Issue #39 • March 19, 2023
Happy Sunday! We took a slight hiatus last week due to Spring Break, so we’ll cover the past couple of weeks of headlines in this issue — this should be a good one. With that said, this week in mobility... the industry was struck with uncertainty and opportunity amid the downfall of SVB, and more.
Need to Know
The sudden collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) last week sent shockwaves through the broader technology industry, with startups scrambling to secure funds and credit lines amid the turmoil. SVB's downfall began when it announced the need to raise $2.25 billion to shore up its balance sheet, triggering a bank run as clients withdrew their money en masse. Forced to sell assets at massive losses, the bank succumbed to the most consequential banking failure since the 2008 financial crisis.
As a significant financial partner for startups, including those in automotive tech and mobility, SVB's collapse jeopardized access to funds for operational expenses and may lead to belt-tightening measures, project delays, or even company collapses. This instability could hamper progress in EVs, autonomous driving, and shared mobility, ultimately delaying the adoption of next-gen transportation solutions.
Despite the upheaval, the crisis could also prompt startups to pivot toward profitability and adopt more disciplined spending practices, increasing long-term viability. The shakeup may give rise to innovative financing options, potentially reshaping how startups access capital. Companies that successfully navigate these challenges and adapt to the evolving financial climate may emerge stronger.
While this story continues to unfold, watching its impact on the sector and the broader innovation landscape will be particularly interesting.
In Other News
🇺🇸 United States. The Department of Transportation opened applications for the first round of $2.5 billion in funding for EV charging infrastructure under a community grant program. NHTSA announced its investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot and cases in which its vehicles’ steering wheels came off. And the North Carolina Department of Transportation entered a partnership with autonomous mobility solutions provider Beep on autonomous vehicle testing projects. Maryland followed California’s lead, banning all new gas vehicle sales by model year 2035. Tesla was sued in a pair of proposed antitrust class actions accusing the company of unlawfully curbing competition for maintenance and replacement parts. GM’s CEO met with US Senators to discuss autonomous vehicle regulation.
🇪🇺 Europe. Sweden will trial autonomous vehicles on its motorways this spring, utilizing 5G and smart infrastructure. Volta Trucks secured European whole vehicle type approval for their all-electric Volta Zero.
🚘 Vehicles. Hero Motocorp, one of India’s largest automotive companies, is working with Zero Motorcycles, a US electric motorcycle manufacturer, to launch a premium electric motorcycle for the Indian market. Volkswagen confirmed that its ID.Buzz would debut in the US this summer. Volkswagen also revealed its ID.2all concept, a first look at the affordable ID.2 EV, expected in 2025. Ford teased the release of a mid-sized electric SUV next week. And Lancia, a dormant Italian carmaker, is being reborn as a style-focused EV brand.
Tech Development. SoftBank revealed it began conducting autonomous driving field trials in Tokyo earlier this year. KPIT is partnering with Honda, supporting their transformation towards software-defined mobility. Sensor Cortek, a Canadian software company, is training autonomous vehicles to tackle snow and storms. ZF began delivery of its cubiX intelligent chassis control software. And Terraline, an electric trucking startup, promises a step change for sustainability in the industry.
⚡ Mobility Ecosystem. Airstream and Porsche unveiled a camping trailer “optimized for EVs” that fits in your garage. Waze added electric vehicle charging stations to its map. VinFast delayed its plans for an EV plant in the US, citing the need for more time. 7-Eleven unveiled 7Charge, its own network of EV fast-chargers with an accompanying app. And itselectric is bringing US-made curbside EV charging New York and beyond.
🆕 Go-to-Market. Rivian is in talks with Amazon to end its electric van exclusivity deal so that it can sell its delivery vehicles to other companies. Baidu and Pony.ai shared that they won permits to provide fully driverless ride-hailing services in Beijing. Xiaomi’s CEO reported that their automotive progress “exceeds expectations” and is on track for production next year. At SXSW, Cruise’s CEO shared his belief that autonomous vehicles were ready for the scale up phase. Aptera extended the deadline for its pre-order program in a bid to raise the funds necessary to start production of its solar EV. Kroger is working with Gatik to provide delivery of goods to retail locations with its autonomous box trucks. The Boring Company’s Vegas Loop Westgate station is expected to open this summer. And Volvo is planning to offer it’s EX90 “self-driving” features via subscription service.
💼 Business. The founders of the now-defunct AV company Argo AI started a new autonomous driving company focused on freight and ride hailing. Porsche shared that it would significantly increase its prices for the next model year to maintain its 20% profit margin. Cruise, GM’s robotaxi unit, shared that its focusing on cost-cutting this year, in light of increasing investor scrutiny given shuttering competition. Nissan’s credit rating was cut by S&P to BB+, due to recovery in profits being “unlikely” and continued supply chain and cost woes. Lion Electric filed a lawsuit against Nikola Motors, alleging that Nikola stole customers after breaking its battery pack purchase agreement with Lion. And Volvo is working to accelerate innovation around sustainable mobility through its startup hubs across continents.
👩💼Management. Subaru appointed a new CEO and US chief executive as it shifts its focus toward electrification. Jaguar Land Rover’s UK managing director has moved to head up the Jaguar brand and its transition to electric. Mazda appointed its North American head as its new CEO, looking to prioritize larger vehicles and US sales expansion.
💸 Spending. Volkswagen announced plans to spend $193 billion through 2027 to improve its EV lineup and expand its offerings in North America and China. Honda committed to investing $40 billion to get hybrids and EVs to make up 40% of its total sales by the end of the decade. Amazon is investing $200 million in transportation technology, safety, and sustainability.
🏦 Fundraising. Rivian stock was down 14.54% on the news that it would be issuing convertible notes to raise an additional $1.3 billion in cash. WeRide, a Chinese driverless technology startup, is reported to have filed confidentially for an IPO in the US, looking to raise as much as $500 million. Arrival, the UK-based EV startup, raised a fresh $300 million in equity financing in hopes of slowing its cash-burn rate as it continues to look for more funds to begin its van production. Nimble Robotics, an autonomous logistics startup, raised $65 million to build out its offerings.
🤝 Acquisitions. BlaBlaCar, a commuting services company, acquired Klaxit, a smaller French carpooling startup. Via confirmed its acquisition of Citymapper, a trip planning app, to boost its transit technology.
While a number of companies are equally excited about e-fuels as they are electrification, this article explore the potential road-blocks for green fuel alternatives.
MIT researchers found that energy consumption and emissions by AVs could be comparable to that of today by 2050.
Swedish autonomous delivery company Loxo’s CEO shared their take on the impacts automated last-mile logistics will make for the future of e-commerce.
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