Lots of big EV news last week: GMC will begin deliveries of the electric Hummer next month, BlackRock is plowing big bucks into Europe’s charging network, the UK will require all new homes to have EV chargers beginning next year, and a new study shows that, contrary to prevailing wisdom, EV owners may actually drive more than ICE owners. In the world of autonomy, Beijing licenses its first two bonafide robo-taxi businesses and Hyundai makes its own play at driverless ride-hailing.
Uber out of Brussels: The ride-hailing giant suspends service in the E.U. capital after a Brussels court rules that it is illegal for customers to hail rides through a smartphone app. Courts had previously ruled that those without taxi or limo licenses could not work through the app, but the new ruling also bans 2,000 professional drivers who have been offering rides through Uber. The company isn’t the only one protesting: outraged Uber drivers blocked a major tunnel in the city Thursday morning.
Ionity gets big money from BlackRock: Ionity, the EV charging network backed by five major automakers (Daimler, BMW, VW, Ford, Hyundai), gets a $783 million investment from BlackRock to expand its network of ultra-fast chargers in Europe. The company says the new funding will help it increase the total number of 350 kW chargers from about 1,500 at present to 7,000 in 2025. If your EV is equipped for high-power charging, an Ionity charger can power it up in as little as 10-15 minutes. We like.
Tesla wants to watch: Tesla owners who want access to the latest Full Self Driving driving assistance software must allow the automaker to collect video from the vehicle’s interior and exterior cameras. The company wants to be able to review video after major accidents.
Here comes Hummer: GMC begins deliveries of the Hummer EV in December, although it’s not yet clear exactly how many of the 9,000-pound beasts will be on U.S. roads by Christmas. It may no longer be a gas guzzler, but it’s just as energy-inefficient as its ICE forebear: it uses about 84 kWh of power per 100 miles, or about three times as much as the Chevy Bolt.
EVs go the distance down under: A new government analysis of driving behavior in Australia finds that EV owners actually drove an average of 600 km more than their compatriots with gas-powered cars: 11,100 km compared to 10,500 km. The finding somewhat undermines the assumption that EVs are only attractive to those who do not need to drive long distances.
New British homes must have chargers: The U.K. will require new residential developments to include on-site EV chargers as part of a plan to phase out gas-burning automobiles by 2030. Makes sense to us.
Startup buying up African bus companies: Nigerian MaaS startup Treepz is looking to become the dominant platform for inter-city bus travel in sub-Saharan Africa. In August it raised $1.3 million to buy Ghanian bus company Stabus and more recently it raised $1.5 million to buy Ugabus, a platform that serves 70% of Uganda’s inter-city bus routes. Treepz apparently sees great potential in Uganda and its neighbors in East Africa –– Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda –– due to the relatively open borders between them.
Zipline parachutes into the Ozarks: Zipline, the drone startup that has made a name delivering medical supplies and blood to remote areas in Africa and Asia, is partnering with Walmart to offer drone deliveries to customers’ homes in rural northwestern Arkansas. People living near Pea Ridge, a small city about 10 miles from Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, will be able to get thousands of different items parachuted into their yards in less than a half hour.
Beijing’s first two robo-taxi businesses: Regulators have granted the first licenses to companies to charge for robo-taxi rides in China. Baidu, the Chinese search engine giant, and Pony.ai, the AV group founded by former Baidu developers, will both be able to operate autonomous taxis in a 60-square km section of Beijing known as the High-Level Automated Driving Demonstration Area. Both companies, however, will have to have an employee in the driver’s seat at all times to take over the wheel if necessary.
Hyundai to test Level 4: The Korean auto giant says it will soon begin testing a new robo-taxi service in downtown Seoul using Level 4 autonomous vehicles. The service, RoboRide, will use the Hyundai Ioniq 5 compact EV.
ADAS for e-bikes: San Francisco startup Streetlogic announces the completion of a surround-view camera for e-bikes that alerts riders to impending crashes. The product, which the company says will retail for between $300-400, will likely not be available for purchase until the end of next year. However, a select number of people in San Francisco will be invited to try out the beta version in the coming weeks.
Wait till you hear about cars: The UK remains reluctant to fully embrace e-scooters. Only vehicles that are rented as part of an ongoing pilot program are allowed to be ridden on public roads. In Manchester, cops have confiscated 150 privately-owned scooters in the past year and the police chief discouraged people from buying them for loved ones this Christmas season, noting that the country has lost nine people to scooter accidents in the past year.
Tech Crunch argues that shared micromobility will not reach its full potential until operators collaborate to set up charging infrastructure that reduces costs.
PeopleForBikes describes how Austin –– hilly, scorching hot and car-centric –– is becoming America’s next great biking city.
Dot LA offers Los Angeles some advice on how to fix its “failing” micromobility system.
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