Manslaughter charges follow Tesla driver’s Autopilot red light run

Manslaughter charges follow Tesla driver’s Autopilot red light run

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

Prosecutors in California have charged a Tesla driver with two counts of manslaughter as a result of a fatal crash in December 2019. According to the Associated Press, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed that the Autopilot driver-assistance feature was active at the time of the crash. That makes this case notable in that these are the first felony charges to result from a fatal crash involving a partially automated driving system.

The fatal crash took place in Gardena, California, on December 29, 2019. According to reports, the Tesla Model S owned by Kevin Riad exited I-91, failed to stop at a red light, and then collided with a Honda Civic, killing both of that car’s occupants, Gilberto Alcazar Lopez and Maria Guadalupe Nieves-Lopez. Within days, the NHTSA announced it would investigate the incident—one of a growing number of cases involving Tesla Autopilot that the agency is looking into.

The AP reports that no one involved with the case is prepared to talk publicly ahead of a preliminary hearing on February 23, although it notes that Riad pleaded not guilty. The families of both victims are suing Riad and Tesla in separate lawsuits, alleging that Riad was negligent and that Tesla has sold defective vehicles. The cases are expected to reach court in 2023.

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Tesla asked law firm to fire attorney who worked on Elon Musk probe at SEC, report says

Patrick Pleul | picture alliance | Getty Images
A Tesla lawyer has asked a law firm to fire one of its lawyers or risk losing his job for the electric carmaker led by Elon Musk, The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday. 

The Tesla lawyer  wanted Cooley LLP to fire previously worked at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. The attorney questioned Musk as part of the agency’s investigation into the Tesla CEO’s claim in 2018  that he secured funding to take Tesla private,  the publication said. 

The investigation led to a settlement in which Musk and Tesla agreed to pay a fine of $20 million  each and Musk agreed to step down for three years as Tesla chairman. 

Tesla’s attorney late last year asked Cooley to fire the attorney working on the SEC investigation, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The firm did not fire the partner. 


Tesla has offered to replace Cooley or hire other attorneys in several cases since December, according to the Journal. 

Musk’s rocket company, SpaceX, has also stopped working with the law firm on regulatory matters, she also stopped working. with the law firm, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
Tesla has its  ties to the SEC. The company hired David Misler, a former defense attorney for the agency, as legal counsel. Musk has faced more regulators than the SEC. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has investigated whether Tesla’s Autopilot  assistance system is at least partially responsible for incidents where Tesla cars crashed into parked first responder vehicles. 

The agency called Missy Cummings, a Duke University professor, automated systems expert, former Navy fighter pilot and Tesla critic, as a consultant on the investigation. 

Musk tweeted in October  that “his resume is extremely biased in favor of Tesla,” prompting outcry among his supporters. 

NHTSA then asked Cummings to recuse himself from Tesla-specific questions, the Journal reported on Saturday.

Source: CNBC

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Tesla delays initial production of Cybertruck to early 2023 – source

Image Credit:Jeenah Moon/Reuters

Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) aims to start initial production of its long-awaited Cybertruck by the end of the first quarter of 2023, pushing plans to start production later this year, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.

He said the delay comes when Tesla changes the features and functions of the electric pickup to make it a compelling product as competition heats up in the segment.

Tesla is expected to produce a limited production of the Cybertruck in the first quarter of 2023 before ramping up production, the source said.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Tesla, the world’s largest electric car maker, produces electric sedans and SUVs, but has lost the pickup truck segment, which is profitable and hugely popular in America.

 Ford Motor Co (FN) and Rivian Automotive (RIVN.O). are ahead of Tesla in launching electric pickups. 

Ford said early this month it will nearly double annual production capacity for its red-hot F-150 Lightning electric pickup to 150,000 vehicles ahead of its arrival this spring at U.S. dealers.

Ford’s market value topped $ 100 billion for the first time on Thursday, when Tesla shares fell 6.7% and Rivian’s shares fell 7.1%.

CEO Elon Musk, who unveiled the futuristic vehicle in 2019, had already delayed  production from late 2021 to late 2022. 

Musk said he would provide an updated product roadmap during the earnings call for the Tesla on January 26.

“Oh man, this year has been such a nightmare for the supply chain  and it’s not over yet!” He tweeted in late November when asked about the Cybertruck. 

Tesla recently removed a reference to its production schedule from its Cybertruck orders website. Last month, the website said, “You will be able to complete your setup as production nears in 2022.” Now “in 2022” has been omitted.

Tesla plans to produce the Cybertruck at its plant in Texas, which is slated to begin production of Model Y cars earlier this year.

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Teen hacker finds bug that lets him control 25+ Teslas remotely

The downside with offering APIs to interact with a car is that someone else's security problem might become your own.

Enlarge / The downside with offering APIs to interact with a car is that someone else’s security problem might become your own. (credit: Getty Images)

A young hacker and IT security researcher found a way to remotely interact with more than 25 Tesla electric vehicles in 13 countries, according to a Twitter thread he posted yesterday.

David Colombo explained in the thread that the flaw was “not a vulnerability in Tesla’s infrastructure. It’s the owner’s faults[sic].” He claimed to be able to disable a car’s remote camera system, unlock doors and open windows, and even begin keyless driving. He could also determine the car’s exact location.

However, Colombo clarified that he could not actually interact with any of the Teslas’ steering, throttle, or brakes, so at least we don’t have to worry about an army of remote-controlled EVs doing a Fate of the Furious reenactment.

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Elon Musk says he’s hiking “full self driving” by another $2,000

The Model Y still includes a steering wheel for Tesla owners who want to drive for themselves.

Enlarge / The Model Y still includes a steering wheel for Tesla owners who want to drive for themselves. (credit: Tesla)

Tesla’s highly controversial “full self driving” feature is getting yet another price increase. CEO Elon Musk used his Twitter feed last Friday to announce the price hike, telling his millions of followers, “Tesla FSD price rising to $12k on Jan 17.”

Price increases have been a fairly constant theme with the driver-assistance system. In the wake of Uber’s well-publicized IPO in 2019, Tesla got ridehailing fever, with Musk claiming that a self-driving Tesla could earn $30,000 a year in income, working the streets while its owner is asleep or at work.

“If you buy a Tesla today, I believe you are buying an appreciating asset—not a depreciating asset,” Musk said. (Although the company’s EVs do command strong prices in the used car market, they are still, in fact, subject to depreciation, according to a search on Autotrader conducted this morning.)

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World’s richest man gets $32BILLION richer: Elon Musk’s worth climbs to $304billion as Tesla stock soars after car maker rolled out nearly a million vehicles in 2021

Elon-musk-and-his-Son,Elon musk Son

Elon Musk and his son X Æ A-Xii at a Time Person of the Year event on 13 December 2021 in New York City(Theo Wargo/Getty Images for TIME)

The  richest man in the world started the richest new year  with Tesla founder Elon Mask adding $ 32.6 billion to his net worth, bringing his fortune to $ 304.2 billion. first person to  do it. 

According to Forbes, the controversial social media billionaire who is also the founder of commercial space company SpaceX remained at the top of the world’s richest list for the new year. In second place and $ 103.6 billion behind Musk is Bernard Arnault,  CEO of the French fashion empire LVMH. Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos is in third place, Forbes said.

The surge in the Tesla share price has again been attributed to South Africa’s growing wealth.
The electric car maker said it  delivered more than 936,000 cars in 2021, beating analysts’ forecasts, but also said the company had recalled 475,000 of its cars built between 2014 and 2021. Forbes said

 Shares of Tesla had risen more than 13% when the market closed, with the company’s market cap once again surpassing the $ 1 trillion mark after falling below that level last month. As Tesla’s CEO, Musk, named  Person of the Year 2021 by Time Magazine, owns around 15.6% of the company’s shares.He has Continued to sell shares, ending the year after offloading 3 million shares on the open market  to face taxes on the approximately 5.7 million stock options  he exercised at the same time.

If true, this would place him among the biggest ever individual tax payers in the history of the US, although this only represents roughly 0.0036 percent of his worth.

He reportedly sold 15.7 million Tesla shares over the course of 2021 – worth more than $16 billion before tax.

Musk’s fortune jumped more than $200 billion over 2020 and 2021. In 2021 alone, he added $116 billion to his net worth.

This, Forbes said, is the biggest one-year gain by any billionaire since the news outlet began tracking the wealth of high net-worth individuals.

Musk is set to earn another windfall later this month when Tesla reports its fourth quarter earnings. If the company meets certain operational and valuation goals, the world’s richest man is set to become even richer.

2021 was an eventful year for Musk, marked by a hosting appearance on Saturday Night Live, a break-up with girlfriend Grimes, and his self-coronation as ‘Technoking’ of Tesla.

Musk made huge waves last month as he sold off many billions worth of his Tesla stock in a move purportedly dictated by a poll he posted on Twitter.

Tesla’s soaring stock price has again been credited for Musk’s growing wealth. Tesla delivered more than 936,000 vehicles last year, a record figure that represents an 87 percent increase from its 2020 delivery count. Pictured: A Tesla factory in China (file photo)

In reality, at least some of the stock sales were driven by mandatory taxes as he exercised stock options that will expire in August.

He has sold $16.4 billion worth of shares since early November when he said he would sell 10 percent of his Tesla stock if Twitter users agreed, which they did.

But Musk in September had set up a prearranged plan for stock sales related to options expiring next year, and Tesla in a filing on Tuesday said the program was complete.

Musk said last week that he would be done selling shares after his programmed sales ended, meaning that the selloff is now complete.

The final trades, reported on Tuesday, included exercising an option on 1.6 million shares and selling 934,090 of those shares to pay for taxes.

In total, Musk has sold 15.7 million shares in Tesla late in this year, approximately the 10 percent stake the billionaire had pledged to sell.

He exercised options granted in 2012 to buy nearly 23 million shares at $6.24 each, a fraction of Tesla’s share price, which stood at $1069.33 in late trading on Thursday, the final trading session of the year.

Tesla delivers a record 936,172 electric cars in 2021 despite supply chain issues

Tesla delivered more than 936,000 vehicles last year, a record figure that represents an 87 percent increase from its 2020 delivery count despite a number of hurdles the electric carmaker faced during the past year.

The Austin, Texas-based company announced its fourth-quarter production and delivery results Sunday – just days after it recalled nearly half a million Model 3 and Model S cars to address issues that increase the risk of crashing.

And last February, Tesla told workers it would temporarily halt some production at its car assembly plant in California as it faced a semiconductor shortage.

Workers on a Model 3 sedan production line in Fremont were told their line would be down from February 22 until March 7, a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News.

Despite the challenges Elon Musk’s electric car empire faced during the past year – including chip shortages and whistleblower scandals – demand for the sleek, futuristic cars has only grown.

The amount of cars delivered last year dwarfs company figures from yearend 2020, when 499,550 vehicles were shipped to customers.

Of the sales made last year, Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y rides accounted for 911,208 – or 97 percent – of the 936,172 vehicles delivered. Its most budget-friendly Model 3 sedan retails for $46,490 and up, while the Model Y midsized SUV starts around $61,000.

It delivered 24,964 of its pricier Model S and Model X vehicles; its only full-sized SUV, the Model X is tagged about $110,000 while the flagship Model S starts about $100,000.

Tesla in 2020 delivered 57,039 of its Model S and X vehicles in 2020, and 442,511 Model 3 and Model Y cars.

It delivered 112,000 vehicles in 2019.

Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives said the latest numbers are ‘jaw-dropping’ given the ongoing global chip shortage affecting the automotive industry.

Ives said the production increase was likely boosted by growing demand from car buyers in China, as well as broader enthusiasm for electric vehicles.

Musk also chimed in on the accomplishment, tweeting: ‘Great work by Tesla team worldwide!’

Tesla’s brand image took some hits last year, most recently last week when it recalled 356,309 Model 3 vehicles made between 2017 and 2020 due to problems with the rearview camera and 119,009 Model S vehicles due to front trunk problems.

Tesla warned that for the specific Model 3 vehicles, opening and closing the trunk could damage the cable harness attaching the rearview camera, causing the camera to suddenly fail.

And the Model S issue could stop the front trunk from latching, allowing it to swing up while the vehicle is in motion.

According to Tesla, only about one percent of the Model 3 cars have the flaw, compared with 14 percent of the Model S vehicles.

Tesla shares have fallen from their record highs, reached two days prior to Musk’s infamous Twitter poll, but are still on pace to end the year up 54 percent from January 1.

The company has this week come under fire after it announced that it has opened a showroom in Xinjiang.

The move has attracted criticism from U.S. rights and trade groups, making it the latest foreign firm caught up in tensions related to the far-western Chinese region.

Xinjiang has become a significant point of conflict between Western governments and China in recent years, as U.N. experts and rights groups estimate more than a million people, mainly Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities, have been detained in camps there.

