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News, knowledge, and insights for the automotive industry.

Fisker Returns with a Solid State of Affairs

The name’s Fisker, Henrik Fisker. The Los Angeles-based Danish expat known for designing the Aston Martin DB9, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, the BMW Z8, and many more iconic cars is staging a comeback in the electric car industry, bringing a new company, car, and battery to CES. Fisker’s previous company, Fisker Automotive, collapsed in 2013. Despite the attractive prototype of his supercar, the battery prototype has garnered the most attention, with Fisker claiming to deliver a solid-state battery in the next five years.

Startup Aurora Restarts VW Engineering Reputation

Moving on and moving up. Volkswagen AG and Hyundai Motor Co. have both announced partnerships with Aurora Innovation, a self-driving startup with a focus on machine learning led by ex-Googler Chris Urmson. The industry particularly noted the Aurora-VW partnership as the company works to leave diesel and Dieselgate behind and move toward battery-powered, self-driving cars. Through this partnership, VW is expected to speed up the process of developing a driverless ride-sharing vehicle fleet in cities.

Toyota Showcases Third Gen Autonomous Test Rig

And the third time seems to have charmed critics. Toyota Research Institute has released details about Platform 3.0, which is built on a Lexus LS 600hl hybrid luxury sedan, and will officially debut the autonomous research vehicle at CES 2018. Platform 3.0 presents a sleeker, more consumer-friendly design that hides several unattractive elements of the previous model. The hardware also received an upgrade that is expected to enhance both performance and production.

Machine Learning Tech Levels Playing Field in Autonomous Competition

Neural networks driving autonomous vehicles—a giant leap for self-driving cars and a big question for regulators. Machine learning technology at Aurora Innovation is being taught how to mimic decisions made by human drivers, allowing the year-old startup to rapidly build and improve autonomous vehicles. The tech is also allowing the fledgling company to compete with the biggest players from the automotive and technology industries, nabbing partnerships with Volkswagen Group and Hyundai.

Car Sales Head Down New, Uncertain Road

As 2017 came to a close, so did the auto industry’s sales streak. Manufacturers reported a decline in domestic new-vehicle sales, breaking seven straight years of growth in the car sales industry. The decline in the American market is expected to continue in 2018, and may force carmakers to trim production and find new ways to entice customers. To read the article from the New York Times, click here.

Lidar Joins the Post-Holiday Sale Trend

Buy next year’s holiday décor, the sweater you actually wanted, and self-driving tech for 50 percent off! Velodyne, a top supplier of sensors and laser-based guidance systems for self-driving cars, announced that it has slashed the price of its latest rotating ‘puck’ product in half, reducing the cost to $4,000. While hailed as a step in making LIDAR systems more feasible for broader commercial use, the technology can still cost about $85,000 for a more comprehensive system.

Electric Buses and Trucks Power On in Popularity

The power these trucks are supplying, it’s electrifying! While Elon Musk and Tesla garnered serious attention for the Tesla Semis in November and have numerous deposits despite the two-year delivery time, several automakers are already building up the heavy-duty electric vehicle market. US transit authorities are making major investments in electric bus fleets, BYD is distributing electric Class-8, sanitation, and delivery trucks, and companies like Cummins, Daimler, Volvo, and Ryder are moving their long-haul technology toward an emissions-free future. Haul, plug in, repeat.

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.