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Inside Automotive (Jun 7th, 2019)

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- Johan

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1. A top-level GM executive said the automaker’s initial fleet of autonomous vehicles would likely be equipped with manual controls. Doug Parks, vice president of autonomous and electric vehicle programs for the automaker, said the company’s first publicly available, generation three self-driving cars would have controls like a steering wheel and pedals, despite petitions to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) from the automaker to build cars without manual controls. But Parks said it is likely the automaker will not advance to Generation 4 vehicles until there is legislation from the government that would allow it to build vehicles without those controls. — AUTO NEWS

Your take: While this specific news story is on GM’s autonomous vehicle plans, I’m looking for you to share your thoughts on the development of self-driving vehicle software in general and who you expect to be the leaders in the space. Your comments may be published in Monday’s newsletter. Hit “reply” and let me know! 

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2. While some observers speculated Bird’s acquisition of Scoot would give Bird instant access to the San Francisco market, it may prove to be a bigger challenge. The Information’s Cory Weinberg reported that San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency said that for Scoot to continue operating under a different owner, it would need separate approval from the agency, which may serve as a roadblock to the acquisition. Scoot also operates scooters in Madrid and Santiago, Chile. — AMIR EFRATI / TWITTER

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3. Follow Friday: Michael Dunne 

The world’s largest market for vehicles - electric and gasoline-powered - is China. Michael Dunne (@ZoZoGo_Dunne) splits his time between Beijing and California, working as a trusted advisor to automotive leaders around the world, giving insights on how the auto market is evolving in China. Dunne wrote a book called “American Wheels, Chinese Roads,” which detailed the story of General Motors in China. 

On his Twitter, you can find candid information about the Chinese auto market, straight from someone who works directly with Chinese automakers. For instance, on the recent announcement that the Chinese government would raise the “barrier of entry” for automotive startups, Dunne clarified that China is still very committed to EVs, but is “shifting the burden from the government to industry via strict EV quotas.” Dunne also from time to time shares images of Chinese-built vehicles making their way to the US. 

For those interested in learning more about China and other international markets, be sure to follow Michael! 

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4. FEEDBACK: Yesterday, I asked what you thought about Apple’s potential acquisition of Drive.ai and how it may affect Apple’s work in the self-driving space. I got some really awesome responses from our readers! Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. 

Milton N: Can’t hurt. They keep things under the vest so who knows how far along they are or their final intentions

Brett S: Apple has such a proud history of self-determination (much like Tesla), that scuttling Project Titan and purchasing Drive.ai feels like a foundational shift within Apple. They no longer have the talent to build it themselves, so they have to buy it instead. I agree with the person who suggested Apple should purchase Tesla and put Elon in charge of the whole thing. Just think what they could accomplish with that kind of mental horsepower…

Kris J: Apple needs to ask itself "what business are we in? And where should we be in 5 years time? " I really do not think autonomous cars is their business. Acquiring expertise changes the culture of the acquired and that will affect the products. They should stick with cool automation or home-based consumer products. Do what Steve jobs would have done — redesign into something cool and sexy to have. That magic has sadly gone from Apple.

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5. While the Trump administration threatens tariffs on Mexican imports, BMW went ahead and opened its first plant in Mexico. The automaker spent about $1 billion to build the facility and is located in San Luis Potosi. The facility will build 3 Series vehicles for the U.S. and other markets. — BLOOMBERG 

6. The Indian government mandated ride-hailing firms, including Uber and Ola, to electrify 40 percent of their fleets by 2026. — TECHCRUNCH

7. YouTube channel Like Tesla is reporting a rumor that there may be a major refresh of the Model S and X in the near future. The rumor suggests that Tesla may introduce a three-motor powertrain, a new battery pack and a range around 400 miles on one charge to the vehicles. CNBC has reported on similar rumors. Note: These are rumors, take 'em with a grain of salt! LIKE TESLA / YOUTUBE

8. A group of 17 major automakers, including GM, Toyota and Volkswagen, urged California Gov. Gavin Newsom to compromise “midway” between Obama-era emissions standards and proposals by the Trump administration. A Trump administration proposal would freeze 2020 vehicle emissions requirements through 2026, while Obama standards require a 5 percent drop in emissions per year through 2026. — REUTERS

9. Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe shared a picture of former NBA basketball player Shaquille O’Neal sitting comfortably in one of the automaker’s vehicles. Shaq is 7’1’’ and weighs 324 pounds. It also appears that he has plenty of headroom. No word on if Shaq fits in a Model 3… — RJ SCARINGE / TWITTER

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10. 🤔 A Sweden-based startup plans to offer shared pogo sticks. Following a model set by scooter sharing companies, Cangoroo hopes to launch in a handful of cities by summer’s end, including San Francisco. However, Fast Company notes that it may be merely a media stunt from an ad agency, despite the company’s assertion that this is real. Whether this is a stunt or not, I thought this was a fun story to drop in a Friday newsletter. I hope you have a nice weekend! LA TIMES

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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 Forbes and The Orange County Register. Follow him on Twitter @dudejohan

Editing team: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside), David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology), and Bobby Cherry (senior editor at Inside, who’s always on social media).

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