Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

Welcome again to The Station, your central hub for all previous, current and future technique of shifting individuals and packages from Level A to Level B. Your typical host Kirsten Korosec continues to be away, so you have got me for yet one more week. Let’s leap in.

U.S. policymakers and companies are in search of methods to manage autonomous autos on a bigger scale.

First, there’s the Nationwide Freeway Visitors Security Administration (NHTSA), which plans to announce a brand new rule-making in September that might profit AV firms like Cruise and Zoox, each of which have plans to launch purpose-built robotaxis that don’t have steering wheels or pedals.

Normal Motors, which owns Cruise, submitted a petition in February 2022 to NHTSA to deploy as much as 2,500 of the Cruise Origins yearly with out human controls and should quickly have a solution.

At a congressional stage, lawmakers will host a listening to on July 26 geared toward reviving long-delayed laws on the protected and controlled adoption of self-driving vehicles. The panel will take into account separate draft laws from Consultant Bob Latta (R-OH) and Consultant Debbie Dingell (D-MI).

The listening to will probably be convened by a Home subcommittee titled “Self-Driving Automobile Legislative Framework: Enhancing Security, Bettering Lives and Mobility, and Beating China.” That final bit is essential. American business for many years has used the specter of another nice superpower gaining the higher hand as a story to drive ahead technological progress, for higher or worse.

Earlier than we dive in, a fast spotlight of my TechCrunch+ story this week that appears into Tesla’s inventory value, which has dropped about 10% for the reason that firm reported Q2 earnings (extra on that under), and why it’s priced as a tech firm when its margins scream automaker.

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Some extra grim information from VanMoof because the e-bike darling that was enterprise backed to the tune of $189.1 million filed for chapter. VanMoof is contemplating a third-party sale in order that its actions can proceed. These actions being the extremely personalized elements and the distinctive digital unlock key that’s linked to VanMoof’s servers. We reported that Cowboy got here up with an app to let VanMoof homeowners retail digital keys to their bikes, however the entry is restricted.

TechCrunch how the corporate managed to go bankrupt in a booming e-bike market. One business insider informed us that VanMoof spent massive on advertising and over-ordering and uncared for to consider provide chain and unit prices.

As TC’s Ingrid Lunden identified: “If the unit economics of the bikes by no means labored out, and an app could be inbuilt a day to unlock these bikes which might be out there already, why would anybody need to assume the belongings of the failed startup?”

In different information…

Hen is formally again in compliance with the NYSE.

London-based bike-share HumanForest has launched a brand new function, Forest Parcel, to offer a zero-emission, on-demand parcel-delivery service.

Taur, the front-facing scooter producer, has launched its second mannequin, the Taur II, on Kickstarter. The scooter has as much as 40 miles of vary.

Taur additionally began a marketing campaign to problem the U.Okay. authorities on their stance on owned scooters, that are nonetheless unlawful to journey on public roads. There are, nevertheless, shared scooter pilots, which frequently serve to sway authorities and public opinion away from scooters as a viable transportation possibility because of the habits of renters and potential for road muddle. The corporate mentioned it could reimburse the fines of any Taur buyer who’s fined by the police for driving on U.Okay. roads. And if the scooter is confiscated, Taur will change it freed from cost.

Commsignia launched a V2X gadget for e-bikes and different micromobility autos that broadcasts messages in regards to the bike owner’s place and path from different street customers. It additionally receives messages from different autos and alerts the rider to potential hazards.

Deal of the week

Autonomous car firm Aurora Innovation has bought $820 million value of inventory. About $220 million got here from a public providing that priced the inventory at $3 per share, and the remaining $600 million got here from a concurrent non-public providing of inventory priced at $2.70.

Aurora, a pre-revenue firm constructing frontier expertise, has been spending a reasonably penny in its pursuit of commercializing self-driving vans by the tip of 2024. In 2022, the corporate misplaced about $1.7 billion.

Aurora hasn’t been shy about its want to boost extra funds so as to make it to commercialization and past. The corporate mentioned it has about $785 million in money, money equivalents and short-term investments as of June 30, 2023. This infusion of capital offers Aurora one other $1.6 billion to mess around with. The corporate is hoping the funds will take it “effectively into 2025.”

Different offers that acquired my consideration…

Alpha Grid, a San Francisco–primarily based EV charging deployment optimization startup, raised a $2.5 million pre-seed led by Uneven Capital Companions. Twine Ventures additionally participated.

Lithium-ion battery recycling firm Aqua Metals has entered right into a strategic partnership with Yulho, a battery supplies firm primarily based in South Korea. The partnership features a $5 million fairness funding from Yulho into Aqua.

