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News, knowledge, and insights for the automotive industry.

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.

Tesla Powers Up Down Under

Oi! That new battery’s got a bit of a Musk about it. Australia, the world’s largest coal exporter, is now also home to the world’s biggest battery for wind and solar energy. Tesla, looking to show its dual capabilities as an automotive company and as an energy company, completed the US football field-sized project ahead of schedule, following Elon Musk’s bold promises to bring the technology to South Australia several months ago via Twitter. The battery is capable of powering 30,000 homes and is hoped to be a solution for a blackout-prone region that otherwise favors fossil fuels.

AI Researchers Scramble to Comprehend Their Creation

Did none of these developers read a cautionary tale called Frankenstein in school? The artificial intelligence boom is upon us, but researchers across numerous disciplines are scrambling to fully comprehend AI’s abilities and anticipated impacts across the economy. Recent and ongoing research suggest that while AI is further behind than the public perceives it to be, it will likely do more in more places than we expect, causing a larger and faster evolution than similarly powerful technologies and innovations have in the past.

Tesla Confessional: Employees Flag Production Flaws

Quality and quantity is not an easy task. According to nine current and former Tesla employees, the first pit stop for most new Teslas is the repair shop. The employees cited internal tracking figures that noted more than 90 percent of Model S and Model X vehicles as having defects after manufacturing. With production inefficiency being a major concern with the Model 3, the alleged time and money wasted in repairs point to issues with basic manufacturing. Highly efficient automakers, like Toyota, hold an average of about 10% of cars needing post-manufacturing fixes.