The Station: Waymo nabs more capital, Cruise taps a $5B credit line and hints about Argo’s future

The Station is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. Sign up here — just click The Station — to receive it every weekend in your inbox.

Hello and welcome back to The Station, a weekly newsletter dedicated to all the ways people and packages move (today and in the future) from Point A to Point B.

A few Extra Crunch items highlight before we jump into things. This week, we published an interview with Refraction AI co-founder and CTO Matthew Johnson-Roberson as part of an ongoing series focused on transportation founders. TechCrunch has been following autonomous delivery startup since it came out of stealth on our stage in 2019. Refraction, which built its vehicle to travel in bike lanes up to 15 miles per hour, has been testing in AnnArbor, Michigan. Now, it’s expanding to Austin. Our interview with Johnson-Roberson reveals the premise behind the company, what prompted him to step down as CEO and some of the challenges in the industry. The twist with this series? We plan to check in on every founder we interview a year after their Q&A is published.

Later this month, we’ll feature an interview with Candice Xie, the CEO and co-founder of Veo.

Finally, we have a fresh round of recaps from the TC Sessions: Mobility 2021 event held June 9. Each recap provides a rundown of the conversation as well as some key quotes from our panelists. The recaps also include the video of the session.

Email me at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share thoughts, criticisms, offer up opinions or tips. You can also send a direct message to me at Twitter — @kirstenkorosec.

Deal of the week

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Taking autonomous vehicle technology from the “lab,” — ok, from the closed track — to commercial scale is a pricey endeavor. Not every AV developer has success raising money or access to debt. Waymo does.

The company has raised another $2.5 billion in external funding about 15 months after its first external round brought in $2.25 billion. (That round was later expanded by $700 million a few months later.) The round appears to be mostly existing investors including parent company Alphabet, Andreessen Horowitz, AutoNation, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Magna International, Mubadala Investment Company, Perry Creek Capital, Silver Lake, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., Temasek. Tiger Global was the investor newcomer.

The funding announcement comes a few months after CEO John Krafcik left the company after five years in the position. The CEO position is now being held jointly by Tekedra Mawakana, former COO, and Dmitri Dolgov, who joined the original self-driving project at Google and was CTO.

More than $2 billion is a hefty haul. Although numerous folks,  some of whom are in the financial sector, reached out to me to share reactions of surprise that it wasn’t larger. I’m more interested in how that money is being put to work. Waymo has now brought in nearly $6 billion in outside investment since March 2020.

Other deals that my attention …

Bringg, a software developer focused on helping retailers with last-mile logistics, raised $100 million in a Series E round of funding led by Insight Partners. Salesforce Ventures, Viola Growth, Next 47, Pereg Ventures, Harlap, GLP and Cambridge Capital — all previous backers — also invested. Bringg CEO Guy Bloch told TechCrunch that the funding will be used both to continue growing Bringg’s customer base, but also the company’s ca

CAI International, the tansportation finance and logistics company,  agreed to a $1.1 billion takeover by Mitsubishi HC Capital. This is an all-stock deal that is comprised of $104 million worth of preferred stock and $986 million of common stock equity value, Reuters reported.

Cambridge Mobile Telematics, a mobile telematics and analytics, has acquired TrueMotion. The company didn’t disclose the terms. CMT will now provide telematics services to 21 out of the 25 largest auto insurers in the United States, and across more than 20 countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, South Africa, Japan and Australia.

Cruise, the self-driving subsidiary of GM, secured a $5 billion line of credit from the automaker’s financial arm to pay for hundreds of purpose-built electric and autonomous Origin vehicles as they start to roll off the assembly line. The access to the credit provided by GM Financial will push Cruise’s “total war chest” to more than $10 billion as it prepares for commercialization, CEO Dan Ammann wrote in a blog post. In short: the credit will be used to buy these Cruise Origins from GM, which is assembling the autonomous vehicles at its renamed and renovated Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant. The factory is now called Factory ZERO.

Electriphi, a battery management and fleet monitoring software startup based in San Francisco, was acquired by Ford. The acquisition, the terms of which neither party would disclose, aims to round out Ford’s future EV commercial business. The automaker already has two electric commercial vehicles in pipeline, the  E-transit cargo and F-150 Lighting Pro pickup truck. Ford is betting that the software developed by the three-year-old San Francisco startup will help it capture more than $1 billion in revenue just from charging by 2030.

Gopuff, the on-demand goods, food and alcohol delivery service, acquired fleet management platform rideOS for $115 million, sources familiar with the deal told TechCrunch. This acquisition comes just a few months after the Philadelphia-based startup announced a $1.15 billion funding round at a $8.9 billion valuation, up from $3.9 billion in October. Last fall, the company also raised $380 million and bought BevMo, a beverage retailer. Gopuff did not share its updated valuation with this new acquisition.

KeepTruckin, a hardware and software developer that helps trucking fleets manage vehicle, cargo and driver safety, raised $190 million in a Series E funding round, which puts the company’s valuation at over $2 billion, according to CEO Shoaib Makani. G2 Venture Partners, which just raised a $500 million fund to help modernize existing industries, participated in the round, alongside existing backers Greenoaks Capital, Index Ventures, IVP and Scale Venture Partners and funds managed by BlackRock.

Kodiak Robotics, the Silicon Valley-based startup developing autonomous trucks, has a new investor. Tire-making giant Bridgestone has taken a minority stake in the AV startup as part of a broader partnership to test and develop smart tire technology. While the terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, Kodiak Robotics co-founder and CEO Don Burnette told TechCrunch that this is a direct financial investment. Bridgestone CTO Nizar Trigui has also joined the Kodiak board as an observer. The two companies also formed a strategic partnership focused on advancing Bridgestone’s tire tech and fleet management system.

MachineMetrics, a data startup focused on manufacturing, raised $20 million in Series B round led by industrial automation and robotics Teradyne. Ridgeline Ventures also participated along with existing investors Tola Capital and Hyperplane.

Mister Car Wash, a car wash company owned by Leonard Green & Partners and based in my hometown, has set the terms for its initial public offering. The company said in a regulatory filing that it will issue 37.5 million with the expectation of a per share price between $15 and $17.

Motorway, a U.K. startup that allows professional car dealers to bid in an auction for privately owned cars for sale, raised £48 million ($67.7 million) in a Series B round led by Index Ventures, along with new investors BMW iVentures and Unbound. Existing investors Latitude and Marchmont Ventures also participated. The funding will be used to extend its platform and grow the current 160-strong team.

PayCargo, the Freight payment platform company, raised $125 million in a Series B round led by Insight Partners.

