TIME Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick Announces Her New Sponsor

AdvoCare 500
Jerry Markland / Getty Images Danica Patrick during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 10, 2013 in Avondale, Arizona.

Patrick's racing future was unclear after losing her GoDaddy sponsorship.

NASCAR racer Danica Patrick has a new sponsor — Nature’s Bakery, a company that makes fig bars.

When GoDaddy, Patrick’s previous sponsor, announced that it was ending its sponsorship, Patrick’s future with Stewart-Haas racing was uncertain, USA Today reports. Nature’s Bakery saved her by signing on as a sponsor.

The company is a surprising choice, considering its small size. They have about 400 employees and have only been going since 2010. But co-founder Dave Marson claims, “We’re not as small as you think. We’re a global brand. We produced over 600 million fig bars this year, so we’re big enough to handle it.” Marson told USA Today that the company has a five-year plan for substantial growth, and he hopes Patrick and Stewart-Haas Racing will be able to help with that.

Patrick and Nature’s Bakery were brought together by Haas Automation, a company owned by Gene Haas, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing. Nature’s Bakery buys tools from Haas’ company and was connected to Patrick through one of his sales representatives.

Patrick and Nature’s Bakery both believe it’s a good fit. The racer says that the company “lines up perfectly” with her own health-conscious lifestyle. During the press conference she said, “Authenticity is hard to come by, but recognized. And I think people are going to recognize its authenticity as we go along.”

TIME iPhone

This Man Is Alive Today Because Of Siri

Apple Poised to Sell 10 Million IPhones in Record Debut
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A customer tries the Siri voice assistant function on an Apple Inc. iPhone.

Apple just won a customer for life.

Sam Ray, an 18-year-old from Tennessee, told NBC that he is “thankful to be alive” after Siri saved his life by calling 911.

While trying to make repairs underneath his truck, a jack collapsed, causing Ray to be crushed by the vehicle. He was home alone and in an area in which he likely wouldn’t have been seen or heard by anyone until it was too late. But luckily, as the pressure from the 5,000 pounds crushed him, Siri activated on his iPhone, and he was able to command it to call 911.

Christina Lee, the Rutherford County dispatcher Ray was connected to, told NBC that Ray was yelling out his address, which was the “best thing he could have done” because the cellphone signal can only lead dispatchers to a general location.

Ray incurred fairly severe injuries including broken ribs, a bruised kidney, cuts, a concussion, and several burns. Chief of trauma and surgical care at Vanderbilt University, Rick Miller, said that Ray was lucky and injuries like his could sometimes be fatal.

TIME General Motors

You Could Soon Be Driving a Buick Made in China

The Buick emblem on the grill of a new c
JEFF HAYNES—AFP/Getty Images

It could spark a heated debate about American manufacturing

General Motors is expected to start exporting the Buick Envision from a Chinese plant to American dealerships by the end of 2016. If the move goes through, GM will become the first major car company to sell a vehicle in the U.S. that was made in China, USA Today reports.

GM makes the model in China because Chinese consumers like Buicks more than American consumers do, making that country the biggest market for Buick cars. The company likely won’t have enough sales in the U.S. to justify a second plant, so if they want to sell that model here, the most efficient and cost-effective way to do so would be to export it from China, the paper reports.

This move would be made in the midst of an already heated presidential campaign, and it would likely provoke conversation about declining American manufacturing as compared to rising Chinese manufacturing. We already know that current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump will have something to say about this.

USA Today reports that this is all just speculation. Nothing is definite as of yet, but IHS analysts are so confident that GM will go through with the export that they have already incorporated it into their official predictions for U.S. auto sales.

TIME Telsa

Tesla Just Boosted Its Stock Offering

CHINA-AUTO-SHOW
A Tesla Model S P85D is displayed at the 16th annual Shanghai auto show on April 20, 2015.

The electric car company wants another $140 million

Tesla’s stock may very well be more popular than its cars.

On Friday, the Palo Alto firm announced that it is boosting its latest stock offering by $140 million, on top of the $500 million in new equity the firm planned to issue, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

And the offering could balloon to as much as $750 million if the firm’s underwriters exercise their options to purchase shares.

The new offering comes on top of $4 billion Tesla has raised since 2013. According to the Journal the new round of fundraising “suggests the cost of disrupting the global auto industry with its pricey electric vehicles is more expensive than Chief Executive Elon Musk initially thought.”

Tesla says it will sell fewer than 55,000 cars this year.

TIME driverless cars

Can the Car Insurance Business Survive Driverless Cars?

