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Inside Automotive (Jul 10th, 2018)

1. Tesla has reached a preliminary agreement to build a manufacturing plant in China. The plant is expected to produce about 500,000 vehicles a year and will begin operation in about two to three years. The announcement of the plant comes days after the Chinese government slapped heavy import duties on Tesla vehicles. Tesla Model S and X models cost as much as $22,600 to $37,600 more, after a 40 percent import tax hike imposed earlier this week. Tesla and Shanghai’s government have been negotiating the build out of a plant for the region for quite some time. One problem experienced by Tesla is China’s strict rules for foreign automakers, which requires them to team up with local companies to build vehicles in the country. Tesla’s preference was own the factory completely. — BLOOMBERG

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2. Uber hires Scott Schools as its chief compliance officer. Schools, who previously served as a close adviser to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, stepped down last week as the U.S. Justice Department’s highest-ranking career official. He will report to Tony West, the company’s general counsel, who also served as a former Justice Department official. Schools said he has not been involved in any of the Justice Department’s probes into Uber and would recuse himself if that was the case. He will be based out of the company’s San Francisco office. — WSJ

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3. Tesla is dropping its reservation system. Interested Model 3 buyers in the U.S. and Canada will be able to access the vehicle’s online design studio, bypassing the need to place a reservation deposit in order to access the studio. To order the vehicle, buyers will have to place a $3,500 non-refundable payment, with the delivery date being determined after the payment has been received by Tesla. People close to the situation tell Electrek that Tesla will still prioritize orders from reservation holders. The online design studio can be accessed here. — LA TIMES

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4. Didi will collaborate with Continental to build a fleet of “purpose-built" cars. The internet connected, electric vehicles would be used on Didi’s ride-hailing services. At the moment, the ride-hailing company uses regular passenger cars for its service, but has identified the need for vehicles that are designed with ride-hailing usage in mind. People close to the situation say the cars would have more comfortable seats than traditional passenger vehicles and more luggage space. The vehicles are expected to roll out by 2020. Didi founder and CEO Cheng Wei has said he expects Didi to have one million new energy-powered vehicles by 2020. — REUTERS

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5. BMW will produce electric MINI vehicles in China. The automaker will operate a joint venture with Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor. The venture between the two companies, with the legal name of Spotlight Automotive Ltd., will involve a $770 million investment from Great Wall, with an expected annual production of 160,000 vehicles. Great Wall sells over one million SUVs a year and was previously interested in acquiring the Jeep brand from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. — US NEWS

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6. Volkswagen says the SEAT brand will reappear in China, with a focus on EVs. The automaker previously sold SEAT-branded vehicles in the region until 2015. Now, the automaker will partner with Chinese company Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group to develop EVs in the market under the banner. The companies are expected to roll out the vehicles by 2021. The companies will jointly set up a research and development center in China to develop EVs, while also researching connectivity technology and autonomous driving. — REUTERS 

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7. RBC Capital Markets estimates that Cruise Automation could be worth $43 billion. Earlier this year, GM’s self-driving unit was valued at $11.5 billion, as it received a $2.25 billion investment from the SoftBank Vision Fund. — MARKETS INSIDER

8. Waze will begin providing traffic data to U.S. cities. Named the “Connected Citizens Program,” the Google-owned app will be able to provide live alerts, which could be used to make key decisions about road infrastructure. — THE VERGE

9. BMW has signed a $4.7 billion battery deal with CATL. BMW currently has two battery cell providers and could add a third, as the automaker is in talks with eight manufacturers. — AUTOBLOG

10. Digital mapping app DeepMap is in talks to receive a $60 million investment round from Alibaba, Nvidia, Didi and BAIC. The investment would value the company at about $430 million. DeepMap was founded by former Google and Apple engineers. — THE INFORMATION

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