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Inside Automotive (Aug 26th, 2019)

1. Despite collecting $1 per ride as a “safe ride fee,” Uber did not directly allocate the funds to improving safety on the platform. The charge was introduced in April 2014, saying the additional fee would help cover an improved background check process, vehicle inspections and driver safety, among other services intended to make rides safer. But according to employees who worked on the project, the fee was intended to add $1 of profit margin to each trip and reportedly brought in about $500 million from 2014 to 2016. In 2016, the safe ride fee had increased up to $2.50 per ride, in some areas. Uber was sued over the fee in 2014 and eventually settled for $28.5 million. An altered version of the safe ride fee, called a “booking fee,” remains on the service. — NYT

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3. A new study indicates that many high-voltage electric vehicle chargers are not profitable. The research, conducted jointly between the Great Plains Institute and the Midcontinent Transportation Electrification Collaborative, examined direct current fast-charging (DCFC) facilities along a corridor between Minnesota to Michigan. The high cost of building out a facility, along with average utility rates and relatively low demand are all causes for the unprofitability. — UTILITY DIVE

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4. Waymo revealed additional details on how its vehicles deal with intense weather conditions. Alphabet’s self-driving unit said one of the advantages it sees with autonomous vehicles is the ability to drive in conditions that humans may not be able to drive through, like intense fog, dust and smoke. But the company said Waymo’s technology is designed to force the vehicle to pull over if it lands in conditions it is not able to drive through, continuing to drive when conditions improve. — WAYMO / MEDIUM

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5. Hyundai dropped new pictures of its new concept electric vehicle. The teaser image of the vehicle, named the “45,” was released by the automaker in a press release. The official reveal of the vehicle will be at the Frankfort Motor Show in September. Much like other concept vehicles, it is likely the concept of the 45 will not be the final design used by the automaker when it becomes mass-produced. — THE NEXT AVENUE

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6. The Nikkei Asian Review wrote an in-depth profile on Xiao Jianxiong, the founder of self-driving startup AutoX. Xiao, educated in the United States but raised in China, said AutoX is the only company that has tested self-driving vehicles in busy metropolitan areas within China. AutoX is also one of the four companies in California to receive a robotaxi license from the state’s DMV, although Xiao said the company currently has no plans to launch commercial robotaxi services in the state. — NIKKEI

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7. Another Tweet has created an improvement for Tesla’s “Dog Mode.” @MinimalDuck tweeted Tesla CEO Elon Musk to turn on both the front and rear air conditioning vents while the vehicle is in Dog Mode, a feature that keeps climate control activated when a Tesla owner walks away from their vehicle. Musk said “ok.” Another Tesla owner recently caught Musk’s attention on another improvement to Dog Mode. — @ELONMUSK/TWITTER

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8. Honda is rolling out a passenger-side airbag that could reduce the possibility of injuries with frontal crashes. The airbag was co-developed with Autoliv and uses four different components, an improvement over current airbags that use just one inflatable component. Honda says the new airbag will arrive in 2020, although it did not disclose which vehicles it will first arrive in. — AUTO NEWS

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9. Over on Tesla Motors Club, forum members discussed blind-spot monitoring on the Model 3. The Model 3, much like other Tesla vehicles, do not have blind-spot monitoring indication lights on the side-view mirrors. Instead, the Model 3 shows if there are vehicles within a blind spot using the center display, which some consider not convenient to the driver. — TESLA MOTORS CLUB

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10. Mercedes-Benz unveiled its EQV electric minivan. The minivan is targeted to both commercial and private users, and will deliver a range of about 250 miles. The vehicle will go on sale in Europe after the EQV is officially debuted at the Frankfort Motor Show next month. It is unclear if and when the vehicle will be available in the U.S. The vehicle is based on the V-Class minivan, which is sold in the U.S. — E FOR ELECTRIC / YOUTUBE

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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

Editor: David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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