BEIJING/SHANGHAI -- Tesla Inc. said it will begin delivering Model 3 vehicles built at its Shanghai factory on Monday.

Construction of its first plant outside the United States began in January and production started in October. It aims to produce 250,000 vehicles a year after production of the Model Y is added in the initial phase.

The first 15 customers to get the cars on Dec 30 are Tesla employees, the company told Reuters.

The delivery date of Dec. 30 means that the plant will start delivering cars to customers just 357 days after the factory's construction started, which will mark a new record for global automakers in China.

The China-made cars are priced at 355,800 yuan ($50,000) before subsidies and Tesla has said it wants to start deliveries before the Chinese new year beginning on Jan. 25.

The Shanghai plant is part of the Silicon Valley automaker's plans to bolster its presence in the world's biggest auto market and minimize the impact of the U.S.-China trade war.

The carmaker already treats China, the world's biggest electric vehicle market where 1.3 million new-energy vehicles were sold last year, differently than elsewhere, with offerings such as racing events and showroom parties.

It is also building service centers and charging stations across China to assure customers of standardized after-sales service, Reuters reported last month.

The Chinese government has also been supportive of the factory, which is China's first wholly foreign-owned car plant and a reflection of the government's broader shift to open up its car market.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Friday said it had added Tesla's China-made Model 3 to a list of new energy vehicles exempt from purchase tax.

The ministry had said in August it had exempted all of Tesla's models from purchase tax. 

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Elon Musk, founder of tunneling enterprise Boring Company, said in a tweet that a commercial tunnel in Las Vegas would "hopefully" be fully operational in 2020.

"Boring Co is completing its first commercial tunnel in Vegas, going from Convention Center to Strip, then will work on other projects," Musk tweeted late on Friday, in reply to a user's question about the company's tunnels.

Hopefully fully operational in 2020

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 28, 2019

Musk, who also leads electric-car maker Tesla and rocket company SpaceX, has been seeking to revolutionize transportation by sending passengers packed into pods through an intercity system of giant, underground vacuum tubes known as a hyperloop.

The company has completed its project Test Tunnel, located in Hawthorne, California, and other ongoing projects include the Chicago Express Loop and the East Coast Loop from Washington D.C. to Baltimore.

In April the U.S. Transportation Department issued a draft environmental assessment for a Washington, D.C.- Baltimore tunnel, the first step in a governmental review of the project from Boring Co.

In July, Boring Co raised about $117 million in a round of funding from 20 unnamed investors after offering to sell about $120 million in equity.

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    It's almost 2020, but Volkswagen is ready to turn the page of the calendar a bit further than just to the new year. The German automaker announced this week that it will make more electric vehicles in the early part of the next decade than it had previously planned. Instead of building a million EVs in 2025, VW is now planning to make that many in 2023, with 1.5 million now on the schedule for 2025. Those are big targets, since VW delivered 70,000 electrified vehicles around the world this year, up from 50,000 last year.

    Planning a half-decade into the future is vital in the auto industry, where big changes can take years to implement. When different companies hint at different future trends they're going to be banking on, it allows us to play armchair product planners, just without the billions in costs or consequences.

    2019 Honda Clarity Electric
    2019 Honda Clarity Electric.
    Honda

    Which brings us to Honda. Never the biggest battery-electric mobility proponent—the company has offered or offers the Fit EV, the electric version of the Clarity (pictured above), and the China-only VE-1 CUV, but only in limited numbers—Honda is taking a less plugged-in approach to the near future than VW. Despite Honda's stated goal of having two-thirds of its vehicles be electrified by 2030, Honda Motor CEO Takahiro Hachigo, interviewed by Automotive News Europe, said he expects standard gasoline-electric hybrids to play a "critical role" in the company's future.

    "The objective is not electrification, per se, but improving fuel efficiency," he said. "And we believe hybrid vehicles are the way to abide by different environmental regulations." When AN asked Hachigo about all-electric vehicles, he said he wasn't sure there are any buyers who actually want an EV, given the infrastructure and hardware challenges. He said he doesn't expect this to change in the near future.