Gov. Brown Signs Legislation At Google HQ That Allows Testing Of Autonomous Vehicles
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

As car safety becomes more sophisticated, fewer drivers will need coverage

As technology inevitably advances, cars are becoming much safer. It started with airbags and antilock brakes, and soon driverless cars will become commonplace. As safety features become more sophisticated, the number of accidents on the road will significantly decrease. This is, no doubt, good news, but insurance giants are nervous about what it will mean for their companies, since drivers will need less coverage. As Warren Buffett, who owns Geico, puts it: “If you could come up with anything involved in driving that cut accidents by 30 percent, 40 percent, 50 percent, that would be wonderful. But we would not be holding a party at our insurance company.”

Donald Light, head of the North America property and casualty practice for research firm Celent, says that in the next 15 years, as driverless cars start hitting the roads, premiums can drop as much as 60%. He tells insurers: “You have to be prepared to see that part of your business shrink, probably considerably.”

Insurance companies have already had a taste of what that will look like with the introduction of sensors that warn you if another car is too close and other similar features. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute’s 2014 study of insurance claims, bodily injury liability losses dropped by 40%, and medical payments saw a 27% drop. This will only keep getting worse for insurance companies (and better for the rest of us) as self-driving cars become the popular choice. Boston Consulting Group estimates that by 2035, self-driving cars will make up about 25% of all auto sales worldwide.

Insurance companies will be forced to seek out alternate sources of revenue. Tom Wilson, CEO of Allstate, is thinking about selling coverage for other products, such as mobile phones. He’s also considering using data that the company is already collecting about its customers. For example, they track their customers’ driving behaviors so they can offer rewards for safe driving; they could also potentially use that information to send customers coupons as they drive by retailers.

Although this advancement in car safety decreases the need for driver coverage, it also opens up a market for covering the carmakers. If one of their automated features fails, they will want to be insured to cover any liability costs.

TIME car age

Here’s Why Lots Of Cars On The Road Probably Still Have Tape Decks

Toyota Opens Hybrid Engine Factory
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The average U.S. vehicle age has hit a record

You know that slot in the middle of your center-console that you sometimes use as an iPhone holder? Well, that’s actually a tape deck—an ancient artifact once used to play cassette tapes. But what’s it doing in your car?

According to IHS Automotive, a consulting firm that provides insight into the automotive industry, the average age of vehicles in the U.S. has reached an all-time high of 11.5 years. Cars have become much more reliable throughout the years, so they can endure the road for a significantly longer period of time. With new smartphones and other devices being released every couple of years, cars far outlive the technology that comes with them; thus, tape decks.

IHS has been tracking this data since 2002. The average car age has gradually increased each year, with an even more dramatic boost during the recession due to a 40% drop in new car sales from 2008 to 2009. The climb has since slowed, and it has started to plateau. IHS predicts that the number will reach 11.6 in 2016 and remain stagnant until 2018, when the company thinks it will hit 11.7.

In case you’re wondering, the last new car to be factory-equipped with a cassette deck in the dashboard was a 2010 Lexus, according to the New York Times.

And here’s one caveat about owning and older car: make sure it has electronic stability control, and side curtain airbags — two key safety features introduced a little over a decade ago.

TIME Auto

3D Printed Cars to Hit The Road Next Year

Local Motors

Jay Leno is a fan

Cars manufactured by 3D printers could hit the streets next year, the company behind the project announced this week.

The soon-to-arrive model, called “Reload Redacted Swim/Sport,” will feature customizable, interchangeable, sleek parts that can be arranged to fit individual tastes and lifestyles. The design, by Kevin Lo, a mechanical engineer from Vancouver, Wa., won a competition earlier this year. Lo received $7,500 plus royalties from future sales for his design.

“You can drastically change the look of your car and make it track-ready, fun, and sporty,” Lo told the Phoenix Business Journal. “With speakers on the outside of the car, I want the car to be the focus of everyone’s attention.”

Initial models will sell for between $18,000 to $30,000 for “a low-speed neighborhood car.”

Lo’s design was chosen by a panel that included professionals as well as car geek Jay Leno.

“You need something that makes you go, ‘What’s that?'” Leno said in a statement. “My top choice would be Reload Redacted Swim/Sport because it’s sporty, fun, and you can commute in it.”

TIME Autos

Ford CEO Mark Fields Wants to Make a Self-Driving Car for the Masses

Ford President and CEO Mark Fields speaks at Ford's manufacturing facility and engineering plant in Sanand, India on March 26, 2015.
Ajit Solanki—AP Ford President and CEO Mark Fields speaks at Ford's manufacturing facility and engineering plant in Sanand, India on March 26, 2015.

