Before we dive into the past week of mobility news, check out all of the photos from CoMotion MIAMI ‘23 on Flickr. Be sure to tag us in your social posts! Also like and subscribe to the CoMotion Youtube channel to watch all of the panels on demand.
Having struggled over the past year to deal with their dependence on Russian oil and gas, the leaders of the G7 who met in Hiroshima over the weekend are keenly aware that their growing reliance on China for battery materials threatens to create a similar dynamic. But solutions remain elusive…
In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to speed up $180 billion of planned infrastructure spending by overhauling the many state regulations that often delay transportation projects for years. In San Francisco, however, local leaders worry that state officials are moving far too fast in approving more autonomous ride-hailing.
Also: Ford continues to lose money on EVs, TuSimple makes another round of cuts, extreme weather is undermining British rail, Uber will let you call a ride, the eVTOL industry looks to make a good first impression on the public and transit agencies may (finally) be starting to rethink their reliance on the morning and evening commuter.
G7 confronts Chinese EV dominance: Leaders from the G7 countries meeting in Hiroshima over the weekend agree that the world’s current dependence on Chinese minerals for EV batteries is a major economic and political risk. The transition away from fossil fuels was supposed to liberate the west from its dependence on authoritarian petro-states, but China’s emerging dominance in rare minerals raises similar strategic questions.
To that end, western nations are busy negotiating deals aimed at creating an EV supply chain independent of China. The U.S. signed a critical minerals agreement with Japan and is in the midst of negotiating one with the E.U. President Biden also announced a new deal with Australia commiting the two nations to sharing information and coordinating standards and investment related to the EV supply chain.
However, the professed commitments to taking on China from G7 nations are complicated by the fact that they also compete with each other, and are under pressure from domestic industry to gain access to resources as quickly and cheaply as possible. China is so far ahead in terms of access to minerals and processing capacity that it may take decades for other countries to catch up. An analysis by Benchmark Minerals projects that by 2030 China will manufacture twice as many EV batteries as every other country combined.
Can California speed up infrastructure projects? Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to expedite $180 billion investment in transportation, water and clean energy projects by overhauling the state’s notoriously cumbersome development regulations. California has become a case study in how rules and processes created to protect the environment can actually harm the environment by preventing the construction of public transit, dense development or even green energy projects. Godspeed, governor!
Cruise & Waymo poised to expand service in San Francisco: The California Public Utility Commission is likely to allow Cruise and Waymo to charge for autonomous rides 24/7 in San Francisco despite objections from city transportation officials. Cruise, the GM-backed AV startup, currently offers fared service between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. in certain areas of the city, while Waymo’s fared service is already available at any time of day but requires a safety driver. A variety of stakeholders wrote to the PUC in support of driverless ride-hailing, including groups representing people with disabilities, business and tech advocacy organizations and some government leaders.
Ford’s massive EV losses: Ford says its EV unit will lose $3 billion this year, a sobering fact that is nevertheless mitigated by the automaker’s projected $9-11 billion of profit overall. Although Ford likely expected EVs to be unprofitable in the first few years, CEO Jim Farley has conceded that the costs of certain materials ended up being much higher than anticipated, leading to steeper losses than projected.
TuSimple makes more big cuts: Six months after laying off 25% of its workforce, the autonomous trucking SPAC announces it will cut 30% of its remaining headcount as part of a restructuring. This comes just after the company narrowly avoided being delisted by the NASDAQ.
Now you can finally ditch your smart phone: Uber will now let you hail a ride the old fashioned way: by calling a number.
Feds claim engineer stole Apple’s AV secrets: A grand jury has indicted a former Apple engineer for stealing trade secrets related to the company’s autonomous driving project and then fleeing to China. The employee, whose name has not been revealed to the press, remains in China.
A troubling breach of D.C. transit agency: A watchdog report reveals a number of glaring vulnerabilities at one of the nation’s top transit agencies. Among other things, the report showed that a former contractor was able to access sensitive proprietary information from a personal computer in Russia. Yikes.
British rail in trouble: The agency that oversees upkeep of the rail network in England and Wales says that the system is likely to get less reliable in coming years due to damage from a sharp increase in severe weather and cost increases that make it harder to make needed repairs and upgrades.
New York City is sinking: The Big Apple is being weighed down by its skyscrapers, according to a new study. The city is sinking 1-2 mm a year, putting it at increased risk of floods from rising sea levels.
Will Americans buy Chinese EVs? Writing for Business Insider, Nora Naughton and Tim Levin foresee cheap Chinese EVs disrupting the U.S. auto market, much in the way that Japanese brands upended it in the 1980’s.
The future of transit is off-peak: In Curbed, Alissa Walker writes that transit agencies must adapt to post-pandemic travel patterns by reducing their dependence on morning and evening commuters. Increasingly, it is the off-peak rider they will have to cater to in order to remain relevant.
Making a good first impression for eVTOL: In Vertical Magazine, Treena Hein argues that 2023 is an important year for shaping public perceptions of eVTOL emerging technology. She speaks with eVTOL OEMs about what they’re doing to convince people that their aircrafts are safe and, just as importantly, useful to those besides the ultra-rich.
Angry about inflation? Blame cars: The New York Times examines why car prices have not dropped even as the supply chain issues that throttled the industry during the pandemic have eased. Among the main reasons: dealerships are focusing more than ever on luxury models over economy models and car rental services driving up prices in their desperation to re-stock their inventories.
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