A California driver who strapped a dish resembling SpaceX’s Starlink ‘dishy’ to their hood was pulled over by police

Elon Musk's Starlink terminal
Elon Musk’s Starlink terminal

  • California Highway Patrol (CHP) pulled over and ticketed a driver who strapped a satellite dish to a car hood.
  • The driver said the dish only obstructed their view on right turns, according to CHP.
  • The satellite dish appeared to be from SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service, which doesn’t yet work on-the-go.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Highway Patrol officers ticketed a driver in California on Friday for driving with a satellite dish strapped to the hood of their car, CNBC first reported.

The dish resembled SpaceX’s Starlink internet dish, as seen in photos published on Facebook by California Highway Patrol (CHP).

“Sir I stopped you today for that visual obstruction on your hood. Does it not block your view while driving?” a CHP officer of Antelope Valley asked the driver, according to a CHP Facebook post.

“Only when I make right turns,” the motorist told the CHP, per the Facebook post. The patrol officer had pulled over the driver on a highway in Palmdale, the CHP wrote in the post.

The satellite dish in the photo resembles the SpaceX Starlink dish, which costs $499 for the kit and $99 for the monthly subscription. SpaceX’s dish connects Starlink customers to the company’s 1,657 satellites positioned in low-Earth orbit.

The CHP said in the Facebook post that it was illegal to mount a satellite dish to the car hood because it obstructs the driver’s view. “It’s about safety folks,” the agency added.

Insider has reached out to the CHP for comment.

The driver told the CHP they were using the satellite dish to get Wi-Fi for their business that they run on-the-go, a CHP representative told CNBC. The representative did not confirm the satellite dish was Starlink’s.

The law enforcement agency ticketed the driver for a moving violation, the CHP representative said.

SpaceX didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Starlink’s satellite dish, also known as “dishy,” comes in the kit with a WiFi router and tripod mount.

Starlink currently provides rural and underserved communities with internet through its satellites. It also has plans to connect the service to moving vehicles, including trucks, ships, and RVs, according to a request the company filed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on March 9.

The aerospace company also wants to connect Starlink to airplanes and is in talks with “several of the airlines,” SpaceX’s vice president of Starlink and commercial sales, Jonathan Hofeller, said in a summit in June.

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Watch police pull over a Tesla driver they say was asleep at the wheel going 82 mph with Autopilot switched on

GettyImages 493893234
Elon Musk, Tesla CEO.

  • A Tesla operating under Autopilot was on Sunday stopped by police, officials said Tuesday.
  • Police claim the Tesla driver was asleep at the wheel while driving 82 mph.
  • The driver told the deputy that he was tired, but denied being asleep.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Police on Sunday pulled over a man from Illinois who they say fell asleep behind the wheel of his Tesla, which officers say was operating under Autopilot.

A Kenosha County deputy said he saw the 38-year-old man with his head down and “not looking at the road,” according to the sheriff’s department statement on Facebook on Tuesday. They said it appeared that the man was sleeping.

The man was driving a 2019 Tesla on Interstate 94. The car was operating under Autopilot, the company’s driver assistance feature, police said.

The deputy switched on his vehicle’s lights and siren as he followed the Tesla for around two miles at 82 mph through Kenosha County, according to the statement. The deputy was trying to pull the driver over, but the driver didn’t initially notice, the statement said.

Eventually, the driver noticed he was being stopped when the deputy drove alongside him, and he pulled over.

After the police pulled him over, the driver told them he was “a little bit tired” but denied being asleep.

The deputy told him: “I understand you have Autopilot … but you’re not able to make that conscious decision to stop in a hurry.”

The man was issued a traffic citation for inattentive driving, the sheriff’s department said.

In an interview with Fox 6 News on Wednesday, the deputy said he spotted on the Tesla’s front screen that Autopilot was engaged. He also said that officials attempted to pull over the same vehicle twice in February and once in August last year – two of these reports involved claims the driver was asleep, he added.

