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Welcome back to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of moving people and packages from Point A to Point B.
Welp, it’s been quite a year for transportation, hasn’t it? The Inflation Reduction Act, the SPAC fallout, the first deliveries from EV startups, Tesla’s factory expansion and FSD beta software rollout, layoffs and consolidation in the autonomous vehicle industry along with some huge commercial AV launch milestones were some of the big news events in 2022.
Why am I reflecting on the year when it’s not even done yet? This is the last Station newsletter for the remainder of 2022. The Station will return (don’t worry) in 2023 with all the news, inside scoops and insights you crave.
Until then, frens and readers, here is wishing you some rest and relaxation, maybe time with those who you hold most dear and a great ride or drive in your favorite vehicle. I’ll be turning to my feet this coming week: the trails await!
Oh and yes, I will be in Vegas for CES 2023. I’ve had a sneak peek on a few news items. The upshot? and automotive tech and electrification take center stage. Stay tuned.
Do you have some ideas of what you want to see more of (or less of) here at The Station or TechCrunch, in general? Shoot me a note at email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you.
One last gift for before the year closes. We want you to join us in Boston on April 20 at TechCrunch Early Stage 2023, and we’ve got a great end-of-2022 discount to help you out with the rest of your holiday shopping. Register with this link by 11:59pm PT on December 31 and book a Founder Pass for just $75 – regularly $149!
Early Stage is TechCrunch’s one-day founder summit, where you’ll get actionable advice and takeaways from top experts, meet other entrepreneurs taking similar journeys, share your own experiences and build the confidence to take the next steps towards growing your business. Don’t wait – book your Founder Pass today for just $75 with this link!
Let’s kick things off with a shameless self-promotion warning: If you love micromobility and you love me covering it, show your support! Micromobility Industries has put together a Rider’s Choice Awards, and I’m in the running for best micromobility journalist. Go on, vote.
Arcimoto is partnering with Faction and GoCar Tours to turn its three-wheeled Fun Utility Vehicle in Las Vegas. Using Faction’s low level autonomy and remote operators, Arcimoto’s vehicles will “drive themselves” to hotels along the Vegas strip for tourists to grab and drive along a GPS-guided route.
Bosch is urging U.S. regulators to adopt stricter e-bike regulations.
The Cake-Polestar e-moped mashup is cute and powerful.
Helbiz has launched a travel insurance????
Just after Rad Power Bikes wowed us with its new trike, the company announced it’s laying off 63 employees.
Taiwan has extended its electric two-wheel subsidy by another four years. The country’s goal is to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and all electric new passenger vehicles by 2040. Part of the investment from the government will go into the installation of battery charging and swapping facilities (looking at you, Gogoro), and the transformation of traditional scooter shops.
Just in time for Christmas sloshing, Tier has launched an in-app accuracy test to combat drunk fools riding its scooters during the holiday party season. Riders will have to take a test when it’s active, which will be during the busiest party days. Tier is encouraging would-be drunk riders to pre-book a taxi through its partner Free Now.
The UK’s transport minister has said forcing people to wear helmets while cycling would deter too many would-be converts from cycling, “thereby reducing the wider health and environmental benefits.”
See you in 2023!
Deal of the week
This “deal of the week” is really more of a deal autopsy. I’m talking about Quanergy Systems, the solid-state lidar sensor developer that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The bankruptcy isn’t the only remarkable part. What is so stunning about the filing is how quickly Quanergy collapsed. Just 10 months ago, Quanergy became a publicly traded company through a SPAC merger at an implied equity valuation of $1.4 billion.
A few years ago, there were more than 70 lidar companies all vying for funding, partnerships and commercial success. Consolidation has been plucking off companies one by one; I expect it will ramp up in 2023.
Other deals that got my attention …
Alterna Equity Partners bought the long-haul transportation and logistics company Bulk Express.
AutoNation is expanding its after-sales service through a $190 million acquisition of startup RepairSmith.
BRV Capital launched its Mobility Fund, a fund dedicated to advancing connected, electric and autonomous cars, with an eye towards the next disruptive tech.
Cargoroo raised $10.5 million to expand its shared cargo e-bike service across Europe.
Divergent, the California company that developed an alternative production process using 3D printing and generative design software, landed a $100 million investment from Hexagon. Who says no one is attracting funding these day? woof.
EnviroSpark, the Georgia-based EV charging company, raised $10 million in funding round led by Ultra Capital. The company announced its $5 million Series A funding earlier this year, bringing total outside investment to $15 million. Additional investors include Frank Blake, former chairman and CEO at The Home Depot, Tim Tassopoulos, president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, Mark Bonfigli, founder and former CEO of Dealer.com, Dave Stockert, former president and CEO of Post Properties and Paul Bowers, former chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power.
Getir, a Turkey-based delivery startup that relies on two-wheelers, acquired German rival Gorillas in a deal worth $1.2 billion.
