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Inside Automotive (Sep 11th, 2019)

1. California state senators advanced Assembly Bill 5, a controversial initiative that would make it harder for companies to classify workers as independent contractors. However, the measure still requires passage in California’s state Assembly before the end of the week, which is when the Legislature adjourns for the year. The news is not positive for ride-hailing companies, delivery services or even scooter sharing services, considering that those companies mostly use independent contractors to largely staff their services. If the bill is passed, Uber, Lyft and DoorDash have collectively committed close to $90 million to defeat the initiative through a possible ballot initiative. — LA TIMES

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2. Some Tesla service centers are reportedly reducing their hours. The news originated from a thread on Tesla Motors Club, as one user saw a service center in Burlingame, California, say it would be discontinuing weekend hours as of September 1, and added that Santa Clara and Fremont also showed the same. Users on the forum reported many service centers that have discontinued weekend service, including Warwick, Rhode Island, and Frankfurt, Germany. Some wonder whether the service center closures are to clear a queue of vehicles that are currently in service at the facilities. — TESLA MOTORS CLUB

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3. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the Model S will likely not lap the Nürburgring race track this week. In a tweet, Musk said Tesla will likely not try for best lap this week, as he said the Model S needs to be reviewed and fine-tuned for safety, especially for the Flugplatz section. Some consider Flugplatz the most difficult portion of the track, as some vehicles are sent skyward. Musk also said Porsche’s electric Taycan vehicle “does seem like a good car,” and complemented its Nürburgring track time. — @ELONMUSK/TWITTER

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4. Electric vehicle startup Rivian has received a $350 million investment from Cox Automotive. This is Cox Automotive’s first equity investment into an automaker. Cox serves as the parent company of other influential brands that support automakers and dealers, including Kelley Blue Book, AutoTrader, DealerTrack and Manheim Auctions. Rivian and Cox will explore partnership opportunities with digital retailing, logistics and service operations. — AUTO NEWS

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5. Uber laid off 435 employees across its product and engineering teams. The layoffs represent about 8 percent of the organization combined, with 265 engineering team members and 170 product team members leaving the company. The layoffs largely affect those who worked on the core ride-hailing service, but not Eats or Freight, two areas of growth for the company. Although the company is laying off employees, it is also lifting a hiring freeze on product and engineering teams that has been in effect since early August, which may signal this is more of a reorganization than cost-cutting effort. — TECHCRUNCH

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6. At the Frankfurt Motor Show, Chinese electric vehicle startup Byton showed off the final production version of its M-Byte electric SUV. The company said the vehicle would be produced at Byton’s factory in Nanjing, China by the end of the year. The M-Byte will have about 200 miles of range on a charge, features a wide 45-inch digital dashboard display and will start around $45,000. The company also has plans to sell the vehicle in the U.S. and Europe by 2021. — THE VERGE

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7. Renault CEO Thierry Bollore is hoping to reignite talks with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) on a potential merger. At the Frankfurt Motor Show, Bollore said he is completely open to discussing a deal with FCA again. He said the merger deal offered by FCA earlier this year was “exceptional” in industrial terms. The merger proposal was withdrawn by FCA, after concern from both the Japanese and French governments. — AUTOCAR

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8. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee plans to look into the Justice Department’s decision to investigate an emissions deal between four automakers and the state of California. Lawyers at the Justice Department are reportedly seeing if Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW broke federal competition law through a vehicle-emissions deal with the state. President Trump has been a vocal opponent of the emissions deal, which led Democratic lawmakers to question the intentions of the Justice Department’s investigation. — REUTERS

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9. The ID Crozz concept vehicle, previously unveiled by Volkswagen, will be sold as the ID.4 SUV. This naming nomenclature follows the ID.3, the hatchback recently shown off by the automaker. Volkswagen has no plans to sell the ID.3 in the U.S., but the ID.4 will be the first electric vehicle on the MEB platform to be sold in the country. U.S. dealers are expecting to receive the ID.4 on lots by late 2020. Pricing details are unknown. — AUTO NEWS

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10. An interesting thread happening on the /r/TeslaMotors subreddit: One driver said Sentry Mode was activated and a thief was still able to open his door. User swb1192 shared a video of the thief entering the vehicle, saying Tesla customer service wouldn’t help him, but some on the thread quickly noticed that the vehicle’s door was unlocked, based on the mirror being out. Many on the forum advised other drivers to double check if their doors were locked before they walked away from the vehicle. — /R/TESLAMOTORS / REDDIT

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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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