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News, knowledge, and insights for the automotive industry.

Somethin’ ‘Bout A(n) Electric Truck

How do Teslas fit into country music? Elon Musk recently made new production promises on Twitter, saying that his company would make a pickup truck after the release of the Model Y, an electric SUV slated for 2019. According to Musk, the model would be just larger than a Ford F-150. Don’t polish those cowboy boots for a new truck just yet- it sounds like there’s a long country road ahead. To read the story from the Detroit News, click here.

Tesla Turns On Its Dell Defense

PCs just got a popularity boost in Silicon Valley. In a recent ruling involving corporate control in major transactions, the Delaware Supreme Court found that Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell was not a controlling shareholder in the company’s $25 billion take-private deal. So what does Dell have to do with Tesla? Tesla’s $2.6 billion acquisition of SolarCity Corp is facing a shareholder challenge in which Elon Musk’s role and power at Tesla is a central question.

Slow and Steady Wins the Direct Sales Race

While their cars can go from zero to 60mph in less than 2 seconds, Tesla's legal battles and direct sales progress will continue to be slow-going. While the electric car maker has earned some important wins in cases that stretch over numerous states, they have experienced mixed results overall. Central to all of these cases are state laws banning direct-to-consumer car sales and similar limitations on direct distribution. In particular, Michigan, Missouri, Virginia, and Utah will be states to watch in 2018 due to their high-profile, ongoing court battles.

Volvo Thinks You’re Due for an Upgrade

If your smartphone feels old after a year, what about your car? Following the success of subscription services for everything from phone upgrades to outfits on demand, “Care by Volvo” will allow subscribers/owners of the XC40 to upgrade to a new vehicle every 12 to 24 months with leasing and deliver arranged online. The XC40 is Volvo’s first compact SUV, and it will face serious competition from the Audi Q3, Buick Envision, Jeep Compass, and Lexus NX. The monthly charge for a XC40 T5 Momentum, maintenance, insurance, and additional items will be $600.

The Tesla Drive Is Ready to Download

Auto upgrades and accessories? There’s an app for that. Just as Tesla has circumvented the dealer industry to sell its cars directly to consumers, its over-the-air upgrade system also saves consumers trips to the dealership for service- an innovative step that will soon begin to impact the industry more broadly. Whether updating a map app or installing self-driving software, Tesla has pioneered the possibilities of electronic systems and most major automotive brands are taking note and developing similar, though more conservative, options.

Test Track: Autonomous Edition

Big Auto’s take on the Epcot classic is open for business in Michigan. The American Center for Mobility, a 500-acre test track for autonomous cars, welcomed its first participants, Visteon Corp. and Toyota Motor North America, last week. The facility, which features a 2.5-mile highway loop, a 700-foot curved tunnel, two double overpasses, intersections, and roundabouts, is intended to become a global hub for future mobility technologies and bringing safe self-driving cars to public roads.

Cox Brings the Heat in Collusion Case Against CDL

The major automotive dealership vendor is running a full court press. Cox Automotive has sued CDK Global for anti-competitive behavior intended to eliminate competition in dealership data integration, breach of contract, engaging in unfair trade practices, and the defamation of Cox. Cox announced the suit on its website, with the complaint citing “immense” damage to the automotive industry. Settle in, this game will probably go into overtime.

Innovating Automakers Look to Avoid Tech’s Turbulent IP Past

For those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, as Santayana optimistically said. Automakers making bold new strides into tech territory are also vividly remembering the smartphone wars and other court battles that have dominated Silicon Valley. The cases cost hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees, a price car manufacturers are hoping to avoid in their bottom line. Instead, these competitors are forming industry groups to navigate or jointly acquire patents and license technology in addition to sharing technology or using non-patented technology.

Lyft’s Self-Driving Cars Say ‘Sup to Beantown

Hopefully they won’t cause any gahkablahkas. Boston city officials signed off on the Lyft/nuTonomy pilot program, which will be limited to the Seaport District’s startup hub, in October, and the cars are now up and running. Backup drivers will be present, and the trial is expected to capture insights on how autonomous vehicles could complement the city’s public transit systems. If you were still wondering, a gahkablahka is a Bostonian term for traffic tie-up, fusing the words “gawker” and “blocker” as only they can.

Leader of the Pack: G.M. Unveils Its Driverless Cars, Aiming to Move Ahead of the Competition

Previously reluctant to show the autonomous vehicles it is developing, General Motors now wants to signal its progress in getting them to market. For more than a year, General Motors has tantalized investors with plans to build its future around self-driving cars. It has regularly announced big investments and progress reports, but the company has kept its prototype vehicles largely under wraps — until now. G.M.