Insider Transportation: SpaceX makes 'final attempt' to clear out Texas villagers for its rocket resort, Rivian's 6-figure salaries, and Luminar's bet on lidar

For more than a year now, SpaceX has been trying to clear residents out of Boca Chica, the beachside Texas village where Elon Musk has decided to build a "resort" for launching rockets to orbit, the moon, and Mars. But not everybody wants to give up their home, and SpaceX has now made what it calls a final attempt to take over the last dozen or so houses that remain outside its possession — including financial offers and warnings to residents that "it's not safe" and it's "too dangerous" to live there anymore. 

If this push doesn't work — and it appears to be a long shot — the company has hinted it may "pursue alternative approaches" to realize its ambitions. To get the full story, we talked to Boca Chicans who see SpaceX's warnings as threats and don't intend to cave into the pressure. Read our full account of the latest battle in the war for Boca Chica right here. 

Elsewhere in the news, we have an absolutely wild story of a bitter fight between Volkswagen and one of its suppliers, including secret recordings, a spy hunt, and a VW employee found dead in a burned-out car. Plus: how much Rivian pays its engineers, a battery-recycling venture from a Tesla veteran, and Mercedes' new plan for an electric future. 

Read about all that and more below, and if you haven't yet, sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox every week.

JB Straubel's big new bet

Throughout most of Tesla's long rise to its current status as the world's most valuable automaker, JB Straubel served as Elon Musk's right-hand man, creating many of the cars, powertrains, batteries, and even entire factories that fueled Tesla's wild growth. Now, Straubel has his own venture and CEO title at Redwood Materials, where he wants to chase the big money in recycling old EV batteries. 

"A huge missing piece of the remanufacturing economy is how all the batteries and materials get unmanufactured and are looped back into the supply chain," he told us. "It could be a massive, massive industry."

Rivian offers six-figure salaries amid a rising talent war

So many electric vehicle startups, not so many engineers to make them all go. The war for talent in a burgeoning space is on, and we pulled the data to get a look at how much Rivian pays its employees, from engineers to financial analysts. It's no surprise that six figures is the norm.

A startup run by a 25-year-old CEO is proving Elon Musk wrong by bringing lidar to the mass market

Musk may have an uncanny ability to predict (and deliver) the future, but when it comes to lidar, Austin Russell thinks the Tesla CEO has it wrong. Just about every expert on the planet sees the laser sensor as key to making cars drive themselves, and the 25-year-old CEO of Luminar — a company he started at age 17 — is making it work not just for research vehicles, but for regular consumer cars. In an interview, Russell explained the key moves he's made to realize that goal.

Everything else: 

  • California family says the roof blew clear off their new Tesla Model Y
  • Delta has an aging plane problem and the pandemic is forcing the airline to finally address it
  • Mercedes plans a new slew of EVs, including AMG performance cars and ultra-luxury Maybach models
  • An 'anti-coronavirus' seating arrangement for off-road buses
  • REVIEW: The Audi S7 is just about the closest thing to luxury sedan perfection that almost $100,000 can buy
  • This one-off, record-holding boat has a Ferrari race engine and a $12 million price tag

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