Newsflash: facelift voor BMW 3-serie


+++ APPLE recently hit a major snag when Ford hired the boss of its car project, Doug Field. However, this hasn’t stopped the technology giant from continuing to chase its dream of building an Electric Vehicle (EV) with an advanced autonomous driving system. Last week, reports surfaced online suggesting that representatives from Apple were in Japan to speak with car manufacturers and automotive suppliers about its project. It is also said to have held discussions with Toyota. Now, a new report has surfaced out of South Korea suggesting that Apple may abandon its plans to collaborate with an existing automaker and instead develop and build a car on their own. Apple’s discussions with car manufacturers haven’t been particularly fruitful so far and that many companies, including subcontractors like Foxconn, are reluctant to build an EV with the Cupertino-based giant. The South Korean outlet adds that Apple has established its own automotive research institute and is currently requesting information on parts from suppliers, while it builds up its research and development resources. Sources claim that the Apple car could be launched as early as 2024 but if reports suggesting the company has yet to even decide if it will produce the vehicle on its own accord are true, having the car ready by 2024 seems unlikely. Whatever the case may be, Apple appears very serious about entering the automotive space. It is said to be working on its own unique battery that could feature a monocell design and use lithium-iron phosphate rather than lithium-ion cells. +++

+++ My spy photographers have caught a prototype version of the 3 Series testing, which suggests an update to the popular premium sedan is just around the corner. Wearing camouflage on both ends, BMW ‘s attempts at subterfuge suggest that only the front and rear fascia will receive updates, as is often the case with mid-cycle refreshes like this one. The headlights, though still concealed, appear to have a new DRL design that places a heavier emphasis on the 2 lighting elements contained in the headlight unit. Indeed, a leaked image of the car shows that the new headlights will have 2 DRL shapes per side. It also indicated that the new headlights will get rid of the little kink at their bottom. I would also expect that camouflage to be hiding updates to the intakes and design flourishes that dot the fascia of the car. Fortunately for fans of restraint, the grille doesn’t appear to have grown for this update, unlike on the M3. Changes to the rear bumper design are also expected, though it’s hard to know if the company has made any changes to the taillights. Although still under covers, my spy photographers report that a new dash is the order of the day on the inside. Previous spy shots have suggested that we should expect its infotainment screen to curve slightly to come more in line with the company’s current interior design. First unveiled in 2018, the G20/G21 BMW 3 Series hit showrooms in 2019. A debut for the new 3 Series is expected in 2022. +++

+++ CHINA wants to encourage consolidation among its hundreds of electric vehicle manufacturers. China has promoted green vehicles feverously in recent years and is now home to roughly 300 EV makers. That is “too many”, according to Industry and Information Technology minister Xiao Yaqing. “The firms are mostly small and scattered”, the minister said while speaking with the media earlier this week. “The role of the market should be fully utilized and we encourage merger and restructuring efforts in the EV sector to further increase market concentration”. The Chinese government is drafting measures to control overcapacity while channeling resources to key production hubs. In addition, the government may set a minimum production capacity utilization rate for the industry and provinces that don’t meet these requirements won’t be permitted to approve new projects until surplus capacity becomes available. The Chinese government has provided roughly 33 billion yuan ($5.1 billion) in subsidies to encourage consumers to purchase green vehicles in the 5 years through 2020. Many provincial authorities have also offered generous tax breaks and other incentives to encourage electric vehicle makers to establish facilities. The Jiangsu province north of Shanghai, for instance, has roughly 30 automakers, many of which are already bankrupt. Beyond its encouragement that EV companies consolidate, the ministry is trying to address the ongoing semiconductor supply shortage and recently fined 3 automotive chip distributors for driving up prices. +++

