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Inside Automotive (Nov 29th, 2017)

Waymo’s self-driving cars have crossed the 4 million mile mark on public roads. However, this also marks a push the company has been making to expand its self-driving operations in the past year. The first million miles took Waymo a year and a half to accumulate, while the last million miles only took six months. Waymo is able to speed up and scale its tests through a combination of public road driving experience and testing on the company’s private track. Although public road tests are important, the private test facility also plays a critical role as 20,000 unique scenarios have been modeled at the facility. — THE VERGE

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Some Tesla factory workers say the factory’s pace of production is causing quality issues. Nine current and former factory employees told Reuters that the company’s cars regularly require fixes before they can leave the factory. Quality checks have often revealed defects in more than 90 percent of Model S and Model X vehicles inspected after assembly. Tesla said its quality control process is rigorous, designed to flag the smallest imperfections. In comparison, a large automaker like Toyota conducts post-manufacturing fixes on fewer than 10 percent of its vehicles. Many automotive analysts have noticed Tesla’s quality issues. — CNBC

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DHL has ordered Tesla’s Semi. The company’s U.S. supply chain division, which provides transportation, warehousing and distribution services to U.S. manufacturers and retailers, has pre-ordered 10 trucks to test on limited routes. DHL plans to use the trucks primarily for shuttle runs and same-day delivery services. The trucks will also be analyzed for fuel efficiencies on longer runs from major markets to other operations across the United States. Opening the door to Tesla may lead to a bigger partnership between the companies. DHL follows Walmart and J.B. Hunt in pre-ordering Tesla’s trucks. — REUTERS 

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BMW may convert Mini into an EV brand in the U.S. The company plans to launch an electric Mini in 2019, but has bigger plans in the electric space, according to Peter Schwarzenbauer of the BMW Group. Mini may shift to become an entirely EV brand aimed toward urban consumers. The company is talking to other automakers on lowering the cost of electrifying the brand. Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor had reportedly discussed a joint venture with BMW to build Mini vehicles in China, which would likely be electric. It is not clear whether this venture would expand internationally. — AUTO NEWS

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Battery costs are slowing down EV sales. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, electric battery prices would have to drop more than half before EVs would be competitive with gasoline-powered vehicles. However, this is not an impossible feat. Bloomberg also predicts that battery prices are expected to reach that figure by 2026, which is when lithium-ion battery packs will likely fall to about $100 per kilowatt hour. This would be in line with movements from countries, like China, to do away with gasoline-powered vehicles. — BLOOMBERG

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