Solid Power, a solid-state battery developer backed by Ford and BMW, locked in a deal to merge with special purpose acquisition company Decarbonization Plus Acquisition Corp III, at a post-deal implied market valuation of $1.2 billion. The transaction is expected to generate around $600 million in cash, including a $165 million private investment in public equity (PIPE) transaction from investors Koch Strategic Platforms, Riverstone Energy Limited, Neuberger Berman and Van Eck Associates Corporation.

Vertical Aerospace is yet another electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft startup to take the SPAC path to the public markets. The UK-based eVTOL developer, which is backed by American Airlines, Avolon, Honeywell, Rolls-Royce and Microsoft’s M12, has agreed to merge with special purposed acquisition company Broadstone Acquisition Corp., at an implied $2.2 billion valuation.

Woven Capital made an undisclosed investment in Ridecell, a platform powering digital transformations and IoT automation for fleet-driven businesses. Woven Capital is an $800 million global investment fund that supports innovative, growth-stage companies in mobility, automation, artificial intelligence, data and analytics, connectivity, and smart cities. It is the investment arm of the Woven Planet Group, a Toyota subsidiary which is dedicated to building the safest mobility in the world. Along with the investment, Ridecell and the Woven Planet Group will explore collaborative opportunities in mobility service operations.

Hints at Argo’s future

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You might have noticed under “deal of the week” that Ford acquired a fleet management and charging monitor software company called Electriphi. When the deal was announced, I found myself wondering aloud if the software would be used by the company for its eventual commercial fleet of robotaxis? And that got me thinking about Argo AI, the startup developing the self-driving system for backers Ford and VW.

I was pointed to some comments made Ford CEO Jim Farley, which suggests that maybe Argo will play a larger role in commercial operations than expected. Farley was asked during the Deutsche Bank’s Global Auto Industry Conference what he thought about the convergence between what Argo will be offering and I guess Ford in terms of business model?

Farley’s response: “Well, that’s a good question. I think Argo has proven to be very adaptive business, not just the technology. My personal opinion is that I think they deserve the opportunity to be a one-stop shop company and that they will take on more of the go-to-market responsibilities for our AV effort.”

Policy corner

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Welcome to Policy Corner. It’s a (relatively) short one this week folks. As a reminder, if there’s any policy or regulatory news (or tips!) that you think merits inclusion in the Corner, send me an email at aria.techcrunch@gmail.com.

Autonomous vehicle developers Nuro and Cruise, along with three other entities, have formed a new coalition to support a California bill that would require AVs to be zero emission by 2030. TechCrunch’s Rebecca Bellan was the first to cover the bill back in March. Notably absent from this coalition are Argo AI, which has Ford and VW has backers and customers, as well several other legacy automakers. John Davis, chief engineer at Ford Autonomous Vehicles, told Bellan back in March that the computing demands of an AV platform means that it may make more sense to transition first to a hybrid model before going full EV.

For Cruise’s part, it makes sense that they’d want to ratchet up their support of the bill, especially after news broke that earlier this week they’d taken out a $5 billion line of credit to ramp up production of their electric Cruise Origin AV.


EV proponents are fired up about the possibility of taxing EVs as one way to fund the massive infrastructure investments that are currently being debated in Washington. The proposal is being mulled by legislators as they continue to negotiate the infrastructure package. Joe Britton, the Executive Director of the Zero Emission Transportation Association, called the tax proposal “the brainchild of those who want to unfairly punish EV drivers and hinder clean vehicle deployment.”

It seems that an EV tax could be the sacrificial lamb that some legislators are looking for, but it is important to note — as ZETA does — that battery electric vehicles are still only around 1% of the cars on the road.

— Aria Alamalhodaei

Notable reads and other tidbits

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Here are a few more final items to wrap up The Station.

Autonomous vehicles

Pony.ai, the robotaxi startup that operates in China and the United States, has started testing driverless vehicles on public roads in California ahead of plans to launch a commercial service there in 2022. The company said the driverless vehicle testing, which means the autonomous vehicles operate without human safety drivers behind the wheel, is happening daily on public roads in Fremont and Milpitas, California. Pony.ai is also testing its driverless vehicles in Guangzhou, China. Pony.ai said it also plans to resume a rideshare service to the public in Irvine this summer using AVs with a human safety driver. Its goal is to roll out the fully driverless service to the public in 2022.

EVs and hydrogen

Canoo, the electric vehicle startup that recently became a publicly traded company through a merger with a SPAC, made a number of announcements during its investor day event. First on the list was news that the company plans to build a factory in Oklahoma that will employ up to 2,000 workers. The factory will be located on a 400-acre site in the MidAmerica Industrial Park in Pryor, Oklahoma about 45 minutes from Tulsa. The facility, which the company describes as a “mega microfactory” will include a paint shop, body shop and general assembly plant and is expected to open in 2023.

Canoo also laid out its plans for automated driving, which I haven’t heard much about until now. The details were thin, but Canoo is planning to have its vehicles equipped with “Level 2” advanced driver assistance system, which means two primary functions — like adaptive cruise and lane keeping — are automated and still have a human driver in the loop at all times. From there, it seems the company is taking the Tesla approach and believes it can reach Level 4 autonomy through software improvements. To be clearm, Tesla is nowhere near Level 4 autonomy, which means the vehicle ccan handle all driving without the driver in the loop in certain geographic areas or conditiions. Here is the Canoo CTO’s comments about this.

We’ve got an ADAS system ready for launch at Level 2, with all of the basic features, but we’ve got an OTA system — over the air upgradability — so as we continue to refine and mature and validate additional features in ADAS, we’re going to be able to upgrade over time and with our ADAS compute platform, along with the sensor suite we believe will ultimately get us to around Level 4.

Finally, the company also detailed some of the features that may be on its app, including a one-stop shop functionality that customers could use for their Canoo vehicles — and all their other cars, as well. This unusual approach to its branded vehicle app could potentially pay off big-time for Canoo in terms of user data and revenue via sales on services like tire replacements and insurance.

Lordstown Motors is digging itself deeper into a hole it seems. The company’s CEO and CFO resigned following a less than stellar first quarter results in May, including news that production volumes would likely be half — from around 2,200 vehicles to just 1,000 — should the company not identify more funding. But wait. What is this?

The following day, hope was restored when interim CEO Angela Strand and President Rich Schmidt made a series of statements  at an Automotive Press Association event that drove up shares in the company, including that it has enough “binding orders” from customers to fund limited production of its electric pickup truck through May 2022. Ah but hold tight because the next day Lordstown issued a regulatory filing that reversed those claims.

It appears those “binding orders” were more like agreements to maybe lease or buy.

