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Inside Automotive (May 15th, 2018)

Here are the top ten Automotive stories of the day, ranked by importance. We always love to hear from readers, and if you have details or stories we don't know about or other information, hit reply and tell us. Thanks for reading!

Best, Johan, curator, Inside Automotive.

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1. Uber is eliminating forced arbitration for sexual misconduct claims. This will apply to all company employees, riders and drivers who make sexual assault or harassment claims against the company. Previously, the company’s terms-of-service agreement required Uber users and employees to resolve all legal claims with the company in an arbitration hearing. Now, plaintiffs can choose to take those claims to court or join a class-action lawsuit. This comes after former Uber engineer Susan Fowler reached out to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi on Twitter suggesting the company should eliminate forced arbitration. Khosrowshahi replied by saying he would take her suggestion seriously. Uber also eliminated a clause that would require people who settle claims with the company to sign a nondisclosure agreement that forbids them from speaking about their experience. — NYT

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2. Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a management shakeup at the automaker. In an internal memo, Musk said the company plans to "flatten" its structure as it works to improve communication and trim activities "that are not vital" to its success. "To ensure that Tesla is well prepared for the future, we have been undertaking a thorough reorganization of our company," he wrote in the memo. Musk did note, however, that the automaker will continue to hire rapidly to support Model 3 production and future product development. Tesla declined to comment to CNBC on the shakeup. This comes after Musk mandated a review of all contractors working at the company, firing any contractors who were not vouched for by a company employee. — CNBC

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3. Tesla CEO Elon Musk hit back at a report that Tesla did not want to equip its vehicles on eye tracking sensors. The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Tesla refused calls from its engineers to add more safeguards into its Autopilot system, like the integration of eye tracking, due to its high cost and “annoyance” for drivers. Engineers at the company wanted to add sensors within Autopilot to ensure drivers kept their hands and eyes on the road, which likely would have avoided careless Autopilot usage by some drivers. Musk responded on Twitter saying, “This is false. Eye-tracking rejected for being ineffective, not for cost. WSJ fails to mention that Tesla is safest car on road, which would make article ridiculous. Approx 4X better than avg.” He followed up by saying, “According to NHTSA, there was an automotive fatality every 86M miles in 2017 (~40,000 deaths). Tesla was every 320M miles. It’s not possible to be zero, but probability of fatality is much lower in a Tesla. We will be reporting updated safety numbers after each quarter.” Dow Jones, parent company of The Wall Street Journal, told CNBC it stood by its reporting. — CNBC

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4. Lyft says it now has 35 percent of the U.S. ride-hailing market. Nationwide, the ride-hailing service says it has experienced a 75 percent growth from 18 months ago, jumping from an 18 percent market share in the U.S. to 35 percent. Lyft says the company’s growth is credited to more activations of both drivers and riders, along with increased brand awareness. Lyft also likely benefited from Uber’s troubles in 2017. To the point, most market share has been calculated by third-party firms, such as credit card analysis firms. — CNBC

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5. Chinese technology giant Tencent will be testing self-driving cars in Shenzhen. The Transport Committee and Public Security and Traffic Police Bureau of Shenzhen have approved the company’s application to operate autonomous vehicles where the company is headquartered. This comes after China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology  released national guidelines for smart internet-connected cars. — SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

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6. Uber will now allow riders to rate drivers mid-trip. The ride-hailing company is labeling the move as another opportunity to listen to riders and improve Uber’s service. — THE VERGE

7. Subaru is introducing its first plug-in hybrid vehicle. This comes as the automaker has seen incredible growth in the North American market. Subaru will be electrifying its Crosstrek crossover SUV, featuring a version of Toyota’s Hybrid System. — CAR AND DRIVER 

8. A Tesla vehicle that slammed into a truck stopped at a red light had Autopilot engaged. The accident occurred in South Jordan, Utah last week. The sedan rear-ended a fire department mechanic truck at 60 mph without braking. The driver confirmed with police that Autopilot was engaged at the time of the accident. However, the driver was on her phone at the time of the crash. — USA TODAY

9. Uber rejected a consulting offer from President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen. Alongside his legal profession, Cohen also leases taxi medallions in New York City. Cohen tried to woo Uber by stating that he was the “president’s lawyer,” but the ride-hailing company rejected his offer, citing conflicts of interest. — QZ

10. Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was spotted at the Cannes Film Festival. “Travis came early with a friend and was seen talking to two CAA agents. His party left by 11.30pm,” a source said. Kalanick had reportedly been taking meetings in London tied to his investment fund 10100 before he attended Cannes. — PAGE SIX

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