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Tesla

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

It’s good to be Elon Musk.

The chairman of Tesla, the electric car maker, cops to, quote, “production hell” for its new Model 3 compact. And the response from Wall Street? Mostly just yawns.

Parts of the car are being “hand-built,” – for now, anyway – and Tesla’s stratospheric shares take only a slight hit. Seriously?

Yes, it’s good to be ol’ Elon – often wrong, never in doubt and seldom punished.

line of chevy volts
Courtesy of General Motors

General Motors is adding to its fleet of automated cars. The company hopes to maintain what it says is a big advantage in a crucial technology of the future.  

GM put 50 self-driving Bolt EVs on public roads late last year.  At GM's Orion Township plant, CEO Mary Barra showed off some of the 130 next-generation self-driving Bolts that will soon be added to the fleet.

General Motors headquarters in Detroit.
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio file photo

Recent reports show that auto sales have slipped more than expected. That’s the fourth month in a row of declining sales.

And Wall Street responded. Share prices of the big three took a hit.

New York International Auto Show

The 117th edition of the New York International Auto Show is in full swing. Among the cars getting a lot of attention is the Dodge Challenger Demon, which boasts 840 horsepower and zero to 60 acceleration in 2.3 seconds.

Paul Eisenstein is covering the show for the Detroit Bureau, where he is publisher. Stateside gave him a call to talk muscle cars, Tesla, and Trump's effect on the auto industry.

The Tesla Model S, first introduced in June 2012
Tesla Motors

Here’s the latest Detroit indignity: Tiny Tesla, the electric automaker, is felling giants.

The Silicon Valley startup created in 2003 is worth more in market value than the American industrial icon founded exactly 100 years earlier by Henry Ford, the premier innovator of his time.

Tesla’s not far behind General Motors, either. The promise of game-changing innovation, the hope that someone new can crack the emissions-free code is causing tons of smart money to flow into Chairman Elon Musk’s Tesla.

Nearly $49 billion-worth, to be precise.

A Tesla electronic car at a charging station
Austin Kirk / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's a tiny company packing a big punch with investors.

Electric car maker Tesla now has a higher market value than Ford. It's just behind General Motors at the top of the list. 

The Chevy Bolt
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Chevy Bolt won the 2017 North American Car of the Year. It’s a long-range electric car.

The EPA estimates the Bolt can travel 238 miles per charge, and GM thinks of it as an electric car that will have mass appeal. After a federal tax credit, the price of the car comes in around $30,000.

Tesla is planning to release a more affordable electric car. They call it the Model 3. But GM beat Tesla to it.

Karl Brauer is executive publisher at Auto Trader.

General Motors' Chevy Bolt is expected to be in showrooms by the end of the year.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

With a new development in the march to lead the mobility movement, we check in with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

Howes joined Stateside to talk about his latest column "Tough auto game challenges Silicon Valley stars" where he says Silicon Valley has gotten a reality check in terms of what it takes to get a vehicle to market on schedule.

A Tesla electronic car at a charging station
Austin Kirk / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

This Week in Review, Jack and I look at a lawsuit in which Michigan and 20 other states seek to block a new federal rule that expands overtime eligibility for white-collar workers.

We also discuss a bill that would require more transparency from state lawmakers, and electronic car maker Tesla's lawsuit against the state of Michigan.


The Tesla Model S, first introduced in June 2012
Tesla Motors

Tesla’s legal challenge to Michigan’s dealer franchise laws exposes the hypocrisy of the state’s theoretically enlightened take on the transforming auto industry. Enlightenment has its limits.

Here’s the epicenter of the U.S. auto industry, the repository of enormous engineering talent, falling all over itself to lead the autonomous-vehicle bandwagon to master mobility to beat Silicon Valley at its own game.

How’s this idea: In an effort to please an old-fashioned, shrinking industry, we outlaw efforts to sell a new product in an innovative way?

Instead, we’ll make anyone who wants this product drive to Chicago or Cleveland to buy it.

That ought to help Michigan become economically competitive again.


Steve Jurvetson / Flickr

Tesla, the electric car company based in California, is suing Michigan over its law that prohibits direct-to-consumer sales of cars. 

In 2014, the Michigan state legislature essentially Tesla-proofed an existing law at the urging of auto dealers. 

The law makes it clear that car companies can sell their products only through licensed dealers. Tesla sells its cars directly to consumers out of stores it owns. 

Tesla says the Michigan law violates its constitutional right to due process and equal protection, as well as restricting interstate commerce. 

A House committee has approved a package of bills to expand the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to cover the governor and the legislature with a few exemptions.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Spending by lobbyists at the state capitol is on pace to break last year’s record.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network reports lobbyists reported spending $21.7 million during the first seven months of 2016. During the same period last year, lobbyists spent $21 million.   

In all of 2015, lobbyists reported spending a record $38.7 million wooing Michigan lawmakers. 

A Tesla supercharging station at a Meijer store in Ann Arbor.
Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

In an administrative hearing, the state of Michigan denied electric car company Tesla of California a dealership license that would permit it to sell cars here.

No one was surprised by the denial, including Tesla.

In 2014, Michigan car dealers successfully lobbied the state Legislature to essentially Tesla-proof a Michigan law that forbids auto manufacturers from selling cars directly to consumers. 

That's Tesla's business model, and dealers see it as an existential threat. 

flickr user Gage Skidmore/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A new poll by Epic MRA on behalf of the Detroit Free Press and other news media outlets across the state shows that Donald Trump has cut into Hillary Clinton's lead in Michigan. 

Clinton still leads, but with 38% compared to Trump's 35%. 

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party presidential candidate, is also gaining ground with 10%.

Road to self-driving cars depends on people

Jul 16, 2016

The talk of the auto industry this year isn’t about Detroit’s record profits. Rather, it’s about racing to field vehicles that drive themselves.

But it’s not as easy as it sounds.

The road to self-driving cars isn’t just about technology.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says Ford could stand to refresh its model lineup, and should invest more in connected vehicles.
Ford Motor Company

Nearly 75% of people surveyed by AlixPartners say they'd be interesting in an autonomous, AKA self-driving car.

The number jumps to 90% if the self-driving car includes the option of letting a human take control if deemed necessary.

Mark Wakefield of AlixPartners says he thinks his survey found more interest in self-driving cars because of the way they phrased the questions. The survey provided details about the positives of self-driving cars, in addition to the negatives.

Steve Jurvetson / Flickr

Michigan will have two new battery supercharging stations by the end of the summer courtesy of Tesla Motors.

Tesla's Model S electric car gets up to 300 miles on a single charge. It normally takes several hours to charge the car. But a "supercharger"shortens the charging time to 20 to 30 minutes, according to Tesla spokeswoman Alexia Georgeson. 

Tesla

Tesla will acquire Riviera Tool in Cascade Township, renaming the company "Tesla Tool and Die Factory."

The Silicon Valley-based auto and battery manufacturing company has used Riviera as a supplier before, but the acquisition means Tesla will become the factory's only customer.