China has rejected accusations of forced labour or any other abuses there, saying that the camps provide vocational training and that companies should respect its policies there.

The U.S. electric car maker announced the showroom’s opening in Xinjiang’s regional capital, Urumqi, on its official Weibo account last Friday. ‘On the last day of 2021 we meet in Xinjiang,’ it said in the post.

On Tuesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest U.S. Muslim advocacy organization, criticised the move, saying that Tesla was ‘supporting genocide’.

The United States has labelled Chinaâs treatment of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang as genocide. The United States and a few other countries plan a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February over the issue.

‘Elon Musk must close Teslaâs Xinjiang showroom,’ Council on American-Islamic Relations said on its official Twitter account referring to Tesla’s founder.

Similar criticism came from a U.S. trade group, the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The carmaker operates a factory in Shanghai and is ramping up production there amid surging sales in China.

A slew of foreign firms in recent months have been tripped up by tensions between the West and China over Xinjiang, as they try to balance Western pressure with China’s importance as a market and supply base.

In July, Swedish fashion retailer H&M reported a 23% drop in local currency sales in China for its March-May quarter after it was hit by a consumer boycott in March for stating publicly that it did not source products from Xinjiang.

Last month, U.S. chipmaker Intel faced similar calls after telling its suppliers not to source products or labour from Xinjiang, prompting it to apologise for ‘the trouble caused to our respected Chinese customers, partners and the public’.

Although some have been trying to reduce their supply chain exposure to the region, especially as Washington bans imports such as Xinjiang cotton or blacklists Chinese companies that it says have aided Beijing’s policy there, many foreign brands operate stores there.     


Tesla has also found itself under scrutiny from the NHTSA auto regulator, which is probing its autopilot system over safety concerns.


The automaker has also agreed to update its software to prevent drivers from playing video games on the car’s system while the vehicle is in motion, following a government safety investigation.

Source: Daily Mail Online

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NHTSA investigating Tesla over infotainment display gaming feature

<em>Sky Force Reloaded</em> running on a Tesla's central screen while the car is driving down the road.

Enlarge / Sky Force Reloaded running on a Tesla’s central screen while the car is driving down the road. (credit: YouTube / Cf Tesla)

Earlier this month, we covered a software update issued by Tesla that allowed games to be played on the infotainment display while the car was in motion. We pointed out at the time that this new capability would likely draw the attention of state and federal regulators. To no one’s surprise, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday announced a formal safety investigation over the update.

According to the NHTSA, the feature has been around since December 2020 for Teslas equipped with “Passenger Play.” Prior to that, games could only be played on the center screen when the vehicle was in park.

The NHTSA’s investigation covers approximately 580,000 Tesla Model S, 3, X, and Y vehicles covering model years 2017 through 2021. The agency said it will be evaluating “aspects of the feature, including the frequency and use scenarios of Tesla ‘Passenger Play.'”

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Tesla sexual harassment lawsuits multiply as 6 more women sue Musk-led firm

Tesla signs outside of a showroom and service center.

Enlarge / A Tesla showroom and service center on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, in Burbank, California. (credit: Getty Images | Kent Nishimura )

Six more women sued Tesla yesterday, alleging that the company failed to stop rampant sexual harassment at factory facilities in Fremont, California, and service centers in the Los Angeles area.

The lawsuits are similar to one filed last month by employee Jessica Barraza, who alleged that she and other women working in the carmaker’s Fremont factory have been subjected to “nightmarish conditions of rampant sexual harassment,” including offensive comments, propositions, and “frequent groping on the factory floor.” Barraza alleged that managers and human resources personnel failed to protect her even though she complained repeatedly.

The lawsuits filed yesterday “detail specific instances of harassment that each woman experienced, and the lack of action from Tesla when these claims were reported,” according to a press release from law firm Rudy Exelrod Zieff & Lowe, which represents Barazza and the six other women. “Those who complained were sometimes threatened into silence or faced undesirable transfers. The message was clear, there would be no consequences for abusers. The six women describe an environment in which it was normal for women to be catcalled, ogled, touched inappropriately, and propositioned.”

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You can now play video games on a Tesla screen when the car is in motion

An August video shows a game being played on a Tesla central console while the car is in motion.

When we covered the first video games available on Tesla’s center-console video screen back in 2019, we noted that the feature only worked when the car was parked. Now, though, those Tesla games can apparently be played even when the car is moving, a feature that could run afoul of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines and state laws designed to combat distracted driving.

While the ability to play Tesla games outside of Park is being highlighted in a New York Times report today, the change was seemingly rolled out months ago. A YouTube video from January shows Solitaire being played on a Tesla screen while the car is shifted into Autopilot mode, for instance (though other games appear not to work with Autopilot in the same video).

In another video posted in July, a Tesla owner shows space shoot-em-up Sky Force Reloaded being played while the car is shifted into drive. That video says the new capability was added as an unannounced feature of July’s 2021.12.25.6 firmware update.

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Tesla announces $1,900 electric quad bike for kids

The Cyberquad for Kids is a $1,900 electric ATV.

Enlarge / The Cyberquad for Kids is a $1,900 electric ATV. (credit: Tesla)

The entry point for Tesla’s range of electric vehicles just got a lot lower. On Thursday, the American automaker announced the Cyberquad for Kids, an angular electric all-terrain vehicle inspired by the company’s 2019 Cybertruck concept. At $1,900, the ATV costs a tiny fraction of the next-cheapest Tesla you can order online.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an ATV from Tesla. When CEO Elon Musk debuted the polarizing pickup, he also showed off an ATV to go with it, albeit one that turned out to be a Yamaha Raptor with a powertrain swap. The Cyberquad for Kids is manufactured for the automaker by Radio Flyer.

As the name suggests, this ATV is a bit smaller. Although Tesla says it’s suitable for anyone ages 8 or older, the Cyberquad for Kids can only accommodate riders of up to 150 lbs (68 kg), so adults might find it too diminutive.

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Tesla forced to turn down €1.1 billion in EU support for German battery plant

A Tesla logo superimposed over a mess of numbers and figures.

(credit: Tesla / Aurich Lawson)

Tesla has been forced to turn down more than €1.1 billion in European subsidies for its planned battery plant near Berlin after delays to the flagship project breached a key condition of the funding.

The electric car maker had applied for the money through an EU program established to develop the battery industry on the continent.

The EU requires any sites in receipt of the funds to be the “first industrial deployment” of the technology, according to official documents, meaning the batteries cannot already be made at another Tesla plant.

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Lawsuit: Tesla is like a “frat house” with “frequent groping on the factory floor”

Aerial view of a Tesla factory with a large parking lot filled with cars.

Enlarge / Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California. (credit: Tesla)

Tesla Motors was sued yesterday by an employee who alleges that she and other women working in the carmaker’s Fremont factory have been  subjected to “nightmarish conditions of rampant sexual harassment.”

Jessica Barraza’a lawsuit against Tesla says that she works nights and that as “she walks to and from her work station at the beginning and end of shifts or breaks, men make comments like ‘She’s got fat titties,’ ‘She’s got cakes!,’ ‘That bitch hella thick,’ ‘Go ahead, sexy,’ ‘Damn, girl!,’ ‘She has a fat ass,’ ‘Oh, she looks like a coke bottle,’ and ‘Girl has an onion booty.'” Barraza began working on the Tesla factory floor as a production associate in October 2018 and had “hopes of spending her career at Tesla and rising through the ranks,” but she is now on medical leave after suffering panic attacks triggered by the harassment, the lawsuit says.

“Multiple times a week, male co-workers brush up against Ms. Barraza’s back-side (including with their groins) or unnecessarily touch her under the pretext of working together in close quarters,” the lawsuit alleges. Barraza says that managers and human resources personnel both failed to protect her even though she complained repeatedly.

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Tesla recalls 11,706 vehicles over Full Self-Driving Beta software bug

Tesla is issuing a recall over phantom collision warnings and brake activations.

Enlarge / Tesla is issuing a recall over phantom collision warnings and brake activations. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Tesla)

Tesla’s controversial “Full Self-Driving” feature took another hit on Tuesday. The Texan automaker issued a recall for nearly 12,000 vehicles after an over-the-air software update introduced a new bug that can cause false activations of the cars’ forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems.

According to the safety recall report, the problem affects Models S, X, and 3 vehicles built between 2017 and 2021 and Model Y vehicles built between 2020 and 2021 that are running firmware release 2021.36.5.2. The updated firmware was rolled out to drivers in its beta testing program on October 23 and, once installed, caused a pair of chips to stop talking to each other when the vehicle wakes up from “sentry mode” or “summon standby mode.”

That error prevents the neural networks that operate on one of the chips from running consistently, causing it to throw false-positive collision warnings and—more seriously—false-positive AEB activations.

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Tesla pulls Full Self-Driving update after sudden braking spooks drivers

Photograph of a high-end red sports car.

Enlarge / The front view of Tesla’s new Model 3 car on display is seen on Friday, January 26, 2018, at the Tesla store in Washington, DC. (credit: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Tesla’s Full Self-Driving software lived up to its “beta” label this weekend.

On Saturday morning, CEO Elon Musk announced a delay for the 10.3 update after internal quality-assurance testers discovered that the new version performed worse at left turns at traffic lights than previous versions. Then, on Sunday afternoon, Musk said that Tesla would be “rolling back to 10.2 temporarily” after reports of sudden braking, false warnings, and other issues.

Several owners reported that their vehicles braked suddenly when the software mistakenly reported an imminent collision. Known as automatic emergency braking (or AEB), neither the feature nor its bugs are limited to Tesla—Mazda recalled some of its cars in 2019 for similar problems.

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Hertz to purchase 100,000 Tesla Model 3s for its rental fleet

Hertz to purchase 100,000 Tesla Model 3s for its rental fleet

Enlarge (credit: Hertz)

Car rentals will be going greener, at least at Hertz, which will purchase 100,000 Tesla Model 3 electric sedans over the next 14 months. The rental car company announced the move Monday morning, saying that over 20 percent of its rental fleet will consist of battery-electric vehicles by the end of 2022.

To power its BEVs, Hertz will install “thousands of chargers” at its locations around the world. Hertz customers will also be able to recharge the Teslas at the electric carmaker’s 3,000-plus level 3 chargers in the US and Europe.

“Electric vehicles are now mainstream, and we’ve only just begun to see rising global demand and interest,” said Hertz interim CEO Mark Fields in a statement. “The new Hertz is going to lead the way as a mobility company, starting with the largest EV rental fleet in North America and a commitment to grow our EV fleet and provide the best rental and recharging experience for leisure and business customers around the world.”

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Tesla made $1.6 billion in Q3, is switching to LFP batteries globally

Tesla's factory in Shanghai

Enlarge / A Tesla factory. (credit: Getty Images)

Tesla made a profit of $1.6 billion in the third quarter of 2021. It built 237,823 cars and delivered 241,391 cars in the process, ending Q3 with $1.3 billion in free cash flow and $16 billion in cash and cash equivalents. Impressively, these record results happened despite supply chain woes like clogged ports and the semiconductor shortage.

In its presentation to investors, Tesla said that record production together with internal cost reductions have more than offset a small drop in the average selling price of its cars. It now has an operating margin of 14.6 percent, beating its earlier guidance.

The Models 3 and Y did almost all the heavy lifting. Tesla built 228,882 of these battery electric vehicles and delivered 232,102 of them. The Models S and X numbers were much increased compared to Q2 2021, with 8,941 built and 9,289 delivered, but this time last year it was selling nearly twice as many.

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Tesla relocates from California, sets up new corporate HQ in Texas

Tesla is not completely abandoning California, but it has moved its HQ to Austin, Texas.

Enlarge / Tesla is not completely abandoning California, but it has moved its HQ to Austin, Texas. (credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

On Thursday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk told investors that the US’s largest electric carmaker has moved its headquarters from California to Texas. In 2020, Musk personally relocated to Texas, which is home to SpaceX facilities and a new Tesla factory outside Austin. Now the Texas state capital will be the new official home of Tesla, too.

In 2020, Musk was at loggerheads with the California government in response to public health measures enacted to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 700,000 Americans. Musk was dismissive about the threat of COVID-19, predicting that infections would fizzle out by April 2020, and he was infuriated at having to temporarily close Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California—an act he described as “frankly… the final straw.”

Tesla filed and then dropped a lawsuit against Alameda County and then declared that the company would leave the state. Within days, Musk revealed that he had picked Texas for the site of Tesla’s next American factory. This week’s announcement finalizes that decision.

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Tesla ordered to pay $137M to Black former worker subjected to racist workplace

Tesla ordered to pay $137M to Black former worker subjected to racist workplace

Enlarge (credit: David Butow | Getty Images)

Tesla owes Owen Diaz $137 million after a jury found that the Black former worker was subjected to racial abuse that the electric vehicle company insufficiently addressed during his tenure.

