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.
This week was packed with news, including in the world of startups – our favorite arena. Before we dive in, I’d like to draw your attention to Friday’s Stock podcast episode and remind you that I’m going to be interviewing Cruising Director Kyle Vogt later this month on stage at Disrupt! I hope to see you all there.
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Paris, the original shared playground for micromobility, has officially kicked all of its shared e-scooters out of town. You may remember that the city held a referendum in April to decide the fate of scooter sharing, and the results were overwhelmingly in favor of abolishing them. Take that with a grain of salt, though, because most of the people who came to vote were older people who likely see scooters as a threat to society, rather than a green way to get around the city.
Anyway, in September Lime, Dr And Low were told to pack up their 15,000 scooters and go. But it is not the end of shared electric mobility in Paris. Now the city is encouraging e-bike sharing.
I’ve caught up Wayne TingCEO of Lime, who told me that Lime now has even more e-bikes in the city than it ever had scooters.
“I think there is a realization that people need green transportation alternatives, and if we take that choice away from cyclists, how are they going to access alternatives to get to work or school?” Ting said. “There is a virtue in e-bikes and a different feeling about scooters, but essentially they are the same. One just has bigger wheels.”
Offer of the week
Investors haven’t been lining up to invest in autonomous vehicle startups lately. I think someone forgot to pass on that memo SoftBank Group.
Bryan Salesky, Peter Rander And Brett Browning – the trio behind now-defunct Ford and VW-backed autonomous vehicle startup Argo AI – has formed a new company called Stack OUT that focuses on commercializing self-driving trucks.
And boy, oh boy, did they get a big check! SoftBank Group is the sole investor in this initiative and according to reporting from Bloomberg, the company has invested more than $1 billion in the startup.
It should be noted that the investment comes from SoftBank Group, and not the SoftBank Vision Fund, which has invested in several AV companies including Aurora, Cruise, Didi Autonomous, Nuro and Robotic Research. In 2022, GM bought SoftBank Vision Fund’s stake in Cruise for $2.1 billion.
Other offers that caught my attention this week. . .
Elements take off, the US-based manufacturer of battery materials for electric vehicles, has raised $542 million in new investments, including $460 million in a Series D round and $82 million in additional funding from earlier this year. Decarbonization Partners, Singapore-based investment firm Temasek and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) led the round. Other investors include Tenaska, Alliance Resource Partners, PULSE – CMA CGM Energy Fund, BHP Ventures, Fifth Wall, Hitachi Ventures, Mirae Asset, At One Ventures, Agave Partners and Alumni Ventures. Important note: The funding will be matched by a total of two grants from the U.S. Department of Energy $480 million to finance construction of a factory in Kentucky.
Autonomyan EV subscription company said it will acquire the technology, assets and customer accounts of an all-electric car-sharing company EV mobility. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Envisics, a British-based holographic company that builds in-car technology that projects navigation, safety warnings and other data onto the inside of a windshield, closed a $100 million Series C round. The company announced the first tranche of $50 million in March, which included Hyundai Mobis, with participation from InMotion Ventures (Jaguar Land Rover’s investment arm) and Stellantis. This latter part included new investors such as M&G Investments.
Country, a Cleveland-based electric motorcycle manufacturer, organized a Series A round led by Ancora. The company did not disclose the amount of the fund, other than to say it has raised a total of $7 million to date.
Lydian, a Massachusetts-based startup looking to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), has raised $12 million in seed funding from Congruent Ventures and Galvanize Climate Solutions. The startup will use the money to build a pilot plant that can produce more than 5,000 liters of SAF annually.
Notable reading and other tidbits
Zeekr, Geely’s Chinese performance EV brand, has added Mobileye’s SuperVision ADAS to 110,000 of its vehicles via an over-the-air update. New features include point-to-point automated highway navigation, lane changes, automated on-ramp assistance and intelligent road safety features in “identified operational design domains.”
Cruising has produced a lot of news this week. First, protesters gathered outside the company’s San Francisco headquarters after reports that one of the robotaxis blocked an ambulance with a patient on board who later died. Despite the San Francisco Fire Department’s claims that the Cruise robotaxi is blocking the ambulance, video footage says otherwise.
A few days later, CEO Kyle Vogt said during an interview at the Goldman Sachs Tech Conference that the company is close to receiving approval from federal regulators to mass-produce robotaxis without steering wheels or pedals. It’s worth noting that Vogt and Cruise have remained steadfast (and outspoken) about the benefits of self-driving cars in reducing accidents. That attitude has not converted the opponents. In any case, the anti-robotaxi group in San Francisco seems more motivated than ever.
Deeproute.aithe Shenzhen-headquartered robotaxi startup backed by Alibaba plans to open an operations center in Germany in 2024.
TuSimple has finally filed its fourth-quarter and full-year 2022 earnings report. Yes, you read that correctly. The company was on the verge of being delisted for its sluggishness, but was granted a temporary reprieve in May. TuSimple still must submit Q1 and Q2 2023 reports by the September 30 deadline.
The tl;dr: TuSimple continues to move from the United States to Asia. The company noted that it has shut down its U.S. operations and doubled its operations in APAC. On the financial front, TuSimple generated revenue of $1.9 million in the fourth quarter and $9.4 million for full-year 2022. The company’s net loss for the fourth quarter was $138 million and for fiscal 2022 was $472 million. TuSimple ended 2022 with $615.4 million in cash and cash equivalents.
The company said it would focus on testing and R&D as it tries to get a handle on its loss-making revenue business. TuSimple does not expect to generate significant revenue in 2023, “given the change in U.S. fleet operations.”
Electric vehicles, batteries and charging
Honda confirmed that it will use Tesla’s EV charging port from 2025.
Lotus unveiled its flagship all-electric and super-fast sedan, the Emeya.
That of Munich The IAA Mobility 2023 event highlighted how far Chinese EV manufacturers have come. Check out our overview of the European and Chinese vehicles that debuted.
Teslas The upcoming Cybertruck was spotted in a regular parking garage in San Francisco and new photos of the interior were shared.
Technology in the car
BMW realized what everyone already has: charging for seat heating is not cool.
Google’s quarterly Android updates include Zoom and Webex support in cars.
The North Star 4 will launch in China with its own smartphone.
Flexport founder Ryan Petersen is back in the CEO spot, after his hand-picked successor – Amazon’s former consumer chief Dave Clark – was pushed out. The sudden impeachment was not the end of the drama. Petersen announced on social media that the company would withdraw dozens of job offers and take other measures to get costs under control. Petersen and the board had bought into Clark’s grand growth vision, but that trust lasted about a year.
Woven by Toyota, the automaker’s mobility technology subsidiary, is shaking its executive decks. James Kuffner will be replaced by Hajime Kumabe as CEO. Kuffner will now become a senior fellow at Toyota, where he will manage the professional development of software engineers.
Grab your pass for TC Disrupt 2023
We’ll be covering all things sustainable mobility at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023, taking place in San Francisco on September 19 and 21. Last minute passes are still available. Save 15% with code STATION. register now!