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Welcome back to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of moving people and packages from Point A to Point B.
No lengthy lead in this week. There is simply too much to recap. So let’s get right to it this week. Onward!
The California Air Resources Board plans to dole out e-bike rebates to low-income residents. Maybe that’ll help the car-centric cities of the state consider another path.
Delhi is launching its own moped-sharing service to be integrated into the public transit system.
Dubai wants to incentivize walking and cycling by building a 58-mile climate-controlled highway, so tourists and residents can stay out of the 100-degree heat (F).
Don’t drink and scoot. A couple of Newcastle students have been fined and banned from driving cars after being caught riding Neuron scooters while drunk.
PSA: Apparently e-scooters are filthy. This study says a public electric scooter has 58,000x the bacteria of a toilet seat (whose toilet seat is not clear), and 700x the bacteria of a personal e-scooter. Always travel with hand sanitizer.
Remember during Disrupt when we asked Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe about this not-so-secret e-bike project? There’s more info coming out now. Bloomberg reported that Scaringe told staff about the company’s efforts to build an e-bike during a company meeting, noting a small team is working on it.
Ride Report has added its 51st city — Washington D.C. — to its Global Micromobility Index, a public database with beautiful visualizations on shared micromobility operations in cities across the world.
The Shared Use Mobility Center is a good resource to see future opportunities for shared micromobility to deliver on local government’s climate objectives.
Vertical Values is working with Tier to give scooter batteries a second life.
A Washington D.C. city councilman introduced a second rebate bill to incentivize people to buy and use ebikes.
Zoba, a Boston-based fleet optimization provider, is focusing on growth in Europe, where the baseline ridership for e-moped and bikeshare is easily double what you’d see in the U.S.
Deal of the week
Battery materials and recycling startup Redwood Materials landed a biggie this week. The company, founded and run by former Tesla CTO JB Straubel, secured a conditional commitment for a $2 billion loan from the Department of Energy as part of the Biden administration’s bid to build up a supply chain for EVs in the United States.
The conditional commitment from DOE’s loan program office is part of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program. The milestone-based financing will be provided to Redwood in tranches to support its growth and the expansion of its headquarters in Nevada.
It should be noted that while Redwood Materials was initially described as a recycling startup, the real growth is in its plans to produce anode and cathode components for batteries. This funding is the charge, ahem, needed to ramp those plans.
Here are other deals that got my attention this week …
Bike Bazaar has closed a $30 million round to finance e-scooters in India.
Canoo agreed to sell 50 million shares at a steeply discounted price (off 16% from its last closing price) as the cash-strapped EV company seeks the money it needs to keep its operations running.
Emmy, the Berlin-based e-moped share operator, is acquiring the German operations of its competitor Felyx.
GreenMo, a Dutch company that leases micromobility vehicles for other businesses, has filed for bankruptcy.
Faraday Future secured several financing agreements that will bring in $135 million in convertible secured notes. The money will fund the start of production of the FF 91 Futurist EV, the company said.
Jones Logistics, a national specialized transportation and logistics company, acquired Nationwide Express.
Liminal, a battery manufacturing inspection company, raised $17.5 million in a Series A2 funding round led by climate tech fund ArcTern Ventures. Other new investors includes Northvolt and Ecosystem Integrity Fund. Existing backers Chrysalix Venture Capital, Good Growth Capital, University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners, Volta Energy Technologies, Impact Science Ventures, and Helios Climate Ventures also participated.
Otonomo, an Israeli startup that went public by merging with a special purpose acquisition company, has merged with digital road assistant company Urgently. Otonomo has struggled financially in recent months, forcing it to lay off workers to try and preserve its cash. It’s the latest example of car data firms getting squeezed and having to find a way to survive. Related: Bloomberg has a story about pressure on car data companies like Otonomo and Wejo.
Skipperi, a shared-use boating subscription service and peer-to-peer boat rental platform, raised €7M ($7.6 million) in a Series A funding round led by Yamaha Motor, with Baltiska Handels Sverige, Matu Capital, and HP Capital also participating. The funds will be used to funds its international expansion to several locations around the U.S and Brisbane, Australia, the company said.
Spartan Radar, a California-based sensor software startup, raised $17 million in a round that included investors 8VC, IronGate Capital, Prime Movers Lab, MaC VC and Microsoft.
Turno, a commercial EV financing and distribution startup in India, raised $13.8 million in a Series A funding round led by B Capital and Quona Capital. Existing backers Stellaris Venture Partners and Avaana Capital and new investors Alteria Capital and InnoVen Capital also participated.
Warp, a tech-powered freight network specializing in middle-mile solutions, announced an additional $5.7 million in funding, bringing it up to $8.1 million, for its first operational year.
