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Smart Brevity count: 1,682 words, a 6-minute read.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
The transportation industry is teetering between tried-and-true business models of the past and an alluring, but uncertain, future, Axios managing editor Alison Snyder and I write.
The big picture: The modernization of cars, trucks, planes and public transit could be one of the greatest reorderings of civilization since the dawn of the horseless carriage. But progress in the $1.5 trillion transportation industry is getting snagged on technological, regulatory and social issues.
What's happening: A historic shift to cleaner, more economical, automated transportation is underway.
All of this change is roiling an industry that provides jobs to 13.3 million people in the U.S. and represents a 9% slice of the U.S. economy.
But that vision is being challenged by unforeseen technical hurdles, crumbling infrastructure and a stalled-out federal government that has yet to create standards and regulations for the coming changes, leaving strapped states struggling to step in.
What to watch: The specter of disruption is triggering enormous R&D investment by automakers fearful of becoming the next Kodak, Blockbuster or Blackberry.
"It's a gamble based on what you think will happen, but if you don't do anything, then for sure you're out of business," says Mike Ramsey, an analyst at Gartner.
UAW picket signs outside a GM plant in Detroit. Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images
A tentative 4-year labor contract with the United Auto Workers lets GM shutter underutilized factories as it wanted, but could also lock in higher labor costs across the domestic auto industry.
Why it matters: Detroit typically follows "pattern" bargaining — the economic terms struck at one company are generally matched by other UAW-represented automakers, setting a uniform standard of living for all unionized auto workers.
What's happening: Factory workers at GM will receive big bonuses and keep their lucrative health benefits under the proposed contract, which is subject to ratification by 49,000 striking workers, who will continue to walk the picket lines until the vote is completed a week from today.
Yes, but: The concept of pattern bargaining has weakened in recent years, and it will be up to negotiators on both sides of the table at Ford and FCA to hammer out their own deals in the coming weeks.
Sensors and associated software on the nose of a Boeing 737 Max jet are at the center of a safety investigation. Photo: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
Deadly safety crises at Boeing this year and at GM in 2014 share the same, avoidable, root causes — lax government oversight and poor communication.
Driving the news: A multiagency task force this week concluded that "a breakdown in the nation's regulatory system and poor communication from Boeing compromised the safety of the 737 MAX jet before it crashed twice in five months and killed 346 people," the New York Times reports.
Flashback: In 2014, GM was gripped by its own safety crisis in which faulty ignition switches were tied to at least 124 vehicle deaths and led to the recall of 30 million GM cars worldwide.
What's happening: Lawmakers can't seem to pass self-driving car legislation and the U.S. Department of Transportation has adopted a hands-off approach to autonomous vehicle development, for fear of stifling innovation.
The bottom line: The AV industry is self-regulated and without clear safety standards for self-driving cars, we're at risk of repeating the same mistakes again.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Didi Chuxing, China's colossal ride-sharing company, is rolling out a self-driving pick up service on Chinese streets in the next few weeks — a gamble that could give the company an important edge in the global market, ZoZo Go CEO Michael Dunne writes for Axios Expert Voices.
Why it matters: The first company to put large numbers of self-driving cars on the road stands to gain two important advantages: reduced operating costs and real-world driving data for its algorithms, which will improve its autonomous driving systems.
Between the lines: While China has abundant labor, Didi has made an aggressive push into self-driving cars because of concerns around competition and safety.
What to watch: Didi plans to push out its self-driving services to other countries rapidly, starting in 2021.
Michael Dunne is the CEO of ZoZo Go, an investment advisory firm focusing on Asia and mobility, and the author of "American Wheels, Chinese Roads."
Short Circuit: Harley-Davidson halts electric motorcycle production (Rajesh Kumar Singh and Rachit Vats — Reuters)
Economic boost: South Korea speeds up plans for autonomous, electric and flying Cars (Kyunghee Park — Bloomberg)
Supercharging EVs: Electric vehicles see both gains and growing pains (Ben Geman — Axios)
My favorite view of the Lincoln Aviator. Photo: Lincoln
My latest ride is the 2020 Lincoln Aviator, the luxury brand's first midsize three-row SUV.
The big picture: Lincoln is making an impressive comeback, with a fresh lineup of new models that emphasize what it calls "effortless luxury."
Details: You can get the Aviator with a smooth 400-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 or opt for the Grand Touring model, a plug-in hybrid.
The bottom line: The Aviator, which ranges from $51,100 to $87,800, is a great ride for the well-to-do family.