Diaz, an elevator operator at the company’s Fremont factory for nine months from 2015 to 2016, had been called racial epithets by coworkers, was told to “go back to Africa,” and saw racist graffiti in the bathrooms. The trial lasted a little over a week, and the jury found that Tesla had not taken reasonable steps to prevent racial harassment.

“It shines a light on what’s going on inside of Tesla’s factory,” Diaz told The Wall Street Journal. “Elon Musk, you’ve been put on notice. Clean that factory up.”

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Tesla on Autopilot slammed into police cars despite flashing lights, lawsuit says

A pen and book resting atop a paper copy of a lawsuit.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | eccolo74)

Tesla has been sued by five Texas police officers who were injured when a Tesla Model X in Autopilot mode crashed into police vehicles that were stopped and had their flashing lights turned on. The officers also sued the owner of a restaurant accused of overserving alcohol to the X’s driver.

“On February 27, 2021, a Tesla Model X engaged in Autopilot and equipped with Tesla’s proprietary system of safety features, crashed into several police officers who were engaged in a traffic stop in a blocked-off lane of traffic on the Eastex Freeway in Texas. All were badly injured,” the lawsuit said. The officers include four Montgomery County constables and a Splendora police officer, according to a Houston Public Media article.

The lawsuit accuses Tesla of gross negligence for “failing to safely and properly design, market, and manufacture the Autopilot system” and, among other things, “failing to warn the public of the Autopilot system’s inability to detect emergency cars with flashing lights.” The plaintiffs are seeking “damages for the severe injuries and permanent disabilities they suffered as a result of the crash,” and they want to “force Tesla to publicly acknowledge and immediately correct the known defects inherent in its Autopilot and collision avoidance systems, particularly as those impact the ongoing safety of our nation’s first responders,” the lawsuit said.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#autopilot, #policy, #tesla

Tesla tests drivers to trust them to supervise experimental Autopilot

Tesla Autopilot is currently under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 12 crashes and one death. Now the company is expanding access to an experimental version of the software.

Enlarge / Tesla Autopilot is currently under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 12 crashes and one death. Now the company is expanding access to an experimental version of the software. (credit: Tesla)

Over the weekend, Tesla expanded access to the latest version of the company’s highly controversial $10,000 automated driving feature. As is the Tesla way, CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to announce the news, saying that owners could begin requesting access to the beta on Saturday. However, Musk noted that “FSD 10.1 needs another 24 hours of testing, so out tomorrow night.”

For now, access to the latest build of the software is by no means assured. Instead, drivers have to agree to have their driving monitored by Tesla for seven days. If they’re deemed safe drivers, they can have access to the experimental software. By contrast, autonomous vehicle companies like Argo AI put their test drivers through extensive training to ensure they’re able to safely supervise experimental autonomous driving systems while they are being tested on public roads, which is an entirely different task from that of safely driving a car manually.

Better not brake

Tesla says that five factors affect whether or not you’re safe enough a driver to then perform the task of supervising an unfinished automated driving system that is currently under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for a dozen crashes into parked emergency vehicles, including one fatality.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#autopilot, #cars, #fsd-beta, #tesla

The Station: Gogoro scoots into a SPAC, a Rivian milestone and Tesla prepares to unleash FSD beta software

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 readers: Welcome to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of moving people and packages from Point A to Point B.

The future of transportation beat was flooded with news this week as per ushe. There are two stories that I want to highlight here. First up, is that the first Rivian R1T electric pickup truck in “Rivian blue” rolled off the assembly line at the company’s factory in Normal, Illinois. The R1T and the upcoming R1S SUV are also now certified to be sold in all 50 states (at least online).

This marks a milestone more than a decade in the making for the automaker and its founder and CEO, RJ Scaringe, who started the company in 2009 as Mainstream Motors before adopting the Rivian name two years later. Rivian has undergone explosive growth in terms of people, backers and partners in the past few years. If the company has a successful IPO, which it confidentially filed for recently, it could grow even faster.

Next up, is Tesla and its “Full Self-Driving” beta software, which is about to become accessible to a lot more owners.

The FSD Beta v10.0.1 software update, which has already been pushed out to a group of select owners, will become more widely available starting September 24. Tesla CEO Elon Musk issued a caveat that personal driving metrics captured over a seven-day period via telemetry data will determine whether owners who have paid for its FSD software can access the latest beta version that promises more automated driving functions.

A Reddit post from several months ago provides hints on what data will be used. The poster, who has reversed engineered the Tesla app, found that the company was getting ready to implement insurance directly into the app. There will be a new safety rating page that will track an owner’s vehicle and is linked to their insurance. It’s possible that this is what Musk was referring to when he tweeted “beta button will request permission to assess driving behavior using Tesla insurance calculator. If driving behavior is good for 7 days, beta access will be granted.”

According to the Redditor, the app will track the number of times the ABS is activated, average number of hours driven daily, number of times Autopilot is disabled because alert is ignored, forward collision warnings, amount of time spent at an unsafe following distance and intensity of acceleration and braking.

This release on September 24, which will mean potentially thousands of Tesla owners trying out beta software on public roads, is going to test the will of regulators. Jennifer Homendy, the new head of the National Transportation Safety Board, told the WSJ that Tesla shouldn’t roll out this latest software update until it can address “basic safety issues.” NTSB is not a regulator; it investigates crashes and issues safety recommendations. So while her voice matters and is listened to, the NTSB cannot prevent Tesla from pushing this software update, or any other one, to owners.

Finally, TechCrunch Disrupt is here! The event kicks off Tuesday and I hope to see you all there. There’s even a photo booth (virtual) and I want you to share your photos if you use it.

As always, you can email me at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share thoughts, criticisms, opinions or tips. You also can send a direct message to me at Twitter — @kirstenkorosec.

Micromobbin’

Lane detection, pedestrian detection, advanced braking systems. These sound like driver assistance features you might find in a new SUV, sedan or truck. These days, this tech is creeping into electric scooters.

The pressure on operators to build scooters that are robust, safe and combat issues like sidewalk clutter has prompted companies to develop and equip their vehicles with advanced driver assistance features. Operators like Voi, Spin, Superpedestrian, Zipp and Bird have all started to integrate tech that can detect when someone is riding on the sidewalk or parking a scooter where it shouldn’t be. Whether through camera-based computer vision or through really accurate geopositioning software, these scooters not only know exactly where a rider is, but they can also put the brakes on or slow them down if they’re breaking the rules.

The question is, is it necessary? My view is that this wouldn’t be necessary if cities stopped offloading the cost of safety onto operators and instead invested in protected bike lanes.

Check out my ExtraCrunch story that looks deeper into the tech, which I’ve dubbed scooter ADAS.

Bird launches its shared e-bike in San Diego

Bird has an exclusive micromobility contract with San Diego State University. Bird’s bike share operation, which was officially launched in June, will be available to the 34,000 students on campus.

Brooklyn Bridge gets a dedicated bike lane

Bikers these days don’t know how good they’ve got it. I remember when I had to ring my bike bell like a mad woman trying to get pedestrians to part for me as I attempted to ride over the busy Brooklyn Bridge. Now, the iconic bridge has its own dedicated two-way bike lane. This is huge news. HUGE. I only wish I were back home to see it. And the best part is that the lane was taken from cars and given back to the people!

Compact, foldable and made in Japan

A company called Shaero just launched in Tokyo with a docked shared tiny moped that can be folded and stored inside lockers between trips. Forget scooter ADAS — more of this please!

Tax break for e-bikes

The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee proposed creating a 15 percent tax credit for e-bike purchases if you earn less than $75,000 per year. This is down from a 30 percent rebate with no income limits in the last version of the bill, which would have been way better, but I guess baby steps?

The latest e-bikes

This week a lot of new e-bikes launched. Here’s a bit of a roundup:

The Crown Cruiser is a retro-futuristic looking e-bike with inbuilt smart technologies like anti-theft tech and a gyro and accelerometer sensor that detects impact. The lightweight frame is made out of carbon fiber, it’s got long-range swappable 36V or 48V batteries with a range of 100 miles or more and its DC hub motor is so powerful the bike can hit top speeds of 31 mph. The Cruiser is currently fundraising on Indiegogo, and has received a £139,000 Sustainable Innovation grant from the UK government.

Daymak has announced the release of their Terra e-bike, part of the company’s Avvenire series. The bike comes in the Terra Deluxe (targeted MSRP of $3,495) and Terra Ultimate (targeted MSRP of $7,999). With two 15W solar panels that trickle life into the battery and multi-level pedal assist, it can get up to 60miles of range and a max speed of 20 mph. The Terra comes with built-in Bluetooth speakers and a drink holder. It also has launched with RidePoints and Daymak Drive X capabilities, which according to Daymak mean that riders can collect redeemable points via the company’s EV reward program for just riding around, and that the bike is blockchain-enabled.

Harley-Davidson is going to offer limited sales through its ebike spinoff Serial 1, of vintage-inspired electric bike model known as the limited edition S1 Series ebike.

Zaiser Motors announced that it reached its Wefunder campaign goals and has released the specs for its platform redesign, which includes the addition of a second sportier electric motorcycle, the Arrow. Its first “Electrocycle” is called the Silhouette and and has 300 miles of range with a 120 mph top speed. Both designs look like something you might make Yoshi drive on Mario Kart, complete with a shiny and bubbly red chassis. The Arrow is designed for city riders, is priced at $8,500 and has an expected range of 160 miles with a 100 mph top speed.

Active lifestyle brand Retrospec has released the Valen Rev, a moto-style electric bike that makes me want to cruise alongside a boardwalk on a California beach. Honestly, it’s a really cute-looking bike, with a retro vibe to it, a tan leather saddle and a choice between fog blue, olive green or black — all matte. It’s got a 48V motor, 6 levels of pedal assist and a 50-mile range, all for the reasonable price of $1,799.99.

— Rebecca Bellan

Deal of the week

money the station

It seemed as if the number of mobility-related SPAC deals had slowed. That brief pause was broken by Gogoro, the 10-year-old Taiwanese company best known for its electric scooters and swappable battery infrastructure.

The company has agreed to merge with Poema Global, a SPAC affiliated with Princeville Capital, in a deal that sets its enterprise valuation at $2.35 billion. If approved by shareholders. the company will trade on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol GGR.

Gogoro stands to make $550 million in proceeds, assuming as TechCrunch Catherine Shu reports, there are no redemptions. (A growing trend I really need to address in this newsletter). Those funds include an oversubscribed private investment in public equity of more than $250 million and $345 million held in trust by Poema Global. Investors in the PIPE include strategic partners like Hon Hai (Foxconn) Technology Group and GoTo, the Indonesian tech giant created through the merger of Gojek and Tokopedia, and new and existing investors like Generation Investment Management, Taiwan’s National Development Fund, Temasek and Dr. Samuel Yin of Ruentex Group, Gogoro’s founding investor.

So why now? Founder and CEO Horace Luke provided a curious answer that I know will cause a few of my institutional investor friends to raise an eyebrow or two. Luke first explained that with fresh partnerships in place — Yadea and DCJ in China to build a battery-swapping network and Hero MotoCorp in India to launch scooters — it was time to take the company to the next level.

And he added that Gogoro decided to go the SPAC route because “you can talk a lot deeper about what the business opportunity is, what the structure is, what the partnerships are, so you can properly value a company rather than a quick roadshow. Given our business plans, it gives us a great opportunity to focus on the expansion.”

Huh. Anyone ever heard of a “quick roadshow?” Comments from some founders who have taken the traditional IPO path would suggest the contrary.

Other deals that got my attention this week …

BridgeLinx, the Lahore-based startup that operates a digital freight marketplace, raised $10 million in what is the largest seed financing round in Pakistan. Harry Stebbings’ 20 VC, Josh Buckley’s Buckley Ventures and Indus Valley Capital co-led the startup’s financing round, which Salman Gul, co-founder and chief executive of BridgeLinx, told TechCrunch completed within weeks.

Chaldal, the Bangladeshi grocery delivery startups that picks up orders from its own warehouses instead of retail stores, closed a $10 million Series C round led by Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of Wise, Topia chief product officer Sten Tamkivi and Xploration Capital, with participation from Mir Group. The company plans to use the funds to expand into 15 new cities.

EnerVenue, a battery startup that says it has developed technology to revolutionize stationary energy storage, raised $100 million from strategic investors including Schlumberger, Saudi Aramco’s VC arm and Stanford University. The investment comes around a year after EnerVenue raised a $12 million seed. The company is planning on using the funds to scale its nickel-hydrogen battery production, including a factory in the U.S., and has entered a manufacturing and distribution agreement with Schlumberger for international markets.

GPB Capital Holdings LLC, the private-equity firm being investigated by the SEC on fraud allegations, is selling its car dealership company Prime Automotive Group for about $880 million, WSJ reports.