Notable news and other tidbits
Before we jump into all the transportation news goodies, I wanted to flag Up Partners’ Moving World Report, its inaugural effort to identify the macro and micro trends in mobility. It’s a biggie — 125 pages in all. And there are some interesting takeaways, including that funding for mobility companies has outpaced most tech sectors. Specifically, Up Partners calculated that mobility venture capital has seen a 30X increase in funding since 2013.
Another finding: new federal legislation is helping push more money into the sector. The Inflation Reduction Act here in the U.S. has allocated $130 billion towards batteries and renewables, clean transportation and hydrogen. And Europe’s proposed Green Deal Industrial Plan could be even bigger.
North Carolina State University researchers found a fourth traffic signal (a white light) designated for autonomous vehicles significantly improves travel time through intersections and reduces fuel consumption.
Self-driving trucks face a potential roadblock in California. TechCrunch’s Rebecca Bellan digs a bit deeper into recently proposed legislation.
Uber and Lyft both reported Q4 and full-year 2022 earnings this week, and wow the results (and the market’s reaction could not have been more different.
Lyft got crushed by investors, and not because of its Q4 earnings. The company actually beat analysts expectations on revenue and ridership. It was Lyft’s guidance for Q1 that has shareholders spooked.
Meanwhile, Uber posted strong quarterly results, continuing its post-lockdown streak of bookings and revenue growth. Uber said it hit record trips, surpassing 2 billion trips globally in the fourth quarter, which averages almost 1 million trips per hour. Gross bookings, or the value of fares paid, grew 31% year over year. Importantly, the company issued positive guidance for Q1 2023.
Electric vehicles, charging & batteries
Harley-Davidson delayed the launch of the LiveWire S2 Del Mar, the latest electric motorcycle to come out of its new LiveWire brand, to the second half of the year. The company also revised down the number of units it expects to ship in 2023.
Hyundai has launched a monthly subscription program called Evolve+ for its EVs.
Mercedes-Benz revealed that its long-anticipated and updated battery-electric eSprinter is finally coming to North America, with production set to begin in the second half of 2023 at its factory in Charleston, South Carolina.
Speaking of Mercedes, contributor Tim Stevens reviews the 2023 Mercedes EQE sedan — a vehicle he describes as understated luxury at its best. Side note: I had a little bit of time in the EQE as well and found that despite its ho-hum exterior, it was great in every other way.
TechCrunch’s Harri Weber spent several days testing the Arcimoto Fun Utility Vehicle. Here’s what she thought.
VinFast partnered with E.ON Drive to equip VinFast locations in Germany, France and the Netherlands with charging infrastructure.
Volkswagen issued a recall for about 21,000 model year 2021 ID 4 crossovers over concerns with the battery management control unit software and the pulse inverter control module.
Future of flight
Joby Aviation completed the second stage of a process with the Federal Aviation Administration to certify its electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft for commercial passenger use. There are five stages in the FAA certification process. Joby says the company is still on track to launch its commercial passenger service by 2025.
A look inside Ryse Aero Technologies, an Ohio-based startup building aircraft that are akin to flying ATVs.
Universal Hydrogen, a hydrogen aviation company, was granted a special airworthiness certificate in the experimental category by the FAA. The certification will allow the company to proceed with the first flight of its hydrogen-powered regional aircraft known as the Dash 8-300 flying testbed.
GM struck a deal with GlobalFoundries to dedicate an unknown amount of U.S. production capacity for GM’s chip supply. GM sure has been busy locking down its supply chain!
Google Cloud announced the general availability of Immersive Stream for XR, which lets you host, render and serve interactive 3D and AR experiences through the cloud. Kia took advantage of this to provide an AR experience for prospective Kia Sportage buyers, which let them browse and customize the vehicle in photorealistic detail.
Autobrains, an Israeli automated driving startup, hired Joachim Langenwalter, former VP of Software at Stellantis, as senior vice president of autonomous driving.
Beep has expanded its leadership team. The company brought on Katrina Heineking as EVP of operations; Marc Klein as SVP of strategic accounts and smart cities; and Alex Poirot as vice president of public policy.
BorgWarner appointed former Ford executive Hau Thai-Tang to its board of directors.
Electrify America changed up its leadership. The Volkswagen subsidiary named Giovanni Palazzo as chairman of its board and senior vice president of charging and energy, a global position at Volkswagen Group. The company also appointed Rob Barrosa as Electrify America’s President and CEO.
Tesla hired Brandon Ehrhart to oversee its legal department. Ehrhart has held a variety of general counsel roles at Dish Network Corp for the past 20 years. His new title at Tesla is general counsel and corporate secretary.
Volvo Cars has named Asa Haglund the new head of its safety center.