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Tesla Sues Former Employees for Theft of Autopilot Code, Trade Secrets

Engineer swiped info before leaving to join Chinese company.

by on Mar.21, 2019

Tesla is now fending off corporate espionage from competitors like Zoox and Xiopeng by filing suits against employees for stealing corporate secrets.

Just days after bragging about the company’s plans in China, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is suing former employees for stealing from the EV maker as they left to join Chinese automakers Zoox and Xiopeng Motors.

The company filed two suits against separate sets of former employees in California. In the case of Zoox, automaker claims that four former employees stole “proprietary information and trade secrets to help Zoox leapfrog past years of work needed to develop and run its own warehousing, logistics, and inventory control operations.”

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Scott Turner, Sydney Cooper, Christian Dement, and Craigh Emigh “absconded with select proprietary Tesla documents useful to their new employer,” according to the filing. Additionally, one of the four used the info to recruit other Tesla employees.  (more…)

First Drive: 2019 BMW X7

Bavaria’s big boy offers Euro alternative to Escalade, Navigator – as well as 7-Series.

by on Mar.21, 2019

The 2019 BMW X7 shown here in Euro trim heading off into the sunset.

Laissez les bon temps rouler…let the good times roll. And since I’m heading to New Orleans, it’s nice to be rolling that way in the new 2019 BMW X7.

The German automaker was one of the first to get serious about building luxury SUVs with the 1999 launch of the original X5. And as the global market has steadily shifted from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs, it has steadily expanded the range of what the Bavarian marque prefers to call “Sport Activity Vehicles.” The X7 is the latest and most lavish entry, essentially a two-box alternative to the brand’s familiar flagship, the 7-Series.

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Reviews You Can Trust!

To see if it’s really up to the challenge I headed down to Tallahassee to pick up one of the Bavarian brutes, beginning a day-long drive across the Florida Panhandle, through Alabama and Mississippi and wrapping up in the Cajun State, just in time for the start of the annual Mardi Gras.

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One of Nine Pickups Earns Top Rating in IIHS Crash Tests

Nearly half of the trucks rated marginal or poor.

by on Mar.21, 2019

Ford's F-150 was one of the best performers in the latest IIHS pickup crash tests.

Pickup buyers concerned about safety might be surprised by the results of the latest IIHS crash results that found over half of the nine models scored poorly in at least one of the key tests,  four earning marginal or poor ratings overall.

Of the trucks the IIHS examined, only two earned good ratings, the Ford F-150 and Nissan Titan. And just one 2019 model, the Honda Ridgeline, earned the coveted IIHS Top Safety Pick award – but only when equipped with optional headlights and forward collision prevention technology.

Safety News!

“As a group,” said David Zuby, the chief research officer for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “the pickup class still has a lot of work to do.”

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As Tesla Model Y Debuts, Musk Asks: Do You Think We’re “S3XY”?

New Model Y to be offered in four distinct versions – but economy buyers will have to wait.

by on Mar.15, 2019

The Tesla Model Y is likely to look quite familiar to fans of the earlier Model 3 sedan.

The long-awaited Tesla Model Y made its formal debut on Thursday night, with CEO Elon Musk declaring it takes an already attractive line-up and makes it “S3XY.” The inside joke adds the new electric SUV to the automaker’s existing line-up of Models S, 3 and X.

But there’s a serious side to the launch. Tesla continues to struggle to right its balance sheet, plunging back into the red this quarter after earning money during the second half of 2018. The Model Y is expected to become Tesla’s best-seller, Musk declared, telling his audience “we’ll do more Model Ys than S, X and 3 combined.” And that includes not just the U.S. but also China, where Tesla is struggling to get a foothold in the world’s largest market for battery-electric vehicles.

Breaking Product News!

The Model Y will be one of the vehicles Tesla plans to produce once it opens up a new plant in Shanghai later this year. That will give it a way to hold costs down and also to sidestep any escalation in the U.S.-China trade war.

(Here’s our Model Y preview. Click Here to see how close we came.)

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Over 70% of Americans “Afraid” to Ride in a Fully Autonomous Car

"The good, the bad and the ugly."

by on Mar.14, 2019

The fatal crash involving an Uber vehicle in Tempe, AZ has negatively shaped many peoples' view of autonomous vehicle technology, AAA found.

Almost exactly a year after an autonomous Uber prototype struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, a new AAA study finds more than seven in ten Americans “afraid” of riding in a fully autonomous vehicle.

That’s despite the fact that 100s of self-driving prototypes are plying U.S. roads on a daily basis, a number that could soon climb into the tens of thousands if Congress moves to approve proposed legislation designed to help make the technology a part of everyday life. Already, the first self-driving vehicle ride-sharing program has gone into operation, launched last December by Google spin-off Waymo.

Out of this World!

“Automated vehicle technology is evolving on a very public stage and, as a result, it is affecting how consumers feel about it,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering.