“Never let technology take over so that you take your hands and eyes off the road,” the deputy said in the interview.

Tesla’s website states that the current Autopilot system doesn’t make the vehicle autonomous, and that the driver should be active at the wheel. Experts told Insider that although Tesla says its cars on Autopilot are less likely to crash than average vehicles, there are major concerns about the safety of the feature.

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Used-car prices just saw their biggest monthly price increase in at least 68 years, UBS estimates

Coronavirus Car Dealership
  • Used cars are the latest product seeing a record price increase from a supply shortage.
  • Researchers at UBS found that used-car prices may have shot up by 8.2% to 9.3% in April.
  • UBS estimates that’s the largest monthly price increase in 68 years of tracking used cars.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The latest commodity seeing a price squeeze amidst shortages and high demand is used cars.

A note from UBS researchers led by Alan Detmeister found that not only did used-car prices climb in April, but the monthly price increase could be the largest in 68 years of tracking. It looks like prices may have risen by 8.2% to 9.3%.

Used cars have been in high demand due to a few of the factors driving the shortages all over the American economy. The economy is reopening, people are ready to spend money (perhaps from new stimulus checks), and they want cars – especially as more suburban areas boom with wealthy transplants. But new cars are being hit by a computer chip shortage that’s hitting the automotive industry hard.

As Insider’s Grace Kay reported, semiconductor shortages could cost automakers billions, and has already led to lower production rates for new cars. Even Elon Musk has said that Tesla’s suffered from supply chain and semiconductor woes. Cue a used-car boom, with the market heating up and trade-ins fetching higher prices.

chart showing used car prices skyrocketing
Chart via UBS Evidence Lab.

According to UBS, prices on used cars may only climb in the coming months, due to a lag in wholesale to retail pricing. New car prices are also likely to pick up, increasing by 1%.

Why there are so many shortages, and which ones may pick up next

It may seem that everywhere you look, a new product is in a shortage. Chicken, diapers, corn, gas, furniture: The list of shortages goes on, and will likely only grow amid economic reopening. That’s due to some of the same factors impacting used and new cars. Supply-chain issues have persisted throughout the pandemic, and factories shuttered for safety reasons need to crank back to life as demand steepens.

Read more: The processor shortage that made the PlayStation 5 and some cars harder to find was almost over – until a ship got stuck in the Suez Canal. Here’s why it’s likely to get even worse.

The climate crisis also has a role, with several domestic products in the US – such as plastic and gas – impacted by factors including the devastating winter storms in Texas. Droughts are impacting the worldwide corn supply amidst high demand; Insider’s Will Daniel reports that corn prices have jumped 142% in the past year.

UBS projects 12-month headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rising to 4.3% from 2.6%, “an enormous surge over just the past few months.” Economists’ median estimate for April CPI is 3.6%, per Bloomberg.

Screen Shot 2021 05 06 at 11.02.36 AM
Chart via UBS Evidence Lab.

UBS projects hotels and airfares will be next to see substantial price increases. Axios reported – in an article aptly titled “Our crazy, booked-up summer” – that summer travel in the US is about to boom, with a particular emphasis on domestic travel.

A recent report from the US Travel Association found 72% of Americans are planning a summer vacation in 2021; that’s compared to 37% last year. That probably won’t help the already intense rental car shortage.

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14 travel essentials to keep your dog safe and comfortable in the car, recommended by experts

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

  • If you’re taking a road trip with your dog, you’ll need to ensure their safety and comfort.
  • We rounded up the best dog car travel accessories, including a crash-tested dog crate and harness.
  • You can protect your dog from overheating on the road with window shades and plenty of water.
  • For more expert reviews and buying advice, check out the Insider Reviews homepage.

Best dog car travel accessories to take your pet on a road trip

With changes to how we travel, Americans across the country are hitting the road with dogs as their copilots. Whether your plan is to hike and camp, explore back roads and under-the-radar towns, or visit family and friends, the promise of an adventure on the open road is intoxicating not just for you but for your dog, too.

