Welcome back to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of moving people and packages from Point A to Point B.
All eyes were on San Francisco this week as critics and supporters of deploying self-driving cars on public roads awaited a vote from the California Public Utilities Commission. Tl;dr: it was a win for the autonomous vehicle industry.
If you haven’t been following, the CPUC approved the last remaining permits to Cruise and Waymo, giving the two companies the green light to offer commercial robotaxi services across San Francisco 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In the lead up to the vote, the commission listened to hundreds of public comments, which were pretty evenly split for and against. My take: Cruise and Waymo may have won this battle, but the war to win over the public is hardly over.
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You remember Veo, right? It’s the shared micromobility operator that has gained a rep for growing at a steady, sustainable pace, rather than moving fast and breaking things? Well, now the company is moving into the retail space<.
Candice Xie, co-founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that its Cosmo seated scooter was so popular, the company decided to pursue D2C sales of it.
When a company adds a business unit, I wonder if it’s in trouble and looking for new ways to secure revenue. Xie says that Veo is still operating profitably and sees moving into retail as a good way to expand into new markets. The company is starting with limited sales this year and will grow its capacity in 2024 if all goes well.
The Cosmo X starts at $3,499.
In other news . . .
Bird has another new CEO. Not even a year after the struggling company fired its founder Travis VanderZanden and replaced him with Shane Torchiana, it appears the company is facing yet another executive shakeup. Torchiana is jumping ship (as many execs at Bird have already done), to be replaced by the company’s rather new CFO. Michael Washinushi has officially taken over as interim CEO.
Boston mayor Michelle Wu is offering free cycling lessons for kids.
London-based HumanForest is now just Forest. And it’s doubling its bike-share numbers in the English city.
NABSA’s fourth annual state of shared micromobility report shows that ridership in North America has returned to pre-pandemic levels. The number of cities with shared micromobility has hit an all-time high with 401 cities, and shared e-bikes and e-scooters have offset about 74 million pounds of CO2 emissions by replacing auto trips.
Tier and Voi are reportedly in talks over a merger.
— Rebecca Bellan
Deal of the week
The deal of the week took me by surprise!
Serve Robotics, the autonomous sidewalk delivery robot startup that spun out of Uber’s acquisition of Postmates, is going public via a reverse merger with a blank-check company.
Ahead of the merger, Serve raised $30 million in a round led by existing investors Uber, Nvidia and Wavemaker Partners. New investors Mark Tompkins and Republic Deal Room also participated. The startup/soon-to-be-public company has raised a total of $56 million.
Upon the closing of the merger, Uber held a 16.2% stake and Nvidia an 11% stake in Serve, according to regulatory filings. Sarfraz Maredia, Uber’s vice president of delivery and head of its Americas region, has joined Serve’s board.
Other deals that got my attention this week . . .
Archer Aviation raised $215 million in new capital from its manufacturing partner Stellantis, Boeing, United Airlines, Ark Investment Management LLC and others, to accelerate its path to commercialization. Boeing’s portion of that new investment is going to support the collaboration between Wisk and Archer on autonomy, a source told TechCrunch.
There was some other big Archer news this week as well that I suppose could be considered a deal, or at least an agreement. I’m talking about Archer Aviation and its rival Wisk settling their trