After GM’s game changing all-EV pledge, all eyes were on Ford to see how the Blue Oval would respond. And while Dearborn’s commitment to spend $29 billion on electric vehicles may not be quite as momentous, America’s #2 car-maker provides yet more evidence that EVs will soon be the norm. In other good news for the planet, Ford will be making fewer F-150s this year — but only because Playstation took all the semiconductors. Undoubtedly, car-makers hope this new EV push will earn them some goodwill in Congress, which they’re asking to come up with new rules on AVs. In China, meanwhile, tech companies are falling over themselves to get a piece of the burgeoning “last mile” grocery delivery industry. And be sure to read the latest CoMotion NEWS Mobility Perspective for some insights on China’s nimblest OEM. To the south, the Indian government is taking a new look at “ropeways” that can provide crucial connections to people in mountainous regions. And in Europe, micromobility operators are teaming up to have a stronger, unified voice with the European Commission.
Ford ups EV investment: A week after rival GM committed to an all-EV product line by 2035, America’s #2 automaker says it will invest $29 billion in EVs through 2025.That’s almost triple the commitment it made in 2018 — when it pledged $11 billion through 2022. CEO Jim Farley is clearly starting to put his mark on the company.
..but zeroes out Zoyte: Ford ditches plans for two joint EV ventures with Chinese car-maker Zoyte. One agreement, signed in 2017, aimed to produce small passenger vehicles, while a separate 2018 agreement was focused on EVs for ride-hailing. Ford says the move is prompted by changes to the Chinese EV industry and Chinese government policy, without offering specifics. Nevertheless, Ford is still full-steam ahead on its partnership with Chongqing Changan to manufacture and sell the Mustang Mach-E in China.
Big moves in the Middle Kingdom’s delivery market: Speaking of China, ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing wants to give a $4 billion boost to its subsidiary, Chengxin Youxuan, one of China’s growing number of “community businesses” enabling people to order groceries in large groups; the groceries are then typically delivered to dispersed neighborhood sites. Didi plans to pump $3 billion of its own into the startup but is seeking an outside investor for another $1 billion.
Rivians hit the road: Amazon has quietly started to deploy its new fleet of all-electric delivery vans, powered by upstart automaker Rivian. The EVs, with a range of up to 150 miles on a charge, are already cruising the streets of Los Angeles, with more cities to soon follow. So even if you don’t have an EV in your own driveway, you can indirectly use one for all of your shopping.
Bored gamers wreak havoc: GM idles three U.S. plants and Ford pares back production of the F-150 in response to the global shortage of semiconductor chips. This follows similar announcements in recent weeks from other major automakers, including Nissan, Volkswagen, Toyota and Subaru. Where did the chips go? They’ve been gobbled up by Playstation and other home electronics manufacturers that have seen demand skyrocket during the pandemic.
CDC mandates masks on public transit: In another Biden-era pivot, the CDC shifts from “strongly encouraging” masks on public transportation to requiring them. Most local transit agencies — and all of the biggest ones — imposed mandates long ago, but the CDC order now makes it official nationwide. And no, this doesn’t mean federal agents are coming to a bus near you to make sure your mouth and nose are covered. The CDC has said its focus is on “voluntary” compliance…
India looks to ropeways: Borrowing a page from LatAm, the Indian government hopes that cable cars and funiculars, otherwise known as “ropeways,” can provide a useful form of last-mile connectivity to people in areas that are tough to serve with conventional modes of transportation, particularly mountainous regions such as Jammu and Kashmir. The transportation ministry has announced it will be setting up a national regulatory framework to encourage their development.
A Q we can get behind: America’s largest public transit agency now has an executive charged with making its subways, buses and stations more accessible to those with disabilities and mobility limitations. Quemuel “Q” Arroyo, who knows what it’s like to navigate the Big Apple’s transit system in a wheelchair, is tasked with drafting MTA’s first accessibility plan.
Auto industry asks for new AV rules: A lobby group that includes every major U.S. automaker urges Congress to make car-manufacturing regulations friendlier to AVs. Certain regulations — steering wheel requirements, for instance — may inhibit car-makers from moving boldly into the new age of autonomous mobility, they argue. Above all else, they want regulatory certainty. It may be a rare point that Democrats and Republicans can agree upon.
Apple on and off with Hyundai: Just a few days after news broke of an imminent deal between Apple and Hyundai-Kia to make an autonomous Apple-branded car, sources say the parties have hit another impasse over terms of the collaboration.
VW’s not looking for a partner: In contrast to many other mainstream automakers, the German auto icon may pursue passenger AVs in-house, although it will continue to partner on commercial AVs with Argo AI, in which VW and Ford each have a 40% stake. The company hints that it does not want to cede control of AV software and data to Google, Apple and other tech giants. Company leaders say they consider Alphabet-backed Waymo to be the “benchmark” they’re competing against at this moment.
A totally Rad fundraiser: RadPower Bikes, the Seattle-based e-bike startup, raises $150 million from a number of institutional investors on the heels of what has been the biggest year for biking (particularly e-biking) since the advent of the chain drive transmission. It’s the largest funding round ever for an e-bike startup.
Micromobility operators team up in Europe: Eight of the largest micromobility operators are forming an advocacy group in hopes of improving the European regulatory landscape for scooters, bikes and other shared mobility options. Laws vary widely between countries — and often within countries. Ideally, operators would like to see the European Commission put in place a regulatory framework to provide a level of consistency across the continent. Addressing the Britain’s strict rules on e-scooters will require a separate advocacy effort…Merci, Brexit.
Hydrogen-powered scooters? Thanks to a new technology called “power paste” – freshly devised in a laboratory in Germany – your favorite two-wheelers could soon use a new form of energy storage, allowing for lighter weights and longer ranges.
The Wall Street Journal looks at how a blank-check company’s stock price tripled after traders heard it was in talks with EV-maker Lucid.
The Verge concedes that the concept of an electric Mustang feels blasphemous, but otherwise offers a positive review of Ford’s Mach-E.
Bloomberg CityLab excitedly explores the implications of Washington D.C.’s new Vision Zero law, particularly what it could mean for bike infrastructure in the nation’s capital.
NPR takes a look at a group of online youngsters who dream of a car-free future: New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens, or as they call themselves, NUMTOTs.
Bezos bounces: Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos makes a lateral move, repositioning himself as the company’s Executive Chairman, with his current role to be filled by longtime AWS-head Andy Jassy. Bezos hopes his new role will allow him to concentrate on “new products and early initiatives,” which could bode well for mobility projects like Zoox, the company’s self-driving car investment.
Wheel on over to a new career: Micromobility innovator Wheels is taking the pandemic in stride, as it continues to hire for a number of roles, for its HQ in West Hollywood, as well as in NYC, Orlando, Austin, and Seattle. The startup is looking for a number of general managers, as well as software engineers and accountants.
Skate SPAC seeks strategists: EV “skateboard” innovator REE Automotive recently jumped on the SPAC bandwagon, looking to haul in half a billion of fresh dosh. The Israeli company will surely put that incoming cash to good work: it’s looking to hire strategists and engineers not just in Tel Aviv, but in the U.S., Japan, and Germany as well
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