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Welp, in case you missed it TechCrunch Disrupt 2023 will have a whole new look this fall with one aim in mind: bringing together investors, founders and technologists who have specific industry interests — all under one roof at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. And we’re putting together a sustainability track that will cover climate tech, transportation, agriculture, fashion and cities. Disrupt isn’t until September, but, yup, we’re already working on it!
Meanwhile, in recent (as in days old) history, the New York International Auto Show came and went. The vehicle reveals, news and crowds weren’t particularly splashy. But there were some trends and reveals worth noting.
Our big takeaway? Electric vehicles, trucks, SUVs and EV charging were hallmarks of this year’s New York International Auto Show, and the message is clear: The auto industry is racing toward zero-emission vehicles, but it won’t sacrifice the big, plush, expensive vehicles consumers love (and spend huge sums of money on) in the process.
Speaking of BIG, the 2025 all-electric Ram 1500 REV, which debuted IRL in New York, has an optional 229 kilowatt-hour battery for a targeted 500 miles of range. For those who might be unfamiliar, the size of that battery pack is absolutely bananas. For comparison, the Hummer EV pickup has a 212.7 kWh battery that weighs the same as a small sedan. Battery pack size does not necessarily translate to range. Efficiency matters!
– For SUVs and EVs, subtlety is out and plundering nature is in
– Everything that stood out to us at the New York International Auto Show
– The Kia EV9’s real killer app could be its software
– Jeep is adding an even cheaper plug-in hybrid to its 4xe lineup
– The 2024 Hyundai Kona will be one of the most affordable cars with over-the-air updates
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The micromobility world’s big news this week was in Paris, where residents voted on whether or not to ban shared e-scooters, and the result was a resounding: Yes, get rid of them! Sort of.
Only 7.5% of the city’s eligible voting population turned up to vote, and Parisians reported seeing many older folks at the polls. It’s hard to say whether the outcome of the referendum actually reflects the will of the people (especially when we consider how popular e-scooters are in the city), but that doesn’t seem to matter. Dott, Lime and Tier will have to remove their scooters from the streets by September 1.
Sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch the move was largely political. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo had initially welcomed e-scooters to the city in 2018, alongside a number of other green transportation initiatives that undoubtedly angered the city’s more conservative residents and politicians.
However, it’s not clear that scooters were actually doing the job of getting people out of cars. In fact, according to a number of studies I’ve reviewed, people were more likely to replace public transit and walking with scooters.
Will this be the end of micromobility in Paris? Sacré bleu! Of course not! Personal e-scooters are not affected by the ban, largely because one of the main issues with shared scooters was clutter. In fact, Pure Electric, a scooter retailer, expects sales in Paris to increase 200%.
In other news …
Bird updated some of its tech solutions to become a more attractive city partner. For example, the company is expanding its integration with Google Maps across Canada and Europe. Bird has also added rider age verification and has begun testing camera-equipped e-scooters with computer vision technology to detect sidewalk riding, parking and lanes.
New York City delivery workers agree with new guidelines that ensures people are buying scooters with high-quality batteries in order to prevent fires. But they say the legislation needs to be paired with better support from the government. Los Deliveristas Unidos, a collective of food delivery workers, proposed that the city issue a mandated “safety surcharge” tax on delivery app companies that would create a fund to help workers purchase certified batteries.
Niu’s KQi3 Max e-scooter is a fun, powerful ride, but …. Check out my review on why this scooter isn’t the best choice for urban use.
Tenways is bringing its ultra-light urban bike to the U.S. after seeing success in Europe. The company currently offers three models. The CGO600 for $1,799 has a max speed of 16 miles per hour, a range of 43 miles and only weighs 33 lbs. Next up is the CGO600 PRO for $1,899, with a top speed of 20 mph, 53-mile range and weight of 41 lbs. Finally, the CGO800S for $1,999 weighs 51 lbs, can go up to 53 miles and has a top speed of 20 mph.
Uber is now offering Tembici bike-share services on its app in Latin America. Users will be able to book a Tembici bike directly through the Uber app starting first in Recife, Brazil, and then expanding to Brasilia, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and São Paulo, before launching in other LATAM cities.
Unagi has launched its newest scooter, the Voyager, for $1,190 to buy or $69 per month to rent. The Voyager boasts 12 to 25 miles of range, a three-hour charge time, 1000W of power and a weight of 29.6 pounds. The Voyager also comes with Unagi’s mobile app, which helps users calculate remaining range and customizing based on rider weight and terrain. It’s also a good place to remote lock/unlock the scooter and to manage subscriptions.
Vanmoof has had a rough time of it, despite its popularity. The company has experienced funding shortages and challenges scaling, but Vanmoof is working on being EBITDA positive in 2024. How? Raising new funds and increasing the price of its e-bikes.
— Rebecca Bellan
Deal of the week
Folks, the world is a nutty place! Exhibit A: The troubled EV startup Arrival that went public in 2021 via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company agreed to merge with an entirely different SPAC called Kensington Capital Acquisition Corp. V.
Yes, that’s right. The double SPAC — or reSPAC — has emerged yet again. Back in January when British automotive data exchange platform Wejo announced a double SPAC, I predicted that other companies would try this same tactic.
Bingo! What do I win?
Other deals that got my attention …
4.screen, the Munich-based startup that developed a driver interactive platform, raised €21 million ($23.1 million) in a Series A funding round led by S4S Ventures and Continental VC. The company, co-founded in 2020 by three ex-BMW digital product specialists, has created a product that lets brands interact with drivers in real time via their car screens.
CarmaCare, a subscription service focused on car repair and maintenance, disclosed that it raised $4.5 million at the end of 2022. The startup, founded in 2021 by AutoFi founder Jonathan Palan, also announced a new CEO. Jamie Ahern, who was previously with LearnVest and former chief operating officer of Kin Insurance, was named to the top spot.
FlyBy Robotics, a drone automation and delivery company, raised $4 million in a pre-seed funding round led by MaC Venture Capital, with participation from Anthemis, Evening Fund and Weekend Fund. Other investors include AngelList co-founder Naval Ravikant, Coinbase’s former CTO Balaji Srinivasan, Karen Pritzker, Gaingels, Product Hunt founder Ryan Hoover and Cliff Sirlin, who is the managing director at LaunchCapital.
Magenta Mobility, the Indian electric mobility startup, raised $22 million in a Series A1 round that is comprised of $11 million each from Morgan Stanley India Infrastructure and BP Ventures. Magenta will use the all-equity investment to boost its existing logistics and last-mile delivery fleet operations.
ReCharge Industries’ deal to buy bankrupt battery maker BritishVolt and its land is at risk of falling apart.
Shuttlers, a Nigerian shared mobility company, raised $4 million in a new funding round led by Verod-Kepple Africa Ventures (VKAV), a pan-African-focused venture capital firm. Follow-on investors included VestedWorld, which led the mobility startup’s $1.6 million round 18 months ago. ShEquity, CMC 21 & Alsa and EchoVC also participated.
X Shore, the Swedish maker of electric-powered boats, raised €26.5 million ($29.1 million) in a round led by the investment arm of Swedish Bank SEB.
Notable reads and other tidbits
Cruise filed with federal regulators a voluntary recall to update the software in 300 robotaxis after one struck the back of a city bus in San Francisco. Cruise said that it initiated the recall because in rare circumstances the software could inaccurately predict the movement of “articulated” vehicles.
Kodiak Robotics introduced its fifth-generation autonomous truck hardware platform, which it says increases sensor redundancy and GPU processing power. Kodiak also said it removed the roof-mounted “center pod” sensor suite and relocated the front-facing Luminar Iris lidar.
Zoox designed a whole suite of sounds for its robotaxis.
Electric vehicles, charging & batteries
BrightDrop, the electric delivery van subsidiary of General Motors, has signed on supply chain logistics company Ryder as a new customer. Ryder plans to add 4,000 BrightDrop EVs to their rental and lease fleet through 2025.
FreeWire Technologies, the EV charging and energy management solutions, has expanded and opened a European headquarters in Banbury, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom.
Kia unveiled its roadmap at its 2023 CEO Investor Day and said it aims to reach KRW 160 trillion ($122 billion) in gross revenue by 2030. The company said it will invest KRW 32 trillion ($24 million) into its electrification strategy, with 45% of that money dedicated to “future business areas.”
Ohio’s job market is being reshaped by electric cars via NYT.
Redwood Materials is expanding a partnership with Volkswagen of America to collect more end-of-life batteries from consumer electronics and strip out the valuable materials so they can be used to make batteries for electric vehicles. Under the deal, bins will be set up at VW dealerships throughout the United States.
Rivian produced 9,395 vehicles at its factory in Normal, Illinois in the first quarter, lower than the previous period but still on track to hit its 50,000 production goal for the year.
Tesla tripled its workforce last year at its 2,500-acre manufacturing hub in Austin, Texas, according to the company’s annual compliance report filed with county officials.
Future of flight
Volocopter opened its production facilities in Bruchsal, Germany. The company plans to build its electric air taxis there and offer commercial services starting next year.
Lyft is relaunching a service called Lyft Green that will allow riders to request an electric or hybrid vehicle for their next pickup. The service will initially only be available to business travelers in select cities when it begins April 17.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi drove for the ride-hailing and delivery app he runs and learned that drivers’ complaints were valid. The internal campaign, dubbed Project Boomerang, was launched to better understand Uber’s problem recruiting and keeping drivers. His experience helped shape what has become one of the biggest makeovers of the business since its inception in 2009, per WSJ.
Jiajia Wu was named interim CFO of Hyzon Motors. Wu previously served as the global director of cost and technical accounting and reporting at UL Solutions. Hyzon also named Pat Griffin, formerly president of Vehicle Operations, as president of its North America business.
Owen Diaz, the Black former elevator operator at Tesla’s Fremont factory, has seen his payout in a racial bias lawsuit slashed from $15 million to $3.2 million.
Tesla has nominated JB Straubel, the company’s former CTO who is now running his own startup Redwood Materials, as its next independent board member. Meanwhile, Tom Zhu, the executive behind Tesla’s rise in China, has quickly climbed through the company’s corporate ladder in recent years. Zhu is now senior vice president of Tesla’s automotive unit, according to a regulatory filing.
Speaking of Tesla, a recent Reuters report revealed that between 2019 and 2022, groups of Tesla employees privately shared via an internal messaging system invasive videos and images recorded by customers’ car cameras.