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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.
I’ll be heading to Los Angeles next week to check out the LA Auto Show as well as a few EV and AV related events. Maybe we’ll see some of you there!
Let’s get down to it.
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Taurusscooter company we wrote about in February it launched its virtual showrooma very cool interactive website that allows prospective scooter buyers to virtually test out various aspects of the scooter, from how to adjust the foot platforms and activate the throttle to how to turn on the lights and charge the battery.
I recently had the chance to try out one of Taur’s front scooters and I’ll admit it’s a pretty cool ride. The scooter doesn’t have a traditional board for your feet to balance on, but rather has a foot platform that allows riders to look ahead while riding. I found this gave me more visibility of my peripherals – having my left foot in front of my right on a traditional scooter meant I could see pretty well to the right, but had less range of motion to look over my left shoulder. Whereas looking forward on a Taur scooter meant I had the same range of motion to look over each shoulder.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the ride was that it didn’t even feel like I was riding a scooter. I felt like I was almost riding a moped or a bicycle (maybe something to do with being front-facing?) I kept mistakenly calling it a “great bike”—a term co-founder Carson Brown and head of marketing Ed Turner said they were also hearing from others. It might be more accurate to say that the motion of riding the Taur scooter is similar to the motion of skiing, where you turn by pushing your weight off each foot rather than by tilting the handlebars. It gave me a better sense of control and a sense that I could do some serious shredding on this thing.
The fat tires certainly make for a bouncy experience. I rode the scooter over rough roads in a parking lot in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and once I got used to the bumping, I felt confident enough to handle even the worst potholes.
Taur is focusing on launching in Los Angeles this year and will be running pop-ups there over the next few months. The startup has almost 1,000 units to ship to Los Angeles this year to fulfill pre-orders and overall sales.
Amazon and other retailers are facing criticism for selling devices that allow e-bikes to be upgraded to illegal speeds for just $100.
Honda develops and tests a range of micromobility vehicles equipped with “cooperative intelligence,” technology that combines cameras, voice recognition, AI and standard controls to enable more “human” collaboration between people and vehicles. The vehicles will be able to generate a 3D map of their surroundings in real time.
Revel takes his e-scooters outside Washington. The company said it wants to focus on growing its electric vehicle and EV charging business.
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Deal of the week
The wave of consolidation that has hit the autonomous vehicle industry has also spread to lidar companies. For example, take the merger this week on Banished and Velodyne — two lidar companies that separately went public through special purpose vehicle acquisitions.
Under this all-stock transaction, Ouster and Velodyne will retain a 50% stake in the new company.
Why are lidar companies getting sucked into this wave of consolidation? Too many lidar companies are competing for a piece of business from the OEMs. (That whole supply and demand problem). Scaling is also an expensive endeavor.
Velodyne and Ouster had purchased lidar companies prior to this merger. Velodyne acquired Bluecity.ai in 2022, and last year Ouster bought lidar startup Sense Photonics.
Which lidar company is next?
Other deals that caught my eye this week…
Acerta Analytics, an advanced analytics company that helps automakers and suppliers improve quality in manufacturing processes and support early defect detection, raised C$10.4 million. The Series B round was led by BDC Capital’s Industrial Innovation and Thrive Venture funds with participation from existing investors OMERS Ventures and StandUp Ventures.
Elon Musk almost worth $4 billion of Tesla stock.
Foxconn increased its investment in EV startup Lordstown Motors with purchase of $170 million in common stock and newly created preferred stock. Once the transaction is completed, Foxconn will hold all of Lordstown’s outstanding preferred stock and 18.3% of the common stock on a pro forma basis. Foxconn will also be entitled to two seats on the board.
Kite, the rental car delivery startup founded in 2019, has raised $60 million in a Series B round led by InterAlpen Partners, whose founder Stephen George is joining Kyte’s board. Other new investors include Valor Equity Partners, Anthemis, Citi Ventures and Hearst Ventures with significant participation from existing investors DN Capital plus 1984 Ventures, FJ Labs and Urban Innovation Fund. This round brings Kyte’s total funding to approximately $300 million through equity and debt.
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Notable reads and other goodies
Aurora is partners with Ryder to pilot on-site fleet support at Aurora’s South Dallas terminal, a step closer to building the network Aurora will need as it moves toward commercialization.
TuSimple co-founder Xiaodi Hou it was fired a month earlier from his positions as CEO, President and CTO from the company’s board. The move could have stripped Huo of power – he was even removed from his position as chairman of the board and a member of the government’s board security committee. But that didn’t stop him.
Hou teamed up with co-founder and major shareholder Mo Chen and fired board members Brad Buss, Karen K. Francis, Michelle Sterling, and Reid Werner. Hou became the sole remaining board member; he then appointed Chen and Cheng Lu, a shareholder and former executive, to the board.
Although power is now back in the hands of the co-founders, it is unclear how this will affect the investigation of the company by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The investigation apparently focused on TuSimple’s relationship with Hydron, a hydrogen trucking company run by Chen and backed by Chinese investors.
Waymo reached two milestones this past week.
The company opened its fully driverless ride-hailing service in downtown Phoenix to the general public. And on California Department of Motor Vehicles approved an amendment to Waymo’s existing deployment permit to include driverless operations as well as manned operations. Waymo will now be able to food and grocery delivery fee uses its autonomous vehicles that will operate without anyone in the driver’s seat. All Waymo needs now is a driverless deployment permit from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to finally start charging for driver-only autonomous rides in the city.
Arrival said in its third-quarter earnings that does not expect to earn revenue until after 2023. Yes, I said INCOME. The electric car company, which is restructuring its business to develop commercial vans for the US instead of Europe and is at risk of being delisted from the Nasdaq exchange, reported a third-quarter loss of $310.3 million, compared with a loss of 30.6 million in the same quarter a year ago.
Canoo said in his 3rd quarter earnings that it has entered into an agreement to acquire a vehicle manufacturing facility in Oklahoma City. This is not to be confused with Canoo’s “megamicro factory” in Pryor, Oklahoma. This other facility will help Canoo ramp up production and bring EVs to market in 2023. Another Q3 note: Canoo ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $6.8 million. 😬
Elevator reported a net loss of $422.2 million in Q3. almost a third of that loss ($135.7 million) was due to the shutdown of Argo AI, in which Lyft had a small stake.
Rivian confirmed that the company is on track to meet its annual production target of 25,000 vehicles despite unpredictable supply chain disruptions and component shortages. The company is still losing money and has had to adjust some of its growth plans. Rivian reported a a net loss of $1.72 billion with revenue of $536 million in the third quarter and delayed the launch of the next-generation R2 EV platform.
Electric vehicles, batteries and charging
Audi and Redwood materials unite to collect used batteries from mobile phones, electric toothbrushes and other Li-ion powered devices at participating dealerships nationwide.
California voters shot Proposition 30, which would make EVs more affordable for some residents, dealing a blow to both Lyft and the EV industry. Prop 30 would have taxed residents earning more than $2 million a year subsidize electric cars and public charging stations as well as funded Forest fire prevention programs.
Tesla open your EV connector design of car manufacturers and suppliers. The goal? Tesla wants to be the new standard in North America. Separately, scaling said he was working with Tesla to bring video conferencing in their vehicles. (Zoom meetings will only be possible when the vehicle is parked).
Volvo introduced the EX90 leading electric a seven-seater SUV loaded with sensors and software that the company hopes will propel it forward in the increasingly saturated luxury EV market. Luminary founder and CEO Austin Russell share your thoughts regarding the EX90 (the company’s lidar is integrated into EVs) and called it a new era of safety. It also addresses market consolidation and struggles in the AV industry.
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