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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.
Too much news, so let’s just jump in.
So much of the conversation surrounding shared micromobility in cities has a negative valence.
Coverage often focuses scooter crashes, the devices parked haphazardly on the sidewalk and the congestion of too many scooter operators. But these fail to point out the environmental and economic benefits micromobility bring to cities.
For example, Lime recently gave its scooter data to German research institute Fraunhofer ISI, and the organization found that shared e-scooters help reduce carbon emissions within city transportation networks. The researchers surveyed Lime riders in spring 2022 across Stockholm, Paris, Melbourne, Berlin, Seattle and Dusseldorf and found that in each city, if shared scooters and bikes hadn’t been available, a significant number of riders would have taken their most recent trips via car, taxi or ride-hail.
The researchers also looked at a lifecycle analysis of Lime’s latest Gen4 e-bikes and e-scooters to measure the service’s carbon footprint from cradle to grave and found that shared micromobility reduces more carbon emissions that it emits.
I also mentioned the economic impact from shared micromobility.
Two separate reports from Voi and Neuron show that the availability of e-scooters and e-bikes has improved accessibility to high streets and main shopping areas, which have been suffering since the pandemic, and had a positive impact on spending in several cities.
The Voi study, which was done by economic consultancy firm Volterra, focused on certain cities in the UK and found an expected increase in retail and food and beverage spend to total £37 million, which would otherwise have been spent online or at out-of-town retail parks. This boost is expected to help support up to 1,400 jobs. Furthermore, the study found that e-scooter operations could lead to a £1.2bn boost for the studied trial areas struggling high streets if introduced permanently as a result of increased food and beverage purchases alone.
Neuron’s study looked at the impact of e-scooters on Brisbane, Australia and found that 66.4% of trips resulted in a purchase. Of these, 42.2% of riders made a food and beverage purchase, 32.5% bought something in retail, and 17.9% visited a gym, movie or event. The average spend for each rider trip was $61.05. In 2021 to 2022, Neuron estimates its service contributed $116.6 million in direct, indirect and enabled economic activity towards Brisbane’s economy. Queensland Economic Advocacy Solutions supported these findings and found Neuron’s estimated economic contribution to Brisbane’s economy could rise to $160.5 million by 2026 to 2027.
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Deal of the week
This week we’re just compiling a list of deals that got my attention this week. Let’s jump in:
Aventon received backing from Sequoia China, bringing the e-bike maker’s post-money valuation up to $590, from $200 million eight months ago.
Miles Mobility, a German startup, acquired UMI Urban Mobility International GmbH from Volkswagen Passenger Cars and with it the WeShare car-sharing business. Neither party disclosed the financial terms of the deal. Miles said it plans to integrate WeShare’s 2,000 VW-brand electric vehicles into its fleet. It also plans to order more than 10,000 all-electric vehicles from the Audi, Seat/Cupra and Volkswagen Passenger Cars brands, which are scheduled for delivery in 2023.
Newtrul, which describes itself as the Expedia for freight booking, raised $5.3 million in a round led by SignalFire and Flex Capital as well as previously unannounced investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners, Crowley, Oren Zaslansky, CEO of Flock Freight, John Larkin, and Brad Hollister.
Volocopter, a German startup building electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, has secured $182 million for the second signing of its Series E round. That’s on top of the $170 million Volocopter raised for the same round in March at a $1.87 billion post-money valuation.
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Notable reads and other tidbits
Argo AI’s lidar unit, an 80-person team and the lidar tech they developed, is being shopped around by Ford and VW. The two automakers, which plowed $3.6 billion into Argo AI and then abruptly pulled support and shut it down, are looking to squeeze any remaining value out of the AV company.
Aurora said in its Q3 earnings it will have enough money to continue to develop its autonomous vehicle technology until its commercial launch in mid-2024 — an effort to assuage shareholders amid a tightening capital market and a week after competitor Argo AI suddenly shut down. But wait! Aurora said it will have to go raise capital; the company didn’t share when that will need to happen.
Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt tweeted that its driverless robotaxi service is expanding to most of San Francisco. This expanded area is only available to employees for now.
Waymo also expanded its robotaxi service in downtown Phoenix to now include pickups and drop-offs at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. (Technically, it’s to the 44th Street Sky Train station, which is the outermost stop on the airport train and brings people directly to terminals) Waymo’s airport rides, which are only open to the “trusted tester” program for now, will initially use a human safety operator.
XPeng received a permit to begin testing its G9 electric SUV as an autonomous vehicle on public roads in Guangzhou. The company will begin testing a small fleet as soon as possible with a human safety operator in the driver’s seat.
Electric vehicles, batteries & charging
Arrival is in the thick of a restructuring — the second in six months — and has received a warning from the Nasdaq Stock Market that it could be delisted.
But that is just the tip of problems at the company, according to a recent piece by the Financial Times that describes a company struggling with setbacks, a recent vehicle fire witnessed by its largest customer, and a distracting side-project to make an electric jet. Morale in parts of the company, writes reporter Peter Campbell, has sunk to “rock bottom.”
Fisker raised its manufacturing forecast two weeks before its first electric vehicle, the Ocean SUV, enters production. The automaker said it plans to produce 42,400 Ocean SUVs by the end of 2023, up from an initial forecast of 40,000, due to strong demand in the U.S. and Europe.
Harbinger Motors, a commercial EV company focused on medium-duty chassis platforms used in the RV industry, has partnered with RV manufacturing giant THOR Industries.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has formed a joint venture with Foxconn to build and sell EVs. The new brand is called Ceer and will use BMW’s component tech/
Lyft is laying off 13% of its workforce, or nearly 700 people, as it tries to reduce operating expenses.
Uber’s new advertising division includes in-app ads, which aren’t staying within the app. Users are being inundated with push notifications highlighting ads from other companies.
Comma.ai founder George Hotz said he is taking “some time away” from the driver assistance system startup that promises to bring Tesla Autopilot-like functionality to your car. In a lengthy interview, Hotz gave me an update on Comma (which raised $10M last year) and what he plans to do next. He will remain its sole board member and president.
TuSimple co-founder Xiaodi Hou was fired from his CEO, president and CTO posts by the autonomous trucking company’s board. Hou, who co-founded TuSimple in 2015 with Mo Chen, was also removed from his position as chairman of the board and member of the board’s government security committee.
The firing came a day after the WSJ published a report citing unnamed sources that TuSimple was facing concurrent probes by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Securities and Exchange Commission and Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS). The investigation is apparently focused on TuSimple’s relationship with Hydron, a hydrogen-powered trucking company led by TuSimple co-founder Chen and backed by Chinese investors.
Hou took to LinkedIn to defend himself, stating the board voted to remove him without cause.
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