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Tesla CEO Musk Lays Out Plan to Take EV Maker Private

SpaceX appears to be the blueprint.

by on Aug.07, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants to take the EV maker private — at $420 a share.

Sometimes Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk means what he tweets — in this case, taking the company private at $420 a share.

Earlier today, Musk hopped on twitter telling his millions of followers, “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share. Funding secured.”

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That set off two flurries. One a thread of tweets about everything from what a great idea it is to how followers love marijuana references to how the Securities and Exchange Commission frown on these sorts of pronouncements. (more…)

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Could Cause, Not Prevent Crashes, Warns New IIHS Study

Drivers may expect new systems, like Tesla Autopilot, to completely take over driving duties.

by on Aug.07, 2018

Tesla's own semi-autonomous Autopilot tech came under suspicion after this January crash.

Federal safety investigators raced to the scene of a crash involving a Tesla Model S sedan last January after the vehicle slammed into the back of a firetruck stopped on a California highway, regulators wanting to know why that happened despite the vehicle using the carmaker’s advanced driver assistance system specifically designed to prevent such a crash.

“ADAS” systems are being introduced on a wide range of vehicles and, according to industry experts, could substantially reduce the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities on U.S. roads. But a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety raises serious concerns about the technology. After testing five different systems offered by four automakers, IIHS warns that even though ADAS can prevent some accidents, the technology also could miss some potential problems and, in some situations, actually steer into a crash.

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A major concern is that these new, semi-autonomous systems still require drivers to be constantly vigilant, and occasionally intervene, said IIHS chief researcher David Zuby. But that’s often easy to forget. “If the systems seem too capable, then drivers may not give them the attention required to use them safely.” (more…)

Cybersecurity Efforts Critical to Automotive Industry

Car companies focused on ensuring safety of self-driving cars.

by on Aug.06, 2018

GM President Dan Ammann said recently that the company's focus on cybersecurity is critical to its long-term goals.

The operation of self-driving vehicles will require an intense focus on cybersecurity, experts said during a conference in Detroit organized by Billington Cybersecurity, which brought together representatives from the automobile and tech industry as well as the government.

Dan Ammann, General Motors president, told the conference that GM cybersecurity is one of “the key enablers” to making GM’s vision of “zero crashes, zero emission and zero congestion” a reality.

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“As we continue to develop our Autonomous Vehicle program, safety is paramount, just like it is in everything that we do,” Ammann said. “For our customers, that means providing the safest products possible, including the strongest cybersecurity.” (more…)

Former Worker Countersues Tesla Over Sabotage Claim

Martin Tripp alleges automaker tried to cover up quality problems.

by on Aug.06, 2018

Former employee Martin Tripp claims he was fired after trying to report problems at Tesla's Gigafactory.

A former employee at the Gigafactory battery plant has sued Tesla after it claimed he committed sabotage and stole intellectual property.

Martin Tripp was fired by the battery-carmaker in June and subsequently sued by Tesla for allegedly sabotaging the company’s manufacturing system and also stealing its intellectual property. In turn, Tripp has filed a whistleblower complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission, while also filing a lawsuit against Tesla.

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In the lawsuit, the former employee said the carmaker took action after he “raised his concerns about the seemingly exorbitant amounts of scrap” being produced at the Gigafactory, though “no action was taken.” Tripp even sent an email to Tesla CEO on May 16, 2018 expressing his concerns and backing them up with “graphical charts.”

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Automakers Caught “In Limbo” As New CAFE Rules Face Major Legal Hurdles

Anticipated court battle could delay changes for years.

by on Aug.03, 2018

Automakers are caught in the middle over the CAFE debate and could face even more challenges if the proposed Trump rollback drags on in court.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the Trump Administration’s plan to roll back the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, automakers are finding themselves in what one long-time industry analyst calls “limbo,” and it could be a year or more before they’ll actually be able to incorporate the CAFE update into their plans due to anticipated legal challenges.

As a result, it could be well into the upcoming decade before the White House revisions actually have any significant impact, according to numerous industry executives who spoke to TheDetroitBureau.com, if any changes ever actually occur.

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There is the very real possibility that the courts could rule against the proposed changes or that the legal battle drags on long enough for a new administration to come into office and revert back to the guidelines established under the Obama White House. As a result, automakers and suppliers face a major conundrum when it comes to planning for products set to come out through the middle of the coming decade.

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Tesla’s Looking to Hire Designers — Video Game Designers

CEO Musk tweeted that V9.0 will have some Atari video games in it.

by on Aug.02, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to recruit new hires to the company: video game designers.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is certainly known for his unconventional approach to his businesses, as well as his proclivity for espousing his ideas about them on Twitter.