Jaguar Land Rover is developing a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle based on the new Defender SUV, and plans to begin testing the prototype next year. The prototype program, known as Project Zeus, is part of JLR’s larger aim to only produce zero-tailpipe emissions vehicles by 2036. JLR has also made a commitment to have zero carbon emissions across its supply chain, products and operations by 2039. The automaker has also tapped AVL, Delta Motorsport, Marelli Automotive Systems and the U.K. Battery Industrialization Center to help develop the prototype.

Nuro, the autonomous delivery startup, is expanding into parcel logistics through a partnership with FedEx. The multiyear, multiphased strategic partnership aims to test and ultimately deploy Nuro’s next-generation autonomous delivery vehicle within FedEx operations. This bot will follow Nuro’s more recent R2 bot. The deal with FedEx marks its first foray into parcels logistics. The pilot program has already started in Houston. This multiyear commitment will allow Nuro to bring its technology to more people in new ways, and eventually reach large-scale deployment, according to Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships.

Polestar, Volvo Car Group’s standalone electric performance brand, will manufacture its first all-electric SUV in the United States. The automaker said the Polestar 3 will be assembled at a plant shared with Volvo Cars at a factory in Ridgeville, South Carolina. The Polestar 3 follows the all-electric Polestar 2 sedan and the hybrid grand tourer Polestar 1. Production of Polestar 3 is expected to begin globally in 2022.

In-car tech

Amazon Web Services entered into an agreement with Ferrari to become their official cloud provider, a deal that aims to help the luxury automaker’s Scuderia Ferrari Formula One racing team launch a digital fan engagement platform via its mobile app.

Android Auto has some new updates including personalizing the launcher screen directly from a user’s smartphone and manually setting dark mode. Browsing content is also supposed to be easier with new tabs in media apps, a “back to top” option and an A to Z button in the scroll bar.  New app experiences have also been added to help with EV charging, parking and navigation apps are now available to use in Android Auto. Users will also be able to read and send new messages directly from apps like WhatsApp or Messages — now available globally. These Android Auto features are available on phones running Android 6.0 or above, and when connected to your compatible car.

Other transportation stuff

Financial Times digs into the sticky issue of Chinese surveillance technology that is used in ‘smart cities’ all over the world.

GM upped the amount it says it will spend on electric and autonomous vehicle investments to $35 billion through 2025 — an $8 billion increase from its previous plan announced in November 2020.

Lux Research released a study showing that in 2020 electric vehicles sales, meaning battery and plug-ins, increased 37% compared to 2019. The sales growth was led by 140% growth in Europe as the BEV market took off in several countries. The report noted that while Tesla remains the most popular BEV maker, but its choice of cells from LG Energy Solution in China means Panasonic lost the market share crown it had held since 2013.

Redwood Materials, the battery recycling startup founded by former Tesla CTO JB Straubel, has purchased 100 acres of land near the Gigafactory that Panasonic operates with Tesla in Sparks, Nevada as part of an expansion plan that aligns with the Biden Administration’s drive to increase adoption of electric vehicles and boost domestic battery recycling and supply chain efforts. The company said its existing 150,000-square-foot facility in Carson City, Nevada will also nearly triple in size. Redwood is adding another 400,000 square feet onto the Carson City recycling facility, which is expected to be operational by the end of the year.

#amazon, #argo-ai, #automotive, #autonomous-vehicles, #canoo, #cruise, #electric-vehicle, #electric-vehicles, #ford, #gm, #lordstown-motors, #nuro, #tesla, #transportation, #vw, #waymo

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Canoo wants to connect owners to all of their vehicles — not just Canoo’s

Electric vehicle startup Canoo detailed some of the features that may be on its app on Thursday, foremost of which is a one-stop shop functionality that customers could use for their Canoo vehicles – and all their other cars, as well.

This unusual approach to its branded vehicle app could potentially pay off big-time for Canoo in terms of user data and revenue via sales on services like tire replacements and insurance. If the average Canoo driver owns two other vehicles, that could mean that 50,000 sold Canoos could yield data on up to 150,000 vehicles total, Canoo’s senior VP of global customer journey and aftersales Christian Treiber said.

“Let’s think about the opportunity overall,” he said. “The Canoo ecosystem, but for the entire customer garage.”

For all vehicles – Canoo or not – that are hooked into the app, the driver will be able to see details on range and battery life for their EVs, as well as the odometer, miles per gallon, and total range for their internal combustion engine vehicles. Treiber said this could be accomplished simply using an ODB connector.

“We know how to translate data in cars, we know how to take that metadata and put in service maintenance, repair and asset information, because that’s what we’ve done, we’ve built a multi billion dollar business doing this,” Canoo CEO Tony Aquila told TechCrunch. “So we can take that data and do that for you. It’s nothing for us on our platform. It’s just an OBD dongle. OEMs spend money on stupid stuff, we’d rather give you a dongle for your second car. If you want to connect it, you can run it all off the same app.”

Aquila took the helm at Canoo in April, after co-founders Stefan Krause and Ulrich Kranz departed in June 2020 and April, respectively. (Kranz was hired by Apple to help with the development of its first car.) Aquila founded Solera Holdings in 2005, a risk management and asset protection software company.

Canoo’s hoping to use its app to drive revenue in other ways as well. For Canoo cars, drivers can access the Maintenance and Upgrades section to instantly upgrade the horsepower of their vehicle, schedule a service appointment or check for software updates. Up to 94% of the electronic control units will have wireless updating capability. The app will also make predictive wear and tear reminders for when you’ll likely need new tires – and it will push special offers for these services in advance.

Drivers will also be able to order other vehicle upgrades for the Canoo, like a roof rack or floor or seat protection.

Much of these features – especially the services for non-Canoo vehicles – will likely come together through partnerships with service providers, insurance companies and vehicle detailers. Trieber hinted at other potential partnerships as well, such as using the Canoo app as a digital wallet to pay for a meal at a restaurant, for example

“The single greatest opportunity for the automotive industry is monetizing data, and we want to be part of it, and we will be part of it,” he said.

The news was announced during the company’s investor day presentation Thursday, where Aquila also revealed Oklahoma as the site for its first factory. That location is expected to open in 2023. Canoo’s debut lifestyle vehicle, which is expected to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2022, will being manufactured by Netherlands-based contract manufacturer VDL Nedcar while the factory is being built.

#app, #apps, #automotive, #canoo, #electric-vehicles, #transportation

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Canoo to build its first electric vehicle factory in Oklahoma

Canoo, the electric vehicle startup that recently became a publicly traded company through a merger with a SPAC, plans to build a factory in Oklahoma that will employ up to 2,000 workers, newly appointed CEO Tony Aquila said Thursday during the company’s investor day presentation.

