Sunday, February 25, 2024
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Uber hits a profit milestone, Ford builds an EV skunksworks and Fisker fumbles

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Welcome back to TechCrunch Mobility, your one-stop shop for news and information on the future of transportation.

This week was very busy with rivian officially announcing the reveal date of its next-generation electric vehicle, a Waymo robotaxi hitting a cyclist (oh, and one of their robotaxis was vandalized and burned on Saturday night!), Arrival trying to sell its UK assets, plus some scoop on electric motorcycle startup Cake, Ford and fisker. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so come for a ride.

Ah, but first, some breaking news from the weekend.

Joby Aviationa company developing all-electric aircraft for commercial passenger services, announced on Sunday an agreement with Dubai Regulators will launch air taxi services there in early 2026. Joby, a startup that went public in 2021 through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, said it is targeting initial operations starting in 2025.

It is worth noting that under the agreement, Joby has exclusive air taxi rights in Dubai for six years and some financial “mechanisms”; Joby did not provide further details. Joby has also signed an agreement with Skyports, a company that will design, build and operate four initial vertiport sites in Dubai.

Come on!

a little bird

blinking cat green bird

We have had many little birds talking to us about fisker, the electric vehicle startup that went public in 2020 through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company. Those conversations, combined with a review of internal documents, a series of lawsuits and an investigation by federal regulators, came together in a fascinating and disturbing story of Sean O’Kane.

What did O’Kane find? Fisker Ocean SUV customers have reported more than 100 separate power loss incidents, as well as a host of other issues, including sudden loss of braking power, problematic key fobs causing them to lock inside or outside the vehicle, sensors seat that does not detect the presence of the driver and the front hood of the SUV rises suddenly at high speeds.

Customers also complained about the service department. After our story was published, another little bird told us that Fisker’s director of global services was recently fired.

Do you have a suggestion for us? Email Kirsten Korosec at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com or Sean O’Kane sean.okane@techcrunch.com. If you prefer to remain anonymous, Click here to contact uswhich includes SecureDrop (instructions here) and various encrypted messaging applications.

Offer of the week

money the station

India It is one of the largest two-wheeler markets in the world. And a whole new generation of startups, like startups River – are appearing on the scene thanks to the demand for zero-emission vehicles.

River recently raised $40 million in a Series B financing round led by the Japanese Yamaha engine. Existing investors Al-Futtaim Automotive, Lowercarbon Capital, Toyota Ventures, Trucks VC and Maniv Mobility also participated.

The startup faces a competitive market, as many companies compete for a piece of the electric vehicle pie. River is betting on winning over Indian customers with Indie, a lifestyle-focused utility product that has been described as a two-wheeled “SUV” vehicle.

Other offers that caught my attention…

Elroy AirA South San Francisco-based startup developing autonomous cargo drones raised $48.9 million, according to a regulatory filing.

guided energyA French startup that raised $5.2 million from Sequoia Capital and Dynamo Ventures in late 2023, is creating a software tool that will help electric vehicle fleet operators with cargo management and dispatch.

otoAn Indian startup that created a financing software platform for electric two-wheelers, raised $10 million in a round led by GMO Venture Partners.

Starship Technologies, an Estonian delivery robotics startup, raised $90 million in a funding round co-led by two previous backers: Plural and Iconical. This brings the total raised by Starship to $230 million, and its previous backers include Finnish-Japanese firm NordicNinja, the European Investment Bank, Morpheus Ventures and TDC.

Notable readings and other tidbits

autonomous vehicles

An administrative law judge with the California Public Utilities Commission held a conciliation hearing into the Oct. 2 incident that left a pedestrian, who had initially been hit by a car driven by a man, trapped underneath and then dragged by a Cruise robotaxi.

The hearing repeated much of what Quinn Emmanuel – the law firm GM hired to investigate the Oct. 2 incident – ​​revealed in a separate report. But it’s worth noting that throughout the exchange, Cruise adopted an extremely conciliatory tone. Craig GliddenGM’s executive vice president of legal and political affairs, who was named Cruise’s managing director in December, was particularly ingratiating.

At one point, he appeared to agree to pay a higher fine, which the statute said would be $112,000. This is what he said.