+++ Given the amount of articles I produce each day about EVs, you’d have little reason to doubt predictions that the automotive landscape will be dominated by electric vehicles by the middle of the next decade. But a recent article reminds us that experts once predicted that every car on the road by 2020 would be a HYBRID . The prediction came from a panel of 125 auto industry executives who, in 2008, were asked about their predictions for the cars of 2020 by researchers for IBM. And they couldn’t have been more wrong. 12 years later, when 2020 finally rolled around, just 3 % of cars sold in the U.S. were hybrids, and that figure only represented a rise from a 2.8 % market share in the year the study was compiled. The article explains how rocketing gas prices and a huge increase in awareness of climate change as a result of Al Gore’s 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, helped create a demand in the U.S. for smaller, fuel efficient vehicles and resulted in Toyota Prius sales almost doubling year-on-year to 181.000 in 2007. Other carmakers, like GM, jumped on the hybrid bandwagon with cars like the Chevrolet Volt. But hybrid technology was expensive, and when gas prices eased and carmakers began to implement technologies like turbocharging and stop-start systems to achieve fuel savings, buyers were happy to revert to buying bigger, conventional vehicles, and no longer felt compelled to buy hybrids. So should we take current predictions about EV domination with a pinch of salt? Probably not. The key difference between the period between 2008 and 2020 and today is that we’re no longer just relying on the customers’ sometimes changeable wants and desires to shape the evolution of our cars. This time, technology (in the form of cheaper batteries) and, crucially, legislation in the form of forthcoming bans on ICE engines enacted by some U.S. states and entire countries, means buyers will have little choice but to switch to EV power. +++

+++ HYUNDAI recently teased the Ioniq 6 and Ioniq 7, but it appears the company is also considering entry-level Ioniq models. Hyundai’s head of global marketing suggested the Kona EV successor could become a member of the Ioniq lineup. While Thomas Schemera didn’t outright confirm it, he told “it seems to be likely” that the model’s successor could adopt the Ioniq 2, 3 or 4 moniker. He went on to say, “It would make sense to extend all the benefits associated with the E-GMP platform to smaller vehicles”. The platform debuted on the Ioniq 5, which will be offered in different configurations. Getting back to an entry-level Ioniq model, Schemera said the company has taken an interest in Volkswagen’s ID. Life concept as he called it a “yardstick” for Hyundai. As a refresher, the concept previews an upcoming production model that will arrive in 2025 and cost around €22,000. This would make it a natural competitor to an entry-level Hyundai Ioniq and Schemera said if Volkswagen is able to achieve that price point, the company might need to “come close or beat it”. He went on to suggest this was doable as it might not take Hyundai until 2025 to introduce an affordable EV. +++

+++ MERCEDES is working on a minor facelift for the GLE, so it comes as little surprise that spy photographers have now caught an updated GLE Coupe. Snapped in 53 guise, the prototype features a more expressive front bumper with sportier air intakes. While the grille appears to carryover, it’s flanked by revised headlights that are covered by camouflage. Since this is a minor refreshening, additional changes are limited. However, the model has been equipped with updated taillights that have relocated reverse lights. Photographers didn’t get a look inside, but we can expect relatively minor updates. Nothing is official, but the crossover could be equipped with a new steering wheel, an updated infotainment system, and revised trim and upholstery options. It remains unclear if there will be any changes to the engine lineup, but the current Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 features a twin-turbo 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that produces 435 hp and 521 Nm. The model also features an EQ Boost system with an electric motor that can deliver an additional 21 hp and 249 Nm for short periods of time. This setup enables the model to run from 0-100 km/h in 5.4 seconds before hitting an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h. Of course, we can also expect a facelifted 63 S with a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 engine pumping out 611 hp and 850 Nm. This cuts the 0-100 kph time to 3.9 seconds, while the top speed increases up to 280 km/h. +++

