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Inside Automotive (Aug 28th, 2019)

1. Anthony Levandowski has pleaded not guilty on 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets levied against him by federal prosecutors. As documented by The New York Times’ reporter Mike Isaac, Levandowski was arraigned hours after his indictment was announced. During the arraignment, it was revealed his defense knew he was going to be arrested and Levandowski was ready to self-surrender himself last Friday, but prosecutors asked him to wait until Tuesday. Federal prosecutors see Levandowski as a flight risk, as he is believed to be wealthy and is a dual citizen. Prosecutors asked for Levandowski to put up $3 million in a secured bond and an ankle monitor for him to be released. Levandowski ended up posting $2 million in bail, with his parents posting both of their homes as bond. NYT

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2. A French startup says it has found a streamlined way to retrofit gasoline-powered vehicles into electric vehicles. While the idea of electric vehicle conversions is not new, it is often a complicated and expensive process. Transition-One says they have been able to do conversions in as little as one day and for about $9,400, using recycled Tesla batteries. The company says it supports six different gas-powered vehicles, including the Renault Twingo II. — ELECTREK

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3. Luxury automaker Lexus will likely unveil a small, two-door hatchback as its first electric vehicle. The vehicle will reportedly be inspired by the Lexus LF-SA concept vehicle introduced in 2015 and with an EV concept expected to be unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in October. Toyota design chief, Koichi Suga, says the vehicle will look more futuristic than anything Lexus has ever released. However, it is unclear if the city car concept will find its way to the U.S., where consumer tastes prefer larger vehicles, like SUVs and trucks. — AUTOCAR

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4. Rumors are circulating that Tesla CEO Elon Musk will possibly unveil the first Chinese-made Model 3 this week. Musk is currently traveling to China and is scheduled to participate in a fireside chat with Alibaba cofounder Jack Ma at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai. Musk has already said he will be launching The Boring Company’s Chinese division during the trip. — ELECTREK

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5. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will test the effects of replacing rear-view mirrors with camera-based visibility systems. The agency would test how the systems change driver behavior and lane change maneuver execution, initially focusing on passenger vehicles. The technology has already started rolling out in other countries, with it being approved for use in Japan and Europe. For instance, Toyota sells a Lexus ES in Japan that swaps conventional side mirrors for a camera-based visibility system. — REUTERS

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6. Redditors in the /r/TeslaMotors subreddit discussed complaints about automatic braking systems, a common issue some find with their Tesla vehicles. The group discussed a Wall Street Journal article about the issue, where the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has fielded more than 400 individual complaints about the issue. One person on the subreddit said they rented a Volvo XC90 and had four emergency braking warnings with nothing in front of the vehicle, “so yeah, it's not only an issue with Tesla.” Some users have reported Autopilot phantom braking issues. — /R/TESLAMOTORS - REDDIT

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7. Car subscription service Fair has received a $100 million credit facility, led by Ally Financial. The funds will be used to help finance its existing business and acquire vehicles for its users. To date, Fair has raised about $1 million through debt financing and $500 million in equity since it was founded in 2016. The company recently received a $50 million credit line from Silicon Valley Bank. Along with offering cars for personal use, Fair works with Uber to rent cars to drivers on a weekly basis. — LA BUSINESS JOURNAL

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8. A self-driving shuttle program operated between Texas A&M University and the City of Bryan, Texas will start to have humans remotely monitor and operate shuttles. The vehicles currently use back-up safety human drivers, but will transition to the technology provided by Portland-based startup Designated Driver. The transition will begin in September and will mark one of the first commercial deployments of teleoperation technology in the U.S. — THE VERGE

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9. Pro-EV publication CleanTechnica “trolled” Tesla CEO Elon Musk yesterday. CleanTechnica published an article with the title, “All The Problems With Our New Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus,” but purposefully kept the entire article empty, indicating that they had no issues with the vehicle. Musk replied to a tweet promoting the article, asking “Empty article?” to which CleanTechnica replied, “Empty article ≠ empty message.” — @CLEANTECHNICA/TWITTER

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10. A tweet from Detroit News reporter Robert Snell says FBI agents are raiding the home of United Auto Workers’ (UAW) president Gary Jones. In a tweet, Snell said federal agents are raiding Jones’ house in Metro Detroit and other locations, including the union’s Black Lake retreat, as a part of a bribery and kickback probe of the U.S. auto industry. — @ROBERTSNELLNEWS/TWITTER

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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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