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Hello Readers: Welcome to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of transporting people and packages from point A to point B.
Your usual host, Kirsten Korosec, is taking a well-deserved vacation in the great outdoors, so this week I’ll be taking over the job of bringing you the news and wishing you both a happy new year and a speedy recovery from your hangover.
It’s officially 2022, but let’s take a look at the past year. In short, everyone bought e-bikes; robotic axles and autonomous trucks are getting closer to commercialization; remote-controlled sidewalk delivery robots are becoming a thing; the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association is monitoring Tesla and Chevy; virtually every OEM is investing serious money in electrification, and that includes battery joint ventures; and eVTOLs got a huge investment.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the latter. My colleague Aria Alamalhodaei wrote a two-part series on the trends shaping the eVTOL space. The first part looked back at 2021 and highlighted trends such as:
- SPACs have taken off and have helped put a stupid amount of money into the industry, with companies like Sagittarius Aviation, Joby Aviation, lily and Vertical space travel all merge with blank check companies.
- On-the-ground infrastructure, such as vertiports and chargers, is turning into its own business unit, and companies such as Archer, Hyundai and Volocopter explore ways to integrate air mobility into a city’s existing transport networks.
- There are more orders for eVTOL aircraft, starting with United Airlines $1 billion order from Archer.
- Car manufacturers, such as Hyundai, Honda and xpeng — investing resources in building their own flying cars.
All these movements form the basis for what is to come in 2022. Some of Aria’s predictions are:
- “The main story of 2022, it will definitely be certification,” said Sergio Cecutta, Founder and Partner at SMG Consulting. “It’s the year of put up or shut up.”
- More automakers will get involved in space. This is evident from the large investments of Toyota and Stellantis go inside Joby and a production agreement with Archer, respectively.
- More SPAC deals. Aria writes that it’s not a given, “but aviation’s high capital requirements could mean more startups are still looking for a massive injection of cash through the public markets.”
If you have any ideas, criticisms, tips or opinions that you would like to share, please email me at [email protected]
Since we’re making predictions, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share some thoughts on what 2022 could mean for the world of micromobility. I spoke to a few experts and came up with some interesting, and even crazy, responses.
crystal ball says…
- More e-bikes will hit the shared micromobility space.
- Fresh VC money is drying up and no more newcomers are likely to enter the space. Those who have come this far are likely to stay here, and they become more mature and efficient.
- That said, the ride-hail companies (aka Uber and Lyft) might come back to play, says Segways Tony Ho, based on orders and inquiries for vehicles he sees coming in.
- All that scooter ADAS we started seeing last year? Yes, it is here to stay, and will only increase. But that is not everything! Brace yourself for smarter vehicles that will not only impact the way you drive, but also give operators more opportunities to monetize. Facts. Is. Everything. Operators are looking for ways to sell sensor data.
- Horace Dediu, industry analyst and co-host of the Micromobility Podcast, thinks there will be much more integration of micromobility options with transportation planning apps like Google Maps.
- He also said that we can expect a marriage between micromobility and the metaverse. The f&%!, you might think. Wait for it. Imagine a smart helmet with an augmented reality visor, showing you the way or enticing you to the nearest coffee shop with a floating coupon!
- New, heavier, form factors. Personally, I already want to see a small vehicle with a roof! We don’t all like being caught in the rain.
- Better integration of the micro-mobility offer with public transport.
In other news…
voic just raised a $115 million Series D in what it describes as an oversubscribed funding round that will help it expand into new markets. As scooter companies consolidate their power, such a big raise this late in the game is certainly significant.
Wind Mobility, which has sold Italian and Israeli operations in recent months, is now upgrading its e-scooter fleet in Nottingham and Derby in the UK with LINK e-scooters from super pedestrian. Users must now download the LINK app to continue using Wind’s service… so is it really Wind’s service?
Superpedestrian also launched 150 seated scooters in Baltimore to provide a safer and more comfortable transportation option for people with disabilities and older riders.
Offer of the week
What about the holidays, there haven’t been too many deals, but I did notice AI chip maker Kneron’s raise $25 million. The Chinese startup will use the money to make chips for autonomous driving applications. This move comes as the company may be gearing up to move to the US in the coming years, and with a larger number of AV companies aiming to scale over the same time frame, Kneron could be one to watch. to hold.
The other deal that caught my eye is South Africa planet42, a car subscription company that buys used cars from dealers and rents them to customers, has just raised $30 million in equity and debt. The round is a bridge round, a precursor to a Serie A, and it will help the company expand into the Mexican market.
Planet42 has an interesting business model it calls “socially inclusive.” As a service provider in emerging markets, it helps people who may have unstable incomes or poor credit scores access vehicles that could potentially change their lives.
Remarkable news and other facts
waymo cooperates with Chinese automaker Geely to build an all-electric, self-driving vehicle. The companies will integrate Waymo Driver, Waymo’s AV system, into Geely’s Zeekro vehicles for use in the US markets “in the coming years”.
TuSimple has completed its first autonomous truck ride on a public road without a human in the vehicle or any human intervention. The autonomous driving system fully navigated an 80-mile run along the streets and highways between Tuscon, Arizona and Phoenix, a milestone for the company as it aims to scale its technology to purpose-built trucks by 2024, says president and CEO Cheng Lu.
Iveco joined Plus to launch a pilot in Europe and China that aims to validate and integrate Plus’ autonomous truck technology with Iveco’s latest generation S-Way heavy-duty truck.
AutoX built a Level 4 robotic axi manufacturing facility in China to produce its Generation 5 vehicles, which it claims can operate without safety drivers in the vehicle.
FedEx has received his first five GM-built Brightdrop electric vans out of an order of 500. The move is an important milestone for FedEx in its stated goal to fully electric delivery fleet and be globally carbon neutral by 2040.
Gravity launched a fleet of all-electric yellow cabs in NYC, including: Ford Mustang Mach-E cabs.
Nikola has reached a settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, agreeing to pay $125 million to settle charges it defrauded investors by misleading them about its products, technical progress and commercial prospects.
Arrival has begun testing its Arrival Bus at a testing facility in the UK, where it will conduct rigorous testing to enable it to be certified for use on public roads.
Israeli driver monitoring system (DMS) company cipia will integrate its technology into Chinese automaker SAICs Roewe RX5 MAX car to detect when a driver is distracted or sleepy.
Reporter Rita Liao wrote a deep dive on Chinese internet giant Meituan’s dominance of the drone delivery space in Shenzhen. In the past two years, the company has flown 19,000 meals to 8,000 customers in seven neighborhoods across the city. Now the company is gearing up to double its air delivery ambitions. Meituan recently applied for a license to operate a commercial drone delivery service across Shenzhen, which is expected to receive approval in 2022. Meituan’s competition, Alibaba backed ele.me and e-commerce powerhouse JD.com, have also invested in similar drone delivery services in recent years.