+++ Earlier this year, the Micro Mobility Company out of Switzerland announced that after four years of successes, challenges, and failures it had developed its MICROLINO bubble car electric vehicle into Microlino 2.0. The aim was to get its 5 prototypes out testing and through the regulatory approval process in Europe, reaching series production by September. This last stretch has taken just a tad longer, but Micro has finally showed the production Microlino 2.0 and expects to get assembly lines running at its dedicated facility in Turin, Italy, before the end of the year. When we saw the first Microlino in 2016, the BMW Isetta-inspired city car was built with a stamped steel tub supporting a tube frame glasshouse, used a pushrod suspension in front and a rigid axle in back, and plans to offer two battery packs providing 150 and 200 km of range using a rear-mounted e-motor. Microlino 2.0 gets a pressed-steel and aluminum unibody for a stiffer, safer bodyshell, the company saying this is the first micro EV to get automotive-grade construction; MacPherson struts at all four wheels for a much better ride; and three battery pack options, the largest providing 250 km of range on the European cycle. The steering column has been switched from a detachable unit connected to the front door to a fixed, inseparable unit. The outside door handle is gone, replaced by a pushbutton. The 17 hp e-motor with 120 Nm of torque hits a peak 25 hp temporarily, getting the run up to 90 kph, and company Chief Technical Officer Peter Müller said the powertrain is now 10 % more efficient. Acceleration from standstill to 50 km/h takes a claimed 5 seconds. There will be 3 trims, staring with Urban, costing €12.000 euros and configurable in either Amsterdam Orange or Santorini White with a gloss black roof. The interior fabric comes in either black or anthracite (grey). The Dolce adds chrome trim outside and the option of Milano Red, Paris Mint, or Zurich Blue exterior colors with a white roof and a standard folding sunroof. The Dolce also adds Infinity LED light bars front and back to accompany the standard lights, and wraps its interior in fabric and vegan leather. The top trim Competizione switches the color palette to matte, in either Gotham Anthracite, London Green, or Torino Aluminum, paired with a gloss black roof and folding sunroof. The 3 battery packs start with a 6 kWh unit able to power a 95 km range; a 10.5 kWh unit good for 175 km and a 14 kWh pack able to go 230 km. All trims can be ordered with any battery. Charging to 80 % capacity is said to take four hours for the two smaller units and three hours for the largest unit when plugged into a standard European 220 Volt household socket. Claimed weight is 435 kg without a battery, or 513 kg likely with the smallest battery. The interior fits 2 people on the bench seat and 203 liters of cargo (about “3 crates of beer”), I’m told. With 24.000 reservations on the books, Micro Mobility might want to increase production from its planned 7.500-unit annual plan as soon as possible. Especially because the company already has a 3-wheeled scooter called the Microletta aiming for an early 2022 release, and a 3-wheeled scooter called the Gladiator being considered for production. The first Microlino 2.0 deliveries will be made in Switzerland, followed Germany and then the rest of Europe. +++

+++ MITSUBISHI will reportedly stop the development of car platforms for the Japanese market and resort to offering local buyers badge-engineered versions of Nissan products starting from around 2026. The move is said to help Mitsubishi keep a cap on development costs and stem losses as they channel investment into EVs. Mitsubishi-badged cars sold in Japan will be based on Nissan platforms and will continue to have interiors, exteriors, and drivetrains developed by the brand once famous for its rally-winning sedans and a full range of independent product offerings. The plan, albeit not surprising, sees a piece of Mitsubishi’s individuality take yet another hit. But it’s a strategic move as more manufacturers focus on collaborating to stem spiralling EV development costs. Mitsubishi had previously planned to stop the introduction of new models in Europe as it attempted to cut losses by 20 %. However, in March 2021, it was announced that their presence in LHD European markets would be retained with two new Renault-based models from 2023. While Mitsubishi had 8 platforms as of March this year, it wants to reduce them to 4 by March 2026, including 2 new platforms for Southeast Asia, with a further 2 being co-developed with Nissan. Nissan bought a 34 % stake in the ailing Mitsubishi back in 2016, forming the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. But ever since then, the group has struggled to turn Mitsubishi’s fortunes around, which suffered losses for the past 2 fiscal years. A large-scale restructuring was announced in mid-2020. Dubbed the “Small But Beautiful” plan, the proposal will see the alliance members focus on their strongest markets and exit those where they were weak. Once popular models, such as the Lancer and the venerable Pajero, have been phased out over the past years. +++

+++ NIO is entering the European market with its ET7 sedan and has released the first details regarding its launch in Germany. The Nio ET7 is set to hit the German market in 2022 and in a press release, the automaker confirmed that deliveries should begin in the fourth quarter of the year. Nio is so confident in local demand for the ET7 that it will consider establishing a factory in Europe for the car and is also open to the idea of working with local OEMs to explore the possibility of joint production. “Entering Germany is the objective that we’re striving for”, Nio founder and chief executive William Li said. “Our target is to have ET7 in Germany by the end of 2022”. In addition to getting ready to launch the ET7 in Europe, the Chinese electric vehicle start-up has started to recruit local talent and appointed Alex Schwarz as its European chief executive. Schwarz has previous experience at Airbnb, PayPal, and eBay. Nio has not yet announced German pricing for the ET7. It will be the second model sold by the automaker in Europe after deliveries of the ES8 (a SUV) recently commenced in Norway. Chinese customers can order the Nio ET7 with 1 of 3 available battery packs. These start with a 70 kWh pack providing over 500 km of range, a 100 kWh pack with 700 km of range and a 150 kWh pack with a claimed 1.000 km of range. It features 2 electric motors, 1 at each axle, for a combined output of 653 hp and 850 Nm, and it accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.9 seconds. +++

