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Inside Automotive (Oct 23rd, 2019)

1. Mazda unveiled its first EV: The 2020 Mazda MX-30 electric crossover SUV. The vehicle will have a range of about 130 miles, with a single electric motor generating about 143 horsepower. One cool feature that may be appreciated by those who loved Mazda’s RX-8 sports car: the vehicle features smaller-sized, rear suicide doors. Pre-orders for the vehicle are now open for those in the European market, with deliveries expected to commence next year. It remains to be seen, however, if the vehicle will be offered in the U.S. — MOTOR1

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2. A newly released report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) indicates that highway crash fatalities are down for the second year in a row. The report is based on data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), which found that there was a 2.4 percent decline in overall traffic-related deaths year-over-year. Still, 36,560 people died in traffic-related accidents in 2018, over 37,473 in 2017. The agencies attribute the decline in new vehicles being equipped with more advanced technology that prevents crashes. — EHS TODAY 

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3. Utah is beginning to voluntarily collect an electric and hybrid vehicle fee, based on the number of miles driven. State lawmakers gave the Utah Department of Transportation permission to collect the fee, in a move to make up for lost gasoline tax revenue. However, the agency will make it optional for now, offering drivers an incentive of waiving the annual flat fee for those vehicles, instead of charging 1.5 cents per mile driven. At that fee, a driver putting 15,000 miles on their vehicle would pay about $225 per year. The agency initially expects to get about 400 to 500 vehicle owners to sign up for the program. — KSL

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4. Ford CEO Jim Hackett is on the hot seat with Wall Street analysts, after botching the launch of the automaker’s refreshed Explorer SUV. Hackett said the new Explorer would represent a turnaround for the automaker. But staffing and quality issues have led to a plunge in sales of the vehicle. Hackett joined Ford in 2017 as CEO, after leading a turnaround at furniture company Steelcase. Given the substantial run time it takes to develop a new vehicle, the Explorer is one of the first vehicles that Hackett had a direct influence on. Ford is expected to announce its Q3 earnings today after the market closes. — AUTO NEWS

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5. Consumers will likely not see a solid-state battery-electric Toyota vehicle in production until after next year. The automaker’s chief technology officer, Shigeki Terashi, said that Toyota will unveil a prototype of a solid-state battery electric vehicle next year, in time for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. But Terashi said mass production vehicles with solid-state batteries will “be a little later.” Solid-state batteries promise faster charging times, longer life-cycles and no flammable components. — AUTOCAR

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6. Tesla board chair Robyn Denholm gave some insight on her role with the company. At Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women Summit, Denholm said it was a “joy” to be working in that environment, admitting she did not expect “normalcy” in the position. Denholm left her role as chief financial officer and head of strategy at an Australian telecommunications firm, Telstra, to chair the automaker’s board full-time. — FORTUNE

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7. The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that police need a warrant to obtain personal data from vehicles in the state. The decision from the court overturns a ruling from the state’s Court of Appeals that defended a police department’s decision to obtain crash data from a vehicle involved in a vehicular manslaughter case. The police department obtained defendant Victor Mobley’s vehicle data without a warrant, which is in violation of the Fourth Amendment. — ENGADGET

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8. Lyft co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer said the ride-hailing company could become profitable by 2021. At the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Tech Live conference, the founders said the company has more than $3 billion in the bank and pointed out that Lyft has beat analyst expectations for two quarters. Lyft CFO, Brian Roberts, has indicated that the company has reached peak losses in 2018. — CNBC

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9. A well known China-based Tesla and EV evangelist, @JayInShanghai, said Tesla did not want to cover an issue affecting his rear-drive unit under warranty. Jay said the company claims water damage in the rear-drive unit and is refusing to cover it at company expense. He said the cost to make the repair out of warranty is around $10,000. — @JAYINSHANGHAI/TWITTER

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10. In an effort to push zero-emission vehicles, electric cars in the U.K. will receive green license plates. The effort may also give drivers additional benefits, like free parking and access to bus or priority lanes on the road. The scheme is modeled after a similar program in Ontario, Canada, which also offers green license plates to electric vehicles. — THE GUARDIAN

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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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