Image Credits: Ford
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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.
The big news this week was Ford lifting the hood on how the newly restructured 119-year-old company will operate and, importantly, report its financials. The move provides a new level of transparency into what business sector is — and is not — profitable at Ford.
The big takeaway? Profits generated from selling internal combustion engine-powered trucks, cars and SUVs have helped, and will continue to help, drive Ford’s push into EVs.
Ford restructured the company and broke it into three segments: Ford Blue for its internal combustion and hybrid vehicles, Ford Pro for the commercial business and Ford Model e, which covers electric vehicles, advanced driver assistance systems and digital services.
Ford restated earnings for 2021 and 2022, which was illuminating to say the least. Ford lost about $3 billion on its Model e business over the past two years and isn’t expected to be profitable (on an adjusted basis that removes costs like taxes) until late 2026 with an 8% operating profit margin. Meanwhile, its commercial and traditional internal combustion engine business units were profitable enough to offset losses incurred by making and selling electric vehicles.
A day after revealing its financials and making its case for its restructuring, the company announced that its $5.6 billion BlueOval City complex outside of Memphis, Tennessee will include a truck plant capable of producing 500,000 electric vehicles a year. The first vehicle to come off the line will be a next-gen electric truck, code named Project T3, in 2025.
Alrighty, folks let’s get to the rest of the news from this week!
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Acer came to the Taipei Cycle Show repping some pretty out there bikes. One is the eKinekt BD 3, a stationary bike that replaces the motor with a generator, allowing the rider to generate up to 75W of power to charge devices like laptops, phones and tablets. It has a desk/work surface that can shift forward and backward from work mode to exercise mode, but you can definitely leave it somewhere in the middle to stay active while cycling.
Companies like Aventon and Greenworks have somehow figured out how to make e-bike batteries compatible with power tool batteries.
Australian cycling advocates are demanding e-bike buyers get the same government support as EV buyers.
Bird’s board has been sued by shareholders who allege that the company’s board breached their fiduciary duties when Bird overstated revenue for the last two years.
The E-BIKE Act is back! Representatives reintroduced the bill, which got left out of the Inflation Reduction Act, this week. If passed, it would provide Americans with $1500 in federal tax incentives towards the purchase of an e-bike. It might also incentivize consumers to buy reputable e-bikes, which could, in turn, help lower the number of lithium-ion battery fires sweeping cities like New York.
France-based Fifteen shows off its latest docked, shared e-bikes.
Motorcycle racer Erik Buell unveiled the Fuell Flluid 2&3 long range e-bikes. Powered by Valeo’s Cyclee mid-drive motor, the e-bike lineup boasts 1000W of power, 1000W of power and 130 Nm of torque. The bikes offer 110 miles of range and smart connectivity features.
Gogoro is expanding into Singapore via a pilot with food delivery company Foodpanda. The pilot is small scale, but it’s the latest in a string of B2B partnerships the battery swapping company is tapping to expand into new countries.
Himiway has three new e-bikes, including an urban commuter, a fat tire off-roader, and a little pedal-less mini e-bike/scooter that only costs $499.
Honda is debuting its first e-motorcycles in Japan, possibly this year.
LiveWire by Harley-Davidson is bringing its e-motorcycle to Europe. The LiveWire ONE is available for pre-order in Germany, France, the Netherlands and the UK, with shipments starting in April.
New Zealand is considering a proposal that would allow employers to offer staff e-bikes without incurring a fringe tax. A painfully small step in the right direction.
I tested out Niu Technology’s KQi3 Max e-scooter to see if I could actually replace my car commute with an e-scooter. The answer is yes, but maybe not with the KQi3, which I found to be powerful and fast, but not sturdy enough for all that torque.
E-bike fires a problem in NYC? A local lawmaker has proposed that delivery workers be allowed to charge their bikes at fire stations rather than apartment buildings to reduce risk of fires.
A bill in Oregon would let public schools direct money from their transportation budgets to fund bike buses.
Pure Electric just released a new e-scooter with front-facing footboards and a seriously foldable design.
An e-bike that’s lighter than an e-scooter? Only the Swiss can pull something like that off. E-bike maker Thōmus used motor tech from the Mars Rover to build a carbon fiber bike that weighs just over 25 pounds.
Zapp Electric revealed the production version of its limited-edition i300 Carbon Launch Edition. The UK company says it’s like a Vespa and a Ducati had a baby. Customers can take a look, personalize and reserve units with Zapp’s 3D configurator. It costs just under 10,000 euro.