+++ POLESTAR plans to continue growing its United Kingdom test facility in order to achieve its goal of making high-performance, environmentally sustainable cars. To achieve that, the automaker will expand the team from 250 people to more than 500 people in the near future. Polestar’s U.K. R&D team will work alongside the Swedish R&D team, focusing on “ground-breaking engineering solutions” to help the company reach its goals of leading the industry. “Going electric is a pivotal moment in the history of cars”, says Thomas Ingenlath, CEO of Polestar. “The combination of British engineering talent and Swedish expertise will ensure our cars are among the highest performing and most sustainable on the road”. The U.K. department’s current focus, then, will be on developing the production version of the Precept, a concept the company first revealed in 2020. Intended as a Tesla Model S beater, Polestar says its focus will be more on sustainability than speed. With seats made from reclaimed plastic, carpets formed from old fishing nets, and carbon fiber-esque woven materials made from sustainable crops, the interior is a recycler’s dream. It will also be a racer’s dream too because the interior materials weigh 50 % less than their non-renewable counterparts. The carmaker also claims that their future flagship EV will generate 80 % less plastic waste than the average new car on the market. “Precept is a statement of intent for the brand in terms of design, technology, and sustainability”, says Pete Allen, Head of Polestar U.K. R&D. “The production car will take an important step on the journey towards climate neutrality, and ours will be the team that delivers that”. The company’s U.K. team will be based on the MIRA Technology Park, a world-class automotive testing and development site. The team will also have access to specialized on-site equipment, including advanced battery testing and a selection of independent operations located nearby with which to collaborate. The production version of the electric Polestar Precept is expected to reach production before 2025. First, the Polestar 3 will be introduced. It will be based on the same platform as the successor to the Volvo XC90, but it will have just 2 rows of seats and will be more powerful than its Volvo counterpart. Although Polestar has shown off little more than a silhouette covered by a sheet the brand’s CEO, Thomas Ingenlath, revealed a few more details about the upcoming SUV. Soon to be built at the automaker’s South Carolina plant alongside the Volvo S60 and the successor to the XC90, Ingenlath revealed that the SUV would be offered with a “top power position that is unique to Polestar”. Expected to be roughly the same size as the XC90, that would suggest that the Polestar 3 will be the more luxurious, more powerful counterpoint to the Volvo. That said, buyers won’t have to opt for the most powerful version since, like the Polestar 2, the 3 will be offered with single and dual-motor versions. “I definitely see that as a good combination”, said Ingenlath told. “At the end of the day the twin motor has a bit more power and acceleration, but there are lots of people who don’t need that thrill. And there are lots of people who don’t need all-wheel drive. So in Norway or Austria we will always sell more all-wheel drive. But in China or the U.S. lots of people are happy with the single motor”. The CEO also added that the new SUV will only be available with 2 rows of seats. “I have nothing against 3-rows per se, but the second we did do that you guys would be asking what was the differentiation to the XC90”, said Ingenlath. “Having 2 rows gives the opportunity to give the car that aerodynamic roofline, it gives the chance to emphasize the space between the first and second rows, which really gives the second row a luxurious feeling”. The CEO also had promising news for fans of the sedan. Although the industry seems to be moving irrevocably towards SUVs, Ingenlath is a firm believer in variety being the spice of life. “I really believe in a world where everyone is not happy with one dish”, he said, “that would be so boring. Most restaurants try to cater for different tastes, and being a brand that would only have SUV would be terrifying for me”. First, though, Polestar has to put the finishing touches on the Polestar 3, which is expected to go on sale late next year. +++