The factory will be located on a 400-acre site in the MidAmerica Industrial Park in Pryor, Oklahoma about 45 minutes from Tulsa. The facility, which the company describes as a “mega microfactory” will include a paint, body shop and general assembly plant and is expected to open in 2023. The site is near a number of manufacturing and logistics businesses, Aquila noted.

“It’s a hub that we think is going to grow like crazy,” Aquila said. “In addition to that, it puts you dead center for logistics and movement across North America, so you can get anywhere, same day and back is pretty important.”

Canoo, which has said it will deliver its first EV in the fourth quarter of 2022, also announced it is partnering with Netherlands-based contract manufacturer VDL Nedcar to handle initial production while the factory is being built.

Canoo’s announcement comes nearly a year after Oklahoma lost its bid to convince Tesla to build its next factory in the state. Tesla ultimately picked a site near Austin for the factory, which it has said will produce the Cybertruck, the Tesla Semi and the Model Y and Model 3 for sales to customers on the East Coast.

“We’re super pumped — we think we are the flavor of the month and we are the right place for manufacturing,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said, noting that the state has the lowest electricity costs in the entire country. Those lower rates have helped attract companies like Google, which operates a data center in Pryor.

Canoo’s investor day featured a variety of engineers, designers and executives all of whom focused on certain aspects of the company’s vision. Canoo is focused on products for consumers and commercial customers. All of Canoo’s EVs will share the same skateboard and use different cabins or “top hats” that can be paired on top to create unique vehicles. The company has unveiled several vehicles, including an electric microbus, a pickup and one designed for business-to-business applications.

It was also the first public event with Aquila steering the company that has had a bumpy ride in the past year.

Canoo started as Evelozcity in 2017, founded by former Faraday Future executives Stefan Krause and Ulrich Kranz. The company rebranded as Canoo in spring 2019 and debuted its first vehicle several months later. The unique-looking vehicle and Canoo’s initial plan to offer it only as a subscription helped the company gain the attention of investors and the media. Canoo even landed a partnership with Hyundai to co-develop EVs, but that deal fell apart earlier this year after the company changed its business model and decided to not offer engineering services to other automakers, according to comments made in March by Aquila.

Canoo also lost its cofounders, first Krause, and more recently Kranz. And in May, the company disclosed that is being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The investigation is broad and covers the special purpose acquisition company Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp.’s initial public offering and merger with Canoo, the company’s operations, business model, revenues, revenue strategy, customer agreements, earnings and other related topics, along with the recent departures of certain of the company’s officers, according to a quarterly earnings report posted May 17.

 

#canoo, #electric-vehicle, #electric-vehicles, #tc, #tony-aquila, #transportation

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Apple confirms hiring of Ulrich Kranz, former CEO of EV company Canoo

Apple has hired the former co-founder and CEO of electric vehicle company Canoo to help with the development of the Apple Car, Bloomberg first reported, citing unnamed sources. Apple has confirmed to TechCrunch it has hired Kranz, but did not provide further details into his job responsibilities or title.

Kranz resigned his position at Canoo in April after steering the company toward public listing and a new leadership team, and he is reported to have been scooped up by Apple within weeks. The news comes a couple of months after Apple CEO Tim Cook dropped hints that the mysterious Apple Car would include autonomous vehicle technology as a key feature. Hiring an executive with decades of experience at the cutting edge of the auto industry is a clear sign that Apple is moving ahead with its vehicle manufacturing plans.

Apple is keeping a tight lip on its plans for its vehicle. According to a Reuters report from December, Apple intends to produce an electric passenger vehicle with “breakthrough battery technology” and automated vehicle technology by 2024. Other than that, no one knows what the car will look like or who, if anyone, will be the manufacturer, although it’s not outlandish to imagine Apple creating both the hardware and software.

#apple, #apple-car, #automotive, #canoo, #electric-vehicles, #personnel, #transportation, #ulrich-kranz

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What has four wheels and loses money?

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic and go deep. This time Natasha and Alex corralled TechCrunch transportation editor Kirsten Korosec to talk to us about the endless parade of EV SPACs, and more. Before we get into the show notes, you can follow Equity on Twitter here.

And, because we are proud, we won a Webby! Our show! How cool is that? Thank you for love listening, hate listening, all of it. We are so thankful.

Ok, here’s what we talked about:

  • Why is every electric vehicle company going public via a SPAC, and why is there so much potential fraud in the space? Kirsten has some notes on the matter, but it boils down to money in both cases.
  • The Bird-SPAC deal in all its glory. You can read Alex and Kirsten’s dive into the Bird investor deck here. We had questions like why was the shared scooter model ever considered viable, and, how did the company improve its economics during a pandemic? The SPAC world never, ever disappoints.
  • Of course, we couldn’t resist talking about the scooter barrage of news from years ago and how things have changed since.
  • We end with her latest scoop, a series of exits at Waymo, and what that means for the future of the autonomous vehicle company. Plus, we didn’t get to make a joke about it in the show but let’s just say: Waymo has a waymore to go before it has driverless tech all over the streets.
  • And one more thing: Kirsten gives a look at some of the speakers at our upcoming mobility event. Snag tickets here, and subscribe to her newsletter, The Station, for all things mobility every week.

And that’s that! We are back with our regular weekly news rundown Friday morning. Chat you all then!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

#bird, #canoo, #equity, #equity-podcast, #ev, #fundings-exits, #nikola, #spac, #startups, #tc

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Canoo is being investigated by the SEC

Canoo, the Los Angeles-based electric vehicle startup that debuted on the Nasdaq public exchange earlier this year, is being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, just months after its merger with special purpose acquisition company Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp.

The investigation is broad, covering the Hennessy’s initial public offering and merger with Canoo, the company’s operations, business model, revenues, revenue strategy, customer agreements, earnings and other related topics, along with the recent departures of certain of the company’s officers, according to a quarterly earnings report posted Monday. Canoo learned of the investigation on April 29. Canoo’s share price fell more than 3% in after-hours trading following the release of its first-quarter earnings.

“The SEC has also informed the Company that the investigation does not mean that it has concluded that anyone has violated the law, and does not mean that it has a negative opinion of any person, entity or security. We intend to provide the requested information and cooperate fully with the SEC investigation,” Canoo noted in the regulatory filing. Canoo added that it does not consider the investigation or other lawsuits it is facing to be material to its business.

The SEC investigation follows a string of executive departures, a change to some of the core pieces of its business model, the loss of a key automotive partnership and at least one lawsuit brought by shareholders. And that’s just the activity since the first of the year.

