It’s been another huge week for mobility news, but EVEN BIGGER news is about to break when CoMotion LA LIVE gathers global mobility leaders this Tuesday through Thursday. (Act fast, select All Access tickets are still available!)
Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s behavior certainly suggests that all press is good press, but other EV makers might not feel that way: they’re dogged by headlines about their batteries catching on fire. Also on fire, but in a better way, is Chinese EV maker Nio, now worth more than GM, despite selling a fraction of the latter’s vehicles. We’re getting mixed signals from Mercedes about whether they want to play the long game in AVs or not, but the union representing its German workers is unequivocal: do not surrender to Tesla! Public transit is hitting more bumps in Portland, but does the incoming Biden administration mean there’s light at the end of the tunnel?
Nio’s market cap kneecaps GM: The Chinese EV maker’s valuation continues to surge, bringing its market cap to $65 billion. Even after a big drop on Friday, the company still boasts a greater value than legacy automaker General Motors.
But Tesla comes for Nio: Nio’s dominance could be short-lived, as Tesla is reportedly gunning for the Chinese market as well. New reports suggest there’s huge demand for the California automaker’s Model Y SUV, which is set to begin local manufacturing in China. To further stimulate interest, the vehicle will retail for only $41,000, a substantial discount compared to its roughly $50k starting price in the U.S.
Walking further away from cars: Four years after introducing the first “super blocks” to Barcelona’s streets, Mayor Ada Colau is pushing to dramatically expand car-free space in the city. Her new plan calls for making an additional 21 streets off-limits to vehicle traffic except for residents, deliveries and essential services. The 15-Minute City marches on!
Thin is in: Ola Kaellenius, CEO of Germany’s Daimler, says the company will likely shed workers as it transitions to EVs and AVs. Driving this change is the simple fact that electric engines have far fewer parts than ICEs, and therefore require less labor to manufacture. The messages out of Stuttgart are decidedly mixed: last week a Mercedes spokesperson said the luxury brand had given up on Level 5 AVs.
Ford reverses EV battery stance: While previous Ford CEO Jim Hackett said as recently as July that the company saw “no advantage” in manufacturing EV batteries, his successor, Jim Farley, says he is “absolutely” interested in competing with GM and Tesla in that domain.
…and plows even more money into EVs: Ford also announces it is boosting its EV-focused workforce in hopes of offering a variety of fully electric SUVs, trucks and sport cars. It’s spending $700 million to build a factory focused on electric trucks in Dearborn, MI and expanding operations at a plant in Cuautitlan, Mexico, where it already makes electric Mustangs. This is all part of an impressive $11 billion investment in EVs.
Mein Gott! Usually unions don’t bother worrying about an executive leaving for another company, but the powerful IG Metall union, representing German workers at Daimler, is blasting the company for allowing the head of its Berlin Mercedes factory to get hired away by Tesla, calling it a “capitulation” to an American competitor. The situation isn’t all talk, as the union has already started protesting at the entrance of the Mercedes plant.
VCs charge up EV rentals: Envoy, the fast-expanding Culver City-based startup that offers apartment buildings and office complexes EVs rentals for their tenants, just got a fresh $11 million boost in VC funding, plus a hefty $70 million in debt financing for vehicle acquisition. While the company currently has deals with 27 of the 50 largest real estate firms, it hopes this fresh haul will help it take its “mobility as an amenity” model even further. Watch this space…
Rail fail in PDX: After voters in the Portland area nixed a major transportation funding package, TriMet, the regional transit agency, is shelving plans to build a new light rail line in the region. Advocates haven’t given up hope that the line to the southwest corner of the region will eventually get built; they’ll just need to come back to the table with a new funding strategy. Seems reasonable.
RE: EV & AV @ VW: Volkswagen is upping its investment on “digital and electric” technologies to $86 billion, accounting for nearly half its overall investment budget. The company now plans for 60% of its vehicles to be electric or hybrid by 2030, a move largely driven by stringent EU emissions goals.