To ensure the success of a road trip with your pup, you’ll need a handful of dog car travel accessories to keep them safe and comfortable during long drives. As a professional dog trainer by day and travel writer by night, I have years of experience hitting the road with dogs. I’ve combed through my own gear to come up with this list of essentials for a canine-friendly road trip.

For expertise on traveling safely with a dog in the hot summer months, I’ve consulted with veterinarian Tanya Fraser, medical director of VCA Allendale Animal Hospital in Allendale, Michigan, and Lindsey Wolko, founder of the Center for Pet Safety in Reston, Virginia. Below we’ve rounded up our favorite travel gear as well as tips for traveling safely with your dog.

Here are 14 of the best dog car travel accessories for a canine-friendly road trip:

A crash-tested kennel to protect your dog in a collision

dog car travel crate from Lucky Duck

Lucky Duck Lucky Kennel Intermediate, available at Amazon, $569.99

According to Wolko, you should never travel with your dog in a plastic crate that has been buckled in with a car seat belt because it can easily fracture in a crash. Instead, use a crash-test-certified crate to give your pet the best possible chance of survival in a crash. The Center for Pet Safety has tested several crates for their Center for Pet Safety certified list, including the Lucky Kennel by Lucky Duck, which received a five-star crash-test rating. Crating may also help alleviate motion sickness in some dogs, according to Fraser.

A crash-tested harness to travel safely with your dog outside of a crate

Best dog car travel accessories to take your pet on a road trip

Sleepypod Clickit Sport Dog Safety Harness, available at Sleepypod, $79.99

Sleepypod Clickit Terrain Dog Safety Harness, available at Sleepypod, $94.99

Testing done by the Center for Pet Safety indicates that a crash-test-certified travel harness is an effective way to keep a dog safe on a road trip, especially a dog that has never been crate trained or that suffers from confinement distress. Sleepypod’s Clickit Sport Harness and Terrain Harness each earned a five-star rating. They attach to the seat belts in the back seat of a car through built-in loops. 

A hammock-style seat cover to keep paw prints and dirt at bay

orvis dog car seat cover for road trip

Orvis Grip-Tight Windowed Hammock Seat Protector, available at Orvis, from $169

If any portion of your road trip involves hiking, camping, or other explorations of the great outdoors, do yourself a favor and get a water-resistant seat cover to protect your car from moisture and dirt. This version from Orvis blankets the back seat and the backs of the front seats. A see-through mesh panel between the two front seats prevents your dog from feeling too isolated.

A foldable car ramp for pets with mobility issues

Petsafe car ramp for dogs

Petsafe Ultralite Bi-Fold Pet Ramp at Chewy, Amazon, Wayfair, from $69.95

Just because a dog’s mobility is limited doesn’t mean they aren’t an ideal road trip companion. Bring along a lightweight car ramp to make your travels with an older or disabled dog go more smoothly and save you from having to lift them in and out of the vehicle 20 times a day. In between stops, just fold up the ramp and slide it behind the seat for easy storage.

A pet first-aid kit just in case

pet first aid kit

Rayco International Ltd. Pet First Aid Kit, available at Amazon and Walmart, $24.99

From foxtails to ticks, there are dozens of nasty surprises that await your dog on a road trip. Be prepared for the dangers in your path with a high-quality pet first-aid kit. Fraser also recommends downloading the American Red Cross’s Pet First-Aid app to help you navigate minor injuries. If you’re headed for a specific destination, she also suggests looking up a local emergency clinic before you arrive.

Shades to block the sun and keep car temperatures down

munchkin window shade to protect dog from overheating

Munchkin Brica Window Shade, available at Buy Buy Baby, Target, and Amazon, from $13.99

Even with the air conditioning on full blast, the interior of the car can heat up to uncomfortable levels when temperatures get extreme outside. Sunshades can help to minimize the greenhouse effect inside the car by blocking the heat out. Don’t expect them to help when you’ve parked the car, though. Temperatures can skyrocket inside a parked car in just minutes. “Never leave your dog in the car, even with the windows down, and even for just a few minutes,” said Fraser.

