Musk broke the law with anti-union tweet, judge rules

Elon Musk.

Enlarge / Elon Musk. (credit: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for E3/Entertainment Software Association)

Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk, violated federal labor laws when it tried to hamper union organizing at its Fremont factory, a federal administrative law judge in California ruled on Friday.

Among other things, Tesla security guards repeatedly ordered union organizers to stop leafletting in Tesla’s parking lots and fired one union organizer for allegedly lying during a company investigation. Elon Musk was also dinged for a tweet that suggested employees would no longer receive stock options if they voted to form a union.

For years, Tesla employees affiliated with the United Auto Workers have been trying to convince their fellow Tesla workers to form a union. UAW members in Tesla’s workforce have worn union T-shirts, hats, and pins to work. They have also handed out flyers promoting the union in the parking lots around Tesla’s Fremont factory.

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Source: Ars Technica

Driving the 2020 Lotus Evora GT makes me optimistic about Lotus’ future

CARMEL, Calif.—It’s always dangerous to meet your heroes—just interact with Chuck Yeager on Twitter if you don’t believe me. So it was with trepidation that I dropped myself into the seat of the bright green $96,950 Lotus Evora GT, a model that has just been tweaked a little for US and Canadian consumption.

Until now I’d never actually been behind the wheel of a Lotus, at least not outside the confines of a British auto show back in the late ’90s. What if it turned out to be crap? Lotus has had a rough time the past few years, and the Evora is getting pretty old these days. The fact that it turned out to be a wonderful car to drive wasn’t just a relief, then. No, it filled me with hope for this small British automaker. If this is how good it can make a car on a shoestring, just imagine what it will be able to do now that it’s properly funded.

The first pre-production Evoras rolled off Lotus’ line in Hethel, England, over a decade ago. At the time, it was viewed as a significant event, the first all-new Lotus model since the Elise back in 1996. Like the Elise and its assorted variants (Exige, Europa S, 340R, 2-Eleven, etc), it is built around a tub of bonded and riveted extruded aluminum and then clad in lightweight composite body panels. The original plan was to develop a range of cars on the Evora’s platform, the same way the Elise gave rise to so many other models. And the car was showered with plaudits at launch: Autocar awarded it Britain’s Best Driver’s Car 2009, and Evo named it as that publication’s 2009 Car of the Year, saying that “[I]t’s not flawless, but it’s a magical thing across the ground… with exceptional poise and feel.”

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Source: Ars Technica

Watch Teslas drive around parking lots with no one inside them

Tesla Model 3.

Enlarge / Tesla Model 3. (credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

Tesla’s long-awaited and long-delayed “Smart Summon” feature is finally being released to the general public, the company announced on Thursday.

“Customers who have purchased Full Self-Driving Capability or Enhanced Autopilot can enable their car to navigate a parking lot and come to them or their destination of choice, as long as their car is within their line of sight,” Tesla said in the blog post announcing Version 10 of Tesla’s software.

“Customers who have had early access to Smart Summon have told us that it adds both convenience to their trips and provides them with a unique moment of delight,” Tesla writes.

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Source: Ars Technica

Bollinger reveals four-door B1 electric SUV and B2 electric pickup

Did you look at the new Land Rover Defender and think to yourself “that thing’s got way too many curves”? If so, you might enjoy these photos of the Bollinger Motors B1 and B2 electric trucks.

We covered the company in early 2018, when it revealed the first images of its four-door B1. On Thursday at a live-streamed event, it showed off a beta prototype of the the B1, which it calls a sports utility truck, as well as the B2, a more conventional pickup truck.

They share the most of the same technical specs. It’s a 458kW (614hp), 905Nm (668lb-ft) dual-motor, all-wheel drive design, with a whopping 120kWh lithium-ion battery pack between the axles. Even with that much power and torque, don’t expect Taycan-rivaling performance; 0-60mph might take 4.5 seconds, but these EVs are limited to 100mph (160km/h) flat-out.

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Source: Ars Technica

The Porsche Taycan—every bit as good as a $200,000 Porsche should be

HAMBURG, Germany—When a new car is as anticipated as the Porsche Taycan, it’s easy for assumptions to grow in advance of anyone actually getting to drive the thing. Car makers are generally reticent about sharing too many details before a model is officially launched, so it’s only natural that speculation fills the gaps. And since this is the first battery-electric vehicle from the storied German car maker, pre-launch chatter went from 0-60mph fast.

With few facts to go on, the bench-racing over the Porsche Taycan was rampant: It’s a “Tesla Model S killer” we were told by people with as little info to go on as the rest of us. Others claimed it was no more than a Panamera sedan minus the internal combustion engine. But forget all of that; after driving the new Porsche battery electric vehicle for a couple of days across Northern Europe, those comparisons are misplaced. Porsche says it set out to make a four-door electric sports car, and it did. What’s more, the Taycan is every bit as good as you’d expect of a Porsche that will cost you at least $150,000, which is to say it’s very good indeed. It’s just that this car uses electricity to get you where you’re going, too.

To show off its latest creation, Porsche’s press office decided a big road trip was in order. Some people are scared to consider BEVs because of range anxiety, so how better to show that long distances are no problem than by driving a circuitous route that started in Oslo, Norway, and ended in Stuttgart 18 days and 4,001 miles (6440km) later? Our briefing was simple: join up with the convoy in Denmark and drive Taycans from Copenhagen to Hamburg over the course of two days and several hundred miles. We got to experience the Taycan Turbo ($150,900 before tax credits and the infamous Porsche options list) and the even faster, even more expensive Taycan Turbo S (which starts at $185,000) on all manner of roads, from narrow country lanes and low-speed urban streets to stretches of straight, smooth, derestricted autobahn. Plus, such a road trip meant a chance to check out the Taycan’s fast-charging ability when connected to an 800V DC charger.

