Weekly Brief: Tesla debuts EV for the masses

The new Tesla Model 3, which launched last week, has much in common with its older siblings, the Model S and Model X, including a sleek design, a super charging battery-powered engine, a range of 215 miles per charge and fancy auto-pilot capabilities for highway driving. There’s one notable difference: the car starts at a modest $35,000 (£24,600) and that drops to an even more modest $27,500 on the assumption it qualifies for once tax credits.

A Tesla for south of $30k? You heard that right. Granted, to get some of the fancier functionality, people will have to shell out more than $35k, in the same way that the base model of the Model S at $80k is more like a mirage than a price tag. Still, Tesla and its unabashedly ambitious CEO Elon Musk have always been about reinventing the automobile for the masses and the carmaker finally has a model that just may do that. (However, the jury remains out on whether the loss-making manufacturer will be able to make anything of a profit on this bargain basement EV – Ed)

Many Tesla dealerships experienced lines around the block to get on the pre-order list. Deliveries begin late 2017.

In other news, Hyundai joined the gaggle of carmakers with a 2020 target for commercialising self-driving cars. To make it a reality, the Korean company invested $1.68Bn toward the cause. It plans to use that money to develop its own high-precision sensors and advanced recognition systems and to hire more experts in autonomous tech.

One of the most popular cars on the planet, the Toyota Corolla, will come with an advanced suite of driver assistance systems as standard across the entire model range starting in 2017. Dubbed Toyota Safety Sense, the suite uses a built-in laser and camera to provide pre-collision protection, lane departure warnings, road sign assistance and automatic high beams.

INRIXreleased an updated navigation app for iOS and Android and it’s freaky smart. INRIX Traffic now integrates with your calendar to automatically enter addresses and provide reminders. Impressive? There’s more. The app also learns your daily routines and preferences and makes suggestion with anticipated trips and preferred routes. Like Waze, the app uses crowd-sourcing to provide real-time updates on traffic.

Speaking of Waze, the app added the ability to warn users when they’re speeding and by how much. The feature will be built into the existing speedometer graphic in the app. When users are going over the speed limit, the graphic turns red and a little bubble pops up with the actual speed limit. Feature launches primarily in Europe with the rest of the world coming soon.

In our weekly Apple CarPlay watch, Hyundai announced that 2016 Hyundai Sonatas equipped with Apple CarPlay are now ready to ship. That marks a first for Hyundai on the infotainment front. The carmaker doesn’t plan to charge its users anything for CarPlay integration. It also plans to update those 2015 Hyundai Sonatas that have built-in navigation functionality with CarPlay in the future.

Likewise, Subaru announced that the 2017 Impreza would come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay across all four of its trim lines. The carmaker’s more advanced STARLINK Safety and Security suite, which includes automatic collision notification, SOS emergency assistance, maintenance notifications and roadside assistance, will come on the top three trims, Premium, Sport and Limited.

Finally, Nationwide took its usage-based insurance offering, SmartRide, mobile. The new SmartRide Mobile app allows users to skip installing a device in their cars and instead harness the sensors on their smartphones. All members save an average of 10% for joining and can save up to a possible 40% after six months with no penalty for joining. LexisNexis Risk Solutions helped Nationwide build the app. Rollout starts in Arkansas.

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

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