Deal of the week
After years of trying, will Turo finally go public? A new regulatory filing suggests the peer-to-peer car rental company might finally make the leap.
The company filed an update to its IPO paperwork this past week, detailing its full 2022 financial performance. The upshot? Turo has continued to grind away and even make revenue gains as it awaits better IPO conditions.
Turo initially filed confidentially for an IPO back in 2021 and dropped a public S-1 document in early 2022.
This latest filing shows Turo generated revenue of $746.6 million, up 59% from the $469 million it brought into the business in 2021. That growth was powered, in part, by a large boost to spending at the company, which saw its sales and marketing costs grow from $52.7 million in 2021 to $111.3 million in 2022.
But as TechCrunch editor Alex Wilhelm noted in his article, rising costs didn’t mean that Turo had an unprofitable last year. In fact, after posting GAAP net losses in the $90 million range in both 2019 and 2020, Turo cut the figure to a $40.4 million net loss in 2021. Last year the company’s net income came to a far-shinier and positive $154.7 million, although that number is predicated on a more modest operating income result of $33.8 million.
Other deals that got my attention …
Amogy Inc., a company developing ammonia fuel used to power trucks and ships, raised $139 million in a Series B-1 round was led by SK Innovation. Other investors include Temasek, Korea Zinc, Aramco Ventures, AP Ventures, MOL PLUS, Yanmar Ventures, Zeon Ventures and DCVC.
Bird’s shares jumped 17% this week after the company announced it had received additional funding, bringing the total raised to $33 million this year. The first $30 million, the company had already announced back in January as part of its deal with Bird Canada, so really the company just raised an additional $3 million from “private investors.” At the same time, members of Bird’s board and executive team – including CEO Shane Torchiana, CFO Michael Washinushi, and founder/chair of the board Travis VanderZanden – collectively purchased 1.6 million shares this week worth about $208,000, according to SEC filings.
BMW i Ventures co-led an investment in the $16.1M Series A round for startup DeepDrive, a startup that developed an efficient dual-rotor motor that extends the range of electric vehicles. Other investors include UVC Partners, Bayern Kapital with Wachstumsfonds Bayern, and Continental’s Corporate Venture Capital Unit.
Candela, the Swedisn-based hydrofoil shuttle company, raised SEK 210 million (around $20 million) in a round co-led by EQT Ventures and investor duo Joel Eklund (Fosielund Holding AB) and Svante Nilo Bengtsson (Marknadspotential AB), with participation from Ocean Zero LLC and others. This follows its $24 million round from last year.
Caramel, an LA-based startup that launched a digital car sales platform, raised $12 million in a seed round from lead investors Zeev Ventures, Primera Capital and Hearst Ventures.
Kakao Mobility, the ride-hailing subsidiary of South Korean messaging and internet giant Kakao, acquired Splyt, a London startup that works with apps in areas like travel, ride-hailing and finance to help them build out “super app” strategies by integrating other services.
Revolv, an electric medium-to-heavy commercial fleet company, raised $15 million in a Series A funding round led by an affiliated fund of Greenbacker Capital Management.
The U.S. Transportation Department awarded $94.8 million to 59 projects on advanced technology projects to boost road safety, improve transit reliability and use drones and sensors for transportation projects.
Virgin Orbit Holdings is reportedly nearing a deal for a $200-million investment from Texas-based venture capital investor Matthew Brown via a private share placement.
Wingtra, the drone mapping startup, raised $22 million in Series B funding round from investors DiamondStream Partners, EquityPitcher Ventures, Verve Ventures, the European Innovation Council Fund (EIC Fund), Ace & Company and Spring Mountain Capital founder, John L. Steffens.
Zedify, the British e-cargo delivery startup, raised $6.1 million in a round led by Barclays, to expand into Manchester and Birmingham.
Zeway, a French startup, raised $29 million to expand its battery swapping network for mopeds.
A little bird
Remember when news broke earlier that Bryan Salesky and Peter Rander, the co-founders of the now-defunct Argo AI, had new startup? There wasn’t much information attached to the story at the time except that it was apparently focused on autonomous vehicle technology and perhaps trucking.
Here’s the latest hint at what the former Argo AI co-founders are up to. A website!
Now, to be clear, the website I share below is likely NOT the actual name of the startup. And the website is quite scant. The name “Next Self Driving” is a bit cheeky. But I suppose this is the “next” self driving company for Salesky and Rander.
