There was plenty of news in every corner of the mobility universe this week. As Tesla takes another big step forward in its AV-ambitions, a (very) deep-pocketed competitor across the Pacific believes it can compete with the EV leader by doing everything differently than Musk & Co. And it should certainly hope it’s doing things differently than Polestar, the Sino-Swedish EV brand that’s recalling its cars for the second time in a month… Meanwhile, public transit faces no shortage of challenges in the wake of COVID-19, but Paris is still going full-steam ahead on a plan to double the size of its world-famous Metro system.
If Tesla is the iPhone of EVs, Foxconn wants to be the Android: Despite making its name as iPhone’s biggest manufacturer, Foxconn’s behavior in the EV market looks much more similar to Android, argues Gustavo Henrique Ruffo at InsideEVs. In stark contrast to Tesla, which takes the Apple-style closed system approach, the Taiwanese giant – with $178 billion in revenue last year – is opening up its platform to developers, just like Google has done with Android. We’ll definitely be watching this space…
Women-run startups fare better in SoCal: Here’s another reason we’re bullish on LA: it appears to have at least a few VCs who pay attention to women-run startups. But while SoCal VCs are far ahead of the rest of the country in their support for women founders, the vast majority of VC funding in the metro area still goes to all-male teams.
Signs of the times: Fifty-five years after inventing Rail Alphabet, the font used for UK rail signage, Margaret Calvert has unveiled a new version: Rail Alphabet 2. Calvert, whose letters adorn all kinds of signs around the UK, says legibility and timelessness were the top priorities.
Total Recall 2: For the second time in a month, Volvo’s EV spin-off Polestar is recalling vehicles. This time, the concern is that 4,600 cars have faulty inverters. Earlier this month it recalled 2,200 cars after several instances of vehicles suddenly stopping. We don’t like when that happens, either.
Catch a glimpse of LA’s new bus plaza: Angeleno bus riders were introduced to a snazzy new BRT station at Patsaouras Plaza, offering riders a much higher-quality experience as they connect to trains at Union Station. It’s great to see our partners at LA Metro offering high-quality amenities to bus, as well as rail, riders; let’s hope this catches on!
Where the money’s headed: The event experts at Paris-based Sesamers round up the best forthcoming gatherings for VCs and startups, and we’re delighted to see that CoMotion LA LIVE is included among the list. Do you have your ticket yet?
Mixed use meets multiple destinations! Here’s a combination we like to see… in Los Angeles, a new rail hub is rising as the Crenshaw Line nears completion. Now developers are proposing to top the station with a large mixed use development, including a healthy portion of low income housing.
Land of 10,000 Lakes derailed: A hotly-anticipated second daily train from Minneapolis to Chicago is scuttled, as MN lawmakers fail to join the Feds, Amtrak, and neighboring states in paying their share. As Minnesota only had to pony up $10M, this sounds rather penny wise, pound foolish to us…
Dealt a tough hand: Vegas-to-LA high speed rail announces it is “postponed until market liquidity improves” after Fortress Investment Group is unable to sell bonds necessary to fund construction of Brightline West.
8,871: that’s how many Fisker Ocean SUVs have now been preordered, according to company founder Henrik Fisker. Among other interesting updates, the company also revealed that Magna will be manufacturing its cars in Graz, Austria.
Way mo’ data than ever: In 20 months, Waymo’s fleet of driver-supervised AVs in Phoenix drove a combined 6.1 million miles and were involved in 18 crashes of varying severity, according to a massive trove of data the company released Friday. Waymo says “nearly all” of the crashes were not their fault and that none of them involved serious injuries.
A new robot taxi partnership: A few days after Aptiv/Hyundai joint venture Motional resumed its semi-autonomous taxi service in Las Vegas, the company announced a new partnership with Via, the transit software provider, in its pursuit of a fully autonomous fleet of robo-taxis.
The early bird special is over: After releasing its autonomous driving software to a limited number of owners for only $2,000, Tesla has jacked the price of the “full self driving” add-on to $10,000. Many AV experts continue to reject its description as “full” self driving since Tesla itself tells users that the car requires constant human supervision.
Ford bets big on Miami: The automaker, which has had a fleet of AVs roaming Miami’s streets since 2018, announced that it is opening up an AV HQ in a 140,000 sq ft space just west of the airport. It hopes to have AVs operating commercially to move people and goods around the area starting in 2022.