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Nissan IMQ “Signals the Direction” of Future Electric CUVs

A “seamless” blending of exterior and interior design.

by on Mar.05, 2019

Nissan designers opted for a sharper and more angular approach to the design of the IMQ.

Think of the new Nissan IMQ concept vehicle as a rolling crystal ball. Following on the debut of the IMs prototype at the Detroit Auto Show two months ago, the Japanese maker says its latest concept “signals the direction of (its) next generation of crossovers.”

Make that battery-electric CUVs, for the concept vehicle that debuted today at the Geneva Motor Show reveals the next-generation e-Power system, an all-electric powertrain that you might think of as the familiar Nissan Leaf on steroids.

Product News!

Actually, that is a bit misleading, as the Nissan IMQ carries with it a 1.5-liter gas engine that serves solely as a generator, providing energy when the battery is drained. That’s the same approach BMW has taken with its little i3 city car. The internal combustion engine never actually provides direct power to the wheels.

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Apple Cuts Over 200 Jobs at Autonomous Vehicle Project

Move raises questions about what will remain of Project Titan.

by on Jan.24, 2019

Apple Tim Cook had called self-driving vehicles "the mother of all AI projects."

Apple has cut at least 200 jobs at Project Titan, its autonomous vehicle project, sources told TheDetroitBureau.com, a report now confirmed by CNBC.

The operation has been underway in near secrecy for several years and had previously gone through several upheavals, according to sources, as the tech giant tried to figure out exactly what its long-term goals would be. While it appeared committed to the idea of developing self-driving vehicle technology, the big question was whether Apple should also build the cars that would use that technology and, if so, how they would be used.

Breaking News!

“We have an incredibly talented team working on autonomous systems and associated technologies at Apple,” a company spokesperson told CNBC overnight. “As the team focuses their work on several key areas for 2019, some groups are being moved to projects in other parts of the company, where they will support machine learning and other initiatives, across all of Apple.”

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Ford Backs SUV Push With All-New 2020 Explorer

"A beacon for the future."

by on Jan.10, 2019

Ford executives are joined by the development team at the 2020 Ford Explorer debut.

From the pint-sized EcoSport up to the yacht-like Expedition, a visit to a Ford showroom reveals an array of utility vehicles wearing the Blue Oval badge, but none carries the gravitas of the Ford Explorer. Since the original rolled out for the 1991 model-year, the Detroit automaker has sold more than 7.7 million of them, making it the best-selling SUV in automotive history.

No wonder, then, that the automaker took over the Ford family-owned Ford Field stadium in downtown Detroit for the first public showing of the all-new 2020 Explorer which will be reaching U.S. showrooms a few months from now.  “This vehicle is a beacon for the future” of Ford, said Executive Vice President Jim Farley, as the first of the new SUVs rolled out onto the field.

Auto Show News!

Starting at $33,000, a modest $400 bump up from the outgoing model, the fourth-generation Ford Explorer is more than just a modest update. Practically everything is new, as the old line goes, from the ground up, starting with a new rear-wheel-drive platform that will be shared with an assortment of other Ford products going forward, starting with the also-new Lincoln Aviator that generated its own buzz during a preview at the Los Angeles Auto Show last month.

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Ford and VW Ready to Announce New Partnership, Sources Say

Auto giants to form alliances in multiple areas, Reuters reports.

by on Jan.09, 2019

Ford CEO Jim Hackett, left, and Chairman Bill Ford earlier confirmed the talks with Volkswagen. Might they announce a deal next week?

The lengthy talks between Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG to forge some sort of money-saving, product-expediting partnership appear to be coming to a conclusion with an announcement coming sometime next week during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

“A global alliance is expected to be announced,” one person familiar with the talks told Reuters, adding that the pact will be unveiled next Tuesday during the Detroit auto show. Another official echoed similar sentiments to TheDetroitBureau.com earlier today.

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It’s possible that an announcement could come as early as this evening as Ford is hosting an event tonight in Detroit. (more…)

Nissan Boosts Range, Performance With New Leaf Plus

World’s best-selling battery-electric vehicle breaks 200-mile barrier.

by on Jan.09, 2019

The 2020 Nissan Leaf Plus.

It’s been the world’s best-selling battery-vehicle since its introduction nearly a decade ago, but the Nissan Leaf had been losing ground as competitors like Tesla have rolled out an array of new competitors.

Now, the Japanese automaker is aiming to regain momentum with the introduction of a critical update to the battery-electric vehicle, the new Nissan Leaf Plus set to increase both range and performance by about 50 percent. That will position the five-door model, to be sold as the Leaf e+ in most other markets, as the latest BEV to top the 200-mile mark.

Stay Charged Up!

“This is a big psychological barrier,” said Denis LeVot, the CEO of Nissan North America, during the debut of the Leaf Plus at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Along with the improvement to Leaf’s traditionally anemic performance, he added, that should prove to potential buyers that “these are more than real cars.”

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