Musk defense “borders on the ridiculous,” SEC tells court

Elon Musk

Enlarge (credit: VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

The Securities and Exchange Commission heaped scorn on Elon Musk and his legal arguments in a Monday legal filing. The agency is asking New York federal Judge Alison Nathan to hold Musk in contempt for tweeting a projection of 2019 vehicle output without first getting the tweet approved by Tesla’s lawyers.

Musk has been battling the SEC since last August, when he tweeted that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private. That turned out to be untrue, and it’s illegal to publish inaccurate information that has the potential to move markets. Under the terms of a September deal, Musk paid a $20 million fine and gave up his role as the chairman of Tesla’s board (Tesla paid an additional $20 million).

Musk also promised to have Tesla lawyers review future tweets that could contain information that is “material”—that is, significant enough to affect the price of Tesla’s stock.

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Source: Ars Technica

Report: Trump “would never get in a self-driving car”

President Donald Trump, as seen on January 27, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia.

Enlarge / President Donald Trump, as seen on January 27, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. (credit: Pool Photo/Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Transportation, Elaine Chao, has worked hard to avoid placing regulatory barriers in the way of self-driving cars. But Chao’s boss is a driverless car skeptic, Axios reports.

One Axios source had a conversation with Trump in 2017 where he mentioned owning a Tesla with Autopilot technology. According to the source, Trump “was like, ‘Yeah that’s cool but I would never get in a self-driving car… I don’t trust some computer to drive me around.'”

On another occasion, Trump reportedly said, “Can you imagine, you’re sitting in the back seat and all of a sudden this car is zig-zagging around the corner and you can’t stop the f—ing thing?”

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Source: Ars Technica

At a quick Los Angeles event, Tesla announces the 300-mile-range Model Y

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Source: Ars Technica

On the edge of something really good: Ford Edge review

The 2019 Ford Edge Titanium.

Enlarge / The 2019 Ford Edge Titanium. (credit: Eric Bangeman)

If you want to know about the state of the auto industry in the US, look no further than Ford. Once the home of sedans like the Taurus and Crown Victoria, Ford has decided to largely give up on cars and focus its efforts on SUVs and trucks. That means more attention to models like the Explorer and Escape, plus the return of the Bronco (will it be available in OJ Simpson White?). Oh, and the Ford Edge has gotten some serious love from Ford for 2019—it has been redesigned with lots of help from the Ford Performance Team. Let’s have a look.

The Ford Edge slots roughly into the middle of Ford’s massive lineup of SUVs and crossovers. On the smaller side are the EcoSport and Escape; the Explorer, Flex, and Expedition complete Ford’s range of SUVs. At 188 inches long (4,775mm), the Edge looks more like a squat SUV with a blunt-looking front end than other compact crossovers like the Volkswagen Tiguan. Ford’s makeover for the Flex manifests itself with new bi-LED headlights, new 18-inch bright-machined aluminum wheels (20-inch wheels come with the Titanium Elite package), sportier-looking front and rear fascia, and a wider grille. And you can admire the new liftgate appliqué as you walk toward the Edge with your bags of groceries.

As is the case with most compact crossovers, Ford has equipped the Edge with a 2.0L, 16-valve turbocharged engine capable of 250hp (184kW) at 5,500rpm and 275lb-ft (373Nm) of torque at 3,000rpm, which comes with the SE, SEL, and Titanium trim. The Edge SL has a 2.7L 24-valve EcoBoost V6 that offers 335hp (246kW) at 5,500rpm. There’s a new eight-speed automatic transmission with standard front-wheel drive (all-wheel drive is standard on the SL and available across the rest of the lineup). Our review car had the four-banger under the hood.

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Source: Ars Technica

862,520 Fiat-Chrysler vehicles have emissions issues, will be recalled

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Source: Ars Technica

Musk lawyers accuse SEC of “unconstitutional power grab”

Image of an exasperated man giving a speech.

Enlarge / Elon Musk speaks at the 68th International Astronautical Congress 2017 in Adelaide on September 29, 2017. (credit: PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)

Elon Musk’s lawyers have fired back at the Securities and Exchange Commission, arguing that the Tesla CEO did not violate the terms of his September settlement with the agency—and that the agency’s attempt to gag Musk violates the First Amendment. The SEC has asked a federal judge to hold Musk in contempt for tweeting out a projection of Tesla’s 2019 car production without first clearing the tweet with Tesla’s lawyers.

The core disagreement in the case is over whether Musk’s February 19 tweet stating “Tesla made 0 cars in 2011, but will make around 500k in 2019” was material—legal jargon for information that’s significant enough to affect Tesla’s stock price. If that 500k figure is material, then Tesla’s policy required Musk to clear the tweet with his lawyers. Failure to do so would be a violation of Musk’s deal with the SEC, which settled a previous lawsuit over another tweet containing allegedly inaccurate information.

But if Musk’s 500k tweet is not material, as Musk’s lawyers claim, then Musk did nothing wrong. Musk’s lawyers argue Tesla’s policy gives Musk discretion to decide which tweets are material and that Musk reasonably determined that this February 19 tweet was non-material. They argue that Musk’s “around 500k” figure wasn’t providing new information to the market but rather reiterating information Tesla had disclosed previously.

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Source: Ars Technica

Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive to Survive finds pressure at the core of F1

Daniel Ricciardo is one of the best drivers in F1, and he absolutely shines in <em>Formula 1: Drive to Survive</em>, a new 10-part documentary on Netflix.