Paris plows $45 billion into four new autonomous Metro lines: The 200 new kilometers of tunnels will double the size of Paris’ iconic 120-year-old Metro and are projected to carry an additional 2 million people a day by 2026. In contrast to the existing 16 lines, all of which converge on the center of the city, the new routes are focused on serving the rapidly growing suburbs, and which largely bypass the city center.
It’s no close call! Consumer Reports ranks all the ADAS systems on the market, and finds GM’s Super Cruise to be far-and-away the winner. Tesla’s Autopilot comes in second, while Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE comes in last with a worryingly low score.
Low hanging infrastructure: Data from scooter provider Bird has helped cities like Santa Monica, Atlanta, and Tel Aviv implement “low-cost, high-impact improvements” by providing valuable information about two wheeled routes, riding times and parking locations.
The city that never scooted: While it has fallen way behind in shared micromobility, New York City recently released “requests for expressions of interest” from electric scooter operators for a pilot scheduled to kick off in March. Big players like Lime, Bird, Voi and Spin will be applying to participate in the pilot as well as for the chance to offer associated services: parking, charging, scooter collection and data collection and analysis,
Great success: A new report from fluctuo demonstrates how shared micromobility has become a big deal in France. Of the 36 French cities with over 100,000 people, 30 have at least one shared service and in Paris over 10.5 million trips have been taken in the last month alone.
Lime twist: COVID has “turned from a headwind into a tailwind” for Lime, which had to lay off 14% of its staff just a few months ago but recently passed the 200 million mile mark.
Historic Harleys: In a nod to its past, Harley Davidson officially spins off its e-bike brand, rechristened “Serial 1 Cycle Company,” as an homage to the first bike ever built by HD back in 1903: the “Serial Number One.” Talk about big shoes to fill!
Fun utility vehicle: Increasing its annual production goals from just 2,000 units per year to 50,000, Arcimoto strikes a deal with DHL to deliver their electric, three wheeled, highway legal, Fun Utility Vehicle to customers.
In the Detroit Free Press, an urbanist activist argues that the Motor City cannot bulldoze its way out of blight. City leaders are pushing voters to approve a $250 million bond to demolish or renovate thousands of vacant or dilapidated houses. That won’t be much help unless the city and region continue to incentivize suburban sprawl over investment in the city’s neglected urban core, says Eric Kehoe.
Smart Cities Dive wonders whether the blow dealt to the gas tax by the pandemic will prove fatal.
Politico dives into the scary outlook for public transit systems around the world. While ridership in major Chinese cities has creeped back up to 80% of pre-pandemic levels, the situation is worse in Europe and much worse in North America. To add insult to injury, cash-strapped local governments are in a tough position to make up for any lost fare revenue.
Job Trends in partnership with New Mobility Careers.
- Startups and tech companies often live (and die) by the motto of “fake till you make it.” That’s part of the reason we enjoy looking at companies through the lens of hiring: it shows at least that companies are putting their money where their mouth is. For instance, stealth startup Metropolis hasn’t made many headlines, but they have an intriguing number of open roles and posted additional new positions this week in Ops and Data.
- In a different way, sometimes trends with larger tech companies are presaged by slowdowns in hiring. That doesn’t seem to be the case for Argo, which continues to be one of the most consistent performers in additional job postings.
- And sometimes, where a company is hiring is more interesting than the absolute number of roles. For example, after Aurora acquired Lidar startup Blackmore in Bozeman, Montana, some folks speculated the remote office was not long for the company. But as of this week, the Bozeman office is still growing.
- Hyundai’s UAM group keeps making headlines for interesting personnel patterns…or changes. This week, the sudden departure of Scott Drennan was followed by a new job opening for CTO.
- Ever wanted to be a trend-spotter and “create strategic impulses”? BMW is looking for you.
- Calling all digital twinn (not a typo) enthusiasts who are fans of either Buda or Pest.
- Forget self-driving cars, self-driving delivery bots, or self-flying planes: how about self-driving carts?
- Finally, Argo is adding a role that touches upon perhaps one of the hardest problems facing autonomous cars: how to localize general principles of autonomy to wildly diverse contexts. Check out their listing for a localization lead.
Have a job listing that’s perfect for the CoMotion community? Please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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