Canoo started as Evelozcity in 2017, founded by former Faraday Future executives Stefan Krause and Ulrich Kranz. The company rebranded as Canoo in spring 2019 and debuted its first vehicle several months later. It was this first vehicle, as well as Canoo’s plan to offer it only as a subscription, that captured the attention of investors, companies and the media. Last year, Hyundai announced a partnership with Canoo to co-develop EVs, but that deal fell apart in early 2021 after the company changed its business model and decided to not offer engineering services to other automakers, according to comments made by the company’s chairman and now CEO Tony Aquila in a March investors’ call.

Canoo has sustained numerous executive departures, including co-founder and CEO Kranz, general counsel Andrew Wolstan, CFO Paul Balciunas and its head of powertrain development. Krause, who was the company’s first CEO, stepped down in August 2019. Last month, Canoo was also named as a defendant in two class-action complaints filed by shareholders.

Amid the executive exits and business pivots, the company has managed to narrow its quarterly losses despite an increase in R&D expenditures and no revenue. The company reported Monday a net loss of $15.2 million, or 7 cents a share, in the first quarter, compared to a loss of $30.9 million, or 37 cents a share, in the same period last year. The company said it ended the quarter with $641.9 million in cash and equivalents.

#automotive, #canoo, #electric-vehicles, #hyundai, #sec, #tc, #u-s-securities-and-exchange-commission

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Canoo’s electric microbus will start under $35,000 when it comes to market next year

Los Angeles-based electric vehicle startup Canoo is bringing its first vehicle to market next year. The company said Monday its electric microbus-slash-van will be available to buy in 2022 at a base price of $34,750 before tax incentives or add-ons. It’s now taking preorders in the United States for the “lifestyle” vehicle, as well as for its round-top pickup truck and multi-purpose delivery van.

While Canoo did not release pricing for the other two vehicles, it did said that deliveries for the pickup and production for the delivery van are slated to start as early as 2023. Customers can reserve a model by placing a $100 deposit per vehicle with the company.

The lifestyle van will come in four trims, including base, premium, adventure and so-called Lifestyle Vehicle Delivery The adventure variant, which is the top trim and comes with more ground clearance and beefier profile, does not yet have a price. The base, delivery (not to be confused with the bigger multipurpose delivery van) and premium models will be priced up to $49,950, the company said. The company said the lifestyle van is expected to be able to produce 300 hp and 332 pound-feet of torque with 250 miles of battery range.

Canoo is taking a different route than many other electric vehicle manufacturers. The company’s trio of vehicles all have the same proprietary “skateboard” platform architecture that houses the batteries and electric drivetrain in a chassis that sits under the vehicle’s cabin. This contributes to a similar design language between the vehicles, which all have the same wide front windshield and relatively low profile.

The company is especially deviating from competitors with its electric pickup, which is scheduled to go into production in early 2023. As opposed to rivals Ford and Rivian, which are emphasizing size and power in their respective F-150 Lighting and R1T pickup trucks, Canoo’s is smaller and more playful-looking. The Rivian R1T clocks in at 218 inches long, while the Canoo truck will be 184 inches. Canoo is also claiming a battery range of 200+ miles, far less than the 300+ boasted by other EV truck manufacturers. None of these companies have posted what the range will be when towing.

Canoo has undergone many transformations since its founding as Evelozcity in 2017. It was rebranded as Canoo in 2019 and merged with special purpose acquisition company Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp. last December with a market valuation of $2.4 billion.

This year has been a bit bumpier for the company. The news on Monday comes less than a month after the company announced the resignations of its co-founder and CEO Ulrich Kranz and its general counsel Andrew Wolstan. Earlier this year, the company also lost its chief financial officer Paul Balciunas and its head of powertrain development.

Canoo’s skateboard architecture caught the eye of automaker Hyundai Motor Group, which last February said it would jointly develop an EV with Canoo based on the skateboard design. But during an investor call in March, Tony Aquila, who took over as company CEO following Kranz’s departure, said the deal was all but dead.

#automotive, #canoo, #electric-pickup-truck, #electric-vehicles, #ford, #rivian, #tc, #transportation

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Canoo’s electric pickup might be the coolest electric truck yet

If you follow the electric vehicle world closely, you may have heard of Canoo. Started by some former Faraday Future people, the company broke cover in 2019 with a subscription-only electric van that was built on a low-profile skateboard chassis. In December of 2020, after some management changes, Canoo showed off a delivery van using that same platform and then went public via a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company. Later today, the company was going to reveal a third EV—the adorable pickup you see in the gallery above—but someone leaked the images on Reddit a day early.

The pickup certainly looks striking. If it bears resemblance to anything else on the road, it’s probably one of those Japanese microvans, although the Canoo pickup is a regular-sized vehicle at 184-inches (4,677 mm) long and 78-inches (1,980 mm) wide.

Like Rivian’s forthcoming R1T and Bollinger’s B2, the Canoo pickup demonstrates the advantage of electric powertrains when it comes to packaging. Canoo’s skateboard platform is particularly low-slung, which allows for a very cab-forward design. There is cargo storage built into the nose of the truck, as well as storage bins on the side that also function as steps, similar to those we’ve seen from Rivian.

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#canoo, #cars, #electric-truck

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Canoo combines work and play in its new electric pickup truck

Los-Angeles based startup Canoo revealed its newest — and now third — electric vehicle, a pickup truck that does away with the sharp corners and huge engine housing of both comparable EV trucks and legacy diesel pickups and is aimed at both commercial customers and weekend warrior-minded consumers.

The truck, which Canoo says is the most space efficient on the market, was leaked Wednesday evening in advance of an official reveal set for Thursday afternoon.

The three Canoo vehicles all share a design language. But the important part, and the cornerstone of Canoo, is the foundation. Canoo uses the same platform architecture on all of its vehicles, only altering the cabins, or top hats, with each new model. Canoo’s proprietary platform is like a thin, flat skateboard that houses the critical components of the EV powertrain. The company said this type of design gives its truck a similar flatbed size as a best-selling traditional pickup.

The truck will open for preorders in the second quarter of 2021, with deliveries set to begin as early as 2023.

The truck clocks in at 184 inches in length (in comparison, Tesla’s Cybertruck is 231 inches long and the Rivian R1T is 218 inches). But where Canoo’s model stands out is in its pull-out bed extension, which stretches the truck bed from six feet to a fully enclosed eight feet, and extends the length to a more competitive 213 inches. It also boasts up to 600 horsepower and has a battery range of more than 200 miles. 

Canoo-PickupTruck

Image Credits: Canoo

Like Canoo’s other vehicles, the pickup has all kinds of options to change it. There are dividers for the truck bed, for instance as well as a camper shell that can turn it the vehicle into a van. There’s even a rooftop tent — at least in its photos — which suggested that Canoo is thinking about an accessories business to go along with its vehicles.

