Wow, what a year! It’s hard to believe the wild ride known as 2020 is finally drawing to a close, but here we are. Since CoMotion will be taking next week off, we figured now would be a great time to reflect on some of the major events of the past twelve months which have drastically remade mobility and urbanism as we know it.
For starters, there was a little thing you may have heard of – Covid – which has profoundly rewritten commute and job patterns, leading to major pain among American transit agencies (although their Asian counterparts seem to be doing just fine.) Covid also whipsawed micromobility usage, and led to a surge in home delivery for everything from food to toilet paper to holiday gifts. There was more to 2020 than just Covid, including a frothy stock market exuberance that’s led just about every Tom, Dick and Harry behind an EV or mobility company seeking to tap the market to jump on a SPAC. On the other end of the spectrum, 2020 also saw Americans across the country take to the streets to demand racial equality in the public realm. Here’s to even more progress in 2021!
What’s next for Zeti: Winning the LA New Mobility Challenge is no mean feat; this year’s competition saw over 120 companies from around the world vying to bring their zero-emissions mobility solutions to CoMotion’s big stage. UK-based Zeti bested the competition with its innovative fintech platform, meant to speed up adoption of electric vehicles in both commercial and consumer applications. CoMotion NEWS sits down with Zeti CEO Dan Saunders to discuss the company’s big win, his goals for growing the company, and where he sees the EV ecosystem headed next.
Secretary Pete: Pete Buttigieg is Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Transportation. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana is hardly a transportation expert, but he did propose an ambitious $1 trillion infrastructure plan during his unsuccessful presidential run that put a big emphasis on investment in renewable energy, electric vehicles and public transit. We’re excited.
Buzz Kill: Toyota CEO Aiko Toyoda says an all-EV world may be more problematic than many think. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Toyoda, the grandson of company founder Kiichiro Toyoda, highlights the high cost of building the electricity infrastructure to support an EV-only society and points out that most electricity is still generated by fossil fuels. This comes just a week after Toyota announced plans to introduce its first fully electric vehicle in Europe and claimed that it had devised a solid-state EV battery that can be recharged in just 10 minutes.
Help ‘em out, Uncle Sam: The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a lobbying group that includes the largest domestic and foreign auto-manufacturers in the U.S., says the industry needs more government support to make EVs widespread. Among the recommendations the group lists are incentives for research and development into EV technology.
Drop it down low: The price of EV battery-packs is down 13% over the past year and 89% in the past decade, according to new analysis by Bloomberg Energy New Finance. The average cost now runs $137 per kwh, down from $156 a year ago and $1,100 a decade ago. Good news for those hoping for an even-more affordable EV.
Canoo’s second act: Ahead of its IPO – via a SPAC, of course – the SoCal-based EV startup unveils a new multipurpose commercial delivery vehicle at a base price of $33,000, meant to hit the streets in 2022. The rectangular vehicle is designed for short-distance deliveries, which have surged as pandemic-addled shoppers get more and more goods sent straight to their homes.
Uber pledges free rides for Covid vaccinations: A week after asking for its drivers to be considered high-priority for Covid vaccination, the ride-hailling giant says it will give 10 million free rides to people trying to get the shot. The company is partnering with three nonprofits with strong ties to the Black community, especially important as surveys have shown a high level of vaccine hesitancy in that populace.
Scars from SARS: New analysis looks at the impact 2003’s SARS outbreak had on public transit ridership across Asia. While the disease hit cities like Hong Kong, Taipei and Beijing especially hard, the outbreak was actually neutralized much quicker than the current pandemic. Despite that, it still took transit agencies about a year to recover their lost ridership… troubling news for agencies currently struggling to bounce back from coronavirus.
REM part deux: Montreal continues its ambitious suburban railway expansion, as Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) announces two new lines, set to serve the island’s eastern outskirts.
Walmart to kick off fully autonomous deliveries: The mega-retailer announces that it is expanding its driverless delivery pilot in Bentonville, AR with Gatik, an autonomous truck manufacturer based in Palo Alto. For the past 18 months the vehicles have been making deliveries between a warehouse and a store, but starting early next year the trucks will begin dropping goods off for customers at a designated pickup point. And there will no longer be a safety driver riding along.
Lyft wants robo-taxis by 2023: Lyft partners with Motional, the AV startup backed by Hyundai and Aptiv, on autonomous ride-hailing. The companies say their goal is to have AVs serving customers by 2023. What’s not clear is whether the cost-savings of losing the driver will make up for the significant cost of owning the vehicles themselves.
Don’t blame the passenger: The UK Law Commission, the body charged with interpreting existing law and recommending legal changes to Parliament, says that manufacturers are responsible for crashes that occur when a car is in self-driving mode. This one’s got some big implications, folks…
Zoox talx: Zoox co-founder Jesse Levinson spills the beans to Business Insider, revealing the intimate details of his company’s tie-up with Amazon, and what sort of conditions (like the right to still pursue a robo-taxi service) Bezos had to meet for the billion dollar deal to go through.
Dott gets into bikes: Dott, the e-scooter sharing service that operates in 14 European cities, is adding on a bike-sharing service in Paris and London that will debut in March. Its bikes, which are manufactured in Portugal, feature a simple but striking red-and-blue design.
The 500 most important companies in micromobility: Micromobility Industries is out with its annual Landscape Report, which takes a look at the 500 “most globally significant companies working in the space of moving people using technologies and vehicles lighter in weight than the automobile.” Expect to see industry stalwarts like Bird and Lime, as well as less well known newcomers like Divera, which is working to make a bike out of bamboo.
Carbon fork meets silver lining: It’s been a banner year for electric bikes, as innovative new models hit the market and consumers snapped up every two-wheeled vehicle they could get their hands on. As 2020 draws to a close, look back at some of the best new models of the year.
Not so pedestrian: Massachusetts-based Superpedestrian raises a cool $60 million, with investors hot to the “vehicle intelligence system” that differentiates the company’s LINK scooters, as well as the firm’s shot at securing a coveted permit for NYC’s soon to launch shared micromobility program.
The Los Angeles Times offers some ideas on how to prevent the collapse of LA’s beleaguered public transit system.
The Washington Post offers a sobering glimpse of what pandemic-induced cuts to public transit mean for low-income workers in D.C. and elsewhere.
Politico looks at what Pete Buttigieg did on transportation as mayor of South Bend, from pot holes, to train whistles to Smart Streets.
NBC News shows how the pandemic threatens to upend America’s three remaining Japantowns.
Job Trends in partnership with New Mobility Careers.
A pile of Populus positions: Populus, the platform that helps cities manage their transportation systems, is hiring for a number of different roles, including Director of Sales and Customer Success, Proposal and Content Manager, and Lead Frontend Developer.
Save Public Transit in LA: Despite taking a 17% budget cut from the pandemic, Los Angeles Metro has lots of open jobs. Some of the notable ones: Chief Systems Security and Law Enforcement Officer, Deputy Executive Director of Planning & Development, and Senior Director of Project Engineering for Heavy Rail Systems.
Success with Amtrak is just a ride away: What better time to start a career at Amtrak than under the administration of Joe Biden, a loyal customer and evangelist for the rail service? The company has job openings in Washington D.C., including a Loyalty Partnerships Manager, Senior Labor Relations Specialist, and Director of HR Transformation.
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