+++ Chinese regulators have fined 3 distributors of automotive SEMICONDUCTORS for unfair pricing. It’s seen as a move that will help the Chinese car industry which, like the rest of the world, is feeling the pinch of the global chip crisis. The 3 companies, Shanghai Cheter, Shanghai Chengsheng Industrial and Shenzhen Yuchang Technologies, were fined 2.5 million yuan ($387,870) by the State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR). The regulator was investigating the practice of chip hoarding. It was found that the 3 companies had increased prices by as much as 40 times. The unprecedented price hike is well above the 7 to 10 % increase deemed normal for balanced supply and supply. The fluctuating prices also compelled car manufacturers and component makers to panic-buy chips, stockpiling and further aggravating the problem. Like many other countries, 90 % of China’s automotive chips are imported. In July, China faced a 16 % decline in new car sales, which was attributed to the chip shortage. Audi is reported to have scaled back manufacturing, while 2 of Toyota’s Chinese plants have been subject to Toyota’s 40 % global production cut. Meanwhile, in the US, car sales dropped by 17 % in August, with Ford and GM, among many others, forced to halt production and cut back on options for some of their vehicles. There seems to be little hope for a quick recovery either, as Stellantis expects the global semiconductor shortage to continue into next year. Daimler thinks it could be even worse, with their chief executive Ola Källenius suggesting that the automotive industry could continue to encounter semiconductor shortages into 2023. +++

+++ Ford and BMW will soon have access to advanced SOLID STATE BATTERYCELLS and will begin testing them in automotive applications. In 2017, the 2 car manufacturers announced investments into Solid Power that is developing the advanced new batteries. It has now been revealed that Solid Power is expanding the footprint of its Colorado factory while it prepares to begin pilot production of its solid-state batteries in early 2022. The new facility will focus on manufacturing a sulfide-based solid electrolyte material and include space for a production line focusing on its 100 ampere battery cells. Ford and BMW should get their hands on these cells in early 2022 and begin testing them in automotive applications ahead of a market launch later in the decade. Solid-state batteries are viewed by many as the next logical step from the current lithium-ion batteries used by electric vehicles and hybrids. They offer increased energy density, reduce costs, and have a greater life expectancy. Solid Power CEO Doug Campbell told that they are safer as it’s the liquid electrolyte that serves as “the spark that leads to thermal runaway”. Referring to automakers battling fire issues on their EVs, Campbell commented that “We believe very strongly that these issues that both Hyundai and GM are now facing would be addressed with a solid-state battery”. Solid Power does not intend on becoming a rival to the likes of Panasonic, LG and CATL and views itself as a materials company. The company’s production expansion will allow it to produce enough cells to supply multiple OEMs for automotive testing but it plans to then license the battery cells to partners rather than producing them in-house. It wants to manufacture enough electrolyte material to support 10 gigawatt-hour annual cell capacity by 2027, for which it will need “orders of magnitude” more electrolyte production capacity, Campbell said. +++

+++ STELLANTIS is poised to roll out a new strategy for China, with the first major step being to take control of its struggling Jeep joint venture from a domestic partner, according to people familiar with the matter. The automaker formed from the merger between Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group is in advanced discussions with state-owned partner Guangzhou Automobile Group on raising its stake in the 50-50 venture overseeing its Jeep operations in China, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions aren’t public. The change could take effect as early as next year, when Chinese rules on JVs are set to be loosened, the people said. In the coming years, Stellantis plans to promote brands including Jeep and DS in the world’s biggest car market, and also push an electric Opel model, one of the people said. Stellantis is trying to align its production with disappointing levels of demand in China, outlining in a statement last week a plan to integrate Jeep import operations into the JV and centralize production in Changsha. One of the people said the venture’s second plant in Guangdong would be closed. Representatives for Stellantis and GAC declined to comment on plans for China beyond the statement. Stellantis chief executive officer Carlos Tavares has for months been promising investors a plan to improve the carmaker’s dismal performance in China. Out of the 3.6 million vehicles the company sold worldwide in the first half, roughly 50.000 were delivered in China. Its market share in the country slipped to 0.5 % compared with double-digit share in all other regions outside Asia. The venture with GAC produces the Jeep Cherokee, Renegade, Compass and Grand Commander primarily for the Chinese market. Deliveries of locally made models plunged 45 % to 44.026 units in 2020, one of the people said. Stellantis’s plan comes ahead of China lifting a cap on foreign ownership that has for decades limited global carmakers’ access to its market. BMW reached an agreement with Brilliance China Automotive Holdings in 2018 to raise its equity in their joint venture to 75 % from the current 50% , with the transaction to be completed next year. As part of the Fiat Chrysler-PSA merger, Stellantis also inherited a venture in China with the Dongfeng Motor Group that makes Peugeot and Citroen models. Dongfeng sold some of its stake in Stellantis last week as part of an agreement with PSA reached in December 2019. Since Stellantis was formed at the start of the year, Tavares has unveiled plans for electrification and pledged more details with regard to the group’s software plans. In the past few months, Tavares has also said the company was “moving forward very well” on China, and by year-end would have a full strategy including an “innovative” new business model. +++

