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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.
As many expected, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed aggressive emissions standards that will slash the amount of pollution emitted from tailpipes to protect public health; the agency also noted in its 758-page document that it in addition to and separate from this proposal, the Administration has recognized the need for action to address climate change.
The new standards would apply to model years 2027 through 2032. For light-duty vehicles, the EPA proposes increasing the stringency each year. The target for the light-duty fleet us 82 grams/mile (g/mile) of CO2 by model year 2032. That would mean a 56% reduction in projected fleet average GHG emissions target levels from the existing MY 2026 standards.
While the proposal is technology agnostic, most automakers would likely meet the new standards by accelerating the shift to EVs. The EPA projects this could result in EVs accounting for two-thirds of new light-duty vehicle production and 46% of new medium-duty vehicle production driven mostly by electrification of vans) by 2032.
To put that in context, new EVs accounted for 5.6% of total market share in 2022.
So, can industry meet these new standards (if they are enacted)? It depends on who you ask.
The auto lobby believes the standards are unrealistic, citing EV charging infrastructure, grid resiliency, supply chain and access to critical materials as the primary hurdles. Zero emissions advocacy organizations like ZETA, environmental groups and companies like Rivian that only produce EVs took the opposite stance.
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Async has released photos of its new A1 Pro, and the design is certainly…interesting! It’s got a minimalist feel to it, but also looks rather boxy — like something a kid in the 80s would dream up as a futuristic looking bike. But design aside, can’t argue with 150 miles of range.
Cake launched a flagship store in Seoul, South Korea as part of its continued expansion plan throughout Asia.
Want an e-scooter but don’t know where to start? Here’s a roundup of some of the best e-scooters on the market this year.
Helbiz, now known as Micromobility.com, is opening up a ghost kitchen in NYC. The kitchen will be on West 38th Street, and the first three brands will be Burger & Sons, Pokaii and What the Farm.
“Helmet Man” is a real world superhero who has given away 56,000 helmets to micromobility riders in India. His mission has bankrupted him, but he was motivated by the passing of a friend in a motor vehicle crash.
Juiced Bikes is joining a small but growing list of companies adopting UL safety certification for batteries. This is in response to the wave of e-bike battery fires hitting cities like New York.
The e-bike community is getting hyped about Mavic’s new X-Tend electric motor system, which might change the way brands design their bikes. It is lightweight and the motor disengages from the drivetrain completely when not in use. The system’s still in prototype phase, but Mavic hopes to have it ready for production bikes by 2026.
Porsche eBike Performance is recruiting heavily for a team to develop the company’s first e-bike motor, which CEO Jan Becker hopes will set a new standard in quality and usability.
Uber said it will fund an e-bike buy back program for delivery workers in New York City in response to a spate of e-bike battery fires in the city. The company also said it would support an additional fee on food deliveries to help workers afford safer options. The pilot program is in partnership with Zoomo, which offers e-bikes for delivery workers as a subscription service, and The Equitable Commute Project. Workers will be able to trade in older e-bikes for credit to invest in a new e-bike and access rent-to-own pricing models.
Wheels announced an expansion of its micromobility operations in Boston.
Deal of the week
Remember when Uber started offloading a bunch of its moonshots to focus on its core business of ride-hailing and delivery? Welp, it seems to be sort of doing that again.
Careem, the Middle East-based ride-hailing company that Uber bought in 2019, is spinning out its super app business into a new startup backed with $400 million from Emirates Telecommunications Group Company.
Emirates Telecommunications, the UAE telco giant that is now known as e&, is buying a 50.03% stake from Uber into the new company called Careem Technologies. Following the deal, Careem will be broken into two companies, Careem Rides and Careem Technologies.
Uber will retain full ownership of Careem Rides, a business that will be staffed by 260 people. The far larger business is Careem Technologies, which will operate the “Super App” along with all other verticals. This business will be owned jointly by e&, Uber and Careem’s three co-founders, which includes Mudassir Sheikha and Magnus Olsson. This unit, which will be led by Sheikha, will have about 1,400 employees.
Other deals that got my attention …
Aurora issued last week a prospectus for a proposed mixed shelf offering to raise $350 million.
AutoLeap, the Toronto-based auto repair software startup, raised $30 million in a Series B funding round led by Advance Venture Partners. Existing investors Bain Capital Ventures, Threshold Ventures and Maple VC also participated. David ibnAle from AVP is joining AutoLeap’s board.
Ecopro Materials, which makes cathode active materials used in EV batteries, wants to raise at least 500 billion won ($377 million) in an initial public offering in Korea, Bloomberg reported citing unnamed sources.
Frayt, a last-mile on-demand delivery and logistics platform based in Ohio, raised $7 million in a Series A funding round led by Refinery Ventures with participation from Capital Midwest, Venture 53, and the JobsOhio Growth Capital Fund.
General Motors led a $50 million investment into lithium extraction and refining startup EnergyX. With the deal, the legacy automaker says it will help EnergyX scale its lithium-extraction tech. In exchange, GM will get exclusive access to some of the lithium that EnergyX sources from mining companies in North and South America.
Natix Network, a Hamburg-based startup that crowdsources cameras to create a network that produces real-time maps of cities, raised $3.5 million in a seed found led by Blockchange Ventures. Other investors include XYO, Mysterium Network, CVVC, Mulana Capital, Blockarm Capital, Techstars, Plug and Play Ventures and CoinIX Capital.
Repowr, a B2B startup that developed a digital platform for logistics companies find and access trailers and other transportation equipment, raised $8 million in a Series A round led by UP.Partners. Crowley Maritime, Koch Disruptive Technologies, McVestCo VC (venture arm of Trimac), NFI Ventures, Perot Jain and 9Yards Capital also participated in the round.
