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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.
Happy July 4th for all Americans, in the U.S. and abroad. On this independence day, I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom of movement — this is after all a newsletter dedicated to mobility. I’m talking about the privileges and immunities clause in the U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 2, Clause 1.
The fundamental right of movement, includes interstate travel. Consider reviewing the clause; I suspect it will get more attention in a post Roe v. Wade world.
Since this is a holiday weekend, I’ll keep this short and sweet. See you next week.
Oh, one item to flag. Our regular founder Q&A series went a bit further afield this week. Rebecca Bellan interviewed Fia Jones, who at 19 approached Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck at a party and told him she had an idea that would change the game for powering satellites. She’d be happy to tell him all about it … if he’d be willing to sign a nondisclosure agreement. Fia’s startup is Astrix Astronautics.
As always, you can email me at [email protected]echcrunch.com to share thoughts, criticisms, opinions, or tips. You also can send a direct message to @kirstenkorosec
Bird has been experiencing quite a bit of drama lately, what with the NYSE giving it a warning for trading at too low of a stock price and having to let go 23% of staff. This week, CEO Travis VanderZanden has stepped down from a role as president to be succeeded by Shane Torchiana, Bird’s COO. VanderZanden will maintain his position as CEO and chair of the board.
Bo Mobility, a UK-based e-scooter manufacturer, recently launched a new scooter with a unibody frame that gives it a seamless, curvy appearance and a stable, smooth riding experience. The company was founded by ex-Formula One engineers, so it’s certainly got promise.
The dawn of the electric micro-bike – like something between a scooter and a bike.
I have no idea if any of them are good, but targeted advertising has taught me that you can buy electric mototaxis wholesale off Alibaba.
Gozem, a West African super app, has raised $10 million to expand its fleet of electric moto-taxis.
Global revenue from shared mobility, including car rentals, ride hailing and bike-share apps, are expected to generate an annual revenue of $660 billion in 2030, which is nearly 40% increase from revenue generated in 2020.
Numan, a German-Indian startup, is using Audi-sourced second life batteries to bring electric rickshaws to India.
Populus was selected as the mobility management program for the new launch of Chicago’s permanent shared scooter program. The company will share vehicle and trip data with the city so it can manage vehicle caps, parking policies, equity zones, curb management solutions and more. In other Populus news, former Spin CEO Ben Bear has signed on as an advisor to the company.
Why e-bike companies need to give their vehicles USB-C charging.
The UK is extending shared scooter trials until May 2024!
Velotric, a mobility startup led by Lime’s hardware co-founder Adam Zhang, has launched its first e-bike, the Discover 1. It’s got a straight back riding posture so it’s comfortable to ride, a range of 60 miles on a single charge, a removable battery pack and it’s not too expensive – $1,399.
— Rebecca Bellan
Deal of the week
Every time I drive an EV on a long road trip — that is not a Tesla — I’m disappointed by the charging infrastructure in the United States. Maybe this deal will change that.
I’m talking about Volkswagen Group subsidiary Electrify America raising $450 million in a deal that includes its first external investor as it aims to accelerate its rollout of ultra-fast charging stations in the U.S. and Canada.
The deal, which values North America’s largest ultra-fast EV charging network at $2.45 billion, includes more than $100 million from German industrial company Siemens and additional capital from VW Group.
Other deals that got my attention …
Bykea, Pakistani bike ride-sharing and on-demand delivery startup, raised $10 million from existing backers Prosus Ventures, MEVP, Sarmayacar, Tharros and Ithaca Capital.
Clarios International, a low-voltage vehicle battery manufacturer based in Wisconsin, revived its IPO. The company disclosed plans to raise up to $100 million. Renaissance Capital notes this is likely a placeholder for a deal and estimates the company could raise up to $1 billion.
Mottu, a São Paulo-based motorcycle rental startup, raised $30 million in equity in a Series B round of funding. The company also secured $10 million in debt financing.
Paragon ID, a provider of identification solutions for e-ID, transport and smart cities, traceability, brand protection and payment, acquired UrbanThings. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Tenet, a drive now, pay later fintech startup focused on EV auto loans, raised $18 million in a seed round led by San Francisco-based Human Capital and London’s Giant Ventures.