General Motors has invested in Oculii, a software startup that aims to improve the spatial resolution of radar sensors by up to 100-fold. The new funding, which the two companies say is in the millions, comes just months after Oculii closed a $55 million Series B.

Glovo, the Spanish on-demand delivery platform that operates a network of dark stores focused on urban convenience shopping, announced the acquisition of two regional “Instacart-style” grocery picking and delivery startups, Madrid-based Lola Market and Portugal’s Mercadão. Terms of the acquisitions are not being disclosed.

Muver, a mobile app that lets drivers earn more by managing their interactions with ride-sharing and delivery services, raised $1.2 million in a seed round led by Xploration Capital joined by Baring Vostok, Angelsdeck and Rapid Ladder Capital.

Rolls-Royce Holdings and Babcock International Group sold their combined 39% stake in air-to-air refueling company AirTanker Holdings Ltd. for 315 million pounds ($435 million) to Equitix Investment Management, Reuters reported.

Siemens wants to sell its logistics unit for roughly 500 million euro ($591 million) as part of the German industrial conglomerate’s plan to exit non-core businesses and focus on its industrial operations, Reuters reported.

UPS agreed to acquire Roadie, a platform that uses gig workers to provide local same-day delivery in the United States. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The acquisition signals shipping giant’s move into same-day delivery, particularly perishable and other goods that are not compatible with the UPS network.

Volta Trucks, the EV startup, raised €37 million ($44 million) to accelerate its plans to produce and sell large cargo vehicles. The round was led by New York-based Luxor Capital Group and returning investor Byggmästare Anders J Ahlström Holding of Stockholm. New investors included U.S. electric truck and battery manufacturer Proterra and supply chain management company Agility. Volta Trucksy said it plans to pilot a fleet of vehicles in London and Paris early next year.

Policy corner

the-station-delivery

Hello everyone! Welcome back to policy corner. Remember the safety probe the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration opened into Tesla Autopilot in August? In case your memory needs refreshing: NHTSA opened a preliminary investigation into 12 (originally eleven) incidents of Tesla cars crashing into parked emergency vehicles. The regulator ordered Tesla to hand over detailed data on the ADAS by October 22 or risk facing a fine of up to $115 million.

Earlier this week, NHTSA sent letters to 12 automakers — including Ford, VW, and General Motors — requesting data on their Level 2 ADAS to aid it in its investigation. The letter to Ford says the information request is “to gather information in support of [the agency’s] comparative analysis amongst production vehicles equipped with the ability to control both steering and braking/accelerating simultaneously under some circumstances.”

Among the data NHTSA is interested in obtaining: the number of vehicles equipped with ADAS the automaker has manufactured; how the company approaches the enforcement of driver attentiveness; other details about the system, like the conditions that would require driver take-over; as well as any consumer complaints, lawsuits, or crash reports related to the system.

Why is this news in policy corner? Well, similar to how each Supreme Court adjudication creates the law, the results of NHTSA’s investigations could also set a precedent for how ADAS is regulated writ large. The agency leveraging its broad authority to gather information could result in new standards or rules for how automakers develop and deploy ADAS in millions of cars now and into the future.

It’s important to remember that NHTSA really is empowered with a huge amount of authority — they could issue a recall of every Tesla on the road, if they so deemed that its Autopilot was sufficiently unsafe.

Speaking of Tesla and GM … it looks likely that the per-manufacturer cap disqualifying the two automakers’ vehicles from the so-called “30D” $7,500 tax credit may be removed soon. They’re disqualified because each automaker has sold more than 200,000 EVs. Anyway, there are two separate proposals being debated in Congress, one in the House and one in the Senate, as part of a larger effort to overhaul and potentially dramatically expand the 30D credit (I wrote about it here). While the proposals have a few significant differences, removing the manufacturer cap isn’t one of them. What that means is a Tesla Model 3 or a new Cadillac EV would once again qualify.

One more note … Evidently, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities halted the approval of new applications for its grant program for purchasing an electric vehicle — because the $30 million earmarked to cover the program is already nearly out of money! Under the Charge Up New Jersey program, people can apply for grants of up to $5,000 for an EV. But demand is so high that that money is already nearly gone.

— Aria Alamalhodaei

Notable news and other tidbits

Let’s dig into the news of the week …

Autonomous vehicles

Walmart has tapped Argo AI and Ford to launch an autonomous vehicle delivery service in Austin, Miami and Washington, D.C. The service will allow customers to place online orders for groceries and other items using Walmart’s ordering platform. Argo’s cloud-based infrastructure will be integrated with Walmart’s online platform, routing the orders and scheduling package deliveries to customers’ homes. Initially, the commercial service will be limited to specific geographic areas in each city and will expand over time. The companies will begin testing later this year.

Batteries

Redwood Materials, the company started by former Tesla co-founder and CTO JB Straubel that aims to create a circular supply chain for batteries, is expanding beyond recycling. Redwood announced plans to simplify the supply chain by producing critical battery materials and is currently scouting a location for a new million-square-foot factory, at a cost of over $1 billion.

That factory will be dedicated to the production of cathodes and anode foils, the two essential building blocks of a lithium-ion battery structure — up to a projected volume of 100 gigawatt-hour per year’s worth of materials, enough for one million electric vehicles, by 2025.

Electric vehicles

Ford Motor announced plans to invest another $250 million and add 450 jobs to increase production capacity of its upcoming F-150 Lightning to 80,000 all-electric trucks annually. The announcement comes after receiving more than 150,000 pre-orders for the all-electric pickup truck. The additional funds and jobs will be spread out across its new Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center and Rawsonville Components Plant.

Lucid Group, the all-electric automaker slated to go public this year, said one variant of its upcoming luxury Air sedan has an EPA range of more than 520 miles. The official rating of the Lucid Air Dream Edition Range variant pushes Lucid past Tesla, a company that has long dominated in this category. This announcement not only gives Lucid bragging rights, it reveals a bit about the company’s strategy to offer a variety of versions of the Air sedan with prices ranging between $169,000 and $77,400.

The National Transportation Safety Board announced via Twitter it will investigate a Tesla vehicle crash that killed two people in Coral Gables, Florida. It is not clear if the company’s advanced driver assistance system Autopilot was engaged at the time.

Polestar has shared a few more details of its future electric SUV, including that it will have only two rows of seats, offer single-motor and dual-motor versions and have a powertrain that goes beyond EV versions of the Volvo XC90, Car and Driver reported.

People news

Clive Sinclair, the British entrepreneur and inventor behind the ZX personal computer, pocket calculator and numerous other consumer electronics, died at age 81. Sinclair was also interested in electric vehicles. He invented the infamous Sinclair C5 electric trike, which would spectacularly fail in 1982 only to gain a cult following many years later. Sinclair would invent other electric vehicles, including the electric bike called Sinclair Zike in 1992. He actually spent much of his time in the past 12 years working on personal transportation vehicles like the foldable A bike.

Ford Motor has hired Mike Amend as its chief digital and information officer as the automaker seeks to expand into software, subscriptions and in-vehicle connectivity. Amend, who was president of Lowe’s Online for three years, will focus on Ford’s “use of data, software and technology” — all areas central to Ford’s new Ford+ strategy.

Misc. bits

CNBC writes about headlights and how they’re undergoing a technological revolution that has regulators trying to catch up.

Hyundai, which owns a controlling interest in Boston Dynamics, announced the arrival of the “Factory Safety Service Robot,” essentially a modded up version of Spot designed for safety inspections at factories. Naturally, Hyundai is starting close to home, rolling out its first pilot at a Seoul plant for subsidiary, Kia.

Fair Financial Corp., the car subscription startup, is considering bankruptcy to eliminate debt, reported Automotive News. The company now wants to start a vehicle retailing platform called Fair Technologies.

Reilly Brennan of Trucks VC has launched a jobs board called Mobility Jobs that is focused on the future of transportation. Reilly, who has his own well regarded newsletter, is also fan of TechCrunch and so he’s giving us this code: THESTATION, which gives you dear reader 100% off if you post a job using that special code. Cheers!

#automotive, #electric-pickup-trucks, #electric-vehicles, #ford, #gogoro, #hyundai, #polestar, #reilly-brennan, #rivian, #scooters, #tesla, #the-station, #transportation, #venture-capital

Elon Musk praises Chinese automakers amidst regulatory scrutiny

An unusually scripted Elon Musk issued conciliatory and complimentary comments to Chinese automakers during a pre-recorded appearance at China’s World New Energy Vehicle Congress, striking a pose that is worlds away from his commentary style in the United States.

“I have a great deal of respect for the many Chinese automakers for driving these [EV and AV] technologies,” he said, the reflection of a ring light just visible in the window over his left shoulder. The entire tableau was enough to make one suspect that there was a crisis communications expert just out of frame, urging him to continue with his prepared remarks.

Then again, perhaps Musk doesn’t need any external coaxing; China is one of the most lucrative markets for electric vehicles in the entire world, accounting for around one-fifth – or $6.66 billion – of Tesla’s overall sales last year, according to regulatory filings.

While the United States continues to be one Tesla’s largest market, the company has aggressively pursued expansion in China, including opening Gigafactory Shanghai in 2019 to manufacture the Model 3 and Model Y. Tesla faces competition from Chinese automakers, including electric car startup Xpeng and the search giant company Baidu.

“My frank observation is that Chinese automobile companies are the most competitive in the world, especially because some are very good at software, and it is software that will most shape the future of the automobile industry, from design to manufacturing and especially autonomous driving,” Musk said in the message.

The company’s entrance into the EV market of the world’s most populous nation was bumpy at first, but Tesla managed to turn it around. Last year, the Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling EV in China. Tesla has also received unprecedented autonomy in the region, especially as it is the only non-Chinese automaker allowed to wholly own its local subsidiary. It’s a fact that Musk’s noted in past public appearances.

“I think something that’s really quite noteworthy here is, Tesla’s the only foreign manufacturer to have a hundred percent owned factory in China,” Musk said during the company’s Battery Day event last year. “This is often not well understood or not appreciated, but to have the only hundred percent owned foreign factory in China is a really big deal, and it’s paying huge dividends.”

But it hasn’t all been roses: the company has faced a flurry of negative media from both consumers and regulators this year, beginning in February when Chinese government officials summoned company executives for a meeting over vehicle safety concerns.  (To which Tesla said, “We sincerely accepted the guidance of government departments and deeply reflected on shortcomings in our business operations.”)

Then, in April, a woman who said she was a Tesla owner protested the company at the Shanghai auto show in April. Bloomberg reported a few months later that Tesla was attempting to build relationships with Chinese social media influencers and auto-industry publications to combat all the bad PR.

In his pre-recorded remarks, Musk also responded to a question on self-driving vehicles and data security, calling it “not only the responsibility of a single company but also the cornerstone of the whole industry development.” This issue is especially sensitive after news emerged that the Chinese military banned drivers from parking their Tesla’s at its facilities. Last month, China released new regulations aimed at bolstering data security in connected automobiles, Tech Wire Asia reported. Tesla and other automakers, including Ford and BMW, moved to establish local data storage centers in China.

“Tesla will work with national authorities in all countries to ensure data security of intelligent and connected vehicles,” he added.

#automotive, #china, #electric-vehicles, #elon-musk, #tesla, #transportation, #xpeng

Tesla will open controversial FSD beta software to owners with a good driving record

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company will use personal driving data to determine whether owners who have paid for its controversial “Full Self-Driving” software can access the latest beta version that promises more automated driving functions.

Musk tweeted late Thursday night that the FSD Beta v10.0.1 software update, which has already been pushed out to a group of select owners, will become more widely available starting September 24.

Owners who have paid for FSD, which currently costs $10,000, will be offered access to the beta software through a “beta request button.” Drivers who select the beta software will be asked for permission to access their driving behavior using Tesla’s insurance calculator, Musk wrote in a tweet.

“If driving behavior is good for seven days, beta access will be granted,” Musk wrote.

Tesla vehicles come standard with a driver assistance system branded as Autopilot. For an additional $10,000, owners can buy “full self-driving,” or FSD — software that Musk has repeatedly promised will one day deliver full autonomous driving capabilities.

FSD, which has steadily increased in price and has added new functions, has been available as an option for years. However, Tesla vehicles are not self-driving. FSD includes the parking feature Summon as well as Navigate on Autopilot, an active guidance system that navigates a car from a highway on-ramp to off-ramp, including interchanges and making lane changes.

The latest FSD Beta is supposed to automate driving on highways and city streets. However, this is still a Level 2 driver assistance system that requires the driver to pay attention, have their hands on the wheel and take control at all times. Recent videos posted showing owners’ experiences with this beta software provide a mixed picture of its capability. In some videos, the vehicles handle city driving; in many others, drivers are seen taking control due to missed turns, being too close to the curb, failure to creep forward and, in one case, veering off suddenly toward pedestrians.