A spill-minimizing bowl so your dog can quench their thirst anytime they want

large travel water bowl for car

Heininger Waterboy Portable Pet Bowl, available at Chewy, $13.38

Heininger’s portable water bowl, which has a reservoir that fills with water when laid flat, has lived in my car on and off for years. Leave it out while you drive — the well has been designed to minimize spillage — or stand it up to drain the well water back into the jug. The BPA-free device holds up to 3 quarts of liquid. 

Interlocking treat-dispensing puzzle toys to help alleviate boredom

west paw dog toy for car rides

West Paw Toppl, available at Chewy and Walmart, from $15.95

Keep your dog from getting restless on the road by occupying them with treat-dispensing puzzle toys. West Paw’s Toppl can be stuffed with treats, spread with peanut butter, or sprayed with cheesy goodness. For smarty pants dogs, try combining a large Toppl with a small one to create a toy that’s a bit more challenging.

A soft, washable blanket that doubles as a dog bed

Carhartt_blanket_from_promo_material

Carhartt Dog Blanket, available at Chewy , Amazon, and Carhartt, from $75.99

If you’re exhausted by the end of a day of driving, so is your dog. Whether you’re staying in a hotel or camping overnight, pack something soft and cozy for your pup to cuddle up in. I always bring a soft, washable blanket along for the ride. Not only is a blanket easy to fit into an overstuffed trunk, it’s ultra-portable and can double as a dog bed whenever needed.

A dog-size backpack for outdoor adventures

ruffwear_approach_backpack Ruffwear

Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack, available at Ruffwear, Backcountry, and REI, $79.95

If you plan on doing a lot of hiking or backpacking on your road trip, it’s only fair that your dog should carry their share of the gear. Always limit your dog’s load to no more than 25% of their body weight and make sure the pack fits properly before your adventure.

An insulated water bottle with a dog bowl built right in

kong_water_bottle_for_dogs

Kong H20 Stainless Steel Dog Water Bottle, available at Amazon and Chewy, from $10.90

Whether you’re on a nature walk or in a socially distanced beer garden, keep your dog hydrated with a combination water bottle and dog bowl. This version from Kong is made of insulated stainless steel that will keep liquids cool and refreshing all day long.

A long line to let your dog safely explore new environments

signature_k9_biothane_long_lead

Signature K9 Biothane Long Line, available at Amazon, from $19.96

Even if your dog has an excellent recall, the allure of the new environments they’ll be exploring on your road trip may prove more powerful than your cue. Bring along a 15- to 20-foot long line to give your dog some freedom while ensuring they remain out of trouble.

Grooming wipes or waterless shampoo to quickly remove grime and nasty smells

earthbath_grooming_wipes Chewy

Earthbath Green Tea & Awapuhi Grooming Wipes, available at Petco, $14.99

Bodhi Dog Waterless Lavender Dog Dry Shampoo, available at Chewy and Amazon, $13.29

On the road, there may be hundreds of miles between you and the closest dog-washing station, but if your dog is living their best road trip life, chances are they’ll need at least a little cleanup before your trip is over. Grooming wipes are an easy way to freshen up your dog’s coat or remove debris from their paws or muzzle. If you’ve got a dog that loves to roll in stinky things, I can tell you from experience that you’ll need something stronger to remove the stench. A waterless dog shampoo works a bit better and it never hurts to bring a bottle along for the ride.

A folding travel crate for use inside a hotel room

Sencha_in_Orvis_Travel_Crate

Orvis Hose-Off Folding Travel Crate, available at Orvis, $129

To keep everyone safe when you leave your hotel room, you’ll need a portable crate to set up inside your room. While most hotels don’t require this, I’ve heard one too many horror stories about a hotel staff member who has been bitten after walking into a room with a canine guest. Choose something that collapses flat and has a handle for easy carrying. I like Orvis’s version, which also has two doors and plenty of ventilation and comes with a padded fleece mat.