There’s also cargo storage area that has a fold down work table and additional electrical outlets, side tables that can flip down, a hidden step to the truck bed that contains even more storage, and a roof rack.

“Our pickup truck is as strong as the toughest trucks out there and is designed to be exponentially more productive,” Canoo executive chairman Tony Aquila said in a statement. “This truck works for you. We made accessories for people who use trucks – on the job, weekends, adventure. You name it, we did it because it’s your platform and she’s bad to the bone.”

Last December, Canoo went public through a merger agreement with special acquisition company Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp., with a market valuation of $2.4 billion. It joined a string of EV automakers and charging infrastructure companies that Fisker Inc., Nikola Corp. and Lordstown Motors in forgoing a traditional IPO on the road to a NASDAQ listing.

 

#automotive, #canoo, #cybertruck, #rivian, #tc, #transportation

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With a reported deal in the wings for Joby Aviation, electric aircraft soars to $10B business

One year after nabbing $590 million from investors led by Toyota, and a few months after picking up Uber’s flying taxi businessJoby Aviation is reportedly in talks to go public in a SPAC deal that would value the electric plane manufacturer at nearly $5.7 billion.

News of a potential deal comes on the heels of another big SPAC transaction in electric planes, for Archer Aviation. If the Financial Times‘ reporting is accurate, then that would mean that the two will soon be publicly traded at a total value approaching $10 billion.

It’s a heady time for startups making vehicles powered by anything other than hydrocarbons, and the SPAC wave has hit it hard.

Electric car companies Arrival, Canoo, ChargePoint, Fisker, Lordstown Motors, Proterra and The Lion Electric Company are some of the companies that have merged with SPACs — or announced plans to — in the past year.

Now it appears that any company that has anything to do with the electrification of any mode of transportation is going to get waved onto the runway for a public listing through a special purpose acquisition company vehicle — a wildly popular route at the moment for companies that might find traditional IPO listings more challenging to carry out but would rather not stay in startup mode when it comes to fundraising.

The investment group reportedly taking Joby to the moon! out to public markets is led by the billionaire tech entrepreneurs and investors Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, and Mark Pincus, who launched the casual gaming company, Zynga.

Together the two men had formed Reinvent Technology Partners, a special purpose acquisition company, earlier in 2020. The shell company went public and raised $690 million to make a deal.

Any transaction for Joby would be a win for the company’s backers including Toyota, Baillie Gifford, Intel Capital, JetBlue Technology Ventures (the investment arm of the US-based airline), and Uber, which invested $125 million into Joby.

Joby has a prototype that has already taken 600 flights, but has yet to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. And the success of any transaction between the company and Hoffman and Pincus’ SPAC group is far from a sure thing, as the FT noted.

The deal would require an additional capital infusion into the SPAC that the two men established, and without that extra cash, all bets are off. Indeed, that is probably one reason why anyone is reading about this now.

Alternatively powered transportation vehicles of all stripes and covering all modes of travel are the rage right now among the public investment crowd. Part of that is due to rising pressure among institutional investors to find companies with an environmental, sustainability, and good governance thesis that they can invest in, and part of that is due to tailwinds coming from government regulations pushing for the decarbonization of fleets in a bid to curb global warming.

The environmental impact is one chief reason that United chief executive Scott Kirby cited when speaking about his company’s $1 billion purchase order from the electric plane company that actually announced it would be pursuing a public offering through a SPAC earlier this week.

“By working with Archer, United is showing the aviation industry that now is the time to embrace cleaner, more efficient modes of transportation,” Kirby said. “With the right technology, we can curb the impact aircraft have on the planet, but we have to identify the next generation of companies who will make this a reality early and find ways to help them get off the ground.”

It’s also an investment in a possible new business line that could eventually shuttle United passengers to and from an airport, as TechCrunch reported earlier. United projected that a trip in one of Archer’s eVTOL aircraft could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 50% per passenger traveling between Hollywood and Los Angeles International Airport.

The agreement to go public and the order from United Airlines comes less than a year after Archer Aviation came out of stealth. Archer was co-founded in 2018 by Adam Goldstein and Brett Adcock, who sold their software-as-a-service company Vettery to The Adecco Group for more than $100 million. The company’s primary backer was Marc Lore, who sold his company Jet.com to Walmart in 2016 for $3.3 billion. Lore was Walmart’s e-commerce chief until January.

For any SPAC investors or venture capitalists worried that they’re now left out of the EV plane investment bonanza, take heart! There’s still the German tech developer, Lilium. And if an investor is interested in supersonic travel, there’s always Boom.

#adam-goldstein, #airline, #baillie-gifford, #canoo, #chargepoint, #co-founder, #corporate-finance, #e-commerce, #economy, #evtol, #federal-aviation-administration, #finance, #fisker, #intel-capital, #investment, #jet-com, #jetblue-technology-ventures, #joby, #joby-aviation, #lilium, #linkedin, #lordstown-motors, #marc-lore, #mark-pincus, #private-equity, #proterra, #reid-hoffman, #reinvent-technology-partners, #software-as-a-service, #spacs, #special-purpose-acquisition-company, #tc, #the-adecco-group, #the-financial-times, #toyota, #transportation, #uber, #united-airlines, #vettery, #walmart, #zynga

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EVgo to go public via SPAC in bid to power EV charging expansion

EVgo, the wholly owned subsidiary of LS Power that owns and operates public fast chargers for electric vehicles, has reached a deal to become a publicly traded company through a merger with special-purpose acquisition company Climate Change Crisis Real Impact I Acquisition Corporation.

The combined company, which will be listed under the new ticker symbol “EVGO” will have a market valuation of $2.6 billion. LS Power and EVgo management, which today own 100% of the company will be rolling all of its equity into the transaction. Once the transaction closes in the second quarter, LS Power will hold a 74% stake in the newly combined company.

EVgo has raised about $575 million in proceeds through the business combination, including a $400 million in private investment in public equity, or PIPE. Investors include Pacific Investment Management Company LLC (PIMCO), funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Wellington Management, Neuberger Berman Funds and Van Eck Associates Corporation, according to the announcement.

EVgo’s leadership will remain intact, with Cathy Zoi continuing as CEO of the combined company.

The deal is the latest in a long string of electric vehicle-related companies to merge with so-called blank check companies, eschewing the traditional path to an IPO. Arrival, Canoo, ChargePoint, Fisker, Lordstown Motors, Proterra and The Lion Electric Company are some of the companies that have merged with SPACs — or announced plans to — in the past eight months.