Zipp Mobility raised a $6.1 million Series A to expand beyond Ireland into Europe.
Notable reads and other tidbits
Advanced driver assistance systems
Tesla gutted the data annotation team working on Autopilot, laying off nearly 200 employees and shutting down the San Mateo, California office where they worked.
Cruise robotaxis stopped operating and sat in a street in San Francisco late Tuesday night, blocking traffic for a couple of hours until employees arrived and manually moved the autonomous vehicles.
Aurora, Luminar, UPS and Waymo are among a group of 34 autonomous vehicle developers, California business organizations, and automotive and logistics companies that signed an open letter to Governor Gavin Newsom asking him to revisit the California Department of Motor Vehicles’s 2015 prohibition on the operation of autonomous trucks in the state.
Waymo’s most serious crash to date (which was not its fault) and that involved a self-driving truck might have resulted in only moderate injuries, but it exposed how unprepared local government and law enforcement are to deal with the new technology.
Waymo announced a partnership with JB Hunt to deliver goods for its customer Wayfair in a pilot program.
Electric vehicles & batteries
CATL, a battery behemoth in China, might not be a household name. But it should be. Check out this feature on CATL and the man who runs it.
Cadillac is reportedly pricing the Celestiq, the brand’s halo EV set to debut during Monterey Car Week in August, around $300,000. TechCrunch looks at Cadillac’s large-scale ambitions for this small-batch car.
Canoo might be facing more problems, this time on the factory side of things. Tulsa World reports that plans by Canoo to build a production plant at Mid-America Industrial Park may be delayed by unfavorable economic conditions.
Drako Motors, an EV startup, released details on its 2,000-horsepower Drako Dragon Super-SUV.
Hyundai previewed the IONIQ 6 sedan, the heavily-anticipated follow-up to the brand’s popular first battery-electric model, the IONIQ 5 SUV. The automaker won’t announce details such as the IONIQ 6’s price range and production run size until the vehicle’s world premiere in July.
J.D. Power released its U.S. Initial Quality Study and found that battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids have more problems than the average car.
LFP batteries: An older, cheaper and safer battery technology already dominating China’s electric vehicle industry is now poised to reshape battery manufacturing worldwide and boost EV sales in the United States, Jaclyn Trop reports in this TC+ deep dive.
Nikola adjourned its annual meeting to July 18, giving the company time to lobby shareholders to pass a money-raising measure to issue more shares of common stock.
Rivian opened its first three EV fast charging sites in California and Colorado as part of the automaker’s bid to build out an “adventure” network along interstates as well as locations near recreational activities aligned with its customer base
Tesla delivered 254,695 electric vehicles globally in the second quarter, a nearly 18% drop from the previous period as supply chain constraints, China’s extended COVID-19 lockdown and challenges around opening factories in Berlin and Austin took their toll on the company. The QoQ drop is the first in two years.
Volkswagen Group unveiled its ID. AERO concept in China, which is mean to serve as the inspiration behind the automaker’s flagship EV, and first-ever global all-electric sedan, next year.
BMW Group tapped Valeo to provide the advanced driver assistance system for the automaker’s new electric vehicle platform due to launch in 2025.
Updates to a right to repair law in Massachusetts prompted automakers represented by the Alliance for Automotive Innovation to file a lawsuit. The outcome has been delayed yet again. A federal judge postponed a decision this past week — the third time since March that the long-awaited ruling has been delayed.
Activist investors are shouting for the Securities and Exchange Commission to intervene in Tesla’s shrinking board.
Hyzon Motors appointed Shawn Yadon president of commerical. He will be responsible for the commercialization of the North American market while supporting Hyzon’s strategic position of the production and sales of its hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Owen Diaz, a former elevator operator at Tesla’s Fremont factory who accused the company of racial discrimination, will once again face off against the automaker in court.
Volta, the EV charging network, appointed Yifan Tang as Chief Technology Officer.
Woven Planet Holdings, a subsidiary of Toyota Motor, hired John Absmeier as chief technology officer, effective July 25, 2022. He will report to Woven Planet CEO James Kuffner.