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Welcome back to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of moving people and packages from Point A to Point B.
I was out in Denver this past week to check out what Mercedes is working on. Stay tuned on that front. One item on the menu that I can talk about is the Mercedes EQB, an all-electric SUV that should be landing in dealer lots any day now.
Mercedes might have lagged behind others in the EV department, but it’s keen to catch up. The EQ line, which is its all-electric portfolio, will soon include more than the flagship EQS sedan. By next year, the EQS SUV, EQE sedan and EQB compact SUV will be part of the group.
The pace is quickening and may even include an electric G Wagon by mid-2024.
Acton, which you may remember purchased docking and charging startup Duckt some months back, has begun rolling out docking/charging stations across Paris. The 42 multimodal hubs are spread throughout six locations and will let riders of used e-bikes and e-scooters — either shared or personal — park and charge in designated areas. Acton will later install 150 stations in 17 locations across the Rive Gauche district.
Travis VanderZanden lost his post as CEO of Bird just three months after he stepped down as the scooter company’s president. Shane Torchiana, who replaced VanderZanden in June as president, will also now take on the role as CEO. VanderZanden is holding onto the chairman of the board postion. The executive shakeup continues, with Ben Lu, former Archer Aviation CFO, coming on as Bird’s new CFO. Bird’s engineering exec Lance Bradley saw a promotion to chief technology officer.
Latin America needs a push toward electrification, and Leoparda Electric is here to give it to them. The startup wants to bring Gogoro-like battery swapping for electric motorcycles and seated scooters, first to Brazil, then to the rest of LatAm.
McKinsey says minimobility — a segment defined by small three- and four-wheeled vehicles that fall somewhere between cars and bikes — is gaining serious traction. I can see why. With speeds that can go up to 56 miles per hour, the ability to carry more than one passenger plus cargo and, ostensibly, they have a roof so they’re protected from the elements, minimobility vehicles might be the next great thing to get people out of big cars and into a greener, more efficient option.
Rad Power Bikes is dipping its toes into subscription rentals through a partnership with Cycle, formerly GetHenry. The companies are piloting rentals of cargo bikes RadRunner and RadWagon in Berlin from September 22, with a starting price between €79,90 per month.
Shell wants to look as if it’s committing to greener forms of mobility by exploring options to put its name on e-bikes.
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Deal of the week
Is it me or is there a lot of activity in the EV charging world? I am seeing both consolidation and EV charging infrastructure, software and servicing startups land venture capital and partnerships. The two deals announced this week speaks to a larger trend worth noting.
ZePlug, a French EV charging services company focused on residential and office buildings, received a $240 million investment from Britain’s Intermediate Capital Group.
A day later, another French startup called Bump announced a multiyear financing partnership with DIF Capital Partners. This $180 million deal is what reporter Romain Dillet described as an “equity and quasi-equity” agreement that will be progressively unlocked from 2022 to 2030.
On the consolidation front, we have seen Blink Charging acquire SemaConnect in a $200 million cash and common stock transaction and Schneider Electric buy EV Connect. ABB’s e-mobility business, which makes fast electric chargers for cars, buses and trucks, shared plans to spend $750 million on expanding operations, in large part through acquisitions. ABB has already acquired India’s Numocity, China’s Chargedot and InCharge Energy.
Other deals that got my attention this week …
Amprius Technologies, a lithium-ion battery manufacturer that uses a silicon nanowire anode, merged with special purpose acquisition company Kensington Capital Acquisition Corp. It seems investors found their next bet. Shares of Amprius, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “AMPX,” shot up more than 54% to $12.94 over the past week.
General Motors invested through its GM Ventures arm into Lithion Recycling, a Canadian developer of advanced battery recycling technology.
Mullen Automotive is the leading bidder on bankrupt commercial EV maker Electric Last Mile Solutions. Mullen, an EV SPAC that recently acquired the controlling interest of Bollinger Motors, recently received a delisting warning from the Nasdaq exchange.
Seoul Robotics raised $25 million in a Series B round led by KB Investment. Other investors include Noh and Partners, Future Play, Korean Development Bank, Artesian and Access Ventures.
Want more deals? A whole list of them, including info on Aptiv, TerraWatt and TruckSmarter were in the subscription version this week. Subscribe for free here.
Notable reads and other tidbits
Caocao Mobility, a Geely-backed ride-hailing platform, is partnering with Pony.ai and Geely’s Smart Driving Center to build an open commercial operation platform for smart driving that will promote commercial applications for robotaxis.
Clevon, the autonomous delivery vehicle company that spun out of Estonian company Cleveron, announced the opening of its U.S. headquarters in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex at the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone.
ADAS & other in-car tech
Nvidia unveiled Drive Thor, its next-generation automotive-grade chip that the company claims will be able to unify a wide range of in-car technology. Thor, which will go into production in 2025, will replace the now scrapped Drive Atlan program.
Tesla is extending access to its advanced driver assistance system, Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta version 10.69.2.2, to 160,000 owners in the U.S. and Canada.
XPeng launched its anticipated advanced driver assistance system that automates some driving functions in urban environments. Speaking of XPeng, the automaker launched its G9 Flagship SUV, the fourth production vehicle in its lineup that the company claims will set a “new benchmark” for automated driving technology in passenger vehicles.
Electric vehicles, batteries & charging
Ford broke ground at its $5.6 billion BlueOval City complex in Tennessee, the epicenter for its future electric vehicles and a key milestone toward its goal to sell 2 million EVs annually by late 2026.
While Ford celebrates that milestone, it is grappling with supplier shortages. Ford said supplier costs will be $1 billion higher than expected in the third quarter due to rising inflation and persistent supply chain problems. Those shortages have caused a backlog of between 40,000 and 45,000 unfinished vehicles — most of which are high-margin trucks and SUVs. It’s gotten so bad that Ford had to hold back vehicles because it ran out of blue badges.
Hertz plans to order up to 175,000 electric vehicles from GM over the next five years. GM brands Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and even commercial delivery unit BrightDrop will be included in the order. First deliveries of Chevy Bolt EVs and EUVs expected to begin in the first quarter of 2023.
Tesla completed a long-delayed project to expand capacity at Gigafactory Shanghai, where it builds Model Y SUVs and Model 3 sedans for customers in Asia and Europe. The automaker is also ramping up production in Texas.
Hyundai and Kia are being sued in a class action lawsuit for a defect exposed in a TikTok challenge that publicized a technique for stealing certain makes and models of the vehicles.
Kitty Hawk, the electric aviation startup founded and led by the “godfather of self-driving cars” Sebastian Thrun and backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, has shut down.
Gabe Klein was appointed executive director of the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, a new organization that will help the U.S. manage and deploy a $7.5 billion EV charging infrastructure network.
Waymo has hired Elisa de Martel as its chief financial officer. De Martel was previously CFO at Carbon. She was also at Apple for 11 years, where she served in a variety of financial roles, including as director of manufacturing finance.
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