EVgo is not a new entrant to the electric vehicle industry. The company was founded in 2010 and has spent better part of the decade scaling up its infrastructure. Today, EVgo has chargers in more than 800 locations in 67 major metropolitan markets across 34 states. The company has landed a number of partnerships, including with Albertsons, Kroger and Wawa to locate its chargers at these properties.

EVgo has also struck deals with automakers such as GM and Nissan as well as ride-hailing companies Lyft and Uber. In July, GM and EVgo announced plans to add more than 2,700 new fast chargers over the next five years.

While electric vehicles still make up just a fraction of total cars, trucks and SUVs on today’s roads, the industry has forecast that the EV market will increase more than 100-fold between 2019 and 2040, EVgo said. The funds raised through the public market will be used to accelerate its expansion, according to the company.

“Just a few years ago, electric vehicles were considered niche,” EVgo CEO Cathy Zoi said in a statement. “Today, improved technology, lower costs, greater selection and a better appreciation for the performance of EVs is increasingly making them the vehicle technology of choice. With that, the need for fast charging is on the rise.”

Zoi noted that public charging will essential to meet the needs of the estimated 30% of Americans who do not have access to at-home charging as well as the growing number of fleets that are switching to electric vehicles.

#arrival, #automotive, #canoo, #electric-vehicles, #evgo, #transportation

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Apple allegedly working with Hyundai on electric car for 2027

An Apple logo has been photoshopped onto an empty road at night.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Apple’s automotive plan includes a collaboration with Hyundai, according to a report published on Friday by the Korea Economic Daily. It says that Apple and Hyundai are working on battery technology that will differ from the kind used in the automaker’s new battery electric vehicle platform, which goes into production later this year. The report also claims that the Apple car will arrive in 2027 but offers no more detail about the collaboration or any possible vehicles or technologies that could emerge as a result.

Will they-won’t they rumors about an Apple car have been circulating since Apple created an internal group called Project Titan in 2014. Since Apple is notoriously tight-lipped, few details exist about the project other than reports of staff being fired and plans being scaled back. But by late 2019 it’s believed that 1,200 Apple staff were working on Project Titan, and in December 2020 Reuters reported that an Apple car could hit the street by 2025.

Meanwhile, Hyundai Motor Group has fast emerged as one of the leaders of the pack for BEV engineering and is about to debut a new platform called E-GMP that will underpin 23 different new models between now and 2025. Hyundai has opted for an 800V electrical architecture for E-GMP which will allow it to charge to 80 percent within 18 minutes. Hyundai is also working with the startup Canoo on BEVs.

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#apple, #apple-car, #battery-electric-vehicles, #canoo, #cars, #hyundai-motor-group, #project-titan

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Canoo targets last-mile delivery with its second electric vehicle

Canoo, the Los Angeles-based electric vehicle startup that will make its debut later this month on the Nasdaq as a publicly traded company, revealed Thursday an all-electric multi-purpose delivery vehicle. 

The electric delivery vehicle, which includes a high roof height, storage lockers and a software as a service platform to manage fleets, is targeted at both small businesses and large last-mile delivery companies such as package delivery fleets, retailers, major corporations and logistics companies.

This latest vehicle — its second to debut since 2019 — aims to showcase Canoo’s flexibility and its intent to produce products for consumers and business-to-business applications. All of Canoo’s vehicles share that same underlying architecture; it’s the cabins, or top hats, that differ.

Other variations of the multi-purpose delivery vehicle will follow, and Canoo plans to announce a service network at a later date.

Canoo delivery vehicle

Image Credits: Canoo

Canoo started as Evelozcity in 2017, founded by former Faraday Future executives Stefan Krause  and Ulrich Kranz. The company rebranded as Canoo in spring 2019 and debuted its first vehicle several months later. It was this first vehicle, as well as Canoo’s plan to offer it only as a subscription, that captured the attention of investors, companies and the media.

The first vehicle, which looks more like a microbus than a traditional electric SUV, is the “skateboard” architecture that houses the batteries and the electric drivetrain in a chassis underneath the vehicle’s cabin. That architecture caught Hyundai’s interest earlier this year. The Korean automaker announced in February plans to jointly develop an electric vehicle platform with Canoo, based on the startup’s proprietary skateboard design. The platform will be used for future Hyundai and Kia electric vehicles as well as the automaker group’s so-called “purpose-built vehicles.” The PBV, which Hyundai showcased at CES 2020, is a pod-like vehicle that the company says can be used for various functions in transit, such as a restaurant or clinic.

This new delivery vehicle will be offered initially in two sizes. Canoo said more variants will follow and that major corporations — or presumably whatever company is willing to put up the money — will have the option to co-develop a custom vehicle with Canoo to meet their specific requirements.

The electric delivery vehicle will start at about $33,000. Future customers will have to wait though. Canoo said availability will begin in 2022, with scaled production and launch planned for 2023. Customers can pre-order the multi-purpose delivery vehicle for a refundable deposit of $100 per vehicle.

Following its U.S. commercial debut, Canoo said it plans to launch the multi-purpose delivery vehicle in other markets such as Canada, Mexico and Europe.

The delivery vehicle was designed with the ergonomics of the driver in mind and with attention to detail to help them be happier and more productive at work, according to Canoo Executive Chairman Tony Aquila, who added that the vehicle is affordable and offers greater cargo capacity than the current electric delivery offerings in its class.

Canoo delivery vehicle

Image Credits: Canoo

“We aim to lower the total cost of ownership and increase return on investment for everyone from local small business owners to large fleets,” Aquila said in a statement. 

Indeed, Canoo is promising returns to companies that order one of its delivery vehicles, claiming that customers can achieve between $50,000 to $80,000 improvement on return on capital over six to seven years, depending on the use case, as compared to other top selling delivery vehicles.

Canoo also pushes the flexibility of its delivery vehicle, noting that it can be built with different workstations, will be offered in several different battery pack sizes that range between 40 and 80 kilowatt-hours, and have a bi-directional onboard charger, which can be used to power equipment and tools. 

Canoo also touted the tech in the vehicle, notably an advanced driver assistance system, over-the-air software updates and a software-as-a-service platform to help fleets manage assets, route plan, run diagnostics and support drivers. 

#canoo, #tc

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Arrival becomes latest electric vehicle startup to test the public markets with a SPAC

Arrival has gone from stealthy electric vehicle startup to prospective public company in a span of a year. The UK-based company, which operated in relative secrecy for several years until January when it announced a $110 million investment from Hyundai and Kia, said Wednesday it has agreed to merge with special purpose acquisition company CIIG Merger Corp.

