Issue #3 • May 20, 2022
Happy Friday! This week in mobility... Uber’s multi-route future, a changing regulatory landscape for EVs, and new vehicle hype.
Need to Know
Uber took center stage this week, announcing several new platforms and features at its global product event. While we saw everything from core ride-hail app updates to new business lines, a few notables shined through… Uber is piloting autonomous delivery in Los Angeles with Serve Robotics (sidewalk robot delivery) and Motional (autonomous vehicles). In addition, the company launched “Comfort Electric” to encourage EV ridership with Tesla and Polestar vehicles. Finally, as part of Uber’s goal to become a fully electric mobility platform, they introduced EV driver features.
The policy and regulatory environment went for a ride. Stateside, Transportation Secretary Buttigieg announced $5 billion in federal aid as part of the Safe Streets & Roads for All program to address traffic deaths. And, just months after California’s ability to set its own greenhouse gas emissions rules was reinstated, 17 Republican attorneys general filed a lawsuit against the EPA over the decision. In Europe, ahead of crucial votes on vehicle emissions, 28 companies signed a cross-industry petition for the EU to ensure all new vehicles are zero-emission by 2035 and to establish mandatory charging infrastructure targets. The UK also invested £200 million to boost the rollout of zero-emission heavy-duty trucks. Lastly, China has been in talks with automakers on extending EV subsidies.
To close out this update — the fun stuff! We saw several exciting vehicle announcements across the board. Harley-Davidson introduced an electric motorcycle, and the company’s Serial 1 launched its second-generation electric bike in partnership with Google. The Microlino, an all-electric microcar, began preorders of its Pioneer series for early backers. Honda teased its first volume EV for the U.S. market. Squad Mobility launched a multi-use two-seater solar electric vehicle. Renault announced a concept fuel-cell electric vehicle. And Arrival unveiled its purpose-built EV for ride-hailing in partnership with Uber.
In Other News
Rivian is still grappling with its stock price. Amid the stock hit from Ford’s unloading of about 15 million shares, the company experienced another fall after potential Amazon delivery van production delays came to light in the company’s suit against its seat supplier for contract violations. (link) Rivian’s CEO attempted to cushion the blow, investing $1 million into company stock. (link)
Twitter isn’t the only thing on Elon’s mind. The S&P 500 (Environmental, Social, and Governance) ESG Index was rebalanced, with Tesla's notable removal from the list. (link) In addition, a recent Model S crash killing three people has sparked an investigation into Autopilot by NHTSA. (link)
No hands, just AI! Argo AI started operating autonomous test vehicles without human safety drivers in Miami and Austin. (link) Aurora and FedEx expand their autonomous trucking pilot in Texas. (link) Gatik (autonomous logistics startup) is deploying its self-driving trucks on public roads in Kansas. (link) And John Deere is acquiring an algorithm package from Light (AI startup) to step closer to an autonomous farming future. (link)
The wheels keep moving. BMW is developing a new modular EV platform, expected by 2025. (link) Kia announced its first factory dedicated to purpose-built EVs in South Korea. (link) And DPD Estonia and Cleveron Mobility performed Europe’s first autonomous delivery on public roads. (link)
Partnerships continue to drive the industry forward. GM-controlled Cruise (robotaxis) and BrightDrop (delivery solutions) are developing a self-driving system for electric vans. (link) Wayve, a U.K.-based self-driving startup, is partnering with Microsoft to power its machine learning tech. (link) Overair (eVTOL) is partnering with Urban Movement Labs to expedite urban air mobility in Los Angeles. (link) ABB E-Mobility and Shell are partnering to launch a nationwide network of superfast EV chargers in Germany. (link) And Mercedes-Benz and Sila (battery materials company) announced their next-generation battery cells with silicon anodes, coming first to the G-Class. (link)
And the less-than-partnerships. Renault exited Russia by selling its majority stake in the Lada brand for a symbolic one rouble. (link) JetBlue launched a hostile takeover of Spirit after its earlier acquisition was rejected. (link)
Earnings drive change. Bird rerouted in response to lackluster earnings, focusing on its core business and less so on vehicle sales. (link)
Investments remain hot. Hyundai is investing $16.54 billion to expand its electric vehicle business in South Korea. (link) Lucid secured $3.4 billion in incentives for its new plant in Saudi Arabia. (link) Optibus, an Israeli-based public transport SaaS startup, secured $100 million at a valuation of $1.3 billion as it eyes London. (link) And Blade Air Mobility acquired three urban air mobility operators in Europe for €48 million. (link)
Questions around public privacy with autonomous vehicles are bubbling up. It may come as no surprise that, with the amount of autonomous vehicle testing in San Francisco, the police see all those sensors as an excellent resource for investigations. (link)
Though many of us have a love-hate relationship with them, electric scooters may be the solution to Zimbabwe’s public transport woes. (link)
While we know that bigger batteries equal a bigger range for EVs, a study from the UK suggests the extra weight could significantly boost particulate emissions — from tires. (link)
Don’t forget about the rider. A thought piece highlights the importance of user experience considerations in autonomous vehicle development. (link)
A piece that reminds us that although we’ve made serious strides with autonomous vehicles, we’re still a ways away from them driving everywhere. (link)