#automotive, #autopilot, #elon-musk, #fsd, #insurance, #tesla

Lucid Air snags the longest range EV title, surpassing Tesla

Lucid Group, the all-electric automaker slated to go public this year, said Thursday that one variant of its upcoming luxury Air sedan has an EPA range of more than 520 miles. The official rating of the Lucid Air Dream Edition Range variant pushes Lucid past Tesla, a company that has long dominated in this category.

The official EPA range of the Lucid Air — and its many editions — have been expected to be as high or higher than some of Tesla’s models. This announcement not only gives Lucid bragging rights, it reveals a bit about the company’s strategy to offer a variety of versions of the Air sedan with prices ranging between $169,000 and $77,400.

Lucid initially planned to sell one version of Lucid Air Dream Edition, essentially its first and flagship model of the sedan. There are now two versions: the Lucid AirDream Edition Range, which has 520 miles of range when equipped with 19-inch tires and 933 horsepower, and the Lucid Air Dream Edition Performance, a more powerful version with 1,111 horsepower that can travel 471 miles on a single charge when equipped with 19-inch tires. The range on the Dream Edition Range drops to 481 and the Dream Edition Performance to 451 miles when the vehicles have 21 inch tires.

Lucid Group CTO and CEO Peter Rawlinson credits the range figure on a combination of its 900V battery and battery management system, smaller drive units and its electric drive train technology. Rawlinson noted that he believed this is a new record for any EV.

Lucid plans to produce and sell other variants of the Air, including a Grand Touring version that received a 516-mile EPA range rating. The Grand Touring variant has a starting price of $139,000, while the longest range Dream Edition has a base price of $169,000. The automaker plans to sell two other, less expensive versions: the Air Touring that starts at $95,000 and the Air Pure with a $77,400 base price.

#automotive, #electric-vehicles, #lucid-air, #lucid-group, #tesla, #transportation

JB Straubel’s Redwood Materials is expanding into the battery materials business

Redwood Materials, the company started by former Tesla co-founder JB Straubel that aims to create a circular supply chain for batteries, is expanding its business. While it has been known primarily as a recycling firm, Redwood plans to simplify the supply chain by producing critical battery materials right here in the U.S.

To get there, the company is currently scouting a location for a new million-square-foot factory, at a cost of over $1 billion, Bloomberg reported. That factory would be dedicated to the production of cathodes and anode foils, the two essential building blocks of a lithium-ion battery structure – up to a projected volume of 100 gigawatt-hour per year’s worth of materials, enough for one million electric vehicles, by 2025.

But that’s not all. By 2030, the company expects to increase its annual battery materials production to 500 GWh, enough to power five million electric vehicles.

These numbers are incredibly ambitious. If Redwood can pull it off, it would be putting itself squarely among the ranks of the largest materials giants in the world, many of which are located in Asia. BloombergNEF estimated that consolidating the cathode supply chain to the United States, and using a certain percentage of recycled materials, could cut emissions from battery-pack production by 41%.

Recycling alone won’t take the company to these kinds of production numbers, though Redwood is also planning on expanding its recycling operations. Instead, the company said in a statement that it would produce the anodes and cathodes from both recycled batteries and “sustainably mined material.” For now, the company is staying mum on its partners for this new endeavor, but it will likely mean more announcements of partnerships and expansions in the future.

This is just the latest bold move from the company, which has been making moves to aggressively expand its footprint for months. Earlier this summer, Redwood said it would triple the size of its 150,000-square-foot recycling facility in Carson City, Nevada, and it also purchased 100 acres of land near Tesla and Panasonic’s Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada. The news also comes fresh off the heels of a $700 million Series C funding round, from major investors including Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Baillie Gifford and Goldman Sachs Asset Management. The capital launched Redwood’s valuation to $3.7 billion.

The company has recycling deals with Tesla, Amazon, electric bus maker Proterra, and electric bike maker Specialized Bicycle Components. Redwood says it can recover between 95-95% of critical materials from recycled batteries, such as lithium, copper, nickel and cobalt.

#automotive, #electric-vehicles, #jb-straubel, #lithium-ion-batteries, #supply-chains, #tesla, #transportation

Toyota, Honda urge Congress to reject expanded tax incentive that would benefit Ford, GM, Stellantis

Toyota Motor and Honda are urging legislators to reject a bill that would expand tax incentives for union-made electric vehicles that are built in the United States.

The proposal – which Toyota blasted as “blatantly biased” and “exorbitant” in a letter to Congress – would expand the federal tax incentives from $7,500 to as much as $12,500 for union- and domestically manufactured cars. Vehicles with batteries manufactured in the U.S. would be eligible for an additional $500. If the legislation passes, vehicles from automakers like Toyota, Honda and Tesla would be excluded from the expanded credit, while the “Big Three” manufacturers in Detroit would all qualify.

“The current [bill] draft makes the objective of accelerating the deployment of electrified vehicles secondary by discriminating against American autoworkers based on their choice not to unionize,” Toyota said in a letter to lawmakers. “This is unfair, it is wrong, and we ask you to reject this blatantly biased proposal.”

The automaker further said that the bill favors the wealthy – people that may not need public funds to purchase an electric vehicle. There is a means testing provision in the bill, that would limit access to the credit to individuals making an adjusted income of up to $400,000, or households that make up to $800,000. Whether to set an income cap – and what that income cap should be – has been a major point of contention between Congressional Democrats and Republicans.

The bill also received criticism from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who said on Twitter that it was “written by Ford/UAW lobbyists, as they make their electric car in Mexico. Not obvious how this serves American taxpayers.”

This would be the first such increase to the up to $7,500 tax credit for EVs since it was put into effect over a decade ago. The bill would also do away with a stipulation that exempts vehicles made by OEMs that have sold over 200,000 EVs from the credit, meaning that General Motor and Tesla cars would once again be eligible.

The bill did receive praise from GM, Ford Motor and Stellantis, three major automakers with workforces represented by the United Auto Workers union. The UAW also supports the proposal.

It’s being considered Tuesday by the House Ways and Means Committee. The expanded credit just one part of a massive $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that’s currently being debated by Congress and that includes a whole slew of socially progressive proposals meant to target education, healthcare, and climate change.

#automotive, #electric-vehicles, #ford, #general-motor, #gm, #policy, #tesla, #toyota, #transportation

The Station: Apple car shakeup, how Sept. 11 changed travel, and a pledge from airlines

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.

Hi readers: Welcome to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of moving people and packages from Point A to Point B.

Twenty years and one week ago, I was riding the monorail system at the Newark airport and pointed to the twin skyscrapers looming in the distance. “I can’t believe you’ve never been to the top of the World Trade Center,” I said to my then fiancé and now husband. Days later, I would walk into a restaurant in a Slovenian town and see a report on the TV about a plane crashing into one of those towers. Like so many of us, we spent the rest of that day watching the news and wondering what would happen next.

In all, four aircraft were hijacked the morning of September 11, two of which crashed into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon and the fourth in a field in Pennsylvania. In all, 2,996 people were killed.

The September 11 terrorist attacks triggered a series of events that would change the world forever, including how we move about it. My September 6, 2001 flight to Newark and then onto to Europe was the last time I would experience what now seems unimaginable: getting to an airport less than 45 minutes before my plane took off.

My trip home from Europe provided a forecast of what air travel would look and feel like, although some measures like when we were separately interviewed two different times prior to boarding, ended up being temporary.

Within months of my arrival home, passenger screening and security at airports would be handled by a new federal agency called the Transportation Security Administration. Security wasn’t the only aspect of air travel that changed.

The airline industry experienced skyrocketing losses that sparked a wave of cost-cutting, new fees for travelers and consolidation. According to the GAO, the U.S. airline industry lost $23 billion between 2001 and 2003 and some of the nation’s biggest airlines including USAir and United Airlines filed for bankruptcy.

The airline industry would suffer financial losses during the Great Recession of 2008, causing more bankruptcies and consolidation. Today, most domestic flights are controlled by four airlines: American, Delta, Southwest and United.

After recovering and stringing together a few years of profitability, the airline industry (and how we travel) would get hit again: this time from the COVID-19 pandemic.

p.s. Thanks to co-worker and cybersecurity editor Zack Whittaker for the photo (featured as the main image for the post) he snapped yesterday.

As always, you can email me at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share thoughts, criticisms, opinions or tips. You also can send a direct message to me at Twitter — @kirstenkorosec.

Micromobbin’

We’ve talked before about the possibilities of shared micromobility to help cities create more equitable and accessible transit ecosystems. Shared operators have expanded this idea to support activism.

Agencies and operators provided free or discounted trips for demonstrators to get to events, according to the North American Bikeshare and Scootershare Association’s 2020 report on the state of the shared micromobility industry, Many even donated or fundraised for racial justice nonprofits.

Not only are they aiding the fight on the ground, the report also shows that nearly three-quarters of all operators stated that diversity was a part of every hiring decision, and 69 percent reported that women and POC are represented at all levels of the organization.

Operator update

Lime is back in Oakland with 500 scooters and plans to scale up to 1,000 over the coming weeks. The company pulled out of the city last year during the pandemic. This time, it’s focusing on “Communities of Concern” as designated by the city, and will deploy half its fleet to these neighborhoods that have been traditionally underserved by transportation.

Tier is hooking up with Irish computer vision startup Luna. Tier is adding Luna’s cameras and smart city technology to its shared e-scooter fleets across Europe and the Middle East. To handle the increase in work, Luna is hiring 15 new staffers to cover computer vision/AI, hardware, IoT and project management roles in Ireland. Interestingly, the partnership comes from an Ireland trade mission to Germany to better understand how the two countries could work together within the e-mobility and automotive industry. Luna just recently launched a pilot with Voi in England, and Ford-backed micromobility operator Spin is slowly pushing out Drover AI’s similar tech on scooters in the United States.

Speaking of Voi, the Swedish company is working with the UK government’s Kickstart Scheme to help create jobs for people ages 16 to 24 years old on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment. Voi is recruiting 25 young people across the country to work as Warehouse Operatives and Fleet Specialists. The young ones will be ensured a job for at least six months and will hopefully learn a thing or two about a growing transport industry.

Bird has tweaked its branding. It recently announced its scooters and bikes will now be made in “Electric Sky” blue, as opposed to its black, white and silver color scheme. The color evokes eco-friendly transportation, clear skies and cheerful days. It’s reminiscent of Revel’s blue mopeds and Swapfiets’ bikes.

Taking liberties with the term “micromobility”

Chinese EV maker Xpeng says it’s going to make a robot unicorn for children to ride. The quadruped will navigate multiple types of terrain, recognize objects and provide “emotional interaction.” The robot pulls from Xpeng’s experiences with AI and automated driving development. The rendering looks cute and soft, for a metal beast, but the horn could be a bit longer IMO. Bonus: it’s not creepy-looking like Xiaomi’s robot dog.

Dutch startup Squad Mobility has introduced details for its small, low-cost electric city car that’s equipped with solar panels which drip feed the battery throughout the day. The company hopes to come out with a prototype for the solar-assisted quadricycle by October this year and begin deliveries by the end of next year. While it would be a fun passenger vehicle for city folks, the end game is to get in good with one of the car-sharing or shared micromobility operators and sell fleets of the Squad car for shared use.

At the Munich Motor Show, BMW revealed a couple of electric bike concepts that look pretty wicked. The Motorrad Vision AMBY looks like a motorcycle, but is probably more along the class of off-road motorbike, complete with fat tires and a seat-to-footrest ratio that brings to mind all the shredding that can be had. The i Vision AMBY is more of a traditional road e-bike, but maybe one that’s inspired by Back to the Future, such is its retrofuturistic vibe and, I’ll say it, postal service-beige frame.

ADAS in scooters

The desire to keep shared electric scooters off sidewalks has driven the development of advanced technology in the micromobility industry. Once the province of geofencing, scooter companies are so eager to get a leg up on the competition that they’re now implementing technology similar to advanced driver assistance systems usually found in cars. Check out my story in Extra Crunch that digs into this trend.

Micromobility America event

The folks who write our other favorite micromobility newsletter are going to be hosting a micromobility event in the SF Bay Area. On September 23, a range of experts, founders, investors and builders will be sharing top insights about the world of lightweight electric vehicles and their potential to disrupt transportation, including:
Brazilian racing driver Lucas Di Grassi, American entrepreneur and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, senior writer at Wired Lauren Goode, analyst and founder of the term “micromobility” Horace Dediu

Register now, if you still can. Space is limited.

— Rebecca Bellan

Deal of the week

money the station

Investors continue to sink money into ride-hailing companies. Cao Cao Mobility, the ride-hailing unit of Chinese automaker Geely Automobile Holdings, is the latest example.

The company raised $589 million (RMB 3.8 billion) in a Series B round led by Suzhou Xiangcheng Financial Holding Group, an investment company backed by the Xiangcheng district government of Suzhou. Suzhou High-Speed Rail New City Group and three other state-controlled enterprises also participated.

