The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a serious blow to the ability of federal agencies to reduce carbon emissions from power plants without explicit authorization from Congress. In other words, if people want the EPA to take greater action on climate change, they need to elect lawmakers who will it allow it to. The decision also shifts focus to state governments, many of which have been pursuing bold carbon reduction strategies on their own.
Barely a week into its new ride-hailing business in San Francisco, Cruise struggles to explain why over a dozen of its driverless vehicles stopped in the middle of a road. After delivering slightly fewer vehicles than expected in Q2, Tesla suddenly lays off the majority of its employees in its Autopilot division. We don’t know what that means yet.
Struggling electric truck startup Nikola is desperate for cash. Electrify America raises another $450 million to build an American charging network. Toyota recalls thousands of its first EV. LA Metro hires hundreds of “ambassadors” to address crime fears on trains and buses.
Last but not least, why don’t Canadians crash nearly as much as Americans?
What the EPA can’t do now: In a 6-3 decision, with all three liberals in dissent, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Clean Air Act does not authorize the Environmental Protection Agency to force power plants to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The EPA can only gain that authority by explicit approval from Congress, which is unlikely to come soon due to partisan gridlock. The decision was bemoaned by environmentalists as a major blow to the Biden administration’s power to combat climate change, but others have cautioned that the ruling may not be as consequential as it may appear.
No Cruise control? Just days after Cruise launched its fully driverless robo-taxi business in San Francisco, as many as 20 of its cars mysteriously stopped in the middle of a road. Cruise employees began arriving on scene to manually drive the cars away about 20 minutes later, but it took about 2 hours to remove them from the street. The GM-backed startup did not offer specifics, beyond offering an apology acknowledging that an “issue … caused some of our vehicles to cluster together.” The local officials who opposed the state Public Utilities Commission granting the permit probably feel a bit of vindication –– and may call on state regulators to reconsider their decision.
A middling quarter for Tesla: Tesla delivered 254,695 vehicles in the second quarter, just slightly underperforming expectations by analysts. That’s 26.5% more than Q2 of last year but it’s an 18% decline from the 310,000 deliveries in the first quarter this year. Some of the decline is no doubt due to lockdowns in China that idled or slowed production at its Shanghai plant.
More money for motorcycles: Mottu, a Brazilian startup that rents motorcycles to independent couriers, raises $40 million in a Series B round. The company, which started in 2020 with a fleet of 200 motorcycles in São Paulo, now counts more than 10,000 motorcycles in cities across Latin America. The startup says it offers an affordable way for people with no or bad credit to get motorcycles that allow them to work in the gig economy.
Nikola looks for cash: The embattled electric truck startup delays its shareholder meeting in hopes of convincing investors to support issuing more stock. The company is still reeling from an SEC investigation that last year resulted in a $125 million fine for the company and the indictment of founder Trevor Milton on charges of securities fraud.
What’s up at Autopilot? Tesla lays off 195 employees in its Autopilot division, cutting the headcount there to just 85. It’s not clear yet how to interpret the layoffs. Does it suggest that Tesla, facing federal investigations over crashes involving Autopilot, is stepping back from autonomous driving? Or might it simply reflect the automaker pursuing a different type of autonomous technology, such as LiDAR?
Another baby step towards a U.S. charging network: Electrify America, the VW subsidiary developing an EV fast charging network in the U.S. and Canada, raises $450 million at a $2.45 billion valuation. The moves bring Siemens onboard as the first outside shareholder. Although the U.S. government plans to invest at least $7.5 billion from the infrastructure bill into charging infrastructure, it will likely take far more than that to develop a truly comprehensive network that can make EV adoption convenient across the country. Private initiatives from the likes of Electrify America are part of the equation.
What’s the problem? A new survey of car owners by J.D. Powers finds that EV and plug-in hybrid owners report 39% more “problems” with new cars than those who opt for combustion engines. ICE owners reported 176 problems per 100 cars, compared to 240 problems for EV and PHEV owners. Many of the additional problems in EVs are linked to infotainment systems that require some getting used to for new owners. It’s worth noting that none of these “problems’ are bigger than, say, climate change.
If the EPA can’t act, cities must: With Congress gridlocked and a Supreme Court decision that severely limits the EPA’s ability to regulate fossil fuel emissions, it’s up to local and state governments to act to combat climate change. The New York Times looks at what various U.S. states and cities –– large and small –– are doing to shift to renewable energy. In many instances, support for more sustainable energy policy comes from both sides of the political spectrum. Imagine that!
Toyota’s EV blues: Weeks after releasing its first EV, Toyota has recalled thousands of the bZ4x because it has a tendency to lose its wheels. Writing in Bloomberg, Anjani Trivedi notes that Toyota is hardly the only EV maker that has faced questions about the fundamental safety of its vehicle. Get ready for more growing pains as the EV industry expands.
Passenger safety at Uber: Uber releases a report covering 2019 and 2020 that shows a significant decrease in sexual assault on the platform from the previous two-year period. That’s hardly surprising, given how drastically Uber’s business declined in 2020 due to the pandemic. However, despite the dramatic decline in rides, 101 people still died in crashes involving the platform, down from 117 during the previous period.
LA Metro responds to crime surge: The LA Times digs into Metro’s $122 million effort to deter crime in the system by employing 300 uniformed “ambassadors” to hang out at stations and on buses and trains. The ambassadors are also part of Metro and the city’s effort to engage the region’s growing homeless population in hopes of connecting them with services and housing.
Why don’t Canadians crash? Well, of course Canadians crash their cars. They just crash and die a lot less often than Americans. Bloomberg CityLab looks at potential explanations, including smaller vehicles (incentivized by higher gas taxes), higher transit use and automated traffic enforcement. Last but not least, maybe Canadians are just nicer.
Enjoy the Week in Review? Get it delivered directly to your inbox by signing up for the CoMotion>>NEWS newsletter.