The company, "where it makes sense," will cooperate with Google and others on self-driving cars

Ford CEO Mark Fields is trying to navigate his company through an era of upheaval in the auto industry. Cars are no longer merely steel on wheels. They’re mobile computers that can respond to voice commands, serve as a hub for digital entertainment and drive themselves.

Fortune spoke with Fields recently at Ford’s Silicon Valley lab, an office that opened earlier this year as a beachhead for innovation. He’s hoping that having workers on the ground in the heart of the tech industry’s capital will help the company identify and adopt new technology more quickly. Ford is facing a stiff challenge to keep up from the usual auto making suspects plus newcomers like Google and Tesla. Even Uber, the ride hailing app, is a threat if people stop buying cars and use its service instead to be driven where they need to go.

The following is a Q&A with Fields that has been edited for length and clarity:

Q: How important are self-driving cars to Ford?

They’re important. But it’s more important to think about self-driving cars more holistically. We call this Ford Smart Mobility. It’s not only about autonomous vehicles, it’s about the connected car, it’s about mobility and ride sharing. It’s around the enabling technologies for the retail experience. All these things are connected. You can’t have an autonomous vehicle unless you have a connected car, and visa versa. You can’t have ride sharing without having the connection. They’re all intertwined.

Q: Is it important to be first? Ford isn’t really seen as being in the lead on self-driving cars.

It’s not the No. 1 thing that drives us. I think the No. 1 thing that drives us, and it gets back to our DNA as a company going back to our founder, Henry Ford, is around innovating to make things accessible to everyone — not just the rich. Even now, semi-autonomous features are the building blocks for full autonomy. When you look the breadth of semi-autonomous features that we have in our vehicles, we’re in a leading position there. With everything from our Fiesta all the way up to our Lincolns — customers can get a lot of these features. So as we go forward, we’re going to make sure that we continue to build on that legacy and push ourselves to make sure it’s accessible and affordable – not necessarily being the first.

Q: Are you considering partnering with Google, which is only a few miles from here, or other companies on self-driving cars?

When you think about some of these enabling technologies, we have to ask ourselves some very important questions like what do we want to develop as our own core competency? Who do we want to partner with? We’ve done that throughout our history as a company. Where it makes sense, we’ll work with others.

Q: You talk about selling autonomous vehicles to the masses, but the components cost thousands of dollars extra. How do you get to the price where the average person can buy a self-driving car?

You innovate. In Silicon Valley, there’s Moore’s Law (the axiom that microchips will get more powerful and less expensive). I don’t know what the law is for the automotive industry. We’re always looking for ways to increase performance and capabilities and decrease cost. There are cameras, radars, and 3-D mapping. When you look at the cost of cameras, it’s coming down significantly. When you get to autonomous vehicles, you’ll need much more computer processing capability in the vehicle. The cost of microprocessors is continuing to go down. Also, scale is important, and as a company, I think we have pretty good scale.

Q: How much of a challenge is Uber under the theory that fewer people will need to buy cars in the future?

We’re looking at some of these societal trends around mega cities with more than 10 million or more vehicles – the congestion, the air quality implications, and the growth of the middle class around the globe. Of course, the first thing they want to do is buy a car, which increases the congestion even more. We’re looking at that as an opportunity in two ways: One is to sell cars to people who want to own them. Two is to provide mobility experiences to people who otherwise we are not serving today. We’re doing these 25 experiments around the world right now – we’re about halfway through them – to understand what are some of the mobility issues [Editor’s note: the experiments include a car sharing service, a commuter shuttle service, and technology that spots open parking spaces]. Then we’re asking ourselves: How do we help solve some of these societal issues?

Q: How are those experiments going? And are you really interested in getting into those businesses?

It may seem far-fetched from a traditional automaker. But we’re asking our people to challenge and question tradition. That’s extremely empowering to the organization. This is a culture of innovation. We as a senior team need to allow it. Not all of these experiments will succeed. But that’s okay, because we are looking to learn from them. Some may go on to the next step and ultimately become some kind of service or product.

Q: How much do the high valuations of tech companies dissuade you from making tech acquisitions?

Any company needs to be always on the lookout for technology that makes sense. It gets back to what I mentioned earlier: Making decisions about what’s core for us versus who do we want to go out and partner with. In some cases, we have made acquisitions. We bought a company called Livio about two years ago (a developer of in-car connectivity software), because we thought that was core for us. But I think also you have to be wary of it. Because what can look like a really cool technology this month, may look like something else in six months.

Q: How much to you pay attention to the really far-out tech beyond self-driving cars?