The raise brings the company’s total funding to around $773.2 million (RMB 5 billion).

As TechCrunch reporter Rebecca Bellan notes, Cao Cao is positioned for further growth and a larger market share, as long as the Chinese government believes the company is operating fairly. Its competitors Didi Global and Amap have come under increased government scrutiny that has hurt their business, while giving Cao Cao a boost.

A cybersecurity investigation prompted the Chinese government to temporarily remove Didi Global from Chinese app stores. As a result, Cao Cao, which is currently available in 62 cities in China, saw ride volume increase 32% in July.

Other deals that got my attention this week …

Accure, the Aachen, Germany-based battery safety software company raised $8 million in a Series A round led by Blue Bear Capital. Capnamic Ventures and 42CAP also participated.

BP Ventures, the investing arm of oil and gas giant BP, made a €10 million ($11.9 million) investment in Ryd, a German in-car digital payments provider. The funds will be used to help Ryd expand its service into international markets and build out its offering.

Delhivery, the Indian logistics firm, courted Lee Fixel’s Addition as an investor before its expected IPO in the next two quarters: The Gurgaon-headquartered firm disclosed in a regulatory filing that Addition invested $76.4 million in the startup as part of a Series I round. Delihivery hasn’t disclosed the total raise or other investors.

Delimobil, the Russian car sharing company, has chosen banks to organize its IPO listing and is seeking to raise around $ 350 million, Reuters reported.

Skydweller Aero, the U.S.-Spanish aerospace startup, received an additional $8 million in oversubscribed funding led by Leonardo S.p.A, Marlinspike Capital and Advection Growth Capital. The funds were added to its Series A round, which had previously reached $32 million. The company said it has also partnered with Palantir Technologies to use its Foundry analytics platform to process information at-scale and onboard the aircraft designed for telecommunications, government operations and emergency services.

Tritium Holdings, the Australian developer of DC fast-charging technology for electric vehicles, raised A$40 million  ($29.4 million) from the investment arm of Cigna.

WattE, a company trying to develop a network of truck stops and run a fleet of 12,000 electric trucks to share, will receive a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission. The grant is for the construction of the state’s first electric truck stop. The company also recently closed a $6 million Series A round led by Canon Equity.

A little bird

blinky cat bird green

I hear things. But I’m not selfish. Let me share what the little birds are telling me.

You likely spotted the widespread coverage, including by TechCrunch, that Ford Motor hired Doug Field, the engineering executive who was VP of Apple’s special projects team and its secret, not-very-secret car program.

Field, who also once worked as senior vice president of engineering at Tesla, was named as Ford’s chief advanced technology and embedded systems officer. Soon after the news broke, reports came out that Kevin Lynch, who led development on the Apple Watch, had taken over Field’s role on the car project.

All of this had TC readers wondering (at least according to my DMs and emails) whether Apple’s car program was at risk. I reached out to some folks and one source told me that Apple employees were in Korea meeting with battery manufacturers as early as last week, which suggests that the game is on. You might recall, The Korea Times reported back in early August a team from Apple was visiting battery manufacturers LG Chem, SK, and Hanwha as part of “early talks.”

It seems those talks are still happening.

Policy corner

the-station-delivery

Welcome back to policy corner! Big news out of the aviation industry this week, as major airlines pledged to make 3 billion gallons of “sustainable aviation fuel” available to aircraft carriers by 2030, in line with a federal goal of reducing aviation emissions by 20% by the start of the next decade.

The announcement was made by industry group Airlines for America (A4A), whose members include United Airlines, Delta, American Airlines and Southwest. The group had previously set a target of 2 billion gallons by 2030 back in March. (Also yesterday, United made a separate announcement that it would purchase 1.5 billion gallons of SAF from startup Alder Fuels, pending certain conditions are met. Check out my story on the deal here.

A4A stressed the importance of federal action to support the development of SAF, including a “blender” tax credit for SAF mixed with conventional fuel and public-private research partnerships into SAF tech.

But this would be just the beginning, if President Joe Biden has his say; his administration wants a “fully zero-carbon aviation sector by 2050,” according to a White House fact sheet released Thursday. Aviation accounts for 11% of the country’s transportation-related emissions, the fact sheet says. Plus, while 3 billion gallons of fuel certainly sounds like a lot, a United spokesperson told TechCrunch that the airline consumes around 4 billion annually, and the White House says demand overall could be as high as 35 billion gallons per year by 2050.

To meet that demand, Biden said he is seeking that SAF incentives be included in the $3.5 trillion spending bill currently being debated by Congress, including a tax credit and $4.3 billion earmarked for funding SAF projects.

It’s important to note two things: one, as it currently stands, SAF is more expensive than conventional jet fuel, itself a considerable cost for airlines. Two, the above goals on behalf of the airlines are non-binding, voluntary agreements. Taken together, that means (in my humble opinion) that a tax incentive or something like it will be necessary for SAF to achieve cost parity with conventional fuel — and for airlines to actually adopt it.


The other policy items that caught my eye this week come from the great state of New York. The first is out of New York City, which set a target to install 40,000 public Level 2 chargers and 6,000 DC fast chargers by 2030. This buildout, outlined in the Department of Transportation’s EV plan, will be necessary for the city to reach its target of being fully carbon neutral by 2050.

Finally, the New York State House signed a bill into law requiring all passenger vehicles sold in-state to be zero-emission by 2035, making it the second state (after California) to introduce a set deadline to phase out internal combustion engine cars. It’s hard to know whether this is the start of a sea change in state policy or whether NY and California are anomalies, but I can see this type of legislation becoming more popular in the coming years.

— Aria Alamalhodaei

Notable news and other tidbits

Autonomous vehicles

Anthony Levandowski, the controversial and presidentially pardoned autonomous vehicle technology engineer, sat down with The Information for an interview that included details about his company’s pivot from big rigs to dump trucks.

Aurora co-founder Sterling Anderson laid out the autonomous vehicle company’s development process in a blog post this week. Aurora collaborated with half a dozen OEMs and has integrated its self-driving system into eight distinct vehicle platforms. Anderson wrote that the outcome “is a highly refined Driver-vehicle interface and a structured process for the design, development, and launch of vehicles designed for it that we call the Aurora Driver Development Program.” Side note: Aurora has made its Pittsburgh office its official headquarters.

Intel subsidiary Mobileye and rental car giant Sixt SE announced plans to launch a robotaxi service in Munich next year. As I noted in my article, the robotaxi service will leverage all of Intel’s, and more specifically Mobileye’s, assets that have been in development or purchased in recent years, including the $900 million acquisition in 2020 of Moovit, an Israeli startup that analyzes urban traffic patterns and provides transportation recommendations with a focus on public transit.

Through the partnership, riders will be able to access the robotaxi service via the Moovit app. The service will also be offered through Sixt’s mobility ONE app, which gives customers the ability to hail a ride, rent, share or subscribe to vehicles. Caveat: this won’t be a large-scale service in the beginning; it will start small and operate similarly to other early rider programs first modeled by nuTonomy and Waymo.

WeRide, a Chinese autonomous vehicle technology company, unveiled its first cargo van. The company said it will work with Chinese automobile manufacturer Jiangling Motors and Chinese express delivery company ZTO Express to commercialize its first self-driving van at scale. The “robovans” will be based on JMC’s battery electric vehicle model with a fully redundant vehicle platform, combined with WeRide’s full-stack software and hardware autonomous driving (AD) solutions.

Electric vehicles (and batteries)

GM extended a shutdown at its Orion Assembly Plant by another two weeks due to a battery pack shortage related to the widespread Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV safety recall. GM said the extended downtime at the Orion plant will last through September 20. Orion Assembly Plant in Michigan has been shut down since August 23.

Ford has hired six senior-level executives to its newly minted commercial vehicles and services business unit as the automaker prepares to bring to market the E-Transit cargo van and the F-150 Lightning Pro pickup truck — two electric vehicles it’s betting will become commercial customers’ new workhorses.

Sila Nanotechnologies’ next-generation battery technology made its commercial product debut in the new Whoop fitness tracker, a milestone that caps a decade of research and development by the Silicon Valley startup. This matters because Sila Nano has joint battery ventures with BMW and Daimler to produce batteries containing the company’s silicon-anode technology, with the goal of going to market in the automotive industry by 2025.

Solid Power, a battery developer backed by Ford and BMW, is preparing to start pilot production of its solid state batteries early next year. A new production facility will be dedicated to manufacturing a sulfide-based solid electrolyte material and pilot production of its commercial-grade, 100 ampere battery cells. Those pouch cells are expected to go to Ford and BMW for automotive testing in early 2022.

Meet Squad Mobility and learn about its vision of the perfect urban vehicle. Here’s a hint: it’s small, cheap, electric and includes solar.

Tesla set the official record for electric vehicles at Nürburgring with a Tesla “Model S Plaid,” that driven by Andreas Simonsen circumnavigated the 20.8-kilometre. (12.9-mile) Nordschleife loop in 7:35.579, according to a statement from the motorsports complex.

Toyota Motor said it will oppose a proposal by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives to give union-made electric vehicles in the United States an additional $4,500 tax incentive, Reuters reported. The company said the proposal discriminates “against American autoworkers based on their choice not to unionize.”

Volta Trucks, a full-electric commercial vehicle manufacturer, said its first vehicles will be manufactured in Steyr, Austria, by Steyr Automotive, formerly MAN Truck and Bus Austria.

Delivery and sharing

DoorDash, Caviar, Grubhub, Seamless, Postmates and Uber Eats have sued the City of New York over a law that would permanently limit the amount of commissions the apps can charge restaurants to use their services. The companies are seeking an injunction that would prevent the city from enforcing the legislation, unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

Plentywaka co-founder and CEO Onyeka Akumah was interviewed by TechCrunch as part of its ongoing founders Q&A series.

Misc. stuff

Hyundai Motor Group laid out its hydrogen strategy, announcing it will provide hydrogen fuel cell versions for all its commercial vehicles by 2028. Hyundai’s goal is to achieve cost competitiveness comparable to that of EV batteries by 2030. The company also shared details about its high-performance, rear-wheel drive hydrogen sports car, the Vision FK, with a targeted range of 373 miles. Hyundai did not share when the vehicle would go into production.

GM unveiled the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado, a full-sized pickup truck that received a major technology upgrade, including its hands-free Super Cruise advanced driver assistance system and an infotainment system with embedded Google services, as well as an overhauled interior.

David Zipper wrote a piece for Slate examining the growing problem of infotainment systems.

#airlines, #anthony-levandowski, #apple, #apple-car, #automotive, #bmw, #cao-cao-mobility, #caviar, #delta-airlines, #doordash, #ford, #grubhub, #intel, #mobileye, #postmates, #seamless, #tesla, #transportation, #united-airlines

Tesla should say something

Last weekend, a reader wrote to this editor, politely asking why tech companies should speak up about the abortion law that Texas passed last week.

“What does American Airlines have to do with abortion?” said the reader, suggesting that companies can’t possibly cater to both pro-abortion and anti-abortion advocates and that asking them to take a stand on an issue unrelated to their business would only contribute to the politicization of America.

It’s a widely held point of view, and the decision yesterday by the U.S. Department of Justice to challenge the law, which U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has called “clearly unconstitutional,” may well reinforce it. After all, if anyone should be pushing back against what happened in the Lone Star State, it should be other legislators, not companies, right?

Still, there are more reasons than not for technology companies – and particularly Tesla – to step out of the shadows and bat down this law.

It’s a fact that abortion restrictions lead to higher healthcare costs for employers, but one consequence of the Texas law that could hit tech companies especially hard is its impact on hiring. According to a study by the social enterprise Rhia Ventures, 60% of women say they would be discouraged from taking a job in a state that has tried to restrict access to abortion, and the same is true for a slight majority of men, the study found.

Texas’s abortion law also creates an extra-judicial enforcement mechanism that should alarm tech companies. The new law allows private citizens to sue not just abortion providers but anyone who wittingly or unwittingly helps a woman obtain an abortion, whether they have a connection to the case or not. More, there are significant financial awards should a plaintiff win: each defendant is subject to paying $10,000, as well as subject to covering the costs and plaintiff’s attorney’s fees.

Just imagine if this precedent were applied to an issue that involves technology companies, such as consumer privacy. As Seth Chandler, a law professor at the University of Houston Law Center, observed to ABC this week. “[the] recipe that SB 8 has developed is not restricted to abortion. It can be used for any constitutional rights that people don’t like.”

Tech companies might very well say that taking asides on the Texas abortion debate would be the political equivalent of jumping on a live wire, and it’s easy to sympathize with this viewpoint. Even though Pew Research reports that about 6 in 10 Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, passions are heated on both sides.

Still, corporations have safely stood up for their values on controversial issues before — and they’ve shown that corporate pressure works. In a 2016, a group of roughly 70 major corporations, including Apple, Cisco, and even, yes, American Airlines, joined a legal effort to block a North Carolina law that banned transgender people from using public bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. Their ‘friend of the court’ brief argued that the law condoned “invidious discrimination” and would damage their ability to recruit and retain a diverse workforce.

