety standards for self-driving cars, many of them written under the assumption that a licensed driver is in command of the vehicle using traditional controls.

NHTSA has been grappling for more than three years with how to address those requirements, while filings from major companies this week shed light on complex issues surrounding testing, acquiring and evaluating fully self-driving vehicles.

“NHTSA should move promptly to remove barriers while ensuring safety,” Waymo said in a letter posted on Thursday after the auto safety agency sought public comment in May “on the removal of unnecessary regulatory barriers to the safe introduction of automated driving systems.”

NHTSA should first work on addressing those safety standards that assume a human is behind the wheel before revising rules to address alternative seating configurations, Waymo said.

That will “enable the timely deployment” of vehicles without manual controls, Waymo added.

General Motors in its comments said “it is imperative that NHTSA continue to drive this critical dialog with a sense of urgency so that the necessary regulatory evolution keeps pace with advancing technology.”

Lyft and Honda told the agency in separate comments that it could recognize self-driving cars as a separate vehicle class to address the rules written assuming humans would be behind the wheel.

NHTSA does not plan to begin writing rules on seating positions until March 2020. That involves revising crashworthiness standards to address occupants faced to the rear or side in fully self-driving cars. New seating positions “are not vital to the development or deployment of AVs,” Waymo said, referring to autonomous vehicles.

Comments filed by automakers suggest it could take the agency until at least 2025 to complete a comprehensive rewrite of various safety standards.

NHTSA is also grappling with how and where to test self-driving cars to assure they are safe. The agency is considering whether to use simulations or external remote controls in testing. Many automakers plan remote controls to pilot autonomous vehicles through factories or onto trucks.

In January 2017, GM sought an exemption from NHTSA to deploy fully automated vehicles without steering wheels before the end of 2019. Last month, GM’s self-driving unit, Cruise, said it was delaying the commercial deployment of the cars past its target.

Ford and GM both told the safety agency that its self-driving vehicles will initially not be able to respond to human commands like “drive up onto a car hauler” or “drive forward 10 feet and stop.”

Ford said its self-driving car “will be responsible for deciding when, where and how it is appropriate to drive. … We do not foresee interfaces beyond a method of giving the vehicle a destination.”

New York City told NHTSA it should ensure self-driving cars meet baseline performance requirements including “a high rate of accurate pedestrian and cyclist detection from all angles, the application of the brakes in time to stop the vehicle prior to a collision, and the maintenance of safe and legal speeds.”

That testing would help weed out “under-developed systems,” the city added. 


2020 Subaru Forester adds a rear seat reminder, new pricing announced


The 2020 Subaru Forester has officially arrived with a few changes. To start, every Forester will be equipped with Subaru’s rear seat reminder as standard, following the larger 2020 Ascent which got that update earlier this year. Subaru is on the path to get the tech in all its cars, just like many other manufacturers have been doing for awhile now.

There’s a small revision to the standard EyeSight driver assistance tech for 2020. Now, every trim of Forester will be equipped with a Lane Centering function and a new Lane Departure Prevention function as standard. Previously, the standard equipment just included lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist. 

Beyond those few tech add-ons, most things remain the same. A small increase of $200 bumps the price of entry up to $25,505. The destination charge was also increased by $35 to $1,010. All five trims from before are still available, including Premium ($28,405), Sport ($30,005), Limited ($32,105) and Touring ($35,605). The biggest trim-specific price increase comes at the Limited trim level, which went up $700 compared to the 2019 Forester Limited.

You can read what we thought of the 2019 Forester in our first drive review of the redesigned model here. The 2020 Forester will be hitting dealers this fall.


Inkas reveals armored Bentley Bentayga for risky VIPs

Inkas Armored Vehicle Manufacturing has unveiled what it is billing as the first commercially available armored Bentley Bentayga, a week after we saw the armored X5 Protection VR6 straight from BMW. It can be equipped with up to level B6 protection, so it can withstand shots from a 7.62 mm round fired from an assault rifle. The first example has already been purchased for approximately $500,000. 

Inkas, which is based in Dubai and has offices in North America, lists armoring services for a number of different vehicles including the Toyota Camry, Mercedes-Benz G-Class, or even Ford Transit vans. And now, it offers a service for Bentley’s luxurious and performance-minded Bentayga SUV. 

Inkas offers two routes for its customers. An interested consumer can bring a car in and have it outfitted exactly the way he or she wants. Or, the customer can tell Inkas what he or she is looking for, and Inkas will source and build the entire project, including finding the right vehicle. For the Bentayga, specifically, armor options start at $130,000, and fully sourced projects can range into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, as previously noted. 

Standard armor for each project includes a safety shell for passengers, multi-layer bullet-resistant glass, battery and ECU protection, reinforced door hinges, a reinforced suspension, and run-flat tires. Inkas says the B6 level of armor is meant to stop armor piercing rounds, but it could also protect from grenade blasts. 

Inkas also offers the options to equip the Bentayga with a lightweight armor package, a PA system, heavy duty brakes, emergency lights, a fire supression system, and heavy duty wheels. We imagine most orders tick all the boxes. 


Here’s Why The DBX Is A Big Deal For Aston Martin

“There’s a slowdown, across the world, in demand for cars,” said Palmer. “But, I think it’s fair to say…the more (high-end SUVs) you put out there the bigger the sales grow. Go back four years, before the Bentley (Bentayga) existed, and sales were nothing, the market was zero. You might have said there was no demand for the Lamborghini or the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, or the model Ferrari is coming with. Clearly, the market grows along with the supply of (high-luxury SUVs).”Crucially, the DBX is launching at a time when Aston Martin is facing financial setbacks. Last month, Aston Martin reduced its sales and profits forecasts due to falling sales in Europe and the UK, causing the company’s share price to fall by a whopping 26 percent. If there’s one model that has the potential to turn around Aston Martin’s fortunes, it’s the DBX, just as the Cayenne did for Porsche.