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Ford plans new electric truck: The automaker says it will build a second generation electric truck at the $5.6 billion EV hub it’s building near Memphis, Tenn. So far Ford is offering few details about the vehicle, which it has dubbed “Project T3” (Trust The Truck), except that it will be a clean sheet design, unlike its current flagship EV, the F-150 Lightning.
Uber clocks another legal win: Ride-hail operators have notched two legal victories in California in as many weeks. First, a state appeals court sided with Uber, reversing a ruling by a lower court that had struck down Prop 22, the voter-approved law that allowed ride-hail drivers to be classified as contractors rather than employees. Next, a ruling by a federal appeals court will allow Uber to proceed with a lawsuit against another California law that requires it to provide certain evidence that workers are independent contractors.
New York targets battery fires: Mayor Eric Adams proposes new safety requirements for micromobility devices, including prohibiting the sale of used batteries. The proposed regulations are aimed at preventing battery fires, particularly in apartment buildings. Good move, we say.
Baidu to begin driverless taxis in Beijing: The Chinese tech giant receives approval to deploy 10 autonomous ride-hailing vehicles in a 60 square km special zone within the nation’s capital. The city government reports plans to expand the zone to up to 500 square km. Baidu has already been offering fully driverless rides in two other major cities: Wuhan and Chongqing.
United plans America’s first commercial eVTOL route: United Airlines hopes to begin offering electric vertical takeoff rides between a downtown vertiport and O’Hare Airport by 2026. United says customers will pay about $100 for a ten-minute ride that would likely take up to an hour by car due to Windy City traffic. The vehicles are manufactured by Archer Aviation, the San Jose startup that in 2021 secured a $1 billion commitment from United for 200 aircraft.
Arlington ends single-family zoning: The affluent Virginia county outside Washington D.C. votes to allow four to six units on many lots that were previously reserved for only single-family houses. The plan has generated intense opposition but is viewed as an important step towards creating more affordable housing types for households that can’t afford a single-family house. This is likely one of the most ambitious zoning overhauls in the country, going much farther than Minneapolis’ reform a few years ago, which only authorized three units on single-family lots.
eVTOL as mass transit? LYTE Aviation, a London startup, is developing an electric vertical take-off aircraft to carry up to 40 people. The SkyBus is a sharp departure from the four or six-seat configurations being developed by other eVTOL manufacturers. While its competitors are focusing on air taxi services for customers to move short distances within or across a city, LYTE is aiming at longer-distance commuter travel: LYTE’s SkyBus will have a range of around 1000 km (620 miles). With a top speed of 186 mph, LYTE could get long-distance commuters into the city three times as fast as a car.
Norway opens world’s longest bike tunnel: The city of Bergen is poised to open the Fyllingsdalstunnelen, 1.8 mile cycling and pedestrian tunnel that cuts through a mountain and connects the city center to a residential neighborhood to the southwest. The tunnel is well-lit and features artistic wall design and colorful light fixtures. We like.
A challenge to Google Maps? HiveMapper, a San Francisco startup that maps roads with dash cams on ride-hail and delivery vehicles (while mining crypto!) has now collected data on 1 million km of roads, or about 1/60th of Google Maps’ reach. However, the company has achieved this milestone in only three months and claims it will increase its coverage ten-fold by early next year. Before long, it contends, it will be nipping at Google’s heels.
The cargo e-bike revolution: The Verge looks at the surge in cargo e-bikes. Bikes that can haul kids and groceries are making the idea of going car-free realistic for far more Americans. Data gleaned from the burgeoning market of used e-bikes show that cargo e-bikes are used much more than regular ones.
What can cars learn from planes? In a thought-provoking essay, Olaf Sakkers of RedBlue Capital, a mobility-focused VC firm, makes an argument that you don’t hear often: airlines provide a pretty good deal, actually. Modern air travel is not only vastly safer than driving, but it costs far less per mile than an automobile. To participate in car travel, people traditionally have been forced to purchase a vehicle that spends most of its life sitting in a driveway and to shoulder the risk involved with owning and maintaining an expensive asset, while air travel offers people the flexibility of only purchasing the travel they actually need.
Is the U.S. ready to reverse 100 years of car-centric planning? The Washington Post traces the beginning of car-centric planning in the 1920’s, contrasting the heavy lobbying by the auto industry to relegate pedestrians to the margins of public spaces to the successful efforts by activists during the pandemic to reclaim public spaces from cars. In some places, those temporary changes have proven popular enough to become permanent, while in others the ever-present car lobby has pressured elected officials into restoring car dominance.
Tesla’s dangerous experiment without radar: The Washington Post digs into Elon Musk’s controversial decision to remove radar from Tesla vehicles, a move that former employees and safety experts allege resulted in more crashes.
Work from Home kills the commuter bus: DeCamp Buses, which has transported generations of New Jerseyans to work in New York City, is giving up on Big Apple commuters and will instead focus on travel within the Garden State. The commuter routes are only attracting about 1,300 riders a day, down from a pre-pandemic average of 6,000. The NJ-NYC commuter routes are hardly the only casualty of telework; the American Bus Association reports that nearly half of private bus companies have shuttered since 2019.
Solving range anxiety for commercial EVs: Silicon Canals, a Dutch tech publication, offers an interesting look at how one startup is helping commercial fleet operators address their concerns about EV range. Amsterdam-based ChargeTrip insists that range anxiety can be solved simply through better planning, namely its routing software. Its tool takes into account 15 variables –– including weather, available chargers, elevation, real-time traffic data –– to predict when a battery will need to be recharged.
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