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Inside Automotive (Feb 11th, 2019)

1. SoftBank's Vision Fund invested $940 million into Nuro, which is currently focused on using autonomous vehicles for product deliveries. However, the company is reportedly in talks with automakers on sharing technology to increase the scale of its manufacturing, considering the company only has about six delivery vehicles and about 50 standard cars using its technology. Nuro partnered with Kroger earlier this year for an autonomous grocery delivery service and joins Cruise Automation among SoftBank's bets on autonomy. — WSJ (Paywall)

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2. Tesla reportedly laid off more than half of its delivery team in Nevada, about 150 employees, in a recent round of job cuts. The Las Vegas delivery facility had around 230 employees until January, when the automaker laid off roughly seven percent of its workforce, according to two employees that were let go by the automaker. The company did not comment on reductions in delivery staff but does have an undisclosed number of personnel in other locations. — REUTERS

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3. Cruise Automation lost $728 million in 2018, a 19 percent increase over 2017. The figure was reported in GM’s annual report, where the automaker as a whole reported a $8.1 billion net profit for 2018. It is likely the losses are no surprise to GM, as the self-driving unit is still largely in research and development mode. GM has committed to commercializing its Cruise autonomous vehicle technology by the end of the year. — THE DRIVE

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4. Toyota wants to begin selling a highly-advanced automated vehicle by 2020. The automaker’s goal is to have a vehicle that would be capable of driving itself on a highway, which means it is likely focused on Level 4 autonomy. Responsible for the development of the technology will be Toyota Research Institute Advanced Development Inc., which has created partnerships with suppliers Aisin Seiki and Denso to create the technology. — AUTO NEWS

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Behind the Headline: Should people actually be job cuts in Tesla’s delivery department? 

On Tesla’s recent delivery team job cuts: The Reuters article said some may be concerned about cuts in that specific department, indicating that the company expects the pace of deliveries to slow down in the coming months.

It is likely that Tesla has exhausted the number of Model 3 buyers who want to buy higher-end models in the US, so it is likely focusing on sales of higher-end vehicles in Europe and Asia, in order to reach the scale to produce the $35,000 Model 3. 

So is it a concern in the long-run? I personally do not think so. Demand in the US will likely be softened until the $35,000 Model 3 is released and international sales will likely help Tesla get there. 

What do you think? Hit “reply” and give us your feedback! 

Note: Our features will often include commentary from our Inside team and should not be considering in stock buying decisions. 

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5. Optimus Ride, a spin-off of a self-driving project from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will begin providing autonomous rides in Reston, Virginia. Rides will be limited to tenants of a mixed-use development, managed by Brookfield Residential, in the city, offering rides in golf cart-sized vehicles on a fixed loop to-and-from a parking facility. The vehicles will have a back-up safety driver and won’t exceed 30 mph in speed. If the test is successful, Optimus Ride may expand its technology to other Brookfield-managed properties. — THE VERGE

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6. Waymo chief technology officer and VP of engineering Dmitri Dolgov said building a product that can be used every day by consumers has proved to be a bigger challenge than he previously believed. Dolgov gave an extensive interview with TechCrunch on Waymo’s technology, where he also said he could not have predicted some of the breakthroughs Waymo would have on the hardware and artificial intelligence front. He believes that people will begin to fully embrace self-driving technology once they engage with it directly.  

One notable quote: ”There is a huge difference between having a prototype that can do something once or twice or a handful of times versus building a product that people can start using in their daily lives."— TECHCRUNCH

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7. Tesla Model 3 test drives were suspended in China after a customer crashed its test unit. Interested test drivers had to wait until a new unit was shipped to Shenzen, as deliveries of the vehicle have yet to begin. — TESLARATI 

8. Legislators in Hong Kong do not believe that increased penalties for ride-hailing drivers will curb usage of the services. Uber is currently banned in the region, although the company still advertises it operates in the region. — SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

9. A new phase of the Takata airbag recall affects 1.7 million vehicles from Tesla, Volkswagen and Subaru, among others. About 10 million inflators are being recalled in the US this year. — USA TODAY

10. Electrify America will invest $300 million to grow its EV charging station network, expanding its presence in 18 metropolitan areas. The investment will also include developments in autonomous charging and renewable energy generation. — AUTO NEWS

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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) 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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