Additional safety tips for road trips with dogs

To ensure the success of a road trip with your pup, you’ll need a handful of items to keep them safe and comfortable during long drives. Dogs also need regular breaks from the road, just like we do. “Stopping every few hours to get out, move around, and use the bathroom is ideal,” said Fraser.

All that driving also increases the possibility that your dog may, at some point, experience some car sickness. Most dogs outgrow motion sickness in puppyhood, according to Fraser, but if your dog is prone to nausea in the car, things like withholding food for a few hours before traveling or letting your dog see out the window can help. Roll down the window for additional airflow but not so low that your dog can thrust their head into the wind. That’s very dangerous. “You know the sound your windshield makes when a rock hits it? Imagine your dog being hit by that rock. Ouch!” Wolko said.

Before you embark on your trip, Fraser recommends making sure your pet is up-to-date on their vaccines and parasite control. Consult your vet if you have questions. They can also provide you with anti-nausea medication if your dog frequently experiences motion sickness.

 

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Apple could reportedly make the Apple Car without a big-name automaker as negotiations hit speed bumps

Tim Cook
  • Apple may not pursue a partnership with a big automotive company, Bloomberg reports.
  • The company could use a contract manufacturer to assemble its cars, while sourcing its own parts.
  • Foxconn and Magna International could be likely partners for an Apple Car, per Bloomberg.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Apple is considering working with a contract manufacturer to find its own car pieces and assemble them, a strategy that wouldn’t involve a partnership with an automotive company, according to a new Bloomberg report from Mark Gurman and Gabrielle Coppola.

If it decides to go that route, the tech company would be employing a similar strategy to its approach to iPhone manufacturing, and one that would leave out big-name car companies, which Apple has been talking to in recent years.

Over the past few months, there has been a lot of speculation regarding which company Apple could choose to partner with in the development of its first car, which is codenamed Project Titan.

In December, Reuters reported Apple was planning to release an electric self-driving car by 2024, but Apple car speculation dates back to 2014.

This year, Apple’s talks with major automakers appear to have reached a stalemate so far, but Bloomberg says contract manufacturers Foxconn and Magna International are top contenders for a potential Apple car partnership.

Apple has been in talks with several companies including Hyundai and Kia. Bloomberg reports the company even met with Ferrari last year, but that the talks didn’t lead anywhere. A deal with a major automaker would require Apple to convince a big-name car company to manufacture a product that could end up being a major competitor to the carmaker’s own offerings, which Bloomberg reports has been a tough sell.

If the tech company employed a similar tactic to its iPhone manufacturing process, it would be able to avoid building its own factories and would be able to source its own material, all while avoiding relying on a potential competitor.

Magna was reported to have been in talks with Apple when the company first expressed interest in creating a car years ago. The manufacturing company also assembles cars for several car companies, including BMW.

On Tuesday, BMW’s Chief Financial Officer Nicolas Peter told Bloomberg that he’s not worried about competing with Apple.

If the tech company launched an electric car it could cut into other automaker’s margins, including Tesla. The car, entitled “Project Titan” would allow Apple a slice of a $10 trillion market, according to Morgan Stanley.

In January, analysts at Morgan Stanley said an Apple car could also potentially bring financial ruin, especially if the company follows its current business model, which is more vertically integrated than many other car companies.

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The 3 best ice scrapers and snow brushes of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A good scraper will effectively remove snow and ice from your car’s mirrors and windows for safety.
  • The Hopkins SubZero is our top choice thanks to its flexible blade, built-in squeegee, and extendable handle.

On far too many frigid winter mornings, scraping snow and ice off of your car is an unavoidable chore. Fortunately, ice scrapers and snow brushes allow you to remove the top layer of snow and then chisel away at the ice coating the windows.

