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Inside Automotive (Oct 9th, 2019)

1. Nissan named Makoto Uchida as its new CEO. Uchida previously served as the head of Nissan’s joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Group in China. The company also named Ashwani Gupta, who hails from Nissan affiliate Mitsubishi Motors, as its new COO. Jun Seki, the former head of Nissan’s operations in China, will serve as deputy COO. All three men were on a shortlist to replace previous CEO Hiroto Saikawa, who resigned amid an admission that he was improperly overpaid at the automaker. — BLOOMBERG

Why this matters: Amid financial scandals rocking the automaker, Nissan reported decade-low profits earlier this year and plans for 12,500 job cuts. The new leadership team will face the challenge of turning financial outcomes for the company globally, while also repairing divisions internally at the company and with French automaker partner, Renault. 

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2. A former Tesla battery leader is returning to the “Gigafactory” in a senior role with Panasonic. Celina Mikolajczak previously served as the senior manager of Tesla’s battery technology division, specializing in cell quality and materials analysis, from 2012 to 2018. Mikolajczak departed in January of last year to work for Uber, where she was responsible for all the company’s battery programs, including shared scooters and eVTOLS. Now, Mikolajczak is joining Panasonic as its vice president of battery technology, where she still be assigned to the company’s joint battery production facility with Tesla, the Gigafactory near Reno, Nevada. — BLOOMBERG

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3. An evaluation of Tesla’s “Smart Summon” feature from Consumer Reports found its performance does “not match marketing hype.” The publication experimented with the feature over several days at its testing facility and found it worked intermittently at times, depending on a vehicle’s reading of the surrounding area. Consumer Reports said that on some occasions, despite being tested in a private parking lot, the feature mistakenly shut itself down because it believed it was on a private road. Smart Summon is only designed to work in private parking lots. — CONSUMER REPORTS

Why this matters: Tesla seems to care about the opinion of Consumer Reports. The automaker previously released an over-the-air update to improve braking, after the publication said it could not recommend the Model 3 because of the issue. It is possible that Tesla may consider some of CR’s points and possibly improve the vehicle’s system. 

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4. As the United Auto Workers (UAW) go into the 24th day of their strike with GM, the union says they are reportedly still far apart from a deal. Terry Dittes, vice president of the UAW-GM department, said the automaker has not appeased their demands in offering GM factory workers adequate job security. This comes as the union asked for GM to move back some vehicle production from Mexico to the U.S. Two GM production facilities in Mexico are still producing vehicles. — AUTO NEWS

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5. In an audit, the U.S. government found that an estimated 16,510 tax returns falsely claimed an EV tax credit between 2014 and 2018. The agency estimated that about $73.8 million worth of tax credits were falsely issued, as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) looks to recover the tax breaks. The IRS will reportedly be better equipped in detecting fraud when it comes to EV tax breaks through its data and analytics systems. — ROADSHOW BY CNET

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6. Sales of Nio vehicles in China are on the rise, growing about 14 percent for the month of September. In the month, about 2,019 vehicles were delivered, 1,726 of those cars were ES6 SUVs, while 293 were ES8 vehicles. Nio said there was an “accelerate growth” of the order backlog in the month, which it hopes will improve sales. The Chinese EV maker decreased the price of the entry-level ES6. — INSIDE EVS

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7. Redditors are discussing the return of a $2,500 EV rebate in Texas, which excludes Tesla. The state’s Light-Duty Motor Vehicle Purchase or Lease Incentive Program offers up to $2,500 in rebates for Texans who purchase or lease an eligible electric, hydrogen or natural gas vehicle. The rebates are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis and are limited to 2,000 electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Texas bans automakers from directly selling cars to consumers, with Texas Tesla deliveries technically being completed out of the state, which means the automaker does not qualify for the program. — /R/ELECTRICVEHICLES - REDDIT

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8. Tesla is beginning to ship new “passive entry” key fobs to Model 3 owners. The passive entry key fob is a bit of an upgrade for drivers, as it allows owners to lock and unlock their vehicles based on their relative position to the vehicle. The key fob retails for an additional $150. One member of the forum wondered why the old key fob does not support passive entry, considering it is also equipped with Bluetooth low-energy, which is reportedly how Tesla unlocks doors through passive entry. — TESLA MOTORS CLUB

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9. Richard Truett of Crain’s Chicago Business makes one important argument: EV newcomer Rivian is making breaking into the automotive industry easy, although it is not. Truett quoted Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe who said there it only took anywhere from $100 million to $500 million to enter the space, there would be more players. Rivian, which plans to begin production in a former Mitsubishi factory in Normal, Illinois, is repurposing much of the old equipment that came with the factory. — CRAINS CHICAGO BUSINESS

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10. Uber is experimenting with a new feature that allows pets to ride along with passengers. The new feature, which will be tested in a handful of cities beginning October 16, is dubbed “Uber Pet.” Passengers using Uber Pet will receive a surcharge of $3 to $5 to use the feature. Drivers who opt-in to Uber Pet will receive a “significant portion” of the surcharge added to each ride on top of standard trip earnings. — THE VERGE

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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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