Group14 Technologies, the battery anode technology developer, raised $214 million in a Series C funding from Microsoft’s $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund, Lightrock Climate Impact Fund, Moore Strategic Ventures, Oman Investment Authority and Molicel.
Partly, the New Zealand-based company, raised a $21 million Series A funding round led by Octopus Ventures. Shasta Ventures, Square Peg, Blackbird, Ten13, Square co-founder Randy Reddig, Hillfarrance and I2BF. Existing investors such as Figma CEO Dylan Field, Notion co-founder Akshay Kothari and Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck also participated.
SafeAI, an autonomous heavy equipment startup, raised $38 million in a Series B funding round from Builders VC, McKinley Management, George Kaiser Family Foundation, Energy Innovation Capital. Moog also joined the round as a strategic investor.
Tropos Technologies, an electric commercial Low Speed Electric Vehicles manufacturers, raised $10 million from Workhorse Group.
Zeekr, the premium electric car brand under China’s Geely, confidentially filed for a U.S. initial public offering. If it goes through, it’ll be the first major Chinese listing in the country in nearly two years, following China’s effective ban of foreign IPOs.
Notable reads and other tidbits
Autonomous vehicle tech
Aurora released its 2022 safety report. The report covers how its management software is designed to respond to problems on the road, details its approach to simulation and new information on its approach to cybersecurity.
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration opened a preliminary investigation into the robotaxis developed and operated by GM self-driving subsidiary Cruise.
Uber Eats partnered with startup Cartken to deliver food via sidewalk delivery robot in Miami.
Waymo is opening up its driverless robotaxi route between downtown Phoenix and Sky Harbor International Airport to the general public.
Zipline expanded its partnership with the Rwanda government that will add new delivery sites in rural and urban locations throughout the country — a move that is expected to triple its delivery volume.
Electric vehicles, batteries & charging
Arcimoto, the maker of the three-wheeled electric Fun Utility Vehicles (FUVs), teamed up with Faction to develop EVs that can be delivered to a customer’s hotel through a combination of low-level autonomy and tele-assist technology.
Elon Musk sold more than 20 million shares of Tesla stock between Monday and Wednesday. The sale is worth about $3.5 billion, according to a regulatory filing. Musk’s latest stock dump follows the nearly $4 billion worth of shares he sold last month.
Ford Motor added a third production shift to its Michigan plant that produces the electric F-150 Lightning.
Lyft partnered with Wallbox to offer its drivers a discount on Wallbox L2 EV chargers.
Panasonic entered into multi-year agreements to supply batteries for Lucid Group’s Lucid Air and upcoming Gravity SUV. Production will come from both a facility in Japan and in the future from Panasonic’s battery production facility in De Soto, Kansas.
Redwood Materials is building a new $3.5 billion battery materials and recycling facility on a 600-acre campus near Charleston, South Carolina that will eventually employ 1,500 people and make enough cathode and anode components to supply 1 million EVs annually.
Rivian and Mercedes-Benz have paused plans to produce electric commercial vans in Europe just three months after the two automakers announced the partnership.
Tesla announced Tesla Electric, an electric plan exclusively offered in parts of Texas where retail choice is available, like Houston and Dallas. The product turns Tesla into a retail electric provider in the Lone Star State and allows Powerwall owners to sell some of their excess electricity back to the grid, with Tesla as the go-between.
The battle over gig worker status is heating up.
Honda is pulling away from a design practice that’s shaped auto-making since the 1930s. TechCrunch reporter Harri Weber digs into Honda’s move into virtual reality.
Tesla added a bunch of features in its latest OTA update; most notable is Steam, which brings along thousands of games. This app, however, is limited to Model S and X vehicles with 16GB of RAM (only found in vehicles made in 2022).
Speaking of Tesla, a judge ordered the company to upgrade a computer in a customer’s vehicle for free to allow the person to subscribe to the so-called Full Self-Driving program.
Herbert Diess, the former VW Group, has been tapped for the supervisory board chairman position at semiconductor group Infineon. His appointment is subject to a confirming vote at the chipmaker’s annual meeting on Feb. 16.
Hyundai Motor and Kia suppliers employed child labor at Alabama factories in recent years, a Reuters investigation found.
Michael Simcoe, vice president of global design at GM was promoted to senior vice president of global design, effective Jan. 1. Simcoe will continue to report to GM President Mark Reuss.
Nikola Corp. founder Trevor Milton asked for a new trial on securities fraud charges.
Northvolt named former SAP CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe as its new chairman. Current Chairman Carl-Erik Lagercrantz will become the vice chairman of Northvolt.
TuSimple appointed James Lu to its board of directors as an Independent Director. Lu is chairperson of Grindr, the LGBTQ social dating application. He is also director, chairman and CEO of investment company Life Concepts Holdings and director of Internet publishing company Fusion Media.
Zeekr files for an IPO, Elon sells more Tesla shares and a message to readers by Kirsten Korosec originally published on TechCrunch