Issue #4 • May 27, 2022
Happy Friday! This week in mobility... solving for the supply chain woes of tomorrow, a changing environment for transport, and some shiny new vehicles.
Need to Know
If the global supply chain crisis teaches us anything, companies need to prepare for disruptions to it. This week, several vehicle makers announced significant investments in their manufacturing abilities to ensure their place in an electrified future… Hyundai announced a $5.54 billion investment in EV and battery manufacturing facilities in Georgia. Stellantis and Samsung SDI announced a battery manufacturing facility in Indiana. And as a fun addition, EVage, an Indian EV startup, is looking into methods to meet demand with micro-factories to produce its Model.X delivery vans more quickly.
The regulatory landscape continued to evolve. In the US, the EPA launched the Clean School Bus program to replace diesel school buses with electric alternatives. Several EV companies and environmental groups asked the Biden administration to invest in charging infrastructure. The FAA certified Joby Aviation, allowing it to operate its commercial air taxis. The California DMV stripped Pony.ai of its last autonomous vehicle testing permit in the state. In Europe, the UK government announced a £40 million competition to kick-start commercial self-driving vehicles. And in China, Shanghai partially restarted public transport, signaling a gradual reopening after nearly two months of being sealed off from the outside world.
And what would an issue be without some vehicle hype? Mitsubishi and Nissan unveiled their jointly developed EVs in Japan — low-priced micro models to attract Japanese buyers. BYD began pre-orders for its long-teased Seal EV, an anticipated competitor to the Tesla Model 3. Buick China teased its upcoming Electra-X EV, developed on GM's Ultium platform. Jidu, the joint-venture between Baidu and Geely, teased its Robocar ahead of its official announcement next month. And Segway introduced their new GT series of e-scooters, which can reach a max speed of 37.5 mph.
In Other News
It’s a bird; it’s a plane; it’s… Walmart started offering drone deliveries in six states. ZeroAvia expanded its agreement with MHIRJ to design retrofit and line fit options for hydrogen-electric regional jets. And Lilium, an eVTOL company, is partnering with Honeywell and DENSO to co-develop and manufacture their electric motor.
Out with the old, in with the new (business model). Finn, a car subscription platform, raised $110 million to expand in the US and Europe. Getaround, a carsharing company, plans to go public to drive expansion. JLR has re-launched online buying, subscription, and rentals under one site. Co-op, a UK food retail business, has expanded its delivery service with autonomous home delivery robots. And Mercedes-Benz revealed a plan to reduce its dealership count as it moves toward a direct-to-consumer model.
Obligatory Telsa news. Elon Musk says Teslas will be fully-autonomous now by next year. Tesla has filed to enter Thailand as its latest market, with plans to sell vehicles, batteries, and solar products.
And some other good-to-knows. Lucid recalled over a thousand vehicles over display screen issues. Qualcomm shared several new products, including some explicitly targeting autonomous robots. Luminar, a lidar company, poached executives from Apple, Nvidia, and Tesla. And Zoox, Amazon’s autonomous mobility subsidiary, showcased more details of its upcoming, purpose-built robotaxi.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Ford put its purchasing power behind emerging clean technologies as it joined the First Movers Coalition. BMW created a closed recycling loop for high-voltage batteries in China. Suzuki developed technology to reuse small lithium-ion batteries collected from EVs for solar-powered streetlights.
Did anyone say first? Orca AI, an autonomous cargo company, powered a commercial cargo ship to complete a world-first, 500-mile journey entirely with AI. And Oxbotica, a UK autonomous vehicle maker, announced that they had the first deployment of a zero-occupancy, fully autonomous EV on public roads in Europe.
Two heads are better than one. Volkswagen secured a deal with Mahindra to supply the EV components for its Indian market vehicles. Solo AVT announced an agreement with American Battery Solutions to develop the battery for their SD1 electric truck. Daimler Truck acquired a stake in German high-tech machinery manufacturer Manz, agreeing on a strategic partnership for battery production. And Bosch made a strategic investment in WeRide, a Chinese autonomous technology company, to develop autonomous driving solutions in China.
Money makes the wheels go round. Hyundai confirmed an additional $5 billion investment in robotics, AI, air mobility, and autonomous driving. Volvo raised €500 million for electrification through a new green bond. Motive, a fleet management company, announced an additional $150 million in funding at a $2.85 billion valuation. Airspace, a logistics startup, raises an additional $70 million. Minus Zero, an autonomous vehicle startup, raised $1.7 million to bring driverless vehicles to India. And Sensible 4, a Finish autonomous technology company, received €8 million to boost sustainable transport.
A new study attributes pollution of all types to 9 million deaths a year globally, with the death toll due to dirty air from cars, trucks, and industry rising 55% since 2000.
With billions of dollars of funding and over a decade of work, why don’t we see roadways dominated by autonomous vehicles? The answer is more simple than you may think — it’s hard.
While EV consideration has shot up given the current climate and the influx of new vehicles, skepticism remains high as the industry moves from early to mass adoption.
No one likes a red light. Maybe AI will allow your autonomous vehicle to avoid them.
At every level of government, zoning reform has become a new pathway to more sustainable transport.