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Inside Automotive (Feb 12th, 2018)

NASA is monitoring the Tesla Roadster currently orbiting in space. Last week, SpaceX successfully launched the car into space as the payload on its Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket overshot the original trajectory and placed the Roadster into an orbit extending out into the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Now that the car is an object in the solar system, it is being cataloged and tracked by NASA, per the agency's standard procedures. The Roadster has been labeled as a Near-Earth Object in NASA’s Horizons database, which is a designation given to objects that can travel close to Earth. — CNN

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Didi Chuxing is testing self-driving taxis on public roads. China’s ride-hailing giant currently has two self-driving vehicles, modified versions of the Qoros 5, that were developed on a testing track near Shanghai and public roads. Didi confirmed it is running self-driving tests, but did not offer more details. Didi operates a self-driving lab in Mountain View, Calif., but does not have permission to test vehicles on roads in the state. Didi is likely testing out these capabilities to better compete with Uber and international rivals like Grab that have ambitions to offer driverless services in the near future. — FT

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Porsche and Audi have plans to share an electric car platform. Porsche and Audi are two luxury automakers, owned and operated under the Volkswagen Group umbrella. The two automakers have shared platforms in the past. For example, the Porsche Cayenne and Macan share the same basic chassis as the Audi Q7 and Q5. This partnership will continue into the EV space, according to Porsche's Oliver Blume and Audi's Rupert Stadler. In an interview with German publication Stuttgarter Zeitung, the two brands said they will jointly develop a common platform that will make its way into models starting in 2021. Blume said it would cost each automaker about 30 percent more to develop their own EV platforms. It is likely one of the first of these arrangements, as automakers find ways to cut costs when producing costly EVs. — ENGADGET

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Hyundai invested in Southeast Asian ride-hailing platform Grab. The amount raised in Grab’s Series G round, which Hyundai acted as a lead investor, was not revealed. Woongjun Jang, director of Hyundai’s Advanced Driver Assistance System Development Group, told Bloomberg that car ownership trends are changing and believes that ride-hailing providers will be the primary owners of self-driving vehicles. Hyundai and its sister brand Kia are beginning to move the needle on self-driving cars after falling behind rivals. — BLOOMBERG

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Electric car sales grew 68 percent in Canada in 2017. According to numbers compiled by Fleetcarma, there are now close to 50,000 plug-in vehicles in the country. This growth could be driven by a 120 percent growth of EV sales in Ontario. To compare, the number of plug-in vehicles in 2016 sat at 30,000 vehicles. In terms of battery-electric vehicles, the number spiked up from 5,130 to 9,840 in 2017, an increase of nearly 92 percent. Canada has been taking steps to increase the appeal of electric cars. — ELECTREK

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