To the entire CoMotion community around the world, our very best wishes for a happy, healthy and sustainable 2023!
2022 ended with some very interesting transportation-related stories, some of which have nothing to do with Southwest Airlines’ epic meltdown. It was a sobering holiday for Tesla, whose quarterly sales fell short of expectations and whose stock price has dropped 70% in the past year. It’s also facing yet another legal headache, this time from federal labor regulators, who accuse it of violating the rights of its employees in Florida.
On the bright side, there are strong signs that 2023 is shaping up to be a tipping point year for electric vehicle adoption. There will be a bunch of new EV models, a ton of investment in new battery facilities and continued expansion of charging infrastructure. But if you think 2023 might be the year you finally go electric, you probably want to start looking soon, before the $7,500 tax credit goes away.
Delay of EV sourcing rules sets off Q1 mad dash: The first three months of the year may be Americans’ only chance to get a $7,500 tax credit for an EV that doesn’t comply with the strict “Buy America” requirements of the Inflation Reduction Act. The Treasury Department’s decision last month to delay implementation of the sourcing requirements until April offers a precious window for automakers largely dependent on China for battery materials. It’s also a big incentive for consumers considering buying an EV in the next couple years to pull the trigger now –– because it’s anybody’s guess if and when the discount will be available for your preferred vehicle. If you’re in the market, here is a list of vehicles that will qualify for the credit through March. Hurry – while supplies last!
Tesla’s desperate bid for end-of-year sales falls short: Tesla delivers a record 405,000 vehicles in Q4 but still falls short of the 420,000 that Wall Street analysts had projected. This is despite Tesla’s aggressive efforts to sell cars in December by offering a hefty discount –– $3,750 at the beginning of December and $7,500 for the final week –– to those buying for the end of the year. What was clearly an effort to deliver strong Q4 sales figures to prop up the company’s sagging stock may have had the opposite effect: investors viewed the ploy as an act of desperation and the stock took another big dive. The stock ends the year down 70%.
It’s about time in Bangladesh: Dhaka, one of the most congested cities in the world, opens its first metro line. It’s hard to argue that the densely populated city of roughly 20 million isn’t the right place for high-capacity mass transit, but until recently there haven’t been the funding or political will to get it done. If there’s any city that could benefit from less driving, it’s Dhaka, where roughly 3,000 people die in car crashes a year.
$128 billion in new battery plants: Auto OEMs and battery makers have spent or are planning to spend $128 billion on EV battery plants in the U.S., according to an analysis by Atlas Public Policy, a think tank. More than half of that total –– $73 billion –– was announced just in 2022.
Beijing starts testing robo-taxis: Chinese tech giant Baidu is partnering with Pony.ai, the Toyota-backed AV startup, to begin testing a small fleet of driverless taxis in an area of Beijing. Both companies have been operating robo-taxi services in other Chinese cities, but the prospect of doing business in the nation’s capital represents a great leap forward towards mainstream adoption.
New York’s enshrines complete streets into law: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signs a law that sets new standards for street design aimed at creating “complete streets” that prioritize access for pedestrians, cyclists and transit as well as cars. The legislation also requires regional transportation boards across the state to include transit-dependent individuals.
NLRB accuses Tesla of labor violations: Investigators for the National Labor Relations Board accuse Tesla of breaking the law by prohibiting employees in Florida from discussing their pay with co-workers. A hearing has been set for February for a judge to hear arguments on the allegations.
The year when EVs became an eventuality: In Engadget, Andrew Tarantola describes the tremendous progress EVs made in 2022, including a 70% increase in global sales and a 60% increase in registrations in the U.S. The major investments in charging infrastructure, both public and private, have also set the world on a path of no return towards widespread EV adoption.
…and if you thought 2022 was a good year for EVs…wait until you see 2023, writes Rebecca Bellan in TechCrunch. There will be a big increase in EV models and overall production – and we’ll also start to see a bigger market for used EVs. Bellan foresees automakers upping their investments in autonomous features, even if they’ve dialed down promises about the imminent arrival of “fully autonomous” vehicles.
The cities keeping their car-free spaces: One of the great silver linings of the pandemic was the big push to convert space for cars into space for walking, biking, nature and recreation. Fortunately, many big cities have recognized that there’s no good reason to go back to the bad old days. CityLab looks at some of the most notable examples around the world.
The open secret behind Southwest’s failure: In the New York Times, Zeynep Tufekci describes the years of “technical debt” that Southwest Airlines accumulated by forgoing a much-needed overhaul of its outdated scheduling software. This is what happens when companies are focused on quarterly earnings, rather than long-term resilience.
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