Issue #6 • June 10, 2022
Happy Friday! This week in mobility... Apple wants you to think differently about in-car screens, the regulatory environment continues to shift, and more.
Need to Know
The headline for this week goes to our friends in Cupertino. While we’re still waiting for the allusive Apple autonomous vehicle, the company continues to dive deeper into the automotive space. At its annual WWDC event, the next generation of CarPlay was announced, moving beyond the central infotainment screen to now reaching additional screens within the vehicle. CarPlay can now show driving information like speed, fuel level, and engine temperature measurements, allowing users to control settings, including radio or climate. But, of course, we’ll have to wait and see which OEMs are ready to hand over that much in-vehicle real estate to Apple.
Across the globe, progress (and less than) continues on the regulatory front. In the States, the White House announced its developing new standards for the “first-ever national network of 500,000 electric car chargers.” North Carolina proposed one of the US’ most anti-EV bills yet — no free EV charging unless free gasoline or diesel is offered. And five major automakers backed efforts from the Biden administration to reinstate California’s ability to set its emissions and fuel economy regulations. Elsewhere, European Parliament lawmakers backed an effective ban on selling new petrol and diesel cars from 2035, but Germany’s transport minister opposed it. Transport for London and the British national rail network may face a strike at the end of the month due to possible job cuts. And India’s transport minister wants heavy industry to switch to ethanol to reduce dependence on fossil fuel imports.
Lastly, it’s LGBTQ+ Pride Month, so I thought I’d include a callout to Ford’s special-edition Pride Bronco, which will be touring the country via several Pride parades this month.
In Other News
🚘 Tesla. Tesla announced it would roll out Autopilot, its autonomous driving technology, to 100,000 cars. At the same time, US NHTSA shared its upgrading its safety probe over Autopilot due to a growing list of incidents. And everyone was interested in where the company was heading when it filed to use a new radar in its EVs, a strange turn of events given Elon has always praised their camera-only suite.
🚛 Trucks. Gatik, Georgia-Pacific, and KBX are working together to bring class 6 autonomous delivery vehicles to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, delivering goods 24/7 across 34 Sam’s Club stores. Uber and Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous vehicle unit, announced a partnership to accelerate getting driverless cargo trucks on roads across the US. In addition, Walmart is expanding its transportation pilot programs with manufacturers of electric, hydrogen, and natural gas-powered vehicles.
🚜 Farming. SoftBank Robotics America and Autonomous Solutions Inc., an industrial automation company, partnered to accelerate automated landscaping and logistics solutions. AGCO, an agricultural machinery manufacturer, continues its partnership Apex.AI to add autonomous capabilities to its farming robot concept.
🛴 Micromobility. Bird, a shared micromobility company, is laying off 23% of its staff following a previous announcement to streamline its business due to lackluster Q1 earnings.
📍Go to Market. Hyundai’s self-driving taxis roll out on the streets of South Korea. Hyzon Motors, a hydrogen and electric commercial vehicle company, announced it would begin selling vehicles in California after receiving regulatory approval. And Audi continues to roll out its urban concept charging hub after the success of the initial pilot phase.
💼 New Business. Lyft said its future lies in a hybrid network of autonomous and human-driven vehicles, largely non-autonomous. Hyundai confirmed it plans to take the Ioniq line all-electric. Finally, Volkswagen launched a smart mobility service on a Greek island — a ridesharing and vehicle sharing service.
👩💼 Leadership. Flexport welcomed former Amazon executive Dave Clark to the team, bringing his experience in supply chain operations to the logistics startup. In addition, Chen Mo, the co-founder and former executive chairman of Chinese autonomous driving company TuSimple, announced Hydron, a new company providing autonomous driving and infrastructure services, headquartered in California.
🆕 Vehicle Hype. Polestar showcased its upcoming electric performance SUV, the Polestar 3. Nimbus, an EV startup, launched a tiny EV prototype that looks like a motorbike with a roof. Cupra, a brand from Volkswagen-owned SEAT, announced three new electrified models by 2025. Finally, Lightyear, a solar EV startup, unveiled its first vehicle, the Lightyear 0, available for order ahead of first deliveries this fall.
🤝 Partnerships. Uber built a “private-label” version of its delivery platform to help the United Nations deliver food and water supplies to war-torn areas of Ukraine. Renault has begun offering Amazon Music in-vehicle. SafeAI and Siemens are working to create an electric, autonomous fleet of heavy off-road vehicles. Lucid Motors launched Lucid Financial Services in partnership with Bank of America to provide lease and loan purchase options to Air EV customers in the US. And Gevo partnered with Google Cloud to measure and verify the efficacy of next-gen biofuels.
✨ Investments. Rimac raised a $537 million Series D, including investment from Softbank, Goldman Sachs, and Porsche, to scale its technology business. Aptera raised $40 million to bring its solar electric car to market later this year. Porsche acquired Fazua, a lightweight electric bicycle maker, in its latest miromobility purchase. Autra Tech, an L4 autonomous truck driving technology startup, secured a nearly $30 million pre-A round. FirstGroup, the UK’s largest train operator, rejected a £1.23 billion offer from a private equity bidder. Minieye, an autonomous driving technology company, topped up its Series D, bringing its total to more than $120 million. RunBuggy, a startup platform to connect car shippers and transporters, secured $19 million in Series A. Finally, Southwest Airlines is investing in SAFFiRE Renewables as part of a DOE-backed project to develop and produce scalable, sustainable aviation fuel.
Skyrocketing coal and natural gas prices have an impact beyond our wallets, with the US Energy Information Administration projecting a heightened use of renewables in electricity generation this summer, yielding a cleaner grid and EVs.
As much as we love vehicle hype, it can be just that. Here’s an article that does an excellent job of sorting through vehicle announcement facts and fiction.
According to a survey by Stellantis, drivers of electric cars and hybrids feel less stressed behind the wheel than drivers of gasoline or diesel vehicles.
The cold has always been an EV’s worst nightmare, but that may be changing. A lithium-ion battery with a bumpy carbon-based anode material showed it could maintain capacity in extreme cold.