Whizz, an e-bike subscription service for last-mile delivery drivers, raised $3.4 million in a seed round. Investors included Joint Journey, TMT Investments and a group of unnamed angel investors, according to the company.
Notable reads and other tidbits
Ford received approval from UK regulators for its eyes-on, hands-off, advanced driver assistance system, called “BlueCruise” system. This is very limited, at least for now. Ford said drivers of enabled Mustang Mach-E models can use the system on 2,300 miles of pre-mapped motorways in England, Scotland and Wales, designated as Blue Zones.
General Motors made a video with Chair and CEO Mary Barra, Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt, GM President Mark Reuss and GM EVP Doug Parks (oh and was that a brief cameo by co-founder Dan Kan?) all taking a ride in the Cruise Origin in California. Take a look and note some of the changes in the vehicle since it was first unveiled back in January 2020.
Didi announced its working with Chinese carmakers to deploy robotaxis to the public on a 24/7 basis by 2025, which will complement its network of millions of drivered cars.
Waymo’s robotaxis were flummoxed by dense fog in San Francisco, causing the driverless vehicles to pull over and impede some traffic. The vehicles eventually moved out of the area.
Speaking of Waymo, an eagle-eyed Reddit user noted this nugget about future services in the company’s deployment program quarterly report filed with the California Public Utilities Commission. Under the section that asks the company to describe any new services that might be added in the near term, Waymo wrote that it is “currently exploring additional partnership opportunities for meal delivery, among other efforts.”
Zoox shared more information about its self-certification and occupant-protection efforts, including videos of its crash testing, following scrutiny from federal regulators.
Electric vehicles, charging & batteries
ElectraMeccanica Vehicles said it will offer to buy back the 429 SOLO vehicles that were recalled after discovering they could experience a loss of propulsion increasing the risk of a crash. Steering, braking, and lighting systems are not impacted, the company said. ElectraMeccanica said it will work directly with customers to complete the vehicle repurchase process, free of charge. Reservation holders will be issued a refund.
Ford plans to spend $1.34 billion (C$1.8B) to turn its 70-year-old Oakville facility in Canada into an assembly plant for its next-generation of electric vehicles. The upgrade includes completely retooling the facility that currently produces the internal combustion engine-powered Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus to one that only produces EVs. The project will begin in the second quarter of 2024.
Hyundai Motor Group announced plans to invest 24 trillion won (~$18 billion) in South Korea’s EV industry through 2030. The news comes a week after Kia, which falls under the Hyundai umbrella, announced its own 32 trillion won (~$24 billion) investment into electrification and future business areas.
Lucid Group said it produced 2,314 vehicles in the first quarter and delivered just 1,406 vehicles during the same period, suggesting that demand for the luxury EV is slipping.
Revel has finished building its second public EV fast charging station in Brooklyn, New York. The new hub has 15 public charging stalls capable of charging speeds up to 150 kW and is open to the public 24/7, with no entrance fee or limits on EV brand.
Tesla continues to lower prices, this time in Europe and Israel. Oh and could this be what the refreshed Tesla Model 3 will look like? Folks are abuzz after a photo purporting to be the next Model 3 made the rounds on Reddit.
Luminar said itscompleted the build-out of its factory in Monterrey, Mexico. The company said it first Iris sensors out of the facility are beginning to ship to customers. The new dedicated facility is operated by Celestica,
Ouster issued a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission and asked the agency to investigate what it describes as “unlawful imports” of Hesai lidar sensors. Ouster said the Hesai sensors infringe on five valid and enforceable patents owned by Ouster. Hesai responded to TechCrunch in an email with this statement: “We believe the claims have no merit and we will defend our IP rights.”
Legislation, lawmakers & lawsuits
California regulators are taking legal action against Tesla to force the company to comply with a state investigation into allegations of unlawful harassment of and discrimination against certain Black Tesla workers.
Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), sent a letter to Tesla CEO Elon Musk demanding he provide information about policies in place at the company to prevent the unauthorized collection and distribution of customer data. The letter (maybe more of an ultimatum) comes a week after Reuters reported that Tesla employees shared private videos and photos captured by cameras in Tesla vehicles.
Washington’s Senate unanimously passed a bill that will make the state the first in the nation to grant ride-hail drivers the right to paid family and medical leave. The bill, HB 1570, builds on driver rights won in 2022’s Expand Fairness Act.
Aurora named Nat Beuse as its first “Chief Safety Officer.” (Note: Beuse was already heading up safety at Aurora before this executive level position was created.) Prior to joining Aurora, he was the head of safety at Uber ATG.
Harley-Davidson said that CFO Gina Goetter is leaving the company at the end of April. David Viney, who is vice president – treasurer will also serve as interim CFO until a replacement is found.
Nikola Corporation announced that Gerrit Marx, Lynn Forester de Rothschild and Mark Russell are retiring from its board at this year’s annual meeting scheduled for June 7, 2023.
Zeekr hired Spiros Fotinos, a former Lexus executive, to run its operations in Europe.
Ride-hailing and car sharing
Turo, the peer-to-peer car rental company, plans to block access to third-party services like CarSync and Fleetwire starting April 30, according to an email that hosts received and TechCrunch viewed.
Uber is committing $7.5 million to helping New Zealand drivers go electric, sort of. Starting July 1, the company is giving the first 750 eligible drivers (AKA drivers with an EV) a 50% service discount up to $5,000 per year over two years. The service fee is what Uber charges drivers for use of its platform, so now certain drivers with EVs will shell out 14% of their ride earnings rather than 28%. Uber will also launch Uber Green in the country in May, which allows riders to choose specifically a hybrid or electric vehicle to ride in.
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Photo and Author: Kirsten Korosec