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Inside Automotive (Jan 9th, 2018)

Dear Inside Automotive readers,

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Uber has hired Tesla’s lead battery expert to assist with its “flying taxi” service. Celina Mikolajczak was previously a senior manager for battery pack development at Tesla. Her new title will be director of engineering and energy storage systems for Uber, and she will report to Jeff Holden, Uber’s head of product. The Elevate team at Uber is developing eVTOL vehicles to transport passengers around traffic in major metro areas, with NASA providing logistical support. Originally, Uber had planned to partner with aerospace companies to launch the service, but now seems to be playing a larger role in the development of the aircraft. Uber seeks to make the aircraft battery-electric, which would make Mikolajczak’s role at the company crucial. — THE VERGE

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Hyundai showed off its new hydrogen-powered vehicle, the Nexo, at CES. The new crossover SUV will replace the Tucson FCEV, Hyundai’s first fuel-cell vehicle. The Nexo is estimated to go 370 miles on a full tank of hydrogen, which takes considerably less time to fill up than charging an electric car, for example. However, hydrogen filling stations are few and far between, with the majority existing in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas. Virtually no stations are available between both coasts and only 39 public stations are available in total in the United States. This means while the technology seems promising, it has been critiqued in the past by Elon Musk, and even automakers like Toyota have begun shifting their renewable energy vehicles more toward EVs. — THE VERGE

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Intel is partnering with Chinese automaker SAIC on self-driving cars. The companies will jointly develop Level 3, 4 and 5 autonomous vehicles, and collaborate with Chinese mapping company NavInfo on the project. China has enacted strict regulations on autonomous car projects until recently. In December, automakers and technology companies could start applying to test self-driving vehicles, but are limited to certain roads and conditions. In addition, the country has restrictions in place that have prevented companies from getting the necessary mapping data to operate an autonomous vehicle within its borders. This is where the collaboration between NavInfo, Intel and SAIC could be a game-changer. — FAST COMPANY

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SoftBank is now the largest shareholder in Uber. According to a breakdown compiled by Recode, SoftBank now owns about 15 percent of the company. Benchmark is the investor with the second most shares, at 11 percent. Travis Kalanick owns 7 percent, Garrett Camp owns 5 percent, Google Ventures owns 4 percent and Lowercase Capital owns 3 percent. About 47 percent of the company is owned by independent shareholders. Uber’s board has enacted a new “one share, one vote” rule, meaning the number of shares directly correlates to the degree of decision-making power, which will give SoftBank an edge over other investors. — RECODE

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