Issue #15 • August 12, 2022
Happy Friday! This week in mobility... Baidu rings at the beginning of commercial driverless taxis in China, and more.
Need to Know
Baidu, a Chinese internet giant, announced that it became China’s first player in the autonomous robotaxi space to receive permits to offer a commercial driverless service on public roads. Beyond being a significant development for the Chinese AV scene, it marks Baidu’s continued push to be a key player in the developing robotaxi sector.
So what does commercializing actually mean? Baidu is now authorized to operate its Apollo Go service in Wuhan and Chongqing. That said, there are still limitations — there are restrictions on the hours of operations for the service, the size of the area in which vehicles can operate, and the fact that Baidu is only starting with a handful of robotaxis.
This week's events mark Baidu’s growing dominance in yet another sector. Baidu has been operating its robotaxis in 10 Chinese cities since 2020 and has completed more than 1 million rides. And next year, the company expects to accelerate its operations with the launch of the recently revealed Apollo RT6, its new ground-up robotaxi vehicle.
In Other News
🏛️ Regulatory. The Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes nearly $400 billion over ten years in funding for climate and energy-related programs and an extension and improvement of the US electric car tax credit. Two House lawmakers have created the Congressional Autonomous Vehicle Caucus to revive legislative efforts promoting self-driving vehicles in the US. NHTSA is investigating two separate instances of Tesla’s striking motorcyclists to determine if Autopilot may have been the cause. And the California DMV has accused Tesla of falsely advertising its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) features on its website.
🚘 Passenger Vehicles. Aptera teased the interior of its solar-powered car. CanAm unveiled two new electric motorcycles in a move to reclaim the brand’s historic glory. The Meyers Manx, an iconic 1960s dune buggy, is returning as an all-electric dune buggy in 2024. And Niu Technologies is launching e-bikes with sodium-ion batteries in 2023.
Autonomous Tech. SAIC-GM-Wuling unveiled a smart driving system created with drone maker DJI. Zoox shared some of the technology behind its upcoming robotaxi. Pegasus Technology received an autonomous testing permit in California. Finally, Waymo added additional accessibility features to its robotaxis.
⚡ Mobility Ecosystem. Siemens and Mahle plan to standardize wireless EV charging. Volvo Cars and Starbucks began installing ChargePoint EV chargers between Denver and Seattle stores. Finally, Avatr and BP are partnering to build more than 100 fast-charging stations in 19 cities across China by the end of 2023.
📍Go to Market. Great Wall Motor, one of China's largest automakers, announced a strategic partnership with Emil Frey to enter the European market. BYD has continued its entry into the international arena, announcing a move into the Thai passenger car market. Bentley announced an overhaul of its global agency partners to support its transition to lead in luxury lifestyle EVs. Microlino delivered its first vehicle. Elon Musk said that Tesla Semi electric truck deliveries would begin this year. Navya is testing Italy's first self-driving public transportation shuttle in Turin. And Helbiz will start offering an on-demand taxi service to widen its intermodal mobility offerings.
💼 Business. Ford announced the largest utility agreement in US history to assemble all its vehicles in Michigan using 100% renewable energy by 2025. Arrival, an EV startup, put its electric car and bus projects on hold after announcing plans to ax 800 jobs. Metapack, an e-commerce delivery technology company, partnered with HIVED to offer UK consumers zero-emission delivery. Lyft created Lyft Media, its new media division, to cash in on in-car ads. Tesla disclosed that CEO Elon Musk sold around $6.5 billion of Tesla shares last week. Finally, Argo AI created a panel of outside experts to oversee the safety of its autonomous vehicles.
✨ Investment. StradVision, a software developer for autonomous vehicles, raised $88 million in Series C funding from ZF, Aptiv, and others. River, a Bangalore-based startup working on electric two-wheelers, closed an $11 million Series A funding round from Lowercarbon Capital and Toyota Ventures. Sensible 4, a Finish autonomous driving software startup, raised additional Series A funding from Metaplanet VC. Orange EV raised $35 million to build more electric yard trucks.
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