The global supply chain continues to face challenges in China. Although some automakers have resumed production, the government’s commitment to “zero Covid” suggests more lockdowns are on the horizon. Nevertheless, Chinese startup Deeproute.ai slashes the price of its L4 driver assistance program to $3,000 –– about a quarter of what Tesla charges for ‘Full Self Driving’. Speaking of Tesla, Elon Musk claims the company will be ready to deploy commercial robo-taxis in two years. Meanwhile, his Boring Company raises $675 million from investors betting on the future of tunnels.
Colorado is making some interesting mobility moves. State lawmakers want to offer people free transit rides in the summer and the city of Denver just unveiled America’s most generous e-bike incentive.
China teases the supply chain: Some automakers in China have begun to reopen their assembly plants after weeks of lockdown, but the threat of new and harsher restrictions looms large as President Xi Jinping insists that the country will not budge from its “zero Covid” policy. Some in the business community worry that the government’s fixation on controlling Covid is leading to a return to a planned economy.
Betting big on tunnels: Elon Musk’s Boring Company raises $675 million, boosting its valuation to $5.7 billion. Currently Boring’s only project in use is a 1.7 mile tunnel under the Las Vegas Convention Center, where visitors travel between points in Teslas at around 35 mph. The long-term vision being pitched to cities across the country are tunnels where low-cost, high-speed autonomous vehicles would move people around much faster than conventional public transit. There are a number of cities that appear interested in exploring the concept – including Miami – so this could be a pivotal moment that determines whether the company becomes a big player long-term.
The first Lexus EV: Toyota’s luxury brand has long offered hybrid models, but the RZ 450e is its first fully electric option. Expected to go on sale at the end of this year, the RZ 450e offers a 225 mile range, not nearly as great as that offered by many of its luxury peers, notably the Tesla Model X (333 miles). It’s not clear how much it will cost but you can at least expect it to top the Toyota bZ4X ($42,000).
Bolt from Tanzania: Regulators in Tanzania say ride-hail operators can claim no more than 15% of the fare collected on rides, leaving the rest to drivers. Uber, which was charging drivers a 25% commission, responded by ending operations in the country. Bolt, an Estonia-based operator that has become Uber’s chief rival in Africa and charges a 20% commission, says it will also be forced to leave if it can’t get the government to change its mind.
Colorado acts on ozone: The Colorado legislature is poised to approve tens of millions of dollars to offer people free rides on public transit during the summer months when ozone levels are highest. The state also currently offers EV buyers a $2,500 tax credit in addition to available federal subsidies.
Lincoln tests the EV waters: The iconic luxury brand unveils the Lincoln Star Concept, a crossover SUV that one critic described as a “luxury brand on wheels.” The concept incorporates design and features from three yet-to-be-revealed vehicles that will enter production in 2025.
Price drop for Uber Green: You can now use the Uber Green option –– which offers you a hybrid or electric car –– for the same price as the regular Uber X service. Previously Uber added a $1 surcharge for that option.
3 Gs for 4L: Deeproute.ai, the AV startup backed by Chinese tech giant Alibaba and Chinese automaker Geely, slashes the price of its upcoming Level 4 autonomous driving system from $10,000 to $3,000. The system will first be deployed in 30 robo-taxis operated in Shanghai by Chinese automaker SAIC. Deeproute says it will make the system available to mass-produced consumer vehicles in 2024. In contrast, Full Self Driving, Tesla’s driver assistance system, costs $12,000.
Accessible AVs: Ann Arbor, MIch.-based May Mobility plans to incorporate vehicles into its robo-taxis fleets that can accommodate wheelchair users. The AV company, which operates in four U.S. cities as well as in Hiroshima, Japan, will use vehicles with rear-entry ramps, with enough space for one person with a wheelchair and two people without wheelchairs to ride.
Musk predicts robo-taxis in two years: The Tesla CEO says the company will launch commercial robo-taxi operations in 2024. Given Musk’s tendency to, um, exaggerate his company’s autonomous abilities, we would caution against taking his predicted date too seriously. But the fact that he is talking about commercial operations is notable nevertheless.
Now that’s an incentive: Denver is now offering all residents a $400 rebate for e-bikes and a $900 rebate for cargo e-bikes. Those below a certain income can get a $1,200 rebate.
Focus, focus, focus: Helbiz, which in August became the first shared micromobility SPAC, reports a net loss of $71 million for 2021. When it went public its business model, focused on shared micromobility in the U.S. and Italy, was pretty straightforward. Since then, however, it has ventured in a number of different directions, including food delivery, sports streaming and advertising.
Micromobility gets a Lyft: The ride-hailing giant acquires PBSC Urban Solutions, a Canadian shared mobility operator. The deal increases the number of cities where Lyft offers shared mobility services from 11 to 50. This comes a month after Lyft reached an agreement with Spin to list its scooters and bikes in its app.
Writing in The Atlantic, Jerusalem Demsas argues that the ways that local governments seek public input leads to unjust housing and transportation policies.
The New York Times looks at how Portland has succeeded in reducing driving yet fallen short of its ambitious climate goals.
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