“It was unfortunate. It was a mistake and Cruise is trying to correct it. I’m not here to argue whether it’s $75,000 or $112,000. We want to resolve the issue because we want to move forward and we want to advance the mission of bringing driverless vehicles to market that are safer for the public and also with greater accessibility for the public. “So we are more than happy to be engaged in whatever way the court sees fit or the commission sees fit to put this matter behind us.”

Waymo has caught the attention of regulators in California after one of its robotaxis hit a cyclist in San Francisco. The cyclist suffered minor injuries. Waymo said his robotaxi stopped at a four-way intersection while a large truck was traveling in the opposite direction. The car then entered the intersection and collided with the cyclist who was behind the truck.

TechCrunch spoke with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Public Utilities Commission – the two agencies that control the permits that allow companies like Waymo to test, deploy and charge commercially for driverless rides. The CPUC said it was “gathering information from Waymo” and the DMV told me the agency “is reviewing the incident.” We’ll see if this turns into something more.

One more article from Waymo. Around 9 p.m. on Saturday, a crowd surrounded an empty Waymo robotaxi, began swinging it, breaking windows and finally setting it on fire with fireworks. FriscoLive415 shared the video on X. Pretty crazy images. A Waymo spokesperson told TechCrunch that the vehicle was not carrying passengers and that no injuries were reported. The company is “working closely with local law enforcement officials to respond to the situation.”

Electric vehicles, charging and batteries.

Arrival announced that its UK division is entering administration, the country’s version of bankruptcy.

electric motorcycle company Cake held talks with Harley-Davidson and other automakers in 2023 as it fought to stay alive, founder and CEO Stefan Ytterborn told TechCrunch.

Cowboy is rolling out an on-demand service program for basic maintenance, customization and repairs, delivered to the e-bike owner’s home.

Ford has been quietly working on a low-cost electric vehicle. The company created a skunkworks project two years ago based in Irvine, California and led by the former head of advanced electric vehicle development for Tesla and Ford. Alan Clarke. Notably, the team includes engineers from Auto Motive Power (AMP), the electric vehicle power startup that the automaker acquired in November 2023. AMP founder Anil Paryani, who coincidentally overlapped with Clarke for about five years at Tesla, it is also part of the skunkworks project. .

rivian will reveal its smaller, cheaper R2 SUV on March 7. Pay attention!

toyota will spend an additional $1.3 billion to prepare its Kentucky factory for production of a new three-row all-electric SUV designed for American consumers.

Gig economy

Uber I reached a major milestone that a few years ago I wasn’t sure would ever be reached. The ride-hailing and delivery app reported full-year profits (driven by operating income) as a public company. And it looks like earnings momentum is expected to continue into the first quarter. Uber has made annual profits before, but it was largely due to its investments. In 2023, the company’s profits also came from its operations.

Reminder that Lyft will release its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings after markets close on February 13.

People

Move, a company that helps vehicle owners rent their cars, trucks and SUVs to peers, is cutting 30% of its North American workforce as part of a restructuring. Getaround cut 10% of its workforce in February 2023.

General Motors Hired battery expert and former Tesla executive Kurt Kelty to be the automaker’s new vice president of batteries, a completely new role for the company.

This week’s wheels

Image credits: taylor hatter

This week’s wheels could catch the attention of electric bike fans. Editor taylor hatter write this about your “zombie” From Moof.

My VanMoof electric bike isn’t dead, but it’s not entirely alive either. I bought a X3 from VanMoof after I reviewed the bike for TechCrunch in 2021 and was very impressed. The bike was excellent; but it was also a personal revelation, allowing me (a lazy cyclist in good weather) to bike around my city (Portland, Oregon) when I could otherwise use a car.

When I bought my VanMoof, which was on sale at the time, I knew it was a risk. I spent the money knowing that, at worst, my bike could become a $2,000 brick. That scenario arrived last year when VanMoof filed for bankruptcy.

Lavoie bought out the remains of the company late last summer, providing a glimmer of hope that the notoriously fickle bikes packed with custom-made components will still be useful in the future. Meanwhile, VanMoof owners like me are rushing to download apps like Bikey, created by Cowboyto recover the digital keys that link us to our bicycles.

I still have a lot of affection for my possible future £30 paperweight, which I nervously turn on and plug my phone into several times a week. It’s been pouring rain for months (not the kind of weather I’ll be riding in anymore), but I’m hoping that come spring my X3 will show some new signs of life too.

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