By 2017, having already experienced severe economic consequences a lot of these same companies stopped doing business with North Carolina, the ban was rescinded.

The handful of CEOs, including from Lyft, Uber, Yelp, and Bumble have already taken very public positions against the next Texas law.  A company like Tesla could have an even bigger impact on the state’s politics. Elon Musk’s move to Texas ignited a firestorm of interest in the Texas tech scene, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott was so cognizant of Musk’s influence that he said Musk supported his state’s “social policies” the day after the new law was passed.

Musk — whose many financial interests in Texas include plans to build a new city called Starbase and to become a local electricity provider — has so far refused to take a stand on the law. When asked about the issue, he responded, “In general, I believe government should rarely impose its will upon the people, and, when doing so, should aspire to maximize their cumulative happiness.”

He also added that he would “prefer to stay out of politics.”

That could prove a mistake as lawmakers and executives in at least seven states, including Florida and South Dakota, have said they’re closing reviewing Texas’s new law and considering similar statutes.

In May 2019, nearly 200 CEOs, including Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Peter Grauer of Bloomberg a signed a full-page New York Times ad declaring that abortion bans are bad for business: “Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion,” the ad read, “threatens the health, independence and economic stability of our employees and customers.”

If Musk truly believes government should “rarely impose its will upon the people,” he should take a similar, public stand in Texas while the federal government fights what’s anticipated to be a long, uphill battle. He has little to lose in doing so — and much to gain.

#elon-musk, #spacex, #starbase, #tc, #tesla, #texas, #womens-rights

Tesla ordered to share Autopilot data with the US traffic safety agency

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has ordered Tesla to hand over detailed Autopilot data by October 22nd or else face fines of up to $115 million, according to The New York Times. Back in August, NHTSA announced that it’s investigating incidents wherein Tesla vehicles with Autopilot activated crashed into parked first responder vehicles with flashing lights. The agency originally cited 11 such crashes, which resulted in 17 injuries and one death since 2018, but a 12th incident occurred just this Saturday.

In a letter it sent the automaker, the NHTSA told Tesla to produce detailed information on how the driver assistance system works. It wants to know how it ensures that human drivers will keep their eyes on the road while Autopilot is engaged and whether there are limits on where it can be used. Feds have long criticized Tesla for not having the safeguards to make sure human drivers are keeping their hands on the wheel. A few months ago, the company finally activated the camera mounted above the rear view mirror in Model 3 and Model Y vehicles to “detect and alert driver inattentiveness while Autopilot is engaged.” In addition, Autopilot is only meant for use on highways, but there’s nothing keeping drivers from using it on local roads.

In addition to detailed Autopilot data, the NHTSA is also asking for information on how many cars Tesla has sold in the US. It wants to know every Autopilot-related arbitration proceeding or lawsuit the company has been involved in, along with all the complaints Tesla has received about the driver assistance technology from customers.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

#automotive, #autopilot, #column, #nhtsa, #tc, #tceng, #tesla

Elon Musk warns the Tesla Roadster might not ship until at least 2023

Add the Roadster to the list of delayed Tesla vehicles. On Wednesday, CEO Elon Musk said the performance EV wouldn’t make its previously announced 2022 shipment date. “2021 has been the year of super crazy supply chain shortages, so it wouldn’t matter if we had 17 new products, as none would ship,” he said in a tweet spotted by Roadshow. The executive added the Roadster should ship in 2023, “assuming 2022 is not mega drama.”

Tesla first announced its next-generation Roadster in 2017. Back then, the company expected to debut the car sometime last year. 2020 came and went without Tesla sharing much information on the supercar. Then, at the start of the year, Musk said production on the Roadster would start in 2022. Whether the car will make its new date is a big if. The global chip shortage that delayed the Tesla Semi is expected to continue until 2023, and Musk’s tweet hints at the possibility of further delays.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

#column, #elon-musk, #ev, #roadster, #tc, #tceng, #tesla

Tesla must tell NHTSA how Autopilot sees emergency vehicles

Tesla's Autopilot system is good at keeping pace with moving traffic, but it keeps crashing into emergency responders parked by the side of the road. The NHTSA wants to know why.

Enlarge / Tesla’s Autopilot system is good at keeping pace with moving traffic, but it keeps crashing into emergency responders parked by the side of the road. The NHTSA wants to know why. (credit: Tesla)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system continues apace. The Associated Press reports that on Tuesday, the NHTSA sent Tesla a letter requesting further information following 12 incidents of Autopilot-enabled Teslas crashing into emergency vehicles parked by the side of the road. In total, 17 people have been injured, and one has died.

The NHTSA sent Tesla the 11-page letter asking for detailed information on how Autopilot recognizes and reacts to emergency vehicles. The company must respond by October 22 unless it asks for an extension, and the AP says Tesla could be fined $114 million if it does not cooperate.

Specifically, the agency wants to know how the system detects “a crash scene, including flashing lights, road flares, reflectorized vests worn by responders, and vehicles parked on the road.” Additionally, Tesla must tell NHTSA how Autopilot works in low-light conditions and what happens if the system detects an emergency.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#cars, #crashes, #nhtsa, #tesla, #tesla-autopilot

Elon Musk’s Loop gets Autopilot — and an intruder

Less than two weeks after its official launch, The Boring Company’s Loop system in Las Vegas had its first security breach.

On June 21, the morning of the final day of the International Beauty Show, an “unauthorized vehicle” joined the system’s fleet of Tesla taxis underground, emails between the Loop’s operations manager and a Clark County official show. The emails were obtained by TechCrunch under public records laws.

The emails provide new insight into the operations of the Loop beyond the intrusion, including the system’s surprising reliance on a non-Tesla electric vehicle, plans to allow Tesla vehicles to use its Autopilot driver assistance system and confirmation within company ranks that the technology is not autonomous.

The Boring Company (TBC) called the Las Vegas Metro Police to handle the intrusion. “The driver of the unauthorized vehicle was cooperative and eventually escorted out of the system,” reads one email.

While there were no injuries or fatalities as a result of the security breach, the incident could be embarrassing for TBC, which has touted the security and safety of its $53 million system to the LVCC.

According to a management agreement between TBC and the LVCC, the system is supposed to have “physical barriers [to] guard against entry of accidental, rogue, or otherwise unauthorized vehicles into the tunnels.” These include security gates on roadways into the system, and dozens of concrete bollards surrounding its ground-level stations.

Neither TBC nor LVCC responded to inquiries about the incident. TechCrunch will update the article if either party responds to questions.

Autopilot gets a chance

The emails obtained by TechCrunch provide more than the exploits of a thrill-seeking trespasser.

The emails also detail plans by TBC to increase the number of Tesla vehicles in the LVCC Loop from 62 to 70, and to allow the use of Tesla Autopilot technologies. Until now, TBC has had to disable all driver assistance technologies on its vehicles, which are operated by human drivers.

The new scope of operations will require the use of seven active safety technologies — automatic emergency braking, front and side collision warnings, obstacle-aware acceleration, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure avoidance, emergency lane departure warning as well as two “full Autopilot” technologies: lane centering and traffic aware cruise control.

TBC’s justification for using Autopilot was set out in a letter to the Clark County Department of Building & Fire Prevention in June, obtained by TechCrunch along with the emails.

TBC president Steve Davis wrote that disabling the features “actively removes a layer of safety,” from a “proven, road-legal technology.” Davis quoted Tesla’s Safety Report for the first quarter of 2021 that claims Tesla drivers operating with Autopilot experienced crashes at less than a quarter the rate of Tesla drivers operating without Autopilot or active safety features, per mile driven. “As demonstrated… disabling these features in Tesla vehicles increases the likelihood of an accident,” wrote Davis.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), however, last week opened a formal safety probe into the technology, following a number of crashes.

Jerry Stueve, the director of the building and fire protection in Clark County, replied in an email: “We will take this under consideration, although it may help in our evaluation of this request if you can better define the term ‘autodrive’ and what it entails.”

“Agreed that the term ‘Autopilot’ is often unclear and can mean many different things depending on the vehicle and scenario,” replied Davis. (In this, he apparently disagrees with his boss, Elon Musk, who has called criticism of the Autopilot name as misleading “idiotic.”)

“Agreed that the term ‘Autopilot’ is often unclear and can mean many different things depending on the vehicle and scenario.” – Steve Davis, TBC

“These are not ‘autonomous’ nor ‘self-driving’ vehicles,” continued Davis. “The use of Tesla Autopilot and active safety features adds additional layers of safety while operating the vehicle, however the use of the features still requires a fully attentive driver who is ready to take over the wheel at any moment.”

Autopilot versus autonomous driving

This distinction is key, as it appears to contradict what TBC has promised LVCC since it first pitched the Loop system. In its land use application in May 2019, prior to signing the construction construct, TBC wrote: “Tesla Autonomous Electric Vehicles (AEVs) will carry passengers in express, underground tunnels to three underground stations.”

A planning document in July 2019 stated: “Utilizing autonomous electric vehicles in underground tunnels is a unique transportation solution that will minimize disruptions and conflicts to existing buildings and transportation systems.” It has used similar language in applications ever since, including for a proposed Vegas-wide Loop with dozens of stations.

In January, TechCrunch obtained a management agreement between LVCC and TBC that stated: “[The LVCC] procured the People Mover System, in part, because of the ability for People Mover System vehicles to operate autonomously … The Agreement recognizes the intent for the System to move from drivers in the vehicles to autonomous operations and provides for a fee renegotiation, no later than December 31 2021, incorporating this expected transition in operations.”

That deadline now seems almost certain to be missed. In June, Stueve told Davis: “As stated early in the project, the approval of autonomous operation will require extensive scrutiny, testing and validation. This process could take a significant amount of time.”

In reply, Davis wrote: “I want to make sure that it is clear that we are not asking for autonomous or self-driving features/operations.”

Humans in the Loop

The problem is two-fold. One is that Tesla’s Autopilot system may not be able to operate completely without a driver for some time to come. The second, arguably more serious, challenge is that the Loop is heavily reliant on its drivers to meet the safety requirements for underground transportation systems, laid out in national standards. Passengers of such systems, whether monorails, subways or using electric cars, must be safe in the event of power outages, fires, floods and other emergencies.

The LVCC Loop’s basis of design document, obtained by TechCrunch along with the emails, states: “[Our] trained drivers serve as the system’s key layer of safety. In the event of an emergency, actions taken by drivers to direct passengers in the proper and safe directions are the primary risk mitigating responses.”

Other documents obtained by TechCrunch from BFP confirm this. In the case of fire, the driver will “assist with deboarding passengers, and guide passengers on foot to the closest exit. Driver issues verbal instructions and may physically assist passengers.” As the driver leads passengers by walking ahead of them, they must “consistently look back to ensure every passenger is following closely behind.”

Drivers are responsible for assessing and responding to unruly or misbehaving passengers, and, in fact, for supervising the performance of the Autopilot itself, says TBC. “The [Loop] will have drivers, ensuring that there is always someone overseeing the use of active safety features who is ready to take over braking and steering as needed,” wrote Davis in June.

None of the dozens of documents or hundreds of emails obtained by TechCrunch, including those detailing the LVCC Loop’s future expansion, describe a path or timetable for TBC to move toward fully autonomous operation.

In response to a questionnaire on how the Loop will meet the American Society of Civil Engineers’ safety principles for autonomous systems, TBC responded: “Criteria specific to autonomous operation are not applicable to the [LVCC Loop], as the system will have drivers to operate vehicles.”

Only time will tell whether what TBC is telling Clark County, or what it is telling LVCC, is closer to how the Loop will operate in the future.

In the meantime, if the Loop vehicles are not yet driverless, can the LVCC at least expect them all to be the latest Tesla models? Perhaps not.

Another requirement for the Loop is that it complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In an email to Clark County officials in July, a TBC executive noted that it was going to buy a non-Tesla ADA electric vehicle for the LVCC Loop.

Although the email did not specify the model, it has a low-range lead-acid battery with the same specification as the Tropos Motors Able electric utility vehicle. Neither Tropos nor TBC responded to inquiries.

#automotive, #electric-vehicles, #elon-musk, #las-vegas, #tesla, #the-loop, #transportation

The Station: Rivian makes its IPO move, Nuro pushes into Nevada and Waymo scales up in SF

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 readers: Welcome 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’m back after a one-week hiatus. Did ya miss me? Yes, of course you did.

A lot happened while I was away and I’ll try my best to highlight the important stuff. Before I get to the hard news, I want to direct your attention to the latest founders Q&A — an ongoing series to highlight people who have started and are running transportation companies. Our twist? We will check on these founders a year from when their interview has been published.

