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Inside Automotive

Inside Automotive (Aug 7th, 2018)

Today's issue of Inside Automotive was made possible by Zemax

1. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has indicated he may take the automaker private. Musk tweeted, "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” That means Musk would be leading a take-over of the company for more than $85 billion, including debt. It is unclear how Musk would finance the transaction, but does come after a Financial Times report that a Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund acquired a $2 billion stake into the automaker. Musk has not made any further comment on the possible transaction. Musk is known for his humor on Twitter and Axios’ Dan Primack indicated that Musk may be doing a bit of trolling by using the $420 share price, which is also slang for the consumption of cannabis. Before Musk’s tweet, the stock sat at $342 a share. It is currently at $361.72. — CNN

Do you think this would be the best move for Tesla moving forward? Hit "reply" and tell us what you think. Your comments may appear in tomorrow's issue of Inside Automotive! 

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2. Some Uber drivers in Australia are mass logging off the app in protest. In the country, the RideShare Drivers United driver group encouraged drivers to turn off the Uber app between 7:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Hobart. The group said about 15,000 drivers took part in the protest and it would plan more “disruptions” if Uber fails to respond to their actions. The group wants the ride-hailing company to eliminate the use of “upfront pricing,” which they say is leading drivers to receive lower fares, as they say drivers do not get paid for unexpected delays on rides. They also are calling to make UberPool optional for drivers. This comes as Uber faces some new competition in the ride-hailing market in Australia, as Ola recently expanded to Sydney. — CNET

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3. Some on-demand services are lobbying politicians to overturn a California ruling on the use of independent contractors. Earlier this year, California’s Supreme Court issued a ruling which would make it more difficult for services, like Uber and Lyft, to claim their network of contractors are not company employees. However, business leaders in the state, representing nine different companies, have been pleading their case to members of Governor Jerry Brown’s cabinet, Brown’s presumed successor Gavin Newsom and members of the state’s legislature. The nine companies include Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates, Instacart, TaskRabbit, Square, Total System Services and Handy Technologies and have sent letters addressing their concerns with the ruling, which they say may “decimate businesses.” — BLOOMBERG

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4. Ride-hailing company Ola is expanding to the UK. Ola is currently one of the largest ride-hailing companies in India, where it covers 110 cities through its network of over one million drivers, where it competes aggressively with Uber in the market. Ola has prominent investors backing the company, including Tencent and SoftBank, and closed a funding round late last year. Now, the company will be expanding its offering to Europe for the first time, offering licensed taxi and private hire bookings in South Wales and Greater Manchester. Ola plans to expand coverage nationwide before the end of 2018. — TECHCRUNCH

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5. GM is getting close to the EV federal tax credit cap. The federal government gives an tax incentive to EV buyers of $7,500, up to 200,000 vehicles produced by the automaker. According to an analysis from Edmunds, GM has sold about 186,670 battery-electric and plug-in hybrids to date. GM has said it expects to hit the 200,000 cap this year, but Edmunds says at that GM’s current selling rate, it will probably hit that total by the first quarter of 2019. Tesla delivered its 200,000th vehicle earlier this year. — DETROIT NEWS

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6. Didi is said to be testing in-car audio and video recording for rider safety. According to Chinese technology blog TechNode, the company began a trial earlier this year in five cities, although the recording devices are not found in every vehicle. But riders still have the choice of whether or not to have their ride recorded. “Due to privacy concerns, the recording function will only be activated once a passenger confirms from their app. They can end it anytime during her ride,” Didi told TechNode. Didi was said to be considering audio and video recording rides after a violent incident where a female passenger was murdered in a Didi vehicle. — TECHNODE

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7. Self-driving truck startup Kodiak Robotics has raised $40 million. The company raised a Series A round of funding, led by Battery Ventures, with contributions from CRV, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Tusk Ventures. The company was co-founded by Don Burnette, who was an engineer at Otto, the self-driving truck startup acquired by Uber. 

8. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said Volvo’s crash avoidance technology could have prevented a fatal self-driving Uber crash. “I think it’s possible that, had the system been able to intervene, the fatality may not have occurred,” David Zuby, the IIHS’s chief research officer, told Bloomberg. The technology was disabled by Uber when it installed its own software and hardware to the vehicle.  — BLOOMBERG

9. Tesla has started hiring for its Shanghai-based plant. The company has about 14 roles open on its website, including architectural designers and senior finance managers for its Shanghai Gigafactory. — REUTERS

10. Your feedback on Elon Musk’s Hitler-themed video meme. Yesterday, we wrote about Musk sharing a doctored scene from scene from “Downfall,” a 2004 film about Hitler’s final days, comparing Hitler and his generals as Tesla short sellers. 

Eric Kestler said: “Musk went way overboard with the Hitler video. I lost my grandparents, and my wife’s parents survived Auschwitz. This is a thoughtless use of horrific memes. He may be technically brilliant, but his humanity is lacking…” 

Keith Spiro wrote: “If Musk expects to build in Germany, I’d advise him to lay off the Hitler parodies.” 

James Fritz chimed in: “That Hitler meme has been used many times for a spoof. Where we 'the millions' hurt then? This nothing more than another voice in the wilderness trying to take down Musk and Tesla. Tired old news….” 

Thank you for your feedback! 

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This newsletter was written and curated by Johan Moreno. Johan is based out of Los Angeles, CA and has covered technology and automotive extensively for a variety of publications, including The Orange County Register. Follow him on Twitter @dudejohan

Editing team: Lon Harris (editor-in-chief at Inside.com, game-master at Screen Junkies), Krystle Vermes (Breaking news editor at Inside, B2B marketing news reporter, host of the "All Day Paranormal" podcast), and Susmita Baral (editor at Inside, recent bylines in NatGeo, Teen Vogue, and Quartz. Runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram).

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