For areas that see huge volumes of snow, you might need a larger snow broom type or find it necessary to invest in a snow cover.

I own four different snow scrapers and while that may sound excessive, it meant I knew what to look for when rounding up the best car ice scrapers and snow brushes below.

Here are the best ice scrapers and snow brushes of 2021

The best car ice scraper overall

hopkinssubzero

The Hopkins SubZero Ice Crusher is an all-in-one removal tool with a flexible blade, built-in squeegee, sturdy snow broom, and extendable handle.

Pros: Sturdy construction, flexible blade, built-in-squeegee, lightweight, comfortable handle

Cons: The ice-crushing teeth are located opposite from the scraper, so you’ll have to flip the tool if you’re crushing and scraping

Winter is unpredictable — one morning you might have a light dusting of snow on your windshield, and the next you could find yourself cracking through ice just to be able to see out of your car. That’s why the  Hopkins SubZero Ice Crusher is our favorite, versatile tool. It combines ice-crushing teeth, a flexible scraper blade, a heavy-duty broom, and a squeegee head to make quick work of clearing everything from frost to heavy wet snow. 

While the SubZero is 51 inches while extended, it collapses into a 32-inch unit, making it easy to store. It features a soft foam grip and weighs less than half a pound — both important details that lessen arm strain when you’re chipping away at stubborn ice. 

The best car brush for deep snow

sno brum

The Auto SnoBrum will help you clear snowdrifts without scratching glass, auto paint, or vinyl wraps.

Pros: Ideal for heavy snow load removal, gentle on paint, long pole provides great reach

Cons: Insufficient for stubborn ice

The Auto SnoBrum is particularly great for clearing off deep snow because of its telescoping handle that can extend from 26-inches out to 46-inches in length, giving users of most heights (and arm lengths) easy access to the entirety of the windshield, hood, and even the roof of most vehicles.

The foam head is sturdy enough not to bend or buckle even as you push against heavy snow load, yet gentle enough not to scratch the exterior of your car — that includes auto paint, window and windshield glass, and even those more delicate vehicle vinyl wraps.

Here’s the catch: This is not a true ice scraper, so for thick, stubborn layers of ice, you’re going to need a different tool with a harder edge. But for snow alone, the SnoBrum is ideal.

The best heated car ice scraper

heated ice scraper

The Perfect Life Ideas Heated Snow Ice Scraper is lightweight, easy to use, and clears your windshield. 

Pros: Reduces effort needed to loosen ice, long power cord, power indicator light

Cons: Rather flimsy plastic housing

There is no magic bullet when it comes to removing ice from your car’s windshield, but Perfect Life Ideas’ Heated Snow Ice Scraper measures up. The heat it generates melts the ice so you’ll spend less time scraping. The unit plugs into the DC outlet (otherwise known as the cigarette lighter) in your car and features a 12-foot long cord that should allow access to all of the windows of your vehicle. Ford Excursions and Chevy Suburbans are possible exceptions, however.

Beneath the scraper, a simple heat coil quickly warms up the tool, helping you to break up and remove ice so you’ll exert less force. 

Check out our other guides to car accessories and snow gear

dewalt
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Elon Musk says Tesla’s ‘full self-driving’ subscription is ‘for sure’ launching at some point before July, marking a slight delay

Elon Musk
Elon Musk, Tesla CEO.

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company’s “full self-driving” subscription should “for sure” launch before July.
  • This marks a slight delay. Musk tweeted that Tesla was taking some more time to build out the software.
  • FSD is currently available in beta for a one-off $10,000 fee. The subscription price isn’t yet known.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Elon Musk said Monday that subscriptions for Tesla’s “full self-driving” (FSD) feature should be available in the second quarter of 2021 – a slight delay from his earlier prediction.

In response to a Twitter user who asked when the electric car company’s FSD subscription was launching, Musk replied: “Q2 for sure.”

The price of an FSD subscription isn’t known, but Musk said that “buying FSD will still be a better long-term deal than subscription.”

