General Motors will soon learn whether its autonomous driving technology can stand up to Michigan’s harsh winters.
The automaker will begin testing self-driving Chevy Bolt electric vehicles on public roads in the greater Detroit area, executives announced Thursday. The announcement comes after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed legislation last week that sets parameters for how the cars can be safely tested in the state.
Home to many of the country’s leading automakers, Michigan aims to pull ahead of California and other states as a place that’s friendly to the autonomous driving movement.
The laws permit ride-hailing services to use fully automated cars without human drivers and also allow the Michigan public to purchase self-driving vehicles when they go on the market, the Detroit News reported.
General Motors is already testing 40 autonomous electric vehicles on the road in San Francisco and Scottsdale, Ariz.
The self-driving Chevy Bolts that GM uses to test the technology, which come equipped with lasers, cameras and other sensors, will be produced at an assembly plant in Lake Orion, Mich.
— Steven Overly
After an 18-month investigation, the U.S. Transportation Department has concluded that airlines were not guilty of price gouging in the aftermath of an Amtrak crash in Philadelphia that disrupted rail travel in the Northeast Corridor.
After the May 12, 2015, derailment that killed eight passengers and injured 159, there were allegations that the cost of plane tickets in northeast cities had skyrocketed.
The accident delayed rail travel from Washington to New York and Boston for days, and the Transportation Department looked into whether there were significant ticket price increases by American, Delta, Southwest, JetBlue and United airlines.
After the department reviewed routes between the Washington area’s three airports, those in the New York region and in Boston, the investigation was closed, according to an email the department sent the airlines Wednesday.
“Based on this analysis, the enforcement office finds that, although fares did increase on many routes in the aftermath of the derailment, fares also decreased on some routes,” assistant general counsel Blane A. Workie wrote in the email. “More importantly, there was no evidence of unfair manipulation of airfares or capacity, nor evidence of unconscionable increases in fares beyond normal pricing levels.”
The airlines, some of which added flights while rail traffic was shut down, denied the allegations 18 months ago and again on Thursday.
— Ashley Halsey III
● U.S. home builders’ confidence soared this month to the highest level in 11 years, reflecting heightened expectations of better sales now and into 2017. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Thursday jumped seven points to 70. The last time the reading was at this level was July 2005, during the U.S. housing boom. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good rather than poor. Builders’ view of sales now and over the next six months rose sharply, as did a gauge of traffic by prospective buyers.
● Consumer prices rose in November by the smallest amount in three months as a jump in energy prices moderated a bit and food prices stayed flat. The Labor Department said Thursday that its consumer price index increased 0.2 percent last month after a 0.4 percent rise in October. Energy prices were up 1.2 percent, slowing from a 3.5 percent surge in November. Gasoline prices rose 2.5 percent last month. Food prices were flat for a fifth straight month.
● The Obama administration has launched its 15th challenge against China at the World Trade Organization, claiming that the nation is unfairly limiting U.S. farmers’ ability to export rice, wheat and corn. During China’s accession to the WTO, it agreed to permit a certain amount of grain and corn to enter the country subject to a reduced tariff rate. The administration said it wants WTO to hold China to that commitment. U.S. trade officials describe China’s system as “not transparent, predictable or fair.”
● Oracle Corp. reported a smaller-than-expected rise in quarterly adjusted revenue as the business software maker’s sales from countries outside the United States were weighed down by a stronger dollar. The company’s total adjusted revenue inched up to $9.07 billion in the second quarter ended Nov. 30 from just under $9 billion a year earlier. Sales of Oracle’s cloud software and platform services rose 81.4 percent to $878 million.
— From news services
● 8:30 a.m.: Commerce Department releases housing starts for November.
● 10 a.m.: The Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports on state unemployment for November.
— From news services