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The United Autoworkers’ strike continued to dominate the news cycle. And the strike, now in its third week, is escalating.
After GM and Ford CEOs went on the attack, UAW chief Shawn Fain responded by announcing the strike would expand. Workers walked off the job at a Ford plant in Chicago and GM’s Lansing, Michigan assembly plant. Stellantis wasn’t part of the expanded strike after making a last-minute concession.
With tempers and tensions running high, it’s hard to see how this will get resolved anytime soon.
Before we jump into the rest of the news, here’s the latest episode of the Equity podcast. OK, let’s goooooo.
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Bird has finally been delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. The official reason was that the company failed to maintain a market cap of over $15 million for 30 consecutive days, but Bird has had a hard time keeping its stock price above $1, as well. The company will continue to trade over-the-counter, and will appeal the decision.
The timing is awkward, given Bird acquired Spin from Tier only a week before its delisting. In a TechCrunch+ piece, I analyze whether the Spin acquisition will be enough to save Bird from crashing entirely.
We don’t know how much runway Bird has without access to Spin’s balance sheets. But Spin’s reported revenue is only about a fifth of Bird’s, and based on Bird’s own operating expenses, debts, revenue and available cash — not to mention its turbulent history — I’d say the company has a tough road ahead to regain investor confidence.
A quick word on battery fires. Rep. Ritchie Torres introduced legislation to Congress that would require a national safety standard for lithium-ion batteries for micromobility devices. The bill came about in part because online retailers like Amazon continue to sell unsafe batteries, despite the increase in battery fires over the years.
Deal of the week
I’m not sure if this sector will maintain its buzzy status forever, but for now investors seem happy to pour money into electric boat startups. Arc is one of those.
The Los Angeles-based EV boat startup just raised $70 million in a Series B round from a bevy of returning investors, including Eclipse, Andreessen Horowitz, Lowercarbon Capital and Abstract Ventures. New investor Menlo Ventures — specifically long-time partner and self-proclaimed boating enthusiast Shawn Carolan — also joined in. Arc has raised more than $100 million, to date.
Flush with fresh capital, co-founders Mitch Lee and Ryan Cook are planning to scale up with a new higher-volume electric boat designed for wakeboarding, wakesurfing and other watersports such as tubing. That focus could prove lucrative as most EV boat startups are producing hydrofoil-styled boats, which don’t create wakes large enough to be used for watersports.
Other deals that got my attention this week …
H55, a Swiss developer of electric propulsion and battery management systems for aviation, raised about $49 million in Series C funding from ND Capital, Tippet Venture Partners, RTX Ventures and other “prominent” private investors.
Kneron, which is developing AI chips to power self-driving cars, among other autonomous machines, raised $49 million in an extension to its Series B round from investors including Foxconn, Alltek, Horizon Ventures, Liteon Technology Corp., Adata and PalPilot. The company has raised $190 million, to date.
Line Man Wongnai, an on-demand delivery app in Thailand, is getting prepped for an initial public offering in Bangkok that could raise around $300 million, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources.
Sierra Space raised $290 million in a Series B round to scale its Dream Chaser spaceplane and commercial space station projects. The commercial space transportation startup is now valued at $5.3 billion.
Notable reads and other tidbits
Contributor Emme Hall tested Mercedes’ hands-off, eyes-off automated driving system on a traffic-laden Los Angeles freeway. Here’s how it went.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters union sent a letter to U.S. auto safety regulators urging the agency to deny a petition by General Motors to grant an exemption to subsidiary Cruise to build its Origin AV without traditional vehicle standards like a steering wheel.
Electric vehicles, charging & batteries
Ford has halted work on its planned $3.5 billion EV battery plant in Michigan that was supposed to make cheaper lithium iron phosphate batteries using tech from China’s CATL. The factory has been controversial with local residents as well as at the national level, where Republican lawmakers continue to push the automaker to share more documents about the agreement with CATL. Ford insists it has shared everything.
Side note: Ford’s timing is curious. Many have linked the decision to the UAW strike. But perhaps it’s something else. One theory floating around my circles is that Ford saw the U.S. Commerce Department’s recently released interpretation of foreign entity of concern for the CHIPS Act and is expecting similar language from the Treasury Department for the Section 30D Credit under the Inflation Reduction Act. In other words, it doesn’t expect for the plant to meet requirements to receive incentives.
Honda touted its massive EV partner network in the U.S. Now it needs to start selling EVs in the country.
Lucid Group opened its first international factory in Saudi Arabia, the home of its largest shareholder. For now the factory will re-assemble Lucid Air vehicle kits that are pre-manufactured at the company’s U.S. factory in Casa Grande, Arizona.
Volkswagen’s $2.1 billion plan to launch a dedicated electric-vehicle factory in Wolfsburg, Germany is kaput. The automaker will instead modify two existing plants in the country.
Uber, DoorDash and Grubhub received a blow to their business in New York City after a judge ruled to allow the implementation of the minimum pay rate of $18 per hour for the city’s food delivery workers.
Speaking of Uber, the ride-hailing company struck a multiyear partnership with Los Angeles Yellow Cab and its five partner taxi fleets in Southern California. Under the arrangement, taxi drivers will have access to Uber trip referrals in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. (I find it fascinating to watch how Uber and taxi companies are now working together.)
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against Tesla, accusing the automaker of violating federal law by tolerating widespread and ongoing racial harassment of its Black employees and subjecting some workers to retaliation for opposing harassment.
Reminder: The lawsuit from the federal agency responsible for enforcing civil rights laws against workplace discrimination is one of several against Tesla for racial bias. The California Civil Rights Department sued Tesla in 2022 over similar allegations.
Volkswagen’s software unit Cariad went through a shakeup earlier this year and now it’s starting to put the pieces back together again. Cariad just hired Sanjay Lal — who most recently led the development of Rivian’s infotainment and next-gen middleware across the vehicle and cloud — to take on the 2.0 version of its software architecture that will be an operating system designed for all VW Group brands. Specifically he will lead the establishment of the so-called SDV Hub, where software developers and tech experts from Cariad, Volkswagen and Audi will work together to develop the 2.0 platform. Yup, that’s a big job.
You might remember Lal’s name. Prior to his VP of software platform job at Rivian, Lal held several engineering leadership positions at Cisco, Tesla and for Android Automotive at Google.