FSD currently costs a one-off $10,000 and is available in beta form to some drivers. It does not make a Tesla car fully autonomous.

It is an add-on to Tesla’s Autopilot – which can brake, accelerate, and steer automatically – and allows cars to park themselves, change lanes, and identify both stop signs and traffic lights. The company released a beta version to some Tesla owners in October. 

The subscription, which allows drivers to pay for Tesla’s advanced driver-assistance system in installments rather than the whole package at once, has faced numerous delays

Musk said in Tesla’s third-quarter earnings call in October that the company would release the feature to the public by the end of 2020, per The Verge.

But this got pushed back. Musk tweeted in December that the “full self-driving” package will be rolled out as a subscription in early 2021. Now it looks like it could be postponed until mid-2021, judging by Monday’s tweet.

In a separate tweet, Musk said the reason behind the delay of FSD was that Tesla was taking more time to improve AI in the software.

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Meet the Uber drivers who spent 5 years fighting the ride-hailing firm for basic workers’ rights – and won

Former Uber drivers James Farrar (L) and Yaseen Aslam react as they leave the Employment Appeals Tribunal in central London on November 10, 2017. US ride-hailing app Uber on Friday lost a landmark case in Britain that would give drivers the right to paid holidays and the national minimum wage, lawyers representing the claimants said. Farrar, who brought the test case with fellow former driver Aslam, called Uber's business plan "brutally exploitative". Uber said it will appeal the ruling.
Former Uber drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam leaving an employment appeals tribunal in 2017.

  • Two ex-Uber drivers won a huge legal battle against the taxi app firm over workers’ rights.
  • Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar began the case in 2016, fighting for minimum wage and other rights.
  • Farrar said Uber is being defiant about the ruling but hopes it’ll come to accept it.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Five years after they took Uber to court, two ex-drivers on Friday won a legal battle against the ride-hailing firm.

Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar were part of a small group of drivers who brought the original case against Uber in 2015. Aslam and his colleague Farrar, president and general secretary of the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) respectively, claimed Uber was breaking UK employment law by failing to offer basic worker rights, such as holiday pay and national minimum wage. They won the case.

Uber disputed the claims, saying it acted like other traditional minicab firms and counted its drivers as self-employed contractors. At the time, this meant drivers had minimal protections, including no sick pay and Uber could avoid the costs of paying minimum wage. In 2017, Uber appealed the original ruling and lost.

Uber then appealed the case in the UK’s Supreme Court and the process dragged on into February 2021. Again, the company lost, marking the end of its legal road. The outcome could threaten Uber’s business model in the UK – one of its biggest markets – if it is forced to cough up back pay for thousands of drivers who may bring cases, and if it must pay higher taxes.

The dispute will go back to an employment tribunal, which will decide how much the 25 drivers who brought the case five years ago will be awarded. Aslam believes he’s entitled to between £10,000 and £12,000.

“I was delighted,” he told Insider. “It means a lot. I didn’t just do it for myself, I did it for the workers and drivers. I’m just a driver who spoke up for injustice.”

Aslam, who is based in the UK, worked for Uber between 2013 and 2017. Once, during his time at the company, he says Uber “deactivated” him for organizing a campaign against the company’s treatment of drivers. This meant the company didn’t allow him to access the app to pick up passengers, he said. 

“I’m not anti-Uber and I’m not there to shut Uber down. But the law is there for a reason,” he added. Uber did not respond when Insider asked it to comment on Aslam’s claims of deactivation.

Uber’s business model 

When Aslam first started working at Uber, he said it was good. He earned £50 an hour, got a £10 bonus for each ride, and the fares were higher. Plus, the company “put the drivers first.”

As he continued working for the company, however, the fares got cheaper and the bonuses stopped, he says. After the launch of UberPool, a service launched in 2015 that allows people to split ride costs with another person who is travelling in the same direction, drivers were earning even less, according to Aslam.

