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Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) Adds Cool Autopilot Tricks, West Virginia Bans Direct Sales

Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) Model X

Tesla Motors Inc. has set the pace that will disrupt the face of transportation in the current decade with the release of its autopilot feature. The autopilot feature in Tesla’s cars allows the driver to have a hands-free driving experience. The autopilot feature is the best in-class driver assist system as it provides auto steering, auto-braking, lane change, and parallel parking among other features. The Internet is already awash with tons of videos of the autopilot at work.

Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) Model X

One of the other cool tricks Tesla has added to Autopilot has to do with sticking to speed limits.  To discourage drivers from using Autopilot irresponsibly, the firm has limited speeds to a maximum of 5 mph over the posted speed limit.  In addition, the autopilot feature will not engage on “Residential roads or roads without a center divider”, this according to the official V7.1 software update release notes.

Tesla has a big problem with copycats

However, Tesla seems to have a big problem despite the fact that it brings innovative ideas to the transport sector. Tesla is a “small” player making big waves in the auto sector. However, any pace-setting move that the firm unveils is usually followed by an imitation by traditional auto firms who often have bigger financial and lobbying muscles than Tesla.

Elon Musk showed that electric vehicles can work and now, all carmakers are building EVs. Tesla wants to make EVs affordable with the Model 3 and GM has beaten it to unveiling the mass-market Chevy Bolt. Tesla unveiled autopilot and now, major carmakers and tech firms are hard at work to create driverless cars. Nonetheless, CEO Elon Musk has shown once more that he is ahead of the curve and that he sets the pace that others follow as the unveils the Summon feature for his cars over the weekend.

Have You Met Tesla Motors’ Summon?

Over the weekend, Tesla announced the Summon feature that allows you to summon the car in the real sense of the word. Part of a blog post from Tesla explains the function of the Summon feature in simple words.

Using Summon, once you arrive home and exit Model S or Model X, you can prompt it to do the rest: open your garage door, enter your garage, park itself, and shut down. In the morning, you wake up, walk out the front door, and summon your car. It will open the garage door and come to greet you. More broadly, Summon also eliminates the burden of having to squeeze in and out of tight parking spots.”

Tesla Motors has noted that Summon adds to the functions of the Autopilot feature for the Model S and the Model X. However, Elon Musk says Summon will get better and smarter within the next two years. Musk says his aim is to upgrade the summon feature to a point in which you can Summon your car from anywhere it the country and it will find its way to you. He says, “In two years you’ll be able to summon your car from across the country… If your car is in New York and you are in Los Angeles, it will find its way to you.”

Tesla hits another roadblock to sales

Despite Tesla Motors’ success with EVs, autopilot and now the Summon feature, the firm is still facing serious headwinds to sales in some key markets. Tesla sells its cars directly to buyers through stores that it operates – a sharp contrast to the traditional model of selling cars through car dealers. The dealers are not taking things lying down and they use their strong lobbying power to frustrate Tesla’s effort at direct sales as much as they can.

Breaking news over the weekend has it that West Virginia has joined the list of states that bans direct retail sales of Teslas. Other states that have a ban on the firm include Connecticut, Utah, Texas, and Michigan.

Tesla Motors is still making decent sales in the U.S. despite the roadblocks being mounted by dealers. However, the fight for direct retail sales is a big distraction for the firm that is fighting off increased rivalry on all sides. In the words, of Daniel Crane, associate dean of the University of Michigan Law School, “Tesla is fighting a multi-state, multi-front battle in state legislatures, regulatory commissions and courts just for the right to distribute and service its products.”

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Victor Alagbe is a seasoned business and finance writer with a specialty in writing about how to invest for the long-term in healthcare, pharmacology, energy and tech stocks. His long-term focus is on stocks that provide a nice mix of growth and income. For the short term, he passionately writes about trading stock options for the excitement and leverage that stock options offer.