Arrival was already considered one of the UK’s most valuable startups before Wednesday’s SPAC merger announcement.  This deal, which when completed will make Arrival a publicly traded company listed on the Nasdaq exchange, will push its valuation up to $5.4 billion. Arrival said it raised $400 million in private investment in public equity, or PIPE, from investors that included Fidelity Management & Research Company, Wellington Management, BNP Paribas Asset Management Energy Transition Fund and funds managed by BlackRock. Arrival will have about $660 million in cash proceeds.

Arrival’s aim is to produce electric vehicles that are competitive in price with traditional fossil fuel-powered vehicles and lower than other EVs. Arrival says its modular electric “skateboard” platform, which can be used on a range of different vehicle types, along with its use of microfactories set up near major cities are the key ingredients to its price competitive sauce.

The company already has working prototypes of two major vehicle lines — an electric bus and electric van. The plan is to have four vehicles in the market by 2023, Arrival Automotive CEO Mike Ableson said.

“We are building a strong order book for these products, including 10,000 electric vans from UPS with the additional option to order more thereafter,” Abelson said in an email to TechCrunch. “We are in the process of fitting out microfactories in the UK and the US to fulfill orders, with more in the pipeline.”

Going public via a SPAC will give Arrival the access to capital to achieve its “vision of reimagining the auto industry and accelerating the transition to zero emissions,” he said, noting that the company is now focused on executive and ramping up full production of vehicles with production of its buses starting in the fourth quarter 2021 and its vans in 2022.

“The capital raised from this transaction will go towards delivering on these plans and supercharging the business so we can continue to scale and fulfill the market potential,” Ableson said.

Arrival, which was founded and led by Denis Sverdlov, already has a considerable footprint and order book. Arrival says it has received $1.2 billion in orders. The company employs more than 1,200 people and has five engineering facilities and two microfactories, including its first U.S. location in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

What was the summer of the SPAC — a bevy of companies announcing mergers with publicly traded shell companies between June and mid-September — has extended into the fall. Dozens of companies, including those that have yet to generate revenue or launch a commercial product, have announced SPAC deals in the past few months. A growing number of them are companies in the capitally intensive transportation sector.

EV startups Canoo,  Fisker Inc., Lordstown Motors and Nikola Corp., eschewed the traditional path of becoming a public company.  ChargePoint as well as lidar companies Luminar and Velodyne have also merged, or in the process of merging, with SPACs. Even troubled electric automaker Faraday Future is seeking a SPAC deal.

Arrival, like its EV SPAC brethren, is keen to take advantage of the shift towards electrification. Arrival is homing in on the commercial vehicle market, which is quickening its pace of EV adoption thanks to increasingly strict emissions regulations and other public policy changes.

“Arrival believes that it is well positioned to capitalize on this market opportunity with its technology driven approach to a traditionally underserved market,” Abelson said.

The newly combined company will be listed on the Nasdaq under the new ticker symbol “ARVL.” The combined company will add Peter Cuneo, CIIG’s Chairman and CEO, as the non-executive chairman of Arrival’s board of directors.

#arrival, #automotive, #canoo, #chargepoint, #fisker, #tc, #transportation

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Little-known EV and lidar firms are raising billions in Tesla’s shadow

Red Nikola Two.

Enlarge / The Nikola Two truck drives out on the stage at an April 2019 event. (credit: Megan Geuss)

Lidar startup Luminar is going public, the company announced on Monday. Instead of going with a traditional IPO, Luminar is jumping on the latest Wall Street fad: merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Merging with a SPAC allows a startup to go public more quickly, with less paperwork and more certainty about the sale price. The deal gives Luminar, which only expects to sell about 100 lidar sensors this year, a post-money valuation of $3.4 billion.

It’s the latest in a string of companies connected to the electric and self-driving car revolutions that have gone public using a SPAC. Most have found strong interest from investors.

In March, electric truck startup Nikola announced that it would go public with help from a SPAC. By the time the merger concluded three months later, Nikola’s value had shot up seven-fold. It has since settled down to four times the initial sale value. That values Nikola—a company that has yet to deliver a single vehicle to customers—at $14 billion, about half the value of Ford.

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#canoo, #cars, #henrik-fisker, #lordstown-motors, #nikola, #rivian, #tesla

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Electric vehicle startup Canoo to go public via SPAC

Canoo, the Los Angeles-based electric vehicle startup, has struck a deal to merge with special-purpose acquisition company Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp., with a market valuation of $2.4 billion.

The announcement Tuesday marks the fourth time this summer that an electric vehicle company has skipped the traditional IPO path and instead taken the company public through a merger agreement with a SPAC, also known as blank check companies. Nikola Corp., Fisker Inc. and Lordstown Motors have also gone public — or announced the agreement to — via a SPAC.

Canoo said it was able to raise $300 million in private investment in public equity, or PIPE, including investments from funds and accounts managed by BlackRock. Through the transaction, Canoo said it will have about $600 million that will go towards the production and launch of electric vehicles built off of its underlying skateboard technology.

Once the transaction closes, the combined operating company will be named Canoo Inc. and will continue to be listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker symbol “CNOO.”

HCAC Chairman and CEO Daniel Hennessy is betting on Canoo’s business model and its skateboard architecture and technology, which he noted in a statement has already been validated by key partnerships such as with Hyundai Motor Group.

Canoo started as Evelozcity in 2017, founded by former Faraday Future executives Stefan Krause and Ulrich Kranz. The company rebranded as Canoo in spring 2019 and debuted its first vehicle last September. The first Canoo vehicles, which will be offered only as a subscription, were expected to appear on the road by 2021. That timeline appears to have slipped to 2022, according to information shared alongside Tuesday’s announcement.

The heart of Canoo’s first vehicle, which looks more like a microbus than a traditional electric SUV, is the “skateboard” architecture that houses the batteries and the electric drivetrain in a chassis underneath the vehicle’s cabin. That architecture caught Hyundai’s interest earlier this year. The Korean automaker announced in February plans to jointly develop an electric vehicle platform with Canoo, based on the startup’s proprietary skateboard design. The platform will be used for future Hyundai and Kia electric vehicles as well as the automaker group’s so-called “purpose built vehicles.” The PBV, which Hyundai showcased at CES 2020, is a pod-like vehicle that the company says can be used for various functions in transit, such as a restaurant or clinic.

Canoo isn’t just focused on products for consumers. It also aims to offer business-to-business (B2B) vehicle configurations as well. All of Canoo’s EVs will share the same skateboard and use different cabins or “top hats” that can be paired on top to create unique vehicles, the company said. The company is aiming to produce its first B2B vehicle designed for delivery in 2023. This B2B vehicle will be designed to operate in dense urban environments and focus on last-mile delivery.

#automotive, #canoo, #transportation

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