Back in 2016, CNN also reported that drivers said UberPool meant more work, but not necessarily more pay. Aslam said drivers have realised that Uber is “hiding behind technology to control workers.”

According to Aslam, Uber’s business model involves mass recruiting and flooding the streets with drivers and cars, while keeping fares cheap to attract customers. This has long been a criticism of Uber and its business model – that the firm, initially funded by huge amounts of private capital, could afford to keep cab fares artificially low at the expense of drivers and the competition.

Although Aslam thinks businesses such as Uber should exist, he said they “rely on exploiting people and they go for a mass scaling model and I think it’s wrong.” He believes the customer should take some responsibility in the pricing as there’s a human cost involved: “There’s someone behind that wheel and they need to have rights.”

The case still isn’t over

“The devil is in the details now,” Farrar told Insider. He said Uber is being defiant about committing to implement the ruling.

After the recent ruling, Uber was quick to point out that it only applied to the group of 25 drivers who brought the case in 2016. It also said the ruling was specific to how Uber’s business operated when the drivers initially filed a lawsuit, and that the business has since changed.

“Uber is trying to spin a line to drivers that this ruling only applies to the original claimants and not to all drivers,”  said Farrar, who worked for Uber between 2015 and 2016. “Not only is it untrue but it’s demonstrably contrary to the spirit of the ruling.”

He hopes Uber is just going through “a stage of emotional grief and denial” and that it will accept the ruling. But if not, he said the government and regulator Transport for London (TfL) needs to step in. 

Claims against Uber are already piling up

If the government doesn’t enforce the law and TfL doesn’t step in, Farrar said he and other drivers would have to “pile up litigation” against Uber.

Indeed, thousands of claimants are already making claims against the firm. Nigel Mackay, a partner at Leigh Day Solicitors, said his company currently has 3,500 clients with claims against Uber.

Farrar, who formed an organization called Worker Info Exchange to help app workers like Uber drivers access their data from companies they work for, said these types of claims could become extremely expensive for the taxi app company. He believes there’ll be a cottage industry of lawyers making continuous claims against Uber “because it’s an easy win.”

He added: “It’s embarrassing that the poorest people on minimum wage have to go to the Supreme Court against one of the most powerful companies on Earth.”

Although Uber did not respond to Insider’s request for comment, the company sent a press release shortly after the ruling, featuring a statement from Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe.

It said: “We respect the court’s decision which focussed on a small number of drivers who used the Uber app in 2016. Since then we have made some significant changes to our business, guided by drivers every step of the way. These include giving even more control over how they earn and providing new protections like free insurance in case of sickness or injury.  We are committed to doing more and will now consult with every active driver across the UK to understand the changes they want to see.”

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Mercedes recalls thousands of SUVs over a software error

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Mercedes-Benz US is recalling thousands of its sport utility vehicles over a program software error that could cause a car to move to one side during a maneuver. The error could increase the risk of a crash, the company said in a filing to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

The company is recalling 41,838 of its cars including certain 2020-2021 GLE450, GLE350 and 2020 GLS450, GLE580, and GLS580 models, according to its filing.

Mercedes-Benz USA didn’t respond to Insider’s question if the error caused material damage or injuries in the US.

The car’s Electronic Stability Program software could apply a twisting force to one of the front wheels, pulling the car to move to one side as it steers.

The software will be fixed free of charge starting April 13, Mercedes-Benz said in the filing.

Earlier this month, Mercedes recalled around 1.3 million cars over an error with its automatic emergency-call system that could send responders to the wrong vehicle location. The car models recalled included CLA, GLA, GLE, GLS, SLC, A, GT, C, E, S, CLS, SL, B, GLB, GLC, and G, the Associated Press reported.

The company told Insider last week that Mercedes-Benz US was not aware of any case of material damage or personal injuries caused by this issue.

In January, Mercedes-Benz revealed its new 2022 EQA 250 crossover, its latest electric vehicle model.

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