Love EVs? Well so do our friends and partners at The Drive. They take a look at some of the top upcoming CoMotion LA LIVE sessions for AV & EV enthusiasts, including the LA Times’ Russ Mitchell’s one-on-one with Lucid Motors’ CEO Peter Rawlinson.
Uber may sell AV unit: The ride-hailing giant is considering selling its autonomous unit, Uber Advanced Technologies Group, to Aurora, the well-funded Bay Area AV startup. Selling the unit aligns with the company’s apparent decision to slim down its sprawling mobility portfolio and focus on its core businesses: ride-hailing and delivery.
Honda moves to Level 3: The Japanese car-maker says it will begin selling Level 3 AVs in March, making it the first OEM to hit this milestone. (Level 3 AVs don’t require constant human supervision, but they may occasionally request assistance from the driver.) The first car available with this capability will be the Honda Legend luxury sedan, with sales starting in March.
Hydrogen-powered drone flies for 3.5 hours: Experts are wowed by a test of a 29-pound VTOL in the Netherlands that took off from a Dutch coast guard ship, flew above the Atlantic for three-and-a-half hours and then landed back on the ship. Check out the video.
No need for a greeter: Walmart is partnering with Cruise to deliver directly to customers’ door steps with autonomous vehicles, starting with a pilot project in Scottsdale, AZ. The retail giant has already been using autonomous vehicles on a limited basis to move goods between warehouses for over a year.
Bolt to the top: Estonia-based scooter company Bolt is spending $118 million to become the biggest e-scooter service in Europe. The money should be good for 130,000 scooters deployed across 100 European cities by next summer.
A new TIER: The Berlin-based e-scooter company raises $250 million in a Series C round, pushing its value to a little under $1 billion. The company already has 60,000 rental scooters spread across a number of European cities and hopes to expand its footprint with the new cash infusion. Be sure to catch their CEO Lawrence Leuschner at CoMotion LA LIVE on Wednesday.
Bikes get hit by the vaccine blues: While most stocks are getting a boost from the potentially game-changing news of an effective Covid vaccine, companies linked to biking and outdoor recreation are taking a hit. Investors worry that an eventual return to “normal” will mean the end of the pandemic-fueled boom in active transportation. A week after the vaccine news, Peloton, Fox Factor and Dorel are still trading down, but some other recreation companies (GoPro, Garmin, Visa Outdoor) are recovering.
Scooters get magical: Two Brazilian entrepreneurs have designed a Harry Potter-themed scooter — a broomstick that sits atop a lone wheel — that can travel up to 37 mph (60 kmh). Well why not, we say.
Bloomberg CityLab explores one of the hot new buzzwords in urban planning: the 15-minute city.
Mass Transit Mag ponders what Joe Biden, a longtime champion (and avid user) of public transit, might do to support public transportation as President.
CleanTechnica is excited about the prospect of new hydrogen technology undercutting fossil fuels.
Job Trends in partnership with New Mobility Careers.
- This week was unusual for how usual it was: as lockdowns fall across Europe and COVID cases soar in the U.S., we saw a steady mix of roles across all forms of new mobility; no big surges in hiring, but no collapse either, whether in micromobility in Europe, autonomous cars in the U.S., or even new ridehailing opportunities. Next week will be telling: is vaccine optimism going to keep new roles rolling or will we see companies cut back opportunities as the pressures of season and sickness hamper urban transportation?• We can’t call it a trend yet, but we did see an interesting array of executive jobs posted this week, whether it was Head of Employee Relations at Volvo USA, worldwide GTM leader at Amazon Web Services’ automotive group, or senior roles at stealthy self-driving startup, Helm.AI.Unusual & Interesting Opportunities
A trio of new opportunities that stood out this week…
• While we may think about mobility primarily in a lateral fashion, the Schindler Group tends to think in a more vertical fashion.
• If you need any more confirmation of the interconnectedness of local and global in micromobility, how about this customer support role at Bolt that requires you to speak Thai and English while living in Talinn?
• While automakers like Honda are retreating to more defensible claims about Level 3 autonomy, Pylot in Germany is hiring for folks who still believe in Level 5.
Have a job listing that’s perfect for the CoMotion community? Please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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