The big news today are the blockbuster revelations from a trove of documents leaked by a former executive at Uber. The executive, Mark MacGann, says that as a lobbyist for the company in Europe he helped peddle falsehoods about the economic opportunities Uber offered drivers.
Meanwhile, an anonymous employee of Cruise, the AV startup, alleges in a letter that the company regularly “loses contact” with its vehicles, a possible explanation for the incidents in which Cruise cars mysteriously stop in the middle of roads.
Plus, Tesla will open up its Supercharger network to other vehicles, America reaches a critical tipping point in EV adoption, Argo AI cuts staff, Luxembourg experiments with free transit, nuclear power gains support from both parties in D.C., Indian automaker Tata announces a big EV goal and the New York Housing Authority has a grudge against e-bikes.
Uber trouble?: A former Uber executive leaks over 100,000 company documents to the Guardian, which has teamed up with dozens of other media outlets from 29 countries to pore through the records. Among other things, the documents show how company leaders under Uber’s former head Travis Kalanick hid key data from regulators, welcomed the prospect of violence between taxi drivers and Uber drivers as politically beneficial, pushed policy changes that they knew would likely put South Africa drivers in danger and cultivated a valuable ally in French president Emmanuel Macron. In short, business as usual under Kalanick.
Tesla to open up its charging network: A White House memo says that Tesla has agreed to allow other vehicles to access its Supercharger network by the end of 2022. Details about the plan remain vague, but the automaker is also reportedly increasing capacity at its factory in Buffalo, N.Y. to expand its charging network.
Has Cruise lost control? In an anonymous letter to California regulators, an employee of Cruise, the GM-backed AV startup, says the company regularly loses contact with its cars. That might explain the widely reported incident in which as many as 20 Cruise vehicles bunched up on one street in San Francisco and stalled traffic for hours. And it may explain other similar, albeit smaller, incidents where Cruise cars inexplicably stop for extended periods of time in the middle of roads. Suffice it to say, this is likely not how the company envisioned its first month of autonomous ride-hailing in San Francisco…
…meanwhile, feds look into Cruise crash: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opens an investigation into a crash involving a driverless Cruise vehicle that resulted in minor injuries.
New York housing authority targets e-bikes: New York’s public housing agency has proposed banning electric bikes from the grounds of its more than 335 apartment complexes, where more than 500,000 people live. The agency argues that e-bike charging can cause fires. The proposed policy exempts e-bikes from the city’s CitiBike service. Beyond reducing the number of mobility options for low-income New Yorkers, the proposed policy jeopardizes the livelihood of delivery workers, many of whom are protesting the proposal.
EV interest higher than ever: In a survey of over 8,000 Americans, Consumer Reports finds that 14% would “definitely” opt for an EV if they were buying or leasing a vehicle today. That may sound low, but it’s more than triple the percentage (4%) who said the same two years ago. Another 22% say they’d “seriously consider” an EV, while 35% say they’ll consider one in the future, but are not ready to go electric right now. Only 28% say they will not consider it at all.
More AV layoffs: Argo AI, the AV startup backed by Ford and VW, is the latest company in the mobility sector to announce layoffs. The firm is cutting 150 jobs, or 5% of its workforce. It looks like the firm is mainly cutting office jobs: it’s still posting dozens of open positions for technical roles.
Tata’s big goal: Indian automaker Tata Motors announces a goal of selling 50,000 EVs by the end of the current fiscal year that ends next March, up from 19,105 EVs in the previous fiscal year. The pledge comes amidst a particularly strong performance by Tata, which saw year-over-year sales for commercial and passenger vehicles increase by nearly 50% in Q2.
Siemens partners with 7Gen: 7Gen, a Vancouver-based charging infrastructure leasing company, strikes a strategic partnership with Siemans after closing an $8 million Series A round led by the German industrial giant.
EV tipping point: The U.S. has hit a key milestone: 5% of new cars purchased are EVs. A Bloomberg analysis of 19 different countries finds that that is a key tipping point, after which EV adoption rapidly picks up pace.
Luxembourg’s free transit experiment: It’s now been two-and-a-half years since the wealthy European duchy made all public transit free. In exploring the policy, Bloomberg CityLab finds plenty of benefits, from cost savings for the poor and middle class to increased travel opportunities for young people. But so far the policy has not achieved its main objective: reducing car use.
The dawn of computer vision in micromobility: Writing in Zag Daily, Drover AI co-founder Alex Nesic describes the myriad benefits of computer vision for micromobility devices. The data created from thousands of connected smart cameras moving daily through an urban center can help cities keep real-time tabs on their infrastructure, from streets to sidewalks to bike lanes. It can also help governments and micrombility operators better-understand the real-life behavior of bike and scooter users, which can inform infrastructure planning, insurance and pricing.
A million better ideas than a gas tax holiday: The Urban Institute’s transit wonk Yonah Freemark ponders a number of better ways to reduce Americans’ transportation costs than suspending the gas tax, as President Biden has proposed.
Giving nuclear power another look: The New York Times explores a rise in support for increased nuclear power that is emerging among both Democrats and Republicans in national and state politics.
How will AVs deal with narrow streets? Underscoring why it’s so much easier to get driverless cars on highways than city streets, a group of researchers in Pittsburgh are testing out how autonomous driving systems will behave on narrow streets where one driver typically has to pull over to let another car pass. This challenge could be a deal-breaker in many of the world’s major cities, where narrow streets are the norm.
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