This week, Zūm co-founder and CEO Ritu Narayan was in the hot seat. Check it out.

Also, it’s been awhile since I have directed y’all to The Autonocast, the podcast I co-host with Alex Roy and Ed Niedermeyer. We’ve had some great episodes in recent weeks, notably our interview with mobility-focused venture capitalist Olaf Sakkers. He joined the show to discuss “The Mobility Disruption Framework,” a funny, insightful book about the trends and technologies transforming the ways we get around. You can read the book here.

As always, you can email me at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share thoughts, criticisms, opinions or tips. You also can send a direct message to me at Twitter — @kirstenkorosec.

Nuro’s Nevada play

Nuro-Vegas

Image Credits: Nuro

Earlier this month, we published a series of articles that took a deep dive into autonomous vehicle technology company Nuro. We mentioned that the company was aiming to move into Nevada. Now, there are more details.

Nuro, which is applying its AV tech to delivery, is investing $40 million to develop a factory and closed course test track in southern Nevada. Nuro co-founder and CEO Jiajun Zhu said this will allow Nuro to “build tens of thousands of robots.”

And Nuro isn’t wasting any time getting started. Construction on the factory will begin in fall 2021 and is expected to be completed in 2022. Both the factory and closed-course testing facility are expected to be fully operational in 2022, the company said.

The factory, which will be more than 125,000 square feet, will be used to build Nuro’s third-generation autonomous vehicles with current and future partners. BYD North America will be Nuro’s manufacturing partner.

Nuro is also taking over 74 acres of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to build a closed-course testing facility that will allow the development and validation of its autonomous on-road vehicles. The testing track will measure bot performance in a broad range of scenarios, from avoiding pedestrians and pets to giving bicycles space on shared roadways, as well as environmental tests and vehicle systems validation. the company said.

Deal of the week

money the station

Rivian has raised more than $10.5 billion in its lifetime, funds that have been directed towards the design, development and production of its first two electric vehicles as well as commercial vans for Amazon.

It’s a hefty sum that should be enough to fulfill that mission — and more. And yet, even Rivian is no match for the public market’s siren song.

The company, just weeks before its first electric pickup trucks are expected to be delivered to customers, confidentially filed paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to go public. A Rivian IPO announcement has been expected for months now. The valuation the company is shooting for is the big surprise. If Bloomberg’s sources are right, Rivian is shooting for a valuation roughly around $80 billion.

That’s nearly three times larger than the last valuation I was able to nail down in January. At that time, the company had just raised another $2.65 billion from existing investors T. Rowe Price Associates Inc., Fidelity Management and Research Company, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Coatue and D1 Capital Partners. New investors also participated in that round, which pushed Rivian’s valuation to $27.6 billion, a source familiar with the investment round told TechCrunch at the time.

Rivian has raised more money since then. In July, the company announced it had closed a $2.5 billion private funding round led by Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, D1 Capital Partners, Ford Motor and funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. Third Point, Fidelity Management and Research Company, Dragoneer Investment Group and Coatue also participated in that round. The company did not share a post-money valuation at the time of the July 2021 announcement.

Officially, Rivian says the size and price range for the proposed offering have yet to be determined.

Other deals that got my attention this week …

Coco, the Los Angeles delivery robot startup, raised $36 million in a Series A round led by Sam Altman, Silicon Valley Bank and Founders Fund, with participation from Sam Nazarian, Ellen Chen and Mario Del Pero. It brings the company’s total funding up to around $43 million.

DealerPolicy, an insurance marketplace for automotive retail, raised $110 million in a Series C rouond led by the Growth Equity business within Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Additional investors include 3L Capital and Hudson Structured Capital Management Ltd. Goldman Sachs’ Paul Pate will also join the company’s board of directors.

Getaround, the peer-to-peer car-sharing startup, is in talks to go public through a merger with special purpose acquisition company Altitude Acquisition Corp , Reuters reported. The company has confidentially sought investors to participate in the deal through a private placement in public equity, or PIPE, at a valuation of around $1.7 billion.

HyPoint, the two-year-old fuel cell developer, has secured a $6.5 million development agreement with Piasecki Aircraft Corporation for the design and certification of hydrogen fuel cell systems. Through the partnership, HyPoint aims to deliver five full-scale, 650 kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell systems for ground testing, demo flights and the certification process.

KKR, the global investment firm, has plans to acquire New Zealand bus and coach company Ritchies Transport, which currently has a fleet of more than 1,600 vehicles and 42 depots that operate across the country. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but sources familiar with the circumstances say the deal values Ritchies at over $347 million ($500 million NZD). This is KKR’s first infrastructure investment in New Zealand.

Malta Inc., an energy storage company, said that Chevron Technology Ventures and Piva Capital have joined a group of investors including Proman, Alfa Laval, Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Dustin Moskovitz in its oversubscribed Series B financing, increasing the round to more than $60 million.

MaxAB, the Egyptian B2B e-commerce platform that serves food and grocery retailers, raised a $15 million extension from existing investors RMBV, IFC, Flourish Ventures, Crystal Stream Capital, Rise Capital, Endeavour Catalyst, Beco Capital and 4DX Ventures. The extension brings its total Series A fundraise to $55 million.

Point Pickup Technologies, a last-mile delivery service, acquired white-label e-commerce platform GrocerKey for $42 million. The acquisition means Point Pickup will be able to offer retailers services such as same-day delivery under their own brand name, rather than under third parties like Instacart.

Upstream, the Israeli automotive security firm, raised $62 million in a Series C funding round led by Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance and was joined by new investors I.D.I. Insurance, 57 Stars’ NextGen Mobility Fund and La Maison Partners. Existing investors Glilot Capital, Salesforce venture, Volvo Group Venture Capital, Nationwide, Delek US and others also participated in the round. With this latest round, the company has raised a total of $105 million since its founding in 2017.

Volvo Group has agreed to buy heavy duty truck subsidiary of Jiangling Motors Corp for about 1.1 billion Swedish crowns ($125.7 million) to make trucks in China, Reuters reported.

Policy corner

the-station-delivery

Welcome back to policy corner! The stalemate over the budget reconciliation that I warned might take months to break — just kidding! The House managed to pass the $3.5 trillion budget resolution and made progress on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill on Tuesday, in a 220-212 bipartisan vote. The vote includes a non-binding agreement to vote on the infrastructure bill by Sept. 27.

The path is now clear for Democrats to pass one of the most socially progressive budgets in decades, with a slew of social safety net provisions for childcare, healthcare, climate and education. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had previously sworn she would stall the infrastructure bill until the budget passed, so the infrastructure bill passing sometime in our lifetime is suddenly looking like a much more realistic proposal!

Progressive Democrats in particular are committed to keeping the fate of the two bills intertwined. “We will only vote for the infrastructure bill after passing the reconciliation bill,” Progressive Caucus chairwoman, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.), said in a statement.

Speaking of the two bills… while consumer incentives for electric vehicles were slashed from the infrastructure bill, they did survive the budget reconciliation. Right now, there currently exists a 30D tax credit, but the $7,500 incentive doesn’t include automakers that have sold more than 200,000 EVs (so General Motors and Tesla don’t qualify).

Leilani Gonzalez with the Zero Emission Transportation Association urged reform to the EV tax credit. She suggested that Congress slash means-testing for the credit, like one that only allows people under a certain annual income to access it.

“Congress should ensure that this tax credit is not impeded by restrictive means-tested requirements, like low manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) or adjusted gross income (AGI) caps,” she wrote. “These limitations ignore the public benefits of EVs that leave everyone better off, and they would only serve to hinder EV adoption.”

Even beyond reform, some Democrats are pushing for a direct cash rebate — meaning that the dollar amount would just be taken off the cost of the car at the point of sale, rather than the consumer having to wait to get that money back at tax time. But we’re still a long way from seeing a new kind of consumer incentive put into law, with some Democrats urging a $12,500 tax credit, and others arguing for a rebate, with still others arguing for either but with means-testing like what Gonzalez writes about.

In any case, we’ll be keeping an eye on it. It’s very hard to imagine how the country will achieve any kind of meaningful transition to electric vehicles by 2030 without some mechanism to make them easier (and cheaper) to buy.

In other news, the Federal Aviation Administration is spending $20.4 million in grants to airports who want to electrify equipment and transition to ZEVs. This isn’t about the planes themselves, though they tend to get the most media attention. These grants would be for less sexy things like airport shuttle buses and mobile ground power units, but which collectively still generate a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. The FAA has earmarked $300 million out of its $3.5 billion budget for electrification initiatives.

— Aria Alamalhodaei

Notable news and other tidbits

It’s one of those weeks folks. Lotta news so let’s get down to it.

ADAS

Tesla CEO Elon Musk admitted that the latest version of its so-called FSD tech — which is an upgraded version of its Autopilot advanced driver assistance system — is “not great.” He went on to write that the “Autopilot/AI team is rallying to improve as fast as possible. We’re trying to have a single tech stack for both highway & city streets, but it requires massive [neural network] retraining.”

Autonomous vehicles

Cruise, GM’s self-driving car subsidiary, launched a new initiative called Farm to Fleet that will allow the company to source solar power from farms in California’s Central Valley. Cruise is directly purchasing renewable energy credits from Sundale Vineyards and Moonlight Companies to help power its fleet of all-electric autonomous vehicles in San Francisco.

Jalopnik’s Jason Torchinsky has a great explainer on the various levels of SAE autonomy.

Toyota suspended the operation of its e-Palette autonomous shuttles — which do have two human safety operators on board — at the Paralympic Games Athletes’ Village after one of the shuttles struck an athlete. The schedule for resuming operations at the Paralympic Games has not yet been determined, the company said. A spokesperson also noted to me that only the shuttles at the Olympics were halted. The e-Palette program is still operational.

Update: Since the newsletter went out to subscribers over the weekend, Toyota has restarted the e-Palette shuttles in the Olympic village. It’s important to note that these shuttles use a combination of manual and autonomous driving modes while underway. Toyota President Akio Toyoda apologized for the incident during a recent interview. The translation provided in closed captioning isn’t great, but he does make some interesting comments about the readiness of autonomous vehicle technology. In short: it’s not ready and humans are still better drivers.

Waymo has launched a robotaxi service that will be open to certain vetted riders in San Francisco. The company officially kicked off its Waymo One Trusted Tester program in the city with a fleet of all-electric Jaguar I-PACEs equipped with the company’s fifth generation of its autonomous vehicle system. This is a big step for Waymo and we’ll be watching closely to see how the ramp mirrors, or differs, from its service in the Phoenix area.

Greg Bensinger took a look at the terms of service on the Waymo One ride-hailing app and in a tweet thread provides a breakdown of what riders are agreeing to, including that the company will record video of riders while being driven around San Francisco.

Waymo also has decided to get out of the lidar sales business as it shifts its focus to deploying its autonomous vehicle technology across its ride-hailing and trucking divisions. In 2019, Waymo announced it would sell its short-range lidar, called Laser Bear Honeycomb, to companies outside of self-driving cars. It initially targeted robotics, security and agricultural technology.

Electric vehicles

GM expanded (again) its recall of Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles due to fire risks from battery manufacturing defects. The automaker said it would seek reimbursement from LG Chem, its battery cell manufacturing partner, for what it expects to be $1 billion worth of losses. this is the third recall GM has issued for this vehicle related to batteries.

Lordstown Motors hired Daniel A. Ninivaggi, a longtime automotive executive and former head of Carl C. Icahn’s holding company, as CEO and a board member. The appointment follows months of tumult at Lordstown, which became publicly traded via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company.

Other bits

Aria Alamalhodaei wrote up a feature on Buoyant, a recent Y Combinator grad and one of several airship startups that have popped up recently.

Mercedes-Benz’s chief technology officer Sajjad Khan is leaving the automaker to start a venture capital fund, the company said in a statement. Khan’s replacement, Magnus Östberg, will take over the CTO role effective Sept. 1.

Porsche Cars North America added its entire U.S. inventory of new cars to an online marketplace that it launched in May 2020. The platform called Porsche Finder is one of the ways the automaker is trying to keep up with customer demands and the industry’s shift to digital commerce. The product lets customers search by vehicle model and generation as well as price, equipment, packages and colors, on all new and used vehicle inventory from its 193 U.S. dealerships.

Tesla wants to supply electricity directly to customers, according to an application filed with Texas electricity regulators earlier this month. Energy Choice Matters first reported on the application.

The application, filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Texas on August 16, is a request to become what’s called a “retail electric provider” under its subsidiary Tesla Energy Ventures. On the deregulated, idiosyncratic Texas power market, REPs generally purchase wholesale electricity from power generators and sell it to customers. More than 100 REPs currently compete on the open market.

#automotive, #autonomous-vehicles, #cruise, #electric-vehicles, #elon-musk, #gm, #government, #nuro, #rivian, #robotics, #tesla, #the-station, #toyota, #transportation, #venture-capital, #waymo