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Source: Ars Technica

The 2020 Audi RS7—our all-time favorite fastback just got even better

FRANKFURT, Germany—Earlier this month, we checked out the new Audi RS6 Avant, a 591hp (441kW) station wagon that is finally—after much pleading and begging—coming to America. But Audi Sport’s big reveal at the Frankfurt auto show was actually that car’s mechanically identical but even better-looking twin: the RS7 Sportback. And since we were going to be in Germany for the auto show anyway, Audi invited us to spend the day driving the RS7.

Unlike the sporty station wagon, the RS7 is no stranger to our roads. The first-generation car was sold in the United States, and it was really good. Probably the best car in Audi’s lineup, in fact. You see, Audi has earned a reputation for building cars that are elegant to look at and luxurious to ride in, but they are often boring to drive. As the company frequently tells me, boring luxury is what its customers want, or at least most of them. For drivers who want something pulse-quickening, there’s Audi Sport. Based in Neckarsulm, Germany, it’s Audi’s in-house tuning and race shop, and it’s gotten pretty good at adding excitement to otherwise staid cars down the years.

The recipe is straightforward. In this case, take the attractive but dull-to-drive A7 fastback and give it a twin-turbo V8, uprated suspension, and a clever torque-vectoring rear diff, then build a few thousand each year. This recipe worked extremely well in the first-generation RS7, and I’ll admit I was terrified that the sequel wouldn’t quite live up to expectations. So finding out the new RS7 is actually even better is a great relief.

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Source: Ars Technica

Amazon orders 100,000 electric trucks to fight climate change

Amazon has ordered 100,000 electric trucks from startup Rivian, the e-commerce giant announced Thursday. The order is part of Amazon’s larger pledge—also announced today—to reach zero net carbon emissions by 2040. Amazon aims to use 80% renewable energy by 2024 and 100% by 2030.

Rivian is an electric-vehicle startup that is initially focusing on trucks and SUVs. Amazon led a $700 million funding round for the company earlier this year.

“The first electric delivery vans will go on the road in 2021,” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at an event in Washington DC. “The 100,000 will be completely deployed by 2024, let’s say.”

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Source: Ars Technica

Arcimoto begins customer deliveries of its fun little electric trike

Mark Frohnmayer, Arcimoto's founder and President, with an Evergreen Edition at the company's Oregon factory.

Enlarge / Mark Frohnmayer, Arcimoto’s founder and President, with an Evergreen Edition at the company’s Oregon factory. (credit: Arcimoto)

We’ve been fortunate enough to test some fun vehicles over the past few years, but few have put as big a smile on my face as the Arcimoto fun utility vehicle, or FUV. This little electric vehicle looks like nothing else on the road: a tricycle layout, steered by handlebars, with tandem seating for two occupants who are partially protected from the elements by a windshield and roof. In 2017, the company raised almost $20 million in its IPO—more than double the amount it was initially seeking—and today it announced that deliveries are beginning for customers in California, Oregon, and Washington.

The Arcimoto is powered by a pair of electric motors outputting 60kW (81hp) that drive the front wheels, with a top speed of 75mph (120km/h) and a 0-60mph time of 7.5 seconds. The motors are fed by a lithium-ion battery that provides an EPA-rated city range of 102.5 miles (165km). And because that battery is low down in the tube frame chassis, the Arcimoto is remarkably stable for a trike.

As is often the case with the launch of a new vehicle, the first production models are fully loaded. In this case, that means the $19,900 Evergreen Edition, which comes with heated seats and handlebar grips, removable doors, a lockable storage compartment at the rear, and Bluetooth speakers.

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Source: Ars Technica

Tesla Model 3 wins top safety rating after acing crash tests

Tesla’s Model 3 has earned the highest possible safety rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety after the group performed a series of crash tests on the vehicle. IIHS named the Model 3 a “Top Safety Pick+,” the second all-electric vehicle to win that designation this year after the Audi e-tron.

The Model 3 beat out the Chevy Bolt, which fell short in one of its crash tests earlier this year. The Bolt’s headlights also got a poor rating due to excessive glare.

While Tesla’s older Model S earned generally good marks in 2017 testing by IIHS, it missed out on a Top Safety Pick rating because of less-than-stellar results in one of its crash tests.

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Source: Ars Technica

The world’s best bush plane is destroyed on take off in Reno

Mike Patey, the Utah entrepreneur who transformed his Polish-built Wilga 2000 short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft into a million-dollar “ultimate bush plane” called DRACO, crashed on takeoff leaving the Reno National Championship Air Races on Monday.

Patey was attempting to depart Reno (where DRACO had been featured in a static display) the day after the races were over, seeking to beat a fast-moving weather front. With him aboard DRACO were his wife and best friend. All three escaped the crash without injury.

The incident

The crash occurred at about 10:12 pm local time. According to the Meteorological Aerodrome Report (METAR), the winds at Stead Airport were out of the southwest, blowing steady at 24 knots (28mph, or about 45km/h) and gusting to 38 knots (44mph, or about 71km/h). Patey was taking off on runway 26 with a crosswind from his left.

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Source: Ars Technica

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