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The EV revolution will hit speed bumps

Nobody said the transition to electric vehicles would be seamless, and the General Motors recall of every Chevy Bolt is the latest example of why it won't be.

Driving the news: GM's expanding Bolt recall over battery fire risks to include 2020-2022 models, and 2019 models that weren't covered by previous rounds.


  • The new recall of roughly 73,000 vehicles announced Friday will cost the auto giant $1 billion, GM said. That brings the total Bolt recall costs to $1.8 billion, per numerous reports.
  • GM's replacing defective battery modules over what it calls "rare" problems. The multiphase recall now covers every Bolt since the car's 2017 launch.

Why it matters: While lots of gas-powered cars are recalled, EV recalls are unwelcome at a time when automakers and the White House are looking to hasten the transition to cars with a plug.

  • EV sales have been surging, but they're still a tiny fraction of the market and will need to massively expand to reach President Biden's goal of 50% of sales by 2030.
  • GM is among several automakers to issue recalls over battery problems or other glitches. Others include Hyundai, Porsche and Ford (CNBC has a breakdown here).

What they're saying: "It’s an image hit, and not just for GM," Cox Automotive analyst Michelle Krebs tells Axios.

  • Krebs notes that "GM is so committed to electric vehicles that I don't think it will do anything to derail that," and that she expects industry-wide EV sales to keep growing a lot.
  • However, she adds that it's too soon to know whether industry recalls will have any drag on sales as EVs move beyond early adopters.

Doug Parks, a top GM executive, said in a statement alongside the new recall that "as leaders in the transition to an all-electric future, we know that building and maintaining trust is critical."

  • "GM customers can be confident in our commitment to taking the steps to ensure the safety of these vehicles," he said.

The big picture: The recall comes as GM is pouring $25 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles through 2025, with plans for well over two-dozen new models.

  • One bright spot for GM is that its future models will use its Ultium battery propulsion system that's separate from the Bolt's batteries.
  • Meanwhile, GM says its pursuing reimbursement from LG Chem over battery defects behind the Bolt recall, and shares of the Korean industrial conglomerate are sliding.

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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