This is your last chance: sign up to attend CoMotion MIAMI, which is kicking off in-person on Wednesday morning at the Mana Wynwood Convention Center. We’d love to see you in-person, but if you can’t make it please register to attend online. In addition to the warm welcome from city of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, you’ll have a chance to hear from a wide variety of mobility leaders from government, industry and academia. Check out the speaker list here.
Now on to the news of the past week…there was a lot going on at the New York International Auto Show, including Mercedes’s potential challenge to Tesla and Chrysler’s first EV concept. Also, Honda pledges to make 30 EVs by 2030.
The war in Ukraine has become a major obstacle to China’s global infrastructure ambitions, particularly its establish rail links to Europe. Meanwhile, America’s fastest growing city discovers the challenge of building rail in a hot real estate market and California lawmakers hope to consolidate the Bay Area’s balkanized public transit system. Finally, Wisk Aero takes another step towards a future autonomous air taxi business, Walmart expands its driverless delivery pilot, a San Francisco cop pulls over a driverless car and e-bike use soars in New York City.
A potential Tesla challenger: Mercedes shows off its Vision EQXX concept at the New York International Auto Show after taking the car on a 621-mile road trip through Germany and France on a single charge. The eye-popping range, the sleek design and, of course, the prestige attached to the Mercedes brand makes the EQXX a potentially formidable challenger to Tesla in the luxury EV market.
Chrysler unveils EV concept: The Detroit brand, which is now part of Amsterdam-based auto giant Stellantis, also made a splash at the New York International Auto Show by unveiling its first EV concept. Chrysler says the Airflow Graphite SUV, which won’t be released commercially until 2025, will offer 400 miles of range. Although Chrysler is relatively late to the EV party, it plans to be all-electric by 2028 – a much more aggressive timetable than most other auto brands.
Ukraine war undermines China’s rail ambitions: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is undermining China’s freight rail links to Europe, as well as China’s ability to find partners in its ongoing infrastructure investments throughout the world. Exports moving on the 73 rail routes between China and Europe have plummeted since the start of the Ukraine war because most lines run through Russia. Meanwhile, mounting anger in the west over China’s tacit support of Putin threatens its ongoing Belt and Road Initiative, which has poured $800 billion into infrastructure projects since 2013.
Honda joins the pledge party: Honda becomes the latest OEM to make a bold EV pledge. The car-maker will invest $40 billion in EV technology this decade as part of a goal to field 30 EV models by 2030. Some of these vehicles will be the result of partnerships, notably with Sony and GM. The goal of the Honda-GM collab, in particular, is to make EVs priced under $30,000 by 2027.
Two more weeks of masks: The CDC extends the ongoing federal mask mandate on airplanes and public transportation until at least May 3. Although Covid cases are at relatively low levels, they have begun to tick up again, perhaps as a result of the BA.2 variant. White House Covid coordinator Ashish Jha says the administration wants a little more time to determine whether BA.2 will amount to a “ripple or a wave.” Let’s hope for a ripple.
A new transit agency for the Bay Area: A proposed bill at the California Legislature would consolidate 27 transit agencies in the Bay Area in hopes of creating better-coordinated regional public transportation. Please. Yes. Now.
Rail revitalizes: Leaders in Tacoma, Wash. hope that a new light rail station, paired with big investments in nearby affordable housing, will revitalize a poor neighborhood that has struggled with crime.
Austin can’t catch a break: Austin, Tex., transit officials have doubled the cost estimate for its ambitious rail project, which is being funded by a voter-approved tax hike. What has changed? Well, the cost of acquiring land in Austin’s red hot real estate market has skyrocketed since voters approved the plan in November 2020. The cost of materials and labor has also soared. And then there are a number of topographical and political challenges that have forced the agency to put much more of the rail lines underground than initially expected, including a state law that bars any tall structures –– including rail catenary poles –– from obstructing views of the Texas State Capitol.
Wisk teams up with Skyports: Wisk Aero, which is developing autonomous eVOTL technology, has partnered with Skyports, a London-based developer and operator of vertiports to develop a “concept of operations” that envisions how a future air taxi business will work in terms of takeoffs, landings and everything in between.
Walmart expands driverless delivery: Walmart customers in Chandler, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix, will now be able to get door-to-door autonomous delivery courtesy of Cruise, the GM-backed AV startup. The two companies have been piloting driverless delivery since early 2021, when they began offering the service to residents of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community lands near Scottsdale. Walmart has said that it wants to expand the pilot to eight different stores in the Phoenix and Scottsdale area by the end of this year.
Not seeing red: Researchers in China tricked AVs into thinking red lights are green by shooting lasers at their cameras. The cars mixed up the colors 30% of the time. Cheeky…
A robot dog-walker: A robotic dog just isn’t the same as the real thing, but a robotic dog-walker who can take care of your pooch’s exercise and bathroom needs when you’re at work or out of town could come in handy. Toyota has filed a patent for exactly that thing.
“Ain’t nobody in it”: So said the San Francisco police officer upon discovering that the Chevy Bolt he pulled over for driving at night without headlights was driverless.
E-biking soars in NYC: The bike boom that kicked off in the early days of the pandemic has endured. Use of New York City’s bike-sharing service, Citi Bike, was up 32% in 2021 over 2019, the last pre-pandemic year. And an increasing number of families are buying cargo e-bikes to haul kids and other things around the dense metropolis.
(Test) ride ‘em, Cowboy: Cowboy, the direct-to-consumer Belgian e-bike maker, realizes that many people aren’t willing to plop down four figures on an e-bike without trying one first. So in ten U.S. cities the company is now allowing prospective customers to book a 1-hour trial. A company ambassador brings the bike right to their front door.
TechCrunch expresses skepticism about Toyota’s first EV, the bZ4X crossover, wondering who the car was made for.
Wired explores the wacky world of used EV sales, where cars are not necessarily depreciating assets.
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