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Inside Automotive (Jun 12th, 2018)

1. Tesla is letting go about 9 percent of its workforce across the company. In a tweet, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the automaker is conducting a “comprehensive organizational restructuring across our whole company.” Musk said the cuts are being made entirely from Tesla’s workforce of salaried employees and no production associates are being involved, meaning Model 3 production should not be affected. Musk says the cuts are being made with the goal of trying to achieve profitability. — TWITTER

2. Tesla CEO Elon Musk also says the company is not renewing its solar power deal with The Home Depot. In a tweet, where Musk announced company restructuring, he also said the company would be ending its deal with the home improvement store. Musk said these employees would be offered roles in Tesla’s retail stores. — TWITTER

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3. Electric scooter sharing startup Bird is allegedly seeking a $2 billion valuation. The company’s valuation has been rapidly rising and is raising about $200 million of new funding. This comes weeks after the company raised $150 million at a $1 billion valuation, which was led by Sequoia Capital, and three months after raising $15 million at a $300 million valuation. It is unclear, however, of the actual valuation. Financial Times puts the new round's likely valuation a bit lower, at $1.5 billion. This comes as competitor, Lime, raised $250 million at a $750 million valuation. — AXIOS

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4. Uber has created a new low-data version of its app for developing markets. “Uber Lite” is an Android app that takes up only 5 megabytes, targeted at countries like India. The app has a 300-millisecond response time and only shows maps on request, which would make it quick to hail a ride, even for users who may be stuck on a 2G network in the country.  “The team has traveled to markets around the world to do in home interviews to understand the needs of the customers,” Uber’s head of rider experience Peter Deng told Crunchbase. Uber has allegedly spoken to its ride-hailing competitor Ola in India to merge operations in India. — CRUNCHBASE

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5. Tesla’s former director of environmental, health, safety and sustainability is suing the automaker. In a complaint filed in Alameda County Superior Court, Carlos Ramirez says he was fired in retaliation for raising concerns about the company’s practice of failing to report serious workplace injuries on legally-mandated logs. Ramirez was assigned the task of creating a safety program at the automaker’s assembly plant in Fremont, California and found discrepancies in its safety reports. Tesla responded to the lawsuit, alleging Ramirez was fired after management received complaints about his behavior, which included intimidation and making inappropriate comments about women. — JALOPNIK

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6. Ford is not jumping into the autonomous ride-hailing business. Even as competitors, like Alphabet’s Waymo and GM’s Cruise Automation, have revealed plans to eventually roll out autonomous ride-hailing services, Ford currently has no timeline to jump into the space. “We certainly do not feel behind on getting to a profitable business,” Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification, told Bloomberg. “It’s a lot more than just a car and the software that goes into the car. We’re building a business. How we’re going to generate the revenue and profits matter more than just jumping in and running a business someplace.” Ford is testing autonomous vehicles, in markets like Miami, and is conducting autonomous on-demand delivery, in partnership with Postmates. — BLOOMBERG

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7. Electric car startup Byton teases a fully autonomous electric sedan for 2021. The company showed off a concept vehicle, named K-Byte, at CES Asia in Shanghai, just days after announcing a $500 million round of funding. Byton is promising the vehicle will be equipped with Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities, with technology being provided by Aurora Innovation. Byton did not release specific specs of the vehicle, but will share much of the DNA from the company’s promised 2019 electric SUV. — THE VERGE

8. An analysis from LMC Automotive shows that if the Trump administration follows through a 25 percent tariff on imported vehicles, it may cost the auto industry one to two million sales per year. The one million sales decline would account for automakers absorbing the cost of the tariff. The two million sales decline would account for automakers charging consumers the 25 percent tariff directly. President Trump’s order last month to investigate auto imports for potential trade penalties on “national security concerns.” — BLOOMBERG

9. A Tesla employee says he was asked by a supervisor and company security guards to leave the company’s factory after handing out pro-union flyers. At a National Labor Relations Board hearing, Michael Sanchez was distributing leaflets to colleagues outside a Tesla facility in February 2017, when he was asked to leave. The NLRB is investigating whether Tesla violated federal safeguards for employee activity. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has famously been against unionization at his factories. — AUTO NEWS

10. Ford has purchased a century-old train station in Detroit. The automaker is purchasing the Michigan Central Depot, which it will outfit into a technology campus. — CBS NEWS

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