    "I do not believe there will be a dramatic increase in demand for battery vehicles, and I believe this situation is true globally," he said. "There are different regulations in different countries, and we have to abide by them. So it's a must to continue R&D. But I don't believe it will become mainstream any time soon."

    Volkswagen I.D. Crozz Concept
    Volkswagen ID. Crozz concept.
    Volkswagen

    VW isn't buying this line and has already revealed a bewildering amount of all-electric concept vehicles wearing the ID nameplate as it plans for a broad lineup of EVs. The production models in VW's EV offensive will start next year when the ID.3 hatchback goes on sale in Europe. The first ID EV we will get in the U.S. will be a larger electric crossover based on the ID. Crozz concept (pictured above).

    VW has already delivered more than 250,000 electric vehicles including pure EVs and plug-in hybrids, passing that milestone a few weeks ago in mid-December. VW's electric lineup thus far has included the e-Golf, the Golf GTE and Passat GTE plug-in hybrids, the e-Up city car, and the Bora and Lavida EVs that were sold in China. More than 100,000 of the EVs VW has sold are e-Golfs, the kind of all-electric car Hachigo doesn't believe anyone wants.

      It's not difficult to find someone touting the benefits of the interlock device to detect and foil a person trying to drive under the influence of alcohol. Something that is less often touted is the fact that drivers can be asked to work with this device while they are piloting a moving vehicle, and that has dangers of its own.

      LifeSafer, a company that sells these in-car Breathalyzers, points to the widespread use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs) by government vehicles in Sweden and says this is a trend the U.S. should follow. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is in favor, too, saying IIDs "reduce repeat offenses for driving while intoxicated (DWI) by about 70 percent while they are installed" and offers eight tips to states that want to strengthen their IID programs. And a 2016 study by the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania found that requiring ignition interlocks for people who were convicted of driving drunk "was associated with 15 percent fewer alcohol-involved crash deaths, compared with states with less stringent requirements."

        But all of these benefits might be coming at a cost. The New York Times offers another look at IIDs and, to make a long story as short as possible: "While interlocks have prevented thousands of crashes, they have also caused them."

        The problem—or potential problem—lies with the fact that people who are required to start their vehicles with an IID also sometimes have to prove to the machine that they're still sober while they're driving down the road. These "rolling retests" prevent someone from getting a friend to blow into the IID to start the car, then driving away with too much alcohol in their blood.

        Here's how rolling retests work in LifeSafer IIDs, which is similar to the process used by other brands. At a specified time after starting up (which varies from state to state; there is no national law regarding timing), a LifeSafer IID will beep, which means the driver has to pick up the handset and blow into it again. Should they fail to do so, the IID will create some sort of alert—honking the horn and flashing the lights, for example—but will not not interfere with the vehicle's operation. Only by stopping the vehicle and waiting for the lockout period to end, then retesting their breath, is a driver permitted to resume normal operation of the vehicle.

        The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) strongly urges that drivers pull to a safe spot off the road when taking required rolling retests because of the possibility of distraction, but companies that sell IIDs claim the devices are safe. One company, Low Cost Interlock, says its rolling retests are, in fact, "quite safe." If a driver is worried about performing the test while driving, the company says, "the interlock device gives you enough time (typically several minutes) to safely pull over to the side of the road and submit to the test." LifeSafer says, "There is no need to look at the device and take your eyes off the road," but this is where the potential problem comes in. The New York Times says it looked through accident reports and lawsuits and found dozens of crashes that were caused by people in the process of conducting a rolling retest.

        Distracted driving from IIDs is an issue that few regulators are looking at, the Times found. The paper also notes that the number of installed IIDs has grown tremendously, from 133,000 to 350,000 in the past 10 years. Even as states make rules to limit distracted driving due to smartphones, the number of IIDs in use is likely to increase in the coming years. There are 34 states with IID requirements today for former offenders, and more are considering enacting them. There's even a push for national legislation that could require automakers to build in some sort of IID technology into all vehicles by 2024. Perhaps by then, a non-distracting option will be found.

        Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service we offer sellers that lets them store their products in Amazon's fulfillment centers, and we directly pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products. Something we hope you'll especially enjoy: FBA items qualify for FREE Shipping and Amazon Prime.

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        Hyundai Motor America appointed Genesis executive Megan Gillam as director of product line management, a new position at the Korean automaker.

        Gillam, who began her new job this week, will lead a team of product line managers and be responsible for understanding target customers, dealer engagement levels and segment marketplace dynamics, the company said. Her duties include identifying improvement areas in marketing, incentives, pricing and product distribution.

        She will report to Hyundai Motor America COO Brian Smith.

        "In this new position, Megan is serving an important role in taking a holistic viewpoint of the business performance of our vehicles and identifying areas for growth," Smith said in a release. "Coming from within the Hyundai organization, she'll be effective at collaborating and bringing closer together our marketing, sales and product planning strategies to ensure that we are offering the right mobility solutions to our customers. She's proven herself to be an outstanding business strategist in her career and we are looking forward to the impact she will make."

        Gillam most recently was senior group manager at Genesis Motor America, where she began in September 2018. She was responsible for the development and implementation of launch and life cycle strategies for the luxury brand's lineup.

        Prior to Genesis, she was the lead strategist at Latcha+Associates, a marketing and production company. In addition, she worked in various roles for six years at Ford Motor Co. and for seven years at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.

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          Pininfarina of America knows it is going to release a new line of helmets in partnership with Roux Racings SRL next year. It just doesn't know yet how much the helmets will cost, exactly.

            Pininfarina and Roux debuted the new helmets—one intended for open-cockpit vehicles, the other for closed-cockpit racers—at the Performance Racing Industry trade show in Indianapolis earlier this month. A Pininfarina spokesperson told Car and Driver there will be a total of seven helmets, with prices ranging from around $1200 to $5000, depending on the material they are made of and the level of certification. Exact pricing will be announced in mid-spring 2020.

            The open-cockpit helmets are designed for Formula 4 to Formula 1 racing, and come with removable aerodynamic spoilers that matter since these helmets will be in contact with the wind. The closed-cockpit GT helmets prioritize temperature control and have both a built-in air port and Roux's COOL-X integrated water-cooling system. The Cool-X technology recirculates water from a CoolShirt cooler and keeps "perfect-temperature 52-degree water flowing" in order "to keep heat stress low and you focused on your race," Roux says. A water-cooling system is included in the Formula helmets as well. This is the first collaboration of its kind between helmet specialist Roux and Pininfarina.

            That's not all of the tech hiding in the new helmets. There's an integrated water drinking tube and an audio system made up of noise-canceling microphone and speaker pods, and all of the new helmets are "fully customizable," Pininfarina says.

            The main purpose of a racing helmet, of course, is protection, and that's why the new helmets use Roux's proprietary Release system for quick removal in an emergency situation. Pininfarina says the placement of the HANS anchors has been optimized and the new trigger and visor rotating system "easily closes and opens in multiple positions." The designs for both Formula and GT helmets will meet the new FIA 8860 (2018) and Advanced Ballistic Protection (ABP) safety standards, as well as Snell's 2020 standards for homologation.

            This is not Pininfarina's first exploration into helmet technology. A decade ago, the company introduced two Air Flow concepts. The first concept stood out thanks to a waterproof fabric covering an aerodynamic hard shell. The second focused on keeping the wearer's head temperature down, a trend that the new partnership is working on all these years later.

            The first 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 rolled off the assembly line in October this year, and it’s a special one. Purchased for charity at a Barrett-Jackson auction by Craig Jackson (the Barrett-Jackson chairman and CEO), it’s painted in a bespoke green finish that’s meant to mimic the 1968 Shelby EXP Prototype’s paint color.

            The 1968 Shelby EXP Prototype (recently re-restored) is better known as the Green Hornet, and Jackson currently owns the car. It was used as a test bed for performance innovations and technologies between Ford and Shelby. To get the green paint to match the original, Ford combined two green paints. It has a Lime Green base coat and a Candy Apple Green outer. Together, they make a stunning green that isn’t available anywhere in Ford’s paint catalog. The only green offered from the factory in 2020 for the Shelby GT500 is Grabber Lime.

