Welcome to “Shifting Gears,” Business Insider’s first transportation-focused newsletter
In this weekly digest, we’ll be highlighting the latest developments on everything from Uber and Lyft’s battle to turn a profit, Tesla and its eccentric CEO Elon Musk, Boeing’s 737 Max crisis, and more.
But we also want to hear from you. What stories are we missing? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s what happened this week:
There’s light at the end of the tunnel for Amtrak
- Robert Alexander/Getty Images
The railroad reported another year of record ridership for fiscal year 2019 on Friday.
Amtrak’s executives told reporters that they expect to turn a profit next year, ahead of schedule, thanks to investments in upgraded amenities and better service on popular routes like the Northeast Corridor. (Yes, you just read “Amtrak” and “ahead of schedule” in the same story.)
It’s Elon Musk versus the Tesla detractors again
- JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Image
The eccentric chief executive once again sparred with billionaire hedge fund manager David Einhorn on Twitter last week, inviting him to tour Tesla’s factories and offering sympathy for recent hardships at his Greenlight Capital. Musk also accused Einhorn of publishing “numerous false allegations against Tesla” in a recent letter to investors.
In response, Einhorn took Musk up on his tour offer, saying that he “might learn the difference between your alien dreadnought factory and cars made by hand in a tent.”
For context, Tesla reported better-than-expected third-quarter results the week before last, sending shares soaring by 20%.
In other Tesla news, the company is switching from Salesforce’s sales software to a custom-made, in-house CRM, Business Insider’s Mark Matousek reported.
Boeing’s 737 Max crisis drags on
A near crash during a simulated flight in June using the software fix Boeing designed for the 737 Max led to the extensive delay that has kept the plane grounded for months, according to a new Bloomberg report.
That news comes after CEO Dennis Muilenburg was grilled by members of Congress over Boeing’s safety practices and the company’s relationship with government regulators. He later said he would not take a bonus until after the plane returns to the skies.
Airlines, meanwhile, continue to remove the 737 Max from their schedules with no approval in sight.
Uber’s Arizona headache
- National Transportation Safety Board/Handout via REUTERS
The NTSB will meet to determine the probable cause of the death of a pedestrian struck by an Uber self-driving car near Phoenix, Arizona. Ahead of the meeting, the safety regulator released a trove of documents that outline its investigation.
Those revelations include the fact that Uber’s vehicles were involved 37 other crashes before the pedestrian, Elaine Herzberg, was killed. They also outline previously unknown facts about Uber’s team of vehicle testers, their routines, policies, and sometimes grueling sleep schedules.
Truckers are sounding the holiday alarm
- Scott Olson/Getty Images
Leaders of the $800 billion trucking industry are blaming their woes on an industrial recession – one that’s being kicked off by President Donald Trump’s trade war – and warning it could lead to a bleak holiday season.
UPS and FedEx, meanwhile, are scrambling to hire more than 150,000 workers for the holiday season, citing online shopping as a key catalyst to the uptick.
- 17 hours a day, 7 days a week: Cruise-ship workers describe the grueling conditions they face on the job
- DreamCase converts Teslas into camping ‘tents’ by transforming the trunk into a bed on wheels
- Land Rover is bringing its long-awaited new Defender SUV to the LA auto show. Take a closer look at this redesigned legend.
- Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its ‘Cybertruck’ this month
- Meet Rikard Grunnan, the Waymo employee who has actually built self-driving cars
- We asked a 17-year Walmart transportation exec everything about the Fortune 1’s massive supply chain network – from increasing sustainability to its trucking fleet that’s more exclusive than Harvard. Here’s the full conversation.
- Uber is using Waymo tech in its self-driving cars. That could be an expensive problem.
- Chevrolet just revealed an electric pickup truck concept that’s modeled after the 1962 C-10 version – and it looks stunning
- Uber founder Travis Kalanick has reportedly raised $400 million for his next act from Saudi Arabia. He’ll be competing directly with his old company.
- An Uber driver is suing New York after he said over 25 pounds of concrete fell from a bridge, smashed his windshield, and left him covered in glass
- Southwest is pulling the 737 Max from its schedule for another month as questions mount about whether Boeing can get the plane ungrounded this year
- Boeing expects to resume delivering 737 Max jets to airlines in December, before the jet carries passengers again
- US airlines are pulling the 737 Max from their schedules until March, suggesting they’re losing faith in Boeing’s plans to get the plane flying in 2019