Enlarge / Daniel Ricciardo is one of the best drivers in F1, and he absolutely shines in Formula 1: Drive to Survive, a new 10-part documentary on Netflix. (credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

For much of this century, the sport of Formula 1 was trapped in amber. Its owners were more interested in sucking out profits than reinvesting them. As a result, the sport’s management was able to ignore the Internet for as long as possible, a fad that would soon surely die. But in 2017 Liberty Media bought F1 from the vultures, with a promise to embrace the Internet, not ignore it. And it has. F1’s YouTube content is great, and the sport got a bit more tolerant to people sharing their experiences on social media. Last year, Formula 1 launched a streaming platform in markets where TV contracts made that permissible. And now, F1 is on Netflix.

Formula 1: Drive to Survive is a 10-part series from the producer of the documentaries Senna and Amy. It’s officially blessed, which means cameras got access to everything in a sport that has spent years redefining the art of keeping people out. The series follows F1 across the 2018 season, one that I think was better than most of the recent hybrid era what with two teams vying for the title. Don’t expect to see much of that story, though. When Liberty asked all the teams to take part, Mercedes and Ferrari told them to pound sand.

That means no Lewis Hamilton trolling his haters or Vettel talking about pressure and unforced errors. Their loss is the rest of the sport’s gain, and the show is better because of it. Daniel Ricciardo shines, swearing like a trooper along the way. As does Guenther Steiner, the similarly foul-mouthed team principal for Haas, the sole American team in the sport. The title makes plenty of sense: each episode, we get a new example of the pressure one can feel at the leading edge of motorsport.

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Source: Ars Technica

Elon Musk’s late-night announcement to raise prices and reopen some stores

Elon Musk’s late-night announcement to raise prices and reopen some stores

Enlarge (credit: Robyn Beck/Pool via Bloomberg|Getty Images)

In the early hours of Monday morning, Tesla employees got a surprising email from CEO Elon Musk. Less than two weeks after announcing that he was closing the company’s retail stores and letting go the sales staff, it was time for an about turn. According to CNBC, which received a copy of the email, Musk wrote that the company would now be keeping many of its unclosed stores open, and would even reopen some of the now-shuttered locations. Additionally, a week from now, there will be price increases on all of its vehicles with the exception of the standard range Model 3. The email to employees was also followed by a public-facing blog post.

Musk referred to some of the closed stores as being “in such difficult or obscure locations, only Sherlock Holmes could find them.” Such a criticism could not be leveled at Tesla’s now-closed store in Washington, DC, located in the city’s newest and poshest downtown retail location; perhaps this store was one that suffered from “low apparent demand generation”.

Despite this possible reprieve for the thousands of retail workers at Tesla, Musk’s email and the blog post state that sales will remain online only, and that the stores will exist just to show people how to order a car “on their phone in a few minutes.”

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Source: Ars Technica

Past its expiration date: Infiniti QX80 review

The Infiniti QX80 on a cold winter day.

Enlarge / The Infiniti QX80 on a cold winter day. (credit: Eric Bangeman)

As the old saying goes: you never get a second chance to make a first impression. When I climbed into the Infiniti QX80 for the first time, one of the first things I saw was a monochromatic LCD display smack-dab in the middle of the instrument panel. I looked at the Monroney sticker sitting on the passenger seat and saw a price tag north of $90,000. The juxtaposition of a display that would look at home in the decade-old cars in my garage with the luxurious interior trim left me with the impression that Infiniti made some odd choices with the QX80—an impression that I never managed to shake in my week with the vehicle.

The QX80 is the flagship of Infiniti’s SUV lineup. It’s a true full-size, three-row SUV, competing with the Mercedes GLS, Lexus LX, and Lincoln Navigator for the hearts and wallets of large families and folks who want a massive, spacious vehicle to tool around in. The QX80 underwent an overhaul for the 2018 model year, getting an exterior redesign that elongated the body and made it appear longer. For 2019, Infiniti added a Limited model with dark, machine-finished 22-inch wheels.

Pricing for the QX80 starts at $65,100 for a front-wheel-drive model; if you want all-wheel drive, you’ll need to fork out another $3,000. Our review model was the QX80 Limited, which comes with all the fixin’s—theater package, driver-assist, the aforementioned 22-inch wheels, and more—and a price tag of $91,450. This expensive beast is powered by a 5.6-liter V8 capable of 400hp (298kW) at 5,800rpm and 413lb-ft (560Nm) of torque at 4,000rpm. That’s paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission, which I prefer to the continuously variable transmission in the QX50 and QX60. If you need to drive your QX80 over some nasty terrain, it has a crawl ration of 1.0 in 4WD high and 2.7 in 4WD low.

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Source: Ars Technica

Mood lighting and a funky attitude: The 2020 Kia Soul

Kia Soul X-Line

Enlarge / How appropriate that we found an yeti on a day it snowed in Southern California. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

Although we make every effort to cover our own travel costs, in this case Kia flew me to San Diego (where it was very cold and sometimes snowy) to drive the Soul, and provided two nights in a hotel.

When the first Kia Soul arrived in 2005, the boxy hatchback look was definitely a thing. A decade and a half later, neither the Nissan Cube nor Scion xB are around, but the Soul soldiers on as the last toaster on wheels. Except, a toaster wasn’t actually the inspiration for the styling. No, it’s considerably weirder than that—the car is meant to represent a boar wearing a backpack. (It’s OK, I’ll just let that one sit with you for a bit.)

I don’t ever remember spending time in the first generation Kia Soul, but I have had a more recent one as a rental car on occasion. Whether you want to call it a hatchback or a crossover, it was actually pretty good at being an affordable, utilitarian transport. It could even be pretty fun to drive, provided you concentrated on keeping up your momentum up. So I was looking forward to trying out the new, third-generation Soul, particularly since the route we’d be using involved some rather good roads in eastern San Diego County.

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Source: Ars Technica

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