There’s nothing obvious that connects the Argo folks to this. It’s hosted on AWS and doesn’t show any internet records or any other artifacts that point to the site’s owner. However, the company posted jobs in Pittsburgh and couple of longtime former Argo employees have listed this website on their LinkedIn page.
Have more info? Please share!
Notable reads and other tidbits
DeepRoute.ai unveiled its Driver 3.0 solution, its commercial ADAS solution. There are two versions available for automakers to purchase: The D-PRO, with hardware costs at $2,000, includes HD map-free operation and features like valet park assist and point-to-point navigation. D-AIR, which costs $1,000, focuses on HD map-free driver assistance like automatic cruise control and lane centering.
Tesla started rolling out an update to its Full Self Driving (FSD) software — specifically Full Self-Driving Beta v11.3.3 — that provides a major update to the software stack. It’s and addresses a recall notice posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Baidu Apollo has been granted permits to provide fully driverless ride-hailing service in Beijing’s Yizhuang Economic Development Zone. The company was also granted approval to test its robotaxis on public roads in Shanghai’s Pudong New Area.
Cruise, the self-driving unit under General Motors, has applied for permission to test its autonomous vehicles across all of California, not just San Francisco.
Waymo released a safety case for autonomous vehicles that it wants the rest of the AV industry to use as a blueprint of sorts.
A lawsuit was filed against Transdev Alternative Services, the contractor firm that supplies workers to Waymo. The former employee said in the lawsuit she suffered “cruel and appalling treatment” working for Waymo via Transdev in San Francisco. Waymo is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Electric vehicles, charging & batteries
7-Eleven has unveiled 7Charge, its new EV charging network and app in the U.S., and coming soon to Canada.
Albemarle Corporation announced plans to develop a $1 billion lithium hydroxide processing facility in Chester County, South Carolina.
Ford took the wraps off the Explorer EV. The €45,000 model, which is headed to the European market, shares little with the internal combustion vehicle that carries the same name. The Explorer EV is smaller, features an entirely new design in and out, and has a starting price nearly €10,000 higher.
Hyundai Motor Group released a video showing off an EV charging robot it developed that communicates with an electric vehicle and automatically opens the charging port and plugs in.
LG Energy Solution said it will invest $5.5 billion to build a battery cell manufacturing plant ear Phoenix, quadruple its planned investment. The plant is expected to start making batteries for EVs in 2025 and for energy storage systems the next year.
Ram showed dealers an all-electric midsize pickup concept that was similar to the 1500 Revolution concept that Stellantis brand rolled out at CES in January.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll found 34% of Americans would consider buying an electric vehicle for their next model, while 31% said no.
Tesla offered customers who own Model S and Model X vehicles equipped with the yoke steering wheel an option to order a traditional round one. And you’ll never guess what happened. Yup, it’s already sold out.
Future of flight
Archer Aviation and United Airlines announced plans to launch the first air taxi route in Chicago, between O’Hare International Airport and Vertiport Chicago. This is the second ever commercial electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) route to be approved. Archer and United Airlines announced the first route in November.
In-car tech and security
Ferrari confirmed it was hit by a ransomware attack that exposed customers’ personal information, including names, addresses, email addresses and telephone numbers. Based on its investigation so far, Ferrari said no payment information or details of Ferrari cars owned or ordered had been stolen, though it’s not clear if the carmaker has the technical ability, such as logs, to detect data exfiltration.
Hivemapper, the startup that puts dashcams on ride-hail and delivery vehicles to map the world, is getting a little closer to its goal of toppling the B2B mapping empire that Google has built.
Luminar Technologies CFO Tom Fennimore defended the company took issue with arguments made in a bearish note by Goldman analyst Mark Delaney.
Nvidia announced at its annual GPU Technology Conference, few automotive-related updates. BMW has expanded its use of Nvidia Omniverse, the company’s metaverse platform that allows automakers to build and test virtually, and is now operating its first fully digital factory. BYD also expanded its use of Nvidia’s system-on-a-chip Drive Orin to a broader range of its EVs.
FLYR Labs appointed John Tzioufas as its new Chief Revenue Officer. He will oversee all global sales, sales engineering, sales operations, and account management for FLYR Labs.
Ford has hired John Dion will join the company as chief transformation officer on April 3, reporting to Ford CEO Jim Farley. Dion, who previously worked at ESAB Corp. and Danaher Corp., will oversee global deployment of methodologies and tools based on lean manufacturing and related concepts, according to Ford.
Joby Aviation has announced former FAA administrator Michael Huerta as its latest appointment to its board of directors.