Inside Electric Vehicles - February 21st, 2020

Inside Electric Vehicles (Feb 21st, 2020)

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1. Rivian’s chief technology officer, Mike Bell, has left the company just nine months after he started. Bell is a former Apple executive who played a key role in bringing the iPhone to market and was one of the EV startup’s most high-profile hires. He joined Rivian in June 2019. Neither Bell, nor the company, provided any information about the departure, although his LinkedIn profile says, "Retired :)" He continues to serve on the board of directors for iRobot and is a partner in HALL Wines. — THE VERGE

2. Tesla received court approval to clear forest for its German Gigafactory. The automaker was ordered to hold off on clearing land set aside for its production facility in Gruenheide, while an administrative court considered an appeal from the Green League of Brandenburg. However, the court rejected the appeal to stop the land from being cleared, adding that a ruling made from a state environmental office to clear 227 acres of forest to build the facility was final. Tesla plans to build 500,000 vehicles a year at the Gruenheide factory. — REUTERS

3. Follow Friday: @vincent13031925

Tesmanian is one of the most killer Tesla-centric blogs I have discovered this year. The blog closely follows every development happening at the company, picking up many stories you won’t find elsewhere, including this story about Brazil working to bring a Tesla production facility to its country and this story about the legal challenges over Tesla’s European-based Gigafactory.

The man behind this website? Vincent, who can be followed on Twitter @vincent13031925. Not only does he run Tesmanian, but he also identifies himself as a $TSLA shareholder and owner of a Model 3 (with plans to own a Model Y and Cybertruck). He is certainly worth a follow on Twitter if you are a fan of the automaker, as he shares his thoughts and other insights about Tesla.

You can follow him here on Twitter!

4. Volkswagen’s chief financial officer, Frank Witter, will step down in June 2021. The executive said he would be exiting the automaker for personal reasons. Witter’s contract was set to expire this October, and he reportedly had an offer to extend his contract by five years, but he will only remain until next June so the automaker can find a suitable replacement. Witter was appointed finance chief in October 2015. — WSJ

5. Porsche was the top-ranked auto brand in Consumer Reports’ latest Brand Report Card Rankings. Behind Porsche was Genesis, ranked second, and Subaru rounding out the top three. Mazda, Lexus, Audi and Hyundai, BMW, Kia and MINI followed, with no U.S.-based car brands taking a spot in the top 10. The Brand Report Card Rankings also provided recommendations to buyers in each price range, with the Tesla Model 3 (alongside the Lexus RX and Toyota Supra) being recommended in the $45,000 and $55,000 segment. The rankings considered both Consumer Reports' own vehicle testing, along with survey data from members. — THE DETROIT NEWS

6. Chinese auto company Geely has started selling cars online, amid the coronavirus pandemic. The automaker launched a service that allows customers to purchase vehicles online and have them directly delivered to their homes, as authorities warn people to stay away from public places. Customers can customize and order their vehicles on Geely’s website, also offering consumers test drives from their home addresses, in coordination with local dealerships. — REUTERS

7. Volkswagen owners suing over the “Dieselgate” scandal are looking to disqualify a judge over favoritism. An attorney for the plaintiffs, Lauren Ungs, said the judge overseeing the case (Charles Breyer) displayed a deep-seated favoritism “that would make fair judgment impossible.” Ungs said Breyers is “predisposed” toward the prior $10 billion class-action settlement between the automaker and 600,000 vehicle owners. — BLOOMBERG

8. Nissan will cut the exit package of former CEO Hiroto Saikawa from $15 million to $3 million. The company’s human resources staff originally calculated that Saikawa would be due around $15 million. But the board decided to cut that amount, while also canceling a system that would allow departing employees to remain with the company in a consulting role. The Wall Street Journal reports that Saikawa did not contest the decision. — WSJ

9. One Redditor, a part of  the forum r/teslainvestorsclub, noticed that the Model 3 is sold out for the rest of Q1 in Europe. User space_s3x observed that the vehicle is sold out in Europe, except in Switzerland and Norway, with more than five weeks to go in the quarter. The Model 3 is also sold out in Japan for the rest of Q1, while the Model 3 sold out in Europe six weeks before the end of Q4 2019. — R/TESLAINVESTORSCLUB - REDDIT

FEEDBACK: I received a really interesting note yesterday. One reader, responding to our weekly poll of whether the Model Y would outsell Tesla’s other models, asked a fantastic question.

Ken, a Model 3 owner, said this: “I might suggest a corollary pole to this Model Y outselling the Model 3…Will Model Y sales eat into Model 3 sales?” He goes on to suggest that he hypothesizes that the Y will “seriously eat into Model 3 sales,” suspecting at that some point the Model 3 could be dropped from the U.S. lineup at least.

Ken makes a really good point. Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles no longer sell cars in the U.S. Could there be a point where Tesla also eventually drops them in the U.S.?

As always, feel free to drop a line by hitting reply to this email.

Johan Moreno is the writer and curator of Inside’s mobility-focused newsletters (Inside Automotive and Transportation). He joined in February 2017 and has written over 700 issues of both newsletters collectively, so he knows a thing or two about the development of electric vehicles, autonomous cars and more.

Johan is also a contributing writer for Forbes and works for J.D. Power, an automotive data and analytics firm. For this reason, Johan does not include Forbes links or discusses anything related to J.D. Power in newsletters, to avoid conflicts of interest. Before that, he wrote for The Orange County Register's "Wheels" section, alongside veteran automotive journalist Susan Carpenter. 

Follow him on Twitter: @dudejohan

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