Those two things met again recently when Musk put out a call to video game designers.

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“If you’re into video game development, consider applying to Tesla,” Musk tweeted Wednesday. “We want to make super fun games that integrate the center touchscreen, phone & car [in real life].” (more…)

19 States, DC Launch Legal Move to Block CAFE Cuts

“We are prepared to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan.”

by on Aug.02, 2018

Massachusetts Attorney-General Maura Healey is taking the lead in opposing the CAFE cuts.

It didn’t take long for the backlash to begin as critics took aim at the White House effort to roll back the federal mileage mandate, 19 states, along with the District of Columbia, announcing plans to sue the Trump Administration.

The plan revealed Thursday would freeze the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard at 37 miles per gallon, the target automakers had been expected to achieve by 2020, on the way to an official target of 54.5 mpg by 2025 – though the original, real-world number would be in the low to mid-40 range. The administration said the move would not only save new vehicle buyers an average of $2,340 but also save 1,000 lives annually. Critics, however, contend the move will increase demand for imported oil, boost household energy costs and worsen global warming.

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“We are prepared to go to court to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan,” the coalition of states attorneys-general, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, said in a news release.

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Tesla Q2 Losses Double, But Profits Promised in Q3

Investors happy to see capex spend drop, stock jumps nearly 5%.

by on Aug.01, 2018

Tesla CEO delivered enough positives in the second quarter to excite investors. The company's stock rose 5% in after hours trading.

Tesla Inc.’s mad dash efforts to meet its ever-shifting production quotas didn’t result in a narrowing of financial losses for Q2, not that CEO Elon Musk implied that. However, the end result was a doubling of losses on a year-over-year basis.

In the second quarter of 2018, Tesla’s automotive business saw revenue rise to $3.1 billion compared with $2 billion for the same period last year; however, losses jumped to $717.5 million, or $4.22 a share, from $336.4 million, or $2.04 a share.

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However, the letter produced to explain the quarterly results suggests that only good times are on the horizon despite the company missing analyst expectations for losses this quarter. Ultimately, shareholders were pleased with the results as the stock jumped nearly 5% after hours on the news.  (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera

The hills are alive with the sound of…a 715 hp V-12.

by on Aug.01, 2018

The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera becomes the 3rd in what will become a 7-model line-up.

We’re not quite at the top of the world, but from our perch high up in the quaint Bavarian mountain town of Berchtesgaden, one can see nearly forever. But it’s the guttural roar echoing off the steep and rocky Alpine cliffs that has caught our attention. Faint, at first, it grows ever louder, until the sleek GT coupe pops into view, racing through the mountain pass towards our hotel. The good news is that the driver will soon be handing us the keys to the 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera, the car we’ve crossed an ocean to drive.

Low, wide and finished in what Aston dubs “satin xenon” paint, the Superleggera has an imposing presence. Not surprisingly, it bears a strong resemblance to the DB11 that came to market barely a year ago, as well as the more aggressive Aston Vantage that followed. Indeed, all three share their underlying platform, albeit with some notable revisions to DBS to handle its incredible power. It is, in fact, the third in what the British automaker promises will be a series of seven distinct models and, for at least the moment, replaces the familiar Vanquish nameplate – though there are hints that badge may yet return.

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The DBS Superleggera also shares the same 5.2-liter twin-turbo V-12 found in the DB11, albeit with some notable revisions, including significantly more boost, meant to punch it up to a spectacular 715 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. With its heavy emphasis on lightweight carbon fiber, the 2+2 weighs in at around 3,725 pounds. Do the math and you’re talking about a foreboding power-to-weight ratio that allows for 0 to 60 launches in a mere 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 211 mph. It also gives Aston bragging rights when compared to a Ferrari 812 Superfast, which has about 147 lb-ft less torque.

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Rental Car Business Being Squeezed by Ride Sharing

Autonomous vehicles present major change in prices.

by on Jul.31, 2018

Fully driverless vehicles, like the ones Ford plans to build for Lyft, may be the death knelll for some rental car companies.

The rental-car business faces a growing threat to its future from ride-sharing companies, according to a new survey from AlixPartners.

“Results from our survey suggest that the $30-billion U.S. car-rental industry is already undergoing a tectonic shift, with boundaries not just blurring but being obliterated between car-rental and ride-hailing and other forms of new mobility,” said Arun Kumar, a director in the Automotive and Industrial Practice at AlixPartners and a co-author of a new report focusing on the rental-car business.

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“The companies that survive this shift will be those that act now to transform themselves to be relevant in a world which seems to much prefer simply clicking on an app than standing in line at the rental counter,” Kumar said. (more…)