Joe Biden has the Republican votes he needs to pass the $1 trillion infrastructure package, but now it’s his own party that is causing problems. In a sign that Everyman is ready to go electric, used EVs are selling faster than any other type of car in the U.S. Sensing an opportunity to expand into the middle class, Chinese EV maker Nio is creating a cheaper mass market brand to compete with the likes of VW and Toyota. Meanwhile, troubled EV manufacturer Lordstown announces plans for “limited production” this fall — and sees its stock promptly plummet. In happier news, Arrival announces plans to begin production on its commercial EVs next year and Hyzon says it will deliver hydrogen trucks to commercial customers in Europe by the end of 2021. Eleven crashes involving Tesla Autopilot have prompted an investigation by U.S. traffic authorities, while Uber’s continued incursions into the delivery business have drawn the attention of U.S. regulators. And New York City is finally getting e-scooters.
Democrats squabble over infrastructure: The infrastructure bill that just passed the Senate with bipartisan support faces potential challenges in the House of Representatives, where dozens of liberals say they will not vote for the package until the Senate approves an ambitious budget proposal to pump trillions into social programs. However, a group of moderate Democrats in the House is taking the opposite position: they won’t vote for the budget proposal until the infrastructure bill is passed. All of a sudden, what seemed like a sure thing on infrastructure may not be such a sure thing…
Will Arrival arrive? The London-based commercial EV group tells shareholders it is on track to begin production on its electric buses and electric vans in the second quarter of next year, respectively. A number of commercial customers have made non-binding orders totaling 59,000 vehicles. UPS has expressed interest in purchasing up to 10,000 vehicles, a deal that could be worth over $1 billion. Whether these deals ultimately materialize, however, depends on Arrival’s ability to prove that it can produce a viable product at scale. We’ll see.
Pyka takes flight: Oakland-based startup Pyka says it may begin flying its new nine-seat electric plane, the Pyka P3, as early as next year. The plan is for these planes to offer regional flights — between 100-200 miles — at a speed of up to 178 mph. Pyka envisions charging around $95/hr, which is much cheaper than existing flight options.
Lordstown update: The embattled EV startup says it will begin “limited production” on its electric trucks next month at the former GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio, where the company is headquartered. After losing $108 million in Q2, however, it doesn’t have the resources to move ahead with full production. It is also exploring manufacturing cars for other automakers at the 6 million square foot facility. Its stock dropped 12% in response to the news, leaving the company’s shares down 70% for the year.
Regulators scrutinize Uber: The Federal Trade Commission is reviewing Uber’s partnership with GoPuff, the grocery delivery startup, as well as the ride-hailing giant’s planned acquisition of booze delivery service Drizly. The FTC is considering whether consolidation in the delivery sector could harm consumers.
Keep on H2 truckin: Hyzon Motors will begin delivery of hydrogen-powered freight trucks to customers in Europe, with plans to deliver 85 by the end of the year. CEO Craig Knight says that companies are cautiously wading into hydrogen delivery vehicles but that he expects that after trying them out, many will move quickly to convert their entire fleets to hydrogen. The transition in Europe, where there is a more developed H2 infrastructure, , will likely be faster. The company is planning on launching customer trials in the U.S., however.
What’s up at BMW? Unlike many of its competitors, the icon of German automotive excellence has still not set a goal for going all-electric. There are signs investors are starting to get worried.
Used EVs fly off the lot: In America’s white-hot market for used cars, EVs are selling faster than ICEs, according to an analysis by iSeeCars. The Tesla Model 3 sits on the lot for an average of just under 16 days before getting sold, making it the fastest-selling used car in the U.S. In second and third place are the Chevy Bolt and the Tesla Model S, which both take about three weeks to sell.
Russia’s electric east: The only part of Russia where EVs seem to be taking off is in the sparsely populated eastern district, where one can find a reasonably-priced used EV from nearby Japan. Although they only make up 4% of the country’s population, easterners account for 20% of all EV purchases so far this year. However, the Russian government is rolling out subsidies aimed at boosting EV purchases across the nation.
Vauxhall offers free charges: The British automaker is offering customers who purchase any of its EVs 30,000 miles worth of free charging over the first three years of ownership. It’s one of a number of incentives the company is linking to its EVs, including free roadside assistance and an 8-year battery warranty.
Nio targets everyman: Chinese EV maker Nio is venturing out of the luxury niche, with plans to offer EV models at price points to compete with VW, Toyota and other mass market brands. The company plans to launch a separate brand for the non-luxury vehicles. The company has not offered specific prices, but has suggested they will be lower than Teslas but not nearly as low as the Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV, the tiny cars that are now China’s most popular EV.
Tesla Autopilot under investigation: The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration is launching a formal investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system. At issue are 11 incidents in the past three years where Teslas driving on Autopilot crashed into parked vehicles with flashing lights — often police cars or fire engines. Tesla shares fell 4% on the news Monday.
A Golden AV opportunity: The Colorado School of Mines introduces a fleet of autonomous electric shuttles to ferry students and faculty around campus and downtown Golden. The shuttles, manufactured by Denver-based EasyMile, seat six people and max out at 20 mph. Although there won’t be a driver, there will always be an employee on board to supervise the vehicle.
Free robo-taxis in Grand Rapids: As part of a pilot program, people in Grand Rapids, Mich. can now get a free autonomous ride between 20 locations with a 1.4 square mile service area that includes parts of the city’s downtown and west side. The pilot is a partnership between the city and May Mobility, the startup that builds autonomous software. In this case, users who hail a ride through the May Mobility app will get a ride in a hybrid Lexus SUV; an employee will always be in the driver’s seat to monitor.
Bikes deliver faster: A report claims that cargo bikes in London can make deliveries 60% faster on average than vans. The report by the Active Transportation Academy analyzed GPS data from trips made by bike delivery service Pedal Me and then compared them to the estimated time it would take by van. Much of the time difference is due to the time it takes to find parking a van and the fact that the van usually can not park as close to the destination as a bike.
NYC finally gets scooters: Well, at least parts of it do. A pilot program that launches Tuesday will bring 3,000 e-scooters to the East Bronx. If the city deems that the program is working well, it will expand the program to 6,000 devices next year.
The New York Times wonders if and when EVs will be cheap enough to entice middle-class customers.
Writing in Bloomberg CityLab, Danny Harris argues that TV ads for trucks and SUVs bear responsibility for the surge in deaths on American roads.
In Urban Tech News, Drover AI co-founder Alex Nesic describes the parking dilemma facing micromobility services and the cities they operate in.
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