Issue #13 • July 29, 2022
Happy Friday! This week in mobility... robotaxis continue to progress towards market, and more.
Need to Know
Robotaxis made headlines this week as companies continue to push toward market, and regulators worldwide seek to enable the push with progressive legislation…
Robotaxis are no cheap endeavor, and that showed when GM’s latest earnings report revealed that Cruise has burned through $5 billion since 2018. But, to Cruise’s credit, the company is charging forward on its roadmap to make that up, starting to map Dubai this week for its planned 2023 service launch. The Dubai service is slated to have 4,000 Origin robotaxis — spy shots of the prototype robotaxi we’re spotted too — in operation by 2030.
Just as technology continues to advance, so does the regulatory environment to support it. Looking toward China, Shenzhen became the first city in the country with comprehensive rules around smart and connected vehicles. In the “Silicon Valley of China,” it was no surprise when officials announced that autonomous driving would be permitted on public roads as of August 1 — though only in a specific area of the city.
This doesn’t capture everything across the industry, but Cruise and Shenzhen are good examples of the determination to bring robotaxis to market. The opportunity is there, and a future with autonomous robotaxis is nearer than ever.
In Other News
🏛️ Regulatory. The US Senate forwarded a bill that would reform the EV tax credit, among other things, making companies like Tesla eligible again. New Jersey introduced the latest iteration of Charge Up New Jersey, offering the state’s residents up to $4,000 off the price of new electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. A judge ruled that Uber’s decision not to provide wheelchair-accessible service in every US market does not violate the federal law prohibiting discrimination against disabled individuals. And a coalition of 17 states, the District of Columbia, and the Canadian province of Quebec plan to electrify 30% of new trucks and buses in their jurisdictions by 2030. Outside the states, the UK provided a £273 million funding boost to support drone parcel deliveries. And Germany is trialing a €9 national monthly transport pass.
🚘 Passenger Vehicles. MINI shared its Aceman concept – its first electric crossover previewing a new brand design language. Renault’s sports car spin-off brand, Alpine, unveiled an electric version of its A110. Sono Motors unveiled a new and improved production design of its Sion solar EV. And Zoox shared details of its supercar DNA, tucked inside its upcoming robotaxi.
🚛 Trucks & Buses. Morgan Olson and EAVX unveiled the electric Proxima walk-in step van. Pony.ai and SANY established a joint venture to develop autonomous trucks for mass production. Rivian’s CEO hinted at a broader range of commercial vehicles in the company’s future. And Denmark’s DFDS acquired Lucey Transport Logistics to expand into Ireland.
🚁 Air Mobility. XPeng Aeroht, an urban air mobility company, began trail production of its Voyager X2 “flying car.” Zipline is bringing healthcare drone deliveries to Washington state. And Boots trials drone deliveries of prescription medicines in the UK.
Innovation. Sony is working on new sensors for self-driving systems that it claims to use 70% less electricity. And Hyundai and Kia signed joint research agreements with six Korean research institutes to develop mobility solutions to explore the moon's surface.
⚡ Mobility Ecosystem. Tesla established its own lane at the Texas-Mexico border to help its suppliers south of the border. GM and LG Energy’s joint venture received a $2.5 billion loan from the US government to construct new lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing facilities. GM and Livent entered a long-term lithium hydroxide supply agreement. And AutoNation and Autonomy are partnering to scale EVs nationwide.
📍Go to Market. Lucid hired two executives to help expand into Europe and the Middle East. Apple brought on a former Lamborghini R&D veteran to forward its Project Titan. Faraday Future delayed production of its FF91 flagship EV until the end of this year due to a lack of money and supply chain issues. BYD Japan marked its official entry into Japan with three BYD models. Cupra is eying North America as its next global market. And Moove partnered with Uber to launch a mega fleet for ride-hailing in India.
💼 Business. Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess stepped down, with Porsche CEO Oliver Blume slated as his replacement, potentially due to the issues facing the Group’s in-house software division. FedEx suspended Sunday deliveries in unprofitable, primarily rural, regions of the US. After the first eight years, Tesla is now charging a subscription fee for basic connectivity services. Ryanair warned that the days of cheap fares are coming to an end. Finally, due to supply chain shortages, Jaguar Land Rover took a £524 million loss during the first quarter of its new financial year.
While the number of EVs on the market continues to rise, companies are looking for new ways to educate and attract customers. GM’s approach features an education-focused website… Will it work?
How aluminum is becoming the preferred material in a battery-powered world.
A thought piece exploring the classic philosophical debates around autonomous vehicles.
Thanks for reading Mobility Weekly! Subscribe for free to receive new issues and support my work.