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Inside Automotive (Jul 17th, 2018)

1. Booking Holdings has invested $500 million into Didi. Booking is the owner of Priceline, Booking.com, OpenTable and Kayak travel booking portals. The companies will work together to blend room reservations and rides on demand for their customers worldwide. Didi will supply rides to Booking customers, where available, while Didi will allow its users to make hotel reservations using Booking.com and Agoda. The companies did not specify which markets they would team up in. Didi has largely kept its business centered in Asia, but has been expanding. — BLOOMBERG

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2. A former Uber executive is leaving for self-driving vehicle startup Voyage. Justin Erlich served as the head of policy for autonomous vehicles and urban aviation for the ride-hailing company. However, Erlich has started a new role at Voyage, which has focused its research largely on how autonomous vehicles can help senior citizens, serving as the VP of Strategy, Policy and Legal. Erlich joined Uber in 2017, previously working for former California Attorney General Kamala Harris. “I was really excited at the prospect of joining such a great early stage team, and by its initial focus on deploying in communities who stand to benefit among the most from this technology – senior citizens,” Erlich told TechCrunch via email. — TECHCRUNCH

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3. BMW is launching a ride-hailing service in Seattle. The company will offer the service through its ReachNow car sharing app, which currently operates in the city. The service will combine car sharing and ride-hailing using a single fleet of vehicles, which includes a mix of BMW and MINI cars. ReachNow is currently waiving the sign up fee for new members who want to test out the ride-hailing service. — TECHCRUNCH

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4. Lyft plans to offer bike and scooter users discounts when connecting to public transit, showing a focused effort by the company on public transit. In its scooter sharing service filing with the City of San Francisco, the company said it is considering an “up to 100 [percent] discount on [bike and scooter] rides that start or end at designated transit stops such as MUNI, BART, or CalTrain.” Some studies have recently indicated that ride-hailing has impacted the use of public transit. A study by the Boston-based Metropolitan Area Planning Council found that 42 percent of trips taken by ride-hailing services in the city of Boston would have been completed on public transit had ride-hailing not been available. Lyft has committed to invest $1 million on projects designed to expand public transit into underserved communities, along with seeing Lyft bridge the first and final-mile gap with public transit users. — THE VERGE

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5. Some Uber drivers will be receiving settlement checks this week. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued Uber last year, claiming that the company mislead drivers with false income estimates and misleading terms with vehicle lease agreements. After the filing, Uber settled for $20 million, agreeing to stop making unsubstantiated claims. The checks average $223 and come after a settlement between the ride-hailing company and the Federal Trade Commission. Uber claimed its X drivers had an average median income of $90,000 in New York and $74,000 in San Francisco. The FTC found that less than 10 percent of its UberX drivers earned the amount that was considered average by the company, with income figures being inflated by $20,000 to $30,000 per year. — CBS NEWS

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6. A former Apple engineer accused of stealing autonomous vehicle-related trade secrets has plead not guilty. Zhang Xiaolang was arrested earlier this month after downloading proprietary files while preparing a move to China, where he gained employment at Xiaopeng Motors. Prosecutors said Zhang admitted to the FBI that he downloaded the files to his wife’s laptop, in order to have continued access to them. Xiaopeng has said it is cooperating with authorities and did not have any of Apple’s data transferred to the company. Zhang faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. — LA TIMES

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7. Didi reportedly has plans to spin off its car services unit. The company, which operates the largest ride-hailing network in China, launched its car services unit earlier this year. The move brought together the company’s car rental, sales, maintenance, sharing and gas services businesses into one unit. Now, the company is said to be planning to spin off that unit in a deal worth $1.5 billion, reportedly tapping investors including SoftBank. Didi is currently valuing the unit between $2 billion to $3 billion. SoftBank is a current investor of Didi. — CNBC

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8. Vehicle subscription service Mobiliti has acquired competing subscription service Condor Detroit. Mobiliti relies on auto dealers to provide vehicles for its subscribers and provides fleet service financing through a partnership with Ally Financial. Condor operates exclusively in Detroit. — AUTO NEWS 

9. Zoox has raised $500 million for autonomous vehicle R&D. The company’s pre-money valuation reportedly stands at $2.7 billion. The Series B round was lead by Atlassian co-CEO Mike Cannon Brookes and Primavera Capital’s Fred Hu. — BUSINESSWEEK

10. Electrek looks at a Tesla Model S that has racked up over 400,000 miles. The vehicle, for the most part, is still in good condition. How did the battery stand? It has been replaced twice during the vehicle’s life. — ELECTREK 

CORRECTION: Yesterday, we wrote a brief on a $1.6 billion plant being constructed in Alabama by Mazda and Toyota. We wrote a "$1.6 plant," which is incorrect. Thanks to Devkant Gandhi for catching our error!

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