In our business, you have one foot in today – making sure you’re running your business, meeting your sales forecasts, meeting your quarterly earnings – and also one foot into tomorrow: 10, 15 years down the road. We have a very disciplined process. That’s one of the reasons we’re here and growing. Some of these unique technologies are being born here today as we speak and will be born six months from now. That’s why it’s important for us to be part of this community.

Q: Ford’s is facing a tough challenge in China. General Motors and Volkswagen sell a lot of cars there. How is Ford going to do better?

We’re doing very well now in China. We’ve had record market share. In the first quarter this year, our share was 4.5%. Clearly that’s not as large as some of our main competitors who are in the 10% or 11% range. But that’s up from almost 2% a couple of years ago. In the first quarter, we went from No. 8 in the passenger vehicle segment to No. 5. We were in Shanghai last week introducing our Taurus. We were not in the full-size segment – that’s a big segment in China. Now we’re going to be there. We now have a full lineup of SUVs. We’re expanding our manufacturing capability. We’re expanding our dealer network, particularly in the Tier 3 through 6 cities, where a lot of the growth is coming from.

Q: Ford is pushing to make Lincoln a global luxury brand. It’s not the first time. Similar efforts have ebbed and flowed over the years.

It’s flowing now.

Q: Why is this time different?

The reason it’s different this time is that we understand the strategic importance of the luxury market. The luxury market is maybe 9.5% or 10% of the global industry. When you look at the profitability, it’s about one-third. So it’s very compelling. There are a lot of good competitors in the luxury segment. We thought long and hard about how do we differentiate Lincoln in a relevant way. At the same time, we have to understand that we are one of the smallest luxury players. So how do we turn that to our advantage and give that customer personal service? When you look at our dealerships in China, which we get to start from a clean sheet, it’s like walking into a high-end boutique. It’s not one of these large factory-type things like a bakery where you take a number.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME BMW: A Company on the Edge

See Inside BMW’s Secret Design Lab

A rare look at what happens in one of the world's most important research and development centers

For decades, BMW has advertised its vehicles as “the ultimate driving machine.” The meaning of that phrase has started to slip. In an age of connected technology, ultimate driving machines automatically brake for their passengers in emergencies or beam content from mobile phones and tablets as much as they may accelerate quickly or handle nimbly.

That puts BMW, the world’s top-selling premium automaker by sales volume, in a difficult position. It must maintain its reputation for driving dynamics while also catering to changing consumer tastes—like better fuel efficiency and more advanced technology. And it is trying to do so with competitors like Audi and Mercedes-Benz nipping at its heals. Brands ranging from Toyota to Hyundai are also trying to sell more premium vehicles.

Last year, worldwide BMW sales rose 9.5% to 1.81 million cars, while Mercedes-Benz deliveries jumped 13% to 1.65 million vehicles. Volkswagen-owned Audi posted an 11% increase to 1.74 million cars. Global demand for premium cars has rebounded as the U.S. economy recovered from the recession and consumers in developing economies, such as China, continued to buy high-end products.

Harald Krueger, who took over as CEO after the group’s annual shareholders’ meeting on May 13, is trying to continue expanding BMW’s lineup while maintaining its profitability. As part of a strategy, partly overseen by the 49-year-old executive since late-2007, BMW has been aiming to make 30% more vehicles with the same number of workers while trying to reduce production costs per vehicle by raising economies of scale in components, drive systems and modules. Now, Krueger must do the same as cars grow more complex and fuel-efficient.

One of BMW’s little-known assets lies about an hour north of Los Angeles, in Newbury Park, Calif. Designworks, a consultancy owned by the German giant, is charged with designing future vehicles, exploring emerging technologies and experimenting with new materials, such as carbon fiber a major—and costly—part of BMW’s strategy to make its cars more fuel efficient in the future. In this video series, TIME looks at how BMW is trying to deal with the difficulties of a ever-more crowded, ever-changing market.

TIME BMW: A Company on the Edge

Exclusive: Go Inside the Future of Legendary Automaker BMW

See how the automaker is breaking boundaries

BMW has been making cars since 1916. Almost 100 years later, the German automaker has remained a relevant player in a constantly innovating field. It faces stiff competition from fellow luxury carmakers Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, but in 2014 BMW regained its spot as the top-selling luxury car brand in the U.S. (reclaiming first place from Mercedes, which held it in 2013).

But BMW can’t be complacent if it wants to stay on top. The automotive industry is confronting revolutionary change on multiple fronts—meaning that BMW will have to reckon with alternative fuel sources and developing new technology for highly automated cars, among other advances.

In this five-part series, TIME explores these challenges to show how BMW is turning to data, technology and the Cloud to stay competitive.

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