+++  TESLA chief executive Elon Musk is encouraging the automaker’s employees to ramp up their efforts as the company pushes to increase its delivery numbers for the third quarter of the year. In an email sent to employees, Musk asked them to “go super hardcore” in a bid to make up for production challenges that it faced earlier in the quarter. “The end of quarter delivery wave is unusually high this time, as we suffered (like the whole industry) from extremely severe parts shortages earlier this quarter”, Musk said. He added that Tesla built “a lot of cars with missing parts that needed to be added later” throughout the quarter. “Early Q3 production was so challenging that we need to go super hardcore to make up for it over the next 22 days to ensure a decent Q3 delivery number. This is the biggest wave in Tesla history, be we got to get it done”, Musk wrote. Tesla is known for these ‘delivery waves’ towards the end of each quarter but interestingly, Musk added in his email that the automaker wants to reduce the size of its Q4 delivery wave, “allowing some Q4 production to spill over to deliver in Q1 of 2022”. In the second quarter of this year, Tesla produced 206.421 vehicles and made 201.250 deliveries, record numbers for the automaker. This was an increase from Q1, when it produced 180.338 vehicles and delivered 184.800, despite ongoing challenges presented by the semiconductor shortage. The federal government’s automotive safety watchdog has taken the unusual step of asking 12 major automakers to assist its investigation into a series of crashes in which Tesla vehicles have struck parked police cars and fire trucks while Tesla’s driver assistance systems were activated. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it has written General Motors, Toyota, Ford, Volkswagen and others because it wants to perform a “comparative analysis” of Tesla’s systems against other “production vehicles equipped with the ability to control both steering and braking/accelerating simultaneously under some circumstances”. Most automakers today offer adaptive cruise control and other driver assistance systems in conjunction with lane-centering technology. With the exception of GM’s Super Cruise and Ford’s upcoming BlueCruise, these systems require drivers to keep their hands on the wheel. Tesla Autopilot likewise will allow a vehicle to steer, accelerate and brake automatically within its lane, and likewise Tesla advises drivers to keep their hands on the wheel. But in many cases, including in Consumer Report (CR) testing, the system has been easily tricked, allowing a driver to keep hands off the wheel for extended periods, or even to abandon the driver’s seat altogether, as CR was able to do on a closed course, and as have Tesla owners in real-world traffic. In August, NHTSA opened a formal investigation into Tesla’s systems after 12 crashes into emergency vehicles, in which police or fire crews were responding to crashes or rendering assistance, with their emergency lights flashing. NHTSA said it had reports of 17 injuries and one death in the 12 crashes. The probe covers the 765.000 Tesla vehicles sold in the U.S. which were built between 2014 and 2021. Also in August, 2 U.S. senators called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Tesla’s use of the terms “Autopilot” and “Full Self Driving” as being deceptive to its customers, and risking “serious injury or death”. In its letter, NHTSA asked the other automakers to list any crashes in which their driver assists were engaged at “anytime during the period beginning 30 seconds immediately prior to the commencement of the crash”. The agency also wants to know how other automakers’ systems ensure that drivers pay attention and have hands on the wheel. The OEMs have until November to gather that data. NHTSA also asked for details on automakers’ “strategies for detecting and responding to the presence of first responder / law enforcement vehicles”. Until now, it has seemed as if Tesla was unique in this vulnerability, as if its systems were confused or even attracted to emergency lights. But it will be interesting to see what other automakers report on that count. On August 31, NHTSA sent Tesla a 11-page letter with numerous questions it must answer by October 22. NHTSA has sent investigative teams to 31 crashes involving partially automated driver assist systems since June 2016. Such systems can keep a vehicle centered in its lane and a safe distance from vehicles in front of it. Of those crashes, 25 involved Tesla Autopilot in which 10 deaths were reported, according to data released by the agency. Some of those crashes were into the undersides of crossing semis, or into road barriers. Earlier this month, NHTSA confirmed it was also investigating a July 26 fatal crash in New York of a 52-year-old man was struck by a Tesla as he was attempting to fix a flat tire on his vehicle. +++

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