            Craig Jackson won the bid for $1.1 million at the 2019 Scottsdale Auction, and he appears thrilled with the way this car has turned out.

            “In making this request, I truly had no idea what an extraordinary undertaking it was, but BASF and the paint specialists at Penske went above and beyond to make that happen,” Jackson says. “The entire team at Ford went out of their way to help my dream become a reality, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

            Other unique touches to this particular car include the EXP500 lettering in the white stripe along the bottom and body-color-painted mirrors — all other GT500s will have black-painted mirrors. The car looks superb, and we’d love to see this green or a similar green offered as a factory option.

            If you thought parallel parking for your driver's test was tricky, imagine doing it in the midst of New York City gridlock, in a 27-foot-long hot dog on wheels. That was the reality for Rose Beef—like Lady Bird, it's her self-given name, though her birth certificate reads Rosie Hutchinson. And she lived to tell the tale of it.

            "That was something that I loved, that I never want to do again," she laughs.

            We're sitting in the second row of the Wienermobile, her home away from home over the past five months. Beef is a full-time Hot Dogger, the official title of the recent college grads who spend a year driving Oscar Mayer's gigantic hot-dog-shaped publicity vehicle, all over the country. She and Connie Salami (real name: Connor Gray) man the "Oh I Wish" Wienermobile, one of six that traverse the nation. Together, they travel from supermarkets to block parties to fairs and tourist traps, spreading word about Oscar Mayer's franks—and handing out weenie whistles and stickers—to everyone they meet.

            Wienermobile

            Brandon Bales

            The job itself is a one-year commitment, from June to June, and to qualify, you need to have a bachelor's degree and thoroughly relish wordplay (see what we did there?). Applications are open until January 31, 2020, for the upcoming class, so naturally, we had to take a sneak peek at what it's like to actually live the dream. (Check out the video above to see what it's like to become an honorary Hot Dogger for the day.) Before polishing your résumé, here's what you need to know.

            You'll Get Sent Back to High School

            Hot Dog High, that is. It's where recruits learn the essence of being a Hot Dogger and learn to drive the Wienermobile. At the end, there's a full DOT test you have to pass. Imagine doing serpentines around traffic cones, parking, backing up—all with five other Wienermobiles alongside you.

            Driving The Wienermobile

            Brandon Bales

            You'll Be Given a New Name

            Upon graduation, everyone chooses a punny nickname, hence Rose Beef and Connie Salami's nicknames. Even as an honorary Hot Dogger for the day, I was christened anew. Candace Braun Davison shall henceforth be known as Cold Cutz Candace.

            What it takes to drive the Wienermobile

            Brandon Bales

            People Will Ask for the Shirt off Your Back

            Hot Doggers are outfitted with black and red track suits with their title embroidered across the back. It's a sleek uniform, all things considered, and just about everywhere you go, somebody will ask if they can have it. Beef politely declines, explaining that it's often the only jacket she has with her at the time. (There's a closet in the back, but there isn't that much room for storage.) She usually consoles them with a weenie whistle, coupon, or "weenie baby," a Beanie Baby-esque plushie that looks just like the Wienermobile.

            Driving The Wienermobile

            Brandon Bales

            You'll Always Drive under Clear Skies

            Even on a gray, 25-degree day, it was nothing but blue skies in the Wienermobile. That's because the roof is painted that way. It's a nice surprise, along with the ketchup-and-mustard-painted floor and the Wienermobile patches embroidered on the car's six red-and-yellow seats.

            Wienermobile

            Brandon Bales

            You'll Feel Famous

            Even in New York, where bizarre spectacles are so commonplace that people typically don't even bother to glance up from their phones, crowds quickly formed around the Wienermobile wherever we went. Construction workers dropped what they were doing to snap photos, children tugged their parents' coat sleeves to get closer, men and women in suits doubled back to ask for coupons.

            Wienermobile

            Brandon Bales

            It's like having your own fan base—then slipping off the coat when you get to your hotel at the end of the day and enjoying anonymity. Or as close to it as you can get when you've parked the Wienermobile outside.