Berlin-based Cycle has secured $11.3 million in Collection A funding to broaden its e-bike subscription mannequin for the last-mile supply business. The funds will probably be used to broaden geographically all through Europe, together with the U.Okay.; convey on new clients in parcel and mail logistics; and develop its fleet measurement.

EVgo and its eXtend companions acquired $13.8 million in funding from Ohio’s DOT to deploy 20 fast-charging stations.

Farizon, Geely’s electrical and hybrid truck unit, has raised $600 million to broaden exterior of China.

Fortescue Future Industries, a worldwide inexperienced power and metals firm, will purchase EV truck maker Nikola’s Phoenix Hydrogen Hub undertaking for $24 million.

Singapore’s ride-hailing and meals supply firm Seize, through its automotive rental unit Seize Leases, will purchase Trans-Cab, the city-state’s third-largest taxi operator. The phrases weren’t disclosed, however the acquisition measurement is estimated at round $75 million.

New York–primarily based provide chain and visibility startup Leverage raised $7 million in a spherical led by Chicago Ventures.

Auto provider Magna is investing a whopping $790 million to construct three new provider services in West Tennessee, together with the primary two onsite at Ford’s BlueOval Metropolis.

Indonesia EV maker Maka Motors raised $37.6 million in seed funding to mass produce its two-wheeled EVs. Maka will begin deploying its first pilot EVs this month and is aiming for quantity manufacturing in late 2024.

Redwood Supplies, the battery recycling startup based by Tesla co-founder J.B. Straubel, is reportedly in talks to boost $700 million at a $5 billion valuation. The corporate wouldn’t affirm the experiences.

Hong Kong–primarily based supply robotic startup Rice Robotics raised $7 million in extra seed funding from Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund, Soul Capital, Audacy Ventures and others.

Truckstop was acquired by FreightFriend, a platform for capability and freight administration instruments.

Notable information and different tidbits


Mobileye has launched a vision-only pace help answer for automakers. The camera-based Clever Pace Help is launching in manufacturing autos this 12 months and lets vehicles sense pace limits while not having to depend on third-party map and GPS information.

Autonomous autos

Cruise’s full-page advert in a number of newspapers calling people horrible drivers acquired the eye of the previous NHTSA head. “Utilizing the ache and struggling of these deaths for self-promotion of an unproven and unsafe product is unscrupulous,” mentioned Joan Claybrook.

Talking of Cruise, the corporate has formally began preliminary robotaxi testing in Miami.

One other Cruise-related concern. The California Public Utilities Fee — the company that has the ability to offer Cruise and Waymo ultimate sign-off on their plans to broaden industrial robotaxi providers throughout San Francisco 24/7 — will query the 2 firms over how they may take care of robotaxis malfunctioning and blocking entry from first responders. The July 31 assembly, which may also hear from metropolis companies which might be against the enlargement, would possibly change the phrases of the permits.

Kodiak Robotics is working with Drivewyze to launch a weigh station program for self-driving vans on Texas interstates. The purpose is to handle how vans will deal with weigh station inspections with no driver current to facilitate the method.


On-line used automotive retailer Carvana reported higher-than-expected earnings of $2.96 billion in Q2, with adjusted EBITDA totaling $155 million. The corporate bought 76,530 vehicles through the quarter, which was barely fewer than anticipated by analysts.

Carvana additionally introduced it should scale back its excellent debt by over $1.2 billion by exchanging current unsecured debt with new notes. The corporate may also promote as much as $350 million in new inventory as a part of the restructure.

The mixed information of wholesome earnings and debt alternate deal prompted Carvana’s inventory to spike Wednesday as excessive as $60.90. The corporate’s inventory has come again all the way down to earth considerably, settling at round $47 Thursday at market shut.

Tesla hit $25 billion in income within the second quarter, which simply beat Wall Road estimates. Regardless of the report income, Tesla’s inventory began to slip in after-hours and the subsequent day by as a lot as 10%. That was doubtless a response to Tesla’s continued hit to automotive gross margins after a sequence of value cuts. Margins slid to round 18%, which is down from the 25% Tesla was rocking a 12 months in the past.

Tesla additionally reported that photo voltaic installations are slipping, however power storage installations noticed a lift within the second quarter.

Electrical autos

Ford has slashed the worth of its F-150 Lightning, in some trims by as a lot as $10,000. The automaker cited manufacturing efficiencies as the reason for the lower cost.

Ford can also be being questioned by Home Republicans over its battery cell expertise take care of China’s CATL in its upcoming $3.5 billion battery cell plant in Michigan.

Normal Motors is experiencing downtime at its CAMI plant in Canada (which builds the BrightDrop industrial EVs) so as to handle parts-availability points. Common operations will resume July 31, and it received’t have an effect on GM’s general EV manufacturing targets in North America — 50,000 within the first half and 100,000 within the second.

Bear in mind the Kia Boys? The individuals who had been following a viral development on TikTok to steal Kias utilizing a USB wire? A 14-year-old Texas boy has been linked to almost 40 thefts.

The NHTSA has opened up its third particular investigation right into a Tesla crash this 12 months. That is associated to a deadly crash involving a 2018 Mannequin 3 and linked to the car’s Autopilot system.

Nissan has joined the ranks of automakers which have adopted Tesla’s NACS charging normal for its Ariya and future EV fashions.

Rivian can transfer forward with its EV facility manufacturing plans in Georgia after the state’s Supreme Court docket declined to listen to a problem to the validity of about $700 million in tax breaks the EV startup expects to obtain.

Stellantis has signed $11.2 billion value of contracts via 2030 to safe semiconductors wanted for its EVs and high-performance computing features.

India’s Tata Motors plans to construct a 40 GWh battery cell gigafactory in the UK. The over $5.16 billion funding will ship batteries for JLR and Tata Motors, with provides starting in 2026.

Vietnam’s VinFast will maintain a groundbreaking ceremony at its electrical car manufacturing facility in North Carolina on July 28. The corporate expects to speculate $4 billion within the manufacturing facility, which is designed to succeed in a capability of 150,000 autos per 12 months.

Volkswagen’s Knoxville Innovation Hub has printed analysis breakthroughs to extend EV vary and recycle car supplies, the corporate mentioned. These embody a wi-fi EV charging idea.


It was one other massive week of Tesla information, particularly with the automaker kicking off earnings season. Let’s dive in.

Throughout Tesla’s Q2 earnings name, Elon Musk confirmed that Tesla was in talks with a serious OEM to license its FSD software program and {hardware} out to them. FSD (“full self-driving”) is Tesla’s superior driver help system that’s NOT absolutely autonomous, regardless of the tech’s complicated title. Musk additionally mentioned that for Q3 solely, Tesla homeowners seeking to improve to newer fashions might switch their FSD over.

Earlier within the week, Tesla introduced that drivers with house photo voltaic and a Powerwall charger now have an in-app choice to completely cost up their car through extra photo voltaic power.

The automaker additionally confirmed off its first Cybertruck constructed at Giga Texas over the weekend, to a lot fanfare however few specifics. We’re nonetheless questioning about manufacturing capability and value, which weren’t addressed through the earnings name.

Outdoors the U.S., Tesla is hoping to broaden its German manufacturing facility, however residents need assurances on water use, biodiversity safety and environmental affect.

Additionally, Tesla administrators, together with Musk, must pay $735 million again to the corporate to settle claims from shareholders that they excessively overpaid themselves. As a part of the deal, the administrators additionally agreed to not obtain compensation for 2021, 2022 and 2023.


ByteDance’s Douyin (the Chinese language model of TikTok) is doing meals supply now? So meals supply large Meituan determined so as to add extra video to its app in type.

Policymakers have launched a invoice that might improve gas taxes for personal jet journey from the present $0.22 to $1.95 per gallon, and take away current gas tax exemptions for logging and oil or fuel exploration. The thought is that if the wealthy need to pollute our skies, they’ll pay further. The income generated by the so-called FATCAT Act could be transferred to a fund that might assist air monitoring for environmental justice communities.

Spotify is bringing a brand new expertise to Teslas that may make displaying content material bolder and extra accessible. Drivers can make the most of options like QR codes for simple log-in, entry to audiobooks, and one-touch leap to artists and album pages.

Uber Freight has laid off virtually 50 brokerage workers.


EVTOL startup Archer has introduced on Nikhil Goel, co-founder of Uber Elevate, as the corporate’s chief industrial officer. This comes on the heels of including former FAA administrator Billy Nolen.


InDrive has launched its bid-based ride-hail app in Miami, its first U.S. market. The corporate’s enterprise mannequin relies on clients naming their very own fare and close by drivers accepting, declining or countering the provide.

Revel, the Brooklyn-based startup doing shared e-mopeds, EV charging hubs and an all-electric, all-employee ride-hail service, introduced that it has employed over 1,000 New Yorkers as Q2 worker drivers.

The California Supreme Court docket rejected an argument by Uber that hoped to restrict the flexibility of its drivers to take employment-related disputes to courtroom. The courtroom unanimously decided that the defendant, driver Erik Adolph, couldn’t signal away his proper to signify his friends in a class-action lawsuit, although his contract requires him to take any employment-related disputes to arbitration. This ruling might have ripple results within the gig economic system house.

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