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Welcome back to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future ways of moving people and packages from point A to point B.
Let’s get straight to the point, shall we?
Top of mind for me this week Tesla. I know, weird.
But really, it seems like pressure is coming from all sides these days. The company’s decision to cut prices has angered recent buyers (you only have to go to Twitter to see the anger), shareholders are more vocal about the lagging share price (it fell more than 64% in the past year) and it faces growing regulatory pressure over Autopilot and its so-called FSD software beta product that promises full self-driving. To be clear, Tesla vehicles do not drive themselves. The system is an advanced driver aid.
In any case, these problems are piling up. How much can the company have?
In the past, Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk have managed to wriggle free from criticism or concerns that it was stagnating, often by highlighting a potential future product or meeting ambitious production and delivery targets.
But Tesla narrowly missed its own production and supply guidance for the year and Wall Street’s Q4 expectations. And shareholders, consumers and regulators seem to be getting tired of this cycle. To me, this is just another indication that Tesla is starting to be seen (and treated) more as an old carmaker and not a jumpstarter that can do no wrong.
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Rebecca Bellan was away for the past week, but I still wanted to share some interesting micromobbin stories reported by yours truly and Romain Dillet, who is from France.
First up is Romain’s article that takes a look Paris and the looming scooter decision that could rock the micromobility industry there. I recommend you read the entire article. Here’s a little taste.
On March 23, the fate of the 15,000 colorful electric scooters currently roaming the streets of Paris could change dramatically if the French capital considers whether or not to renew the licenses of the three scooter companies currently operating in the city.
Romain is entitled to the implications, which extend far beyond Paris.
And this won’t just impact Dott, Tier and Uber affiliate Lime – the three companies that have held these licenses since 2020. The decision will set a precedent for the many cities around the world that have also allowed scooters on the streets. If things don’t go their way, a negative decision in Paris could have a chilling effect on micromobility startups worldwide.
Next is a more luxurious, high-performance scooter story. I’m talking about Bugattiyes Bugatti, and its new electric scooter.
Bugatti launched a $1,200 electric scooter in 2022, through a partnership with tech accessory company Bytech. The two companies teamed up again for a second-generation scooter that is sturdier, equipped with new features and colors, and has a larger “self-healing.” tyres.
The scooter from 2023 is 10% larger than its predecessor and, according to the companies, is equipped with a 36 volt / 15.6 Ah battery and an electric motor with a maximum power of 1,000 watts.
That battery and motor combination allows the scooter to handle an 18-degree incline, a maximum speed of 22 miles per hour, and travel 35 miles on a single charge, the company said. (That’s up from the 22-mile range in the previous model.)
No word yet on pricing for this larger, second-generation model. Maybe this is one of those “if you must ask” moments. ;D
Until next week!
Offer of the week
We’ve seen a lot of SPACs over the past two years. but what about a double SPAC? Yes, it happened.
I’m talking about Tomorrowthe UK automotive data exchange platform that went public in November 2021 following a merger with a dedicated acquisition company through Virtuoso Acquisition Corp at an implied valuation of $800 million.
But what is this? The company announced on Jan. 10 that it is now agreed to merge with a SPAC created by a private equity firm TKB Capital, in a deal that could raise $100 million. And that is money that Wejo needs.
It seems this latest SPAC is the buoy Wejo uses to keep it afloat. It’s not just that Wejo’s stock price fell below $1 per share; the company is also burning through cash.
Wejo warned in November that it had a cash balance of $15 million, which would support the company for a “very short time.”
Wejo is about two years away from generating a life-sustaining-no-we’re-not-going bankruptcy filing. To add a little extra financial drama to the screenplay, Wejo is also at fault Palantir millions of dollars, pp an opinion piece by Chris Bryant at Bloomberg.
This double SPAC is the odd one out. I have a nagging feeling that some other failing SPACs will try the same tactic.
Other deals that caught my eye this week…
Apollo Future Mobility Group agreed to buy the Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer WM Motor Holdings for $2.02 billion. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals.
Hystara green hydrogen startup based in Norway, raised $26 million in a Series B round co-led AP Ventures and Mitsubishi Corp. Other investors included Nippon Steel Trading, Belgium-based investment firm Finindus, Hillhouse Investment, Trustbridge Partners, SINTEF Ventures and Firda.
Ottopiaan Israeli telecommuting company targeting the agriculture, construction, last-mile delivery, logistics and mobility industries raised $14.5 million in its Series A funding round that attracted public transportation giant ComfortDelGro as an investor. Other participants included AI Alliance Fund, MizMaa Ventures, IN Venture and Next Gear Ventures. T
Oxbotics, a UK-based start-up developing software to power autonomous vehicles, raised $140 million in a Series C round, including investment from Japan’s Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Co. and corporate VC ENEOS Innovation Partners. Existing investors BGF, safety equipment group Halma, hospitality and leisure investor Hostplus, Kiko Ventures, online shopping company Ocado Group, Tencent, Venture Science and auto parts maker ZF also participated.
Tianqi Lithium Corp. agreed to buy Australian lithium explorer Essential Metals Ltd in a A$136 million ($94 million) deal estimated to provide enough supply for around 10 million electric vehicles.
Remarkable lectures and other tidbits
Aurora gives a progress report to FreightWaves.
Now what for Pittsburgh’s autonomous vehicle scene?
The National Road Safety Service is apparently “work very fast” about the Tesla Autopilot investigation that opened in August 2021. Speaking of pressure on Tesla, more could follow after that The interception published videos and photos of an eight-car collision on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge caused by a Tesla Model S. The driver claimed that “Full Self-Driving” was active at the time of the crash.
Electric vehicles, batteries and charging
Lucid group produced 7,180 of its Air luxury sedans in 2022, surpassing its previously lowered guidance for the year. Lucid updated its guidance last fall, stating it would produce 6,000 to 7,000 vehicles by 2022.
Nicholas officially moves its battery production from Cypress, California to its plant in Coolidge, Arizona. The move is expected to be completed early in the third quarter. Production in Cypress will continue through the second quarter.
Proterra produced its first commercial EV battery on its new factory in Greer, South Carolina. The company calls the factory ‘Powered 1’ and believes it will be the largest battery plant in the United States for electric commercial vehicles.
Tesla plans to invest approximately $770 million in an expansion of its facility near Austin, which will include a mold shop, battery cell testing facility, and another to manufacture cathode and drive units. Tesla said it plans to build the new facilities this year.
Zeekrithe premium brand below Geely Holding Co.started series production of its second model, an electric van named Zeekr 009.
caravanthe online used car dealer, continues to struggle and it is cutting workers because sales are slow and it’s trying to manage its $7 billion debt.
Cruising has Nick Thomas as the new chief human resources officer. Thomas, who most recently served in a similar position at Lyft, succeeds Arden Hoffman at Cruise. Thomas also spent 13 years at Google, leading recruitment, D&I, employee engagement, HR governance, and employee relations.
Hyzon enginesthe supplier of heavy fuel cell electric vehicles John Edgeley as president of international operations.
AI scales, the San Francisco-based company that uses software and people to label image, text, voice and video data for companies building machine learning algorithms, has laid off 20% of its workforce. The company did not say how many people work at Scale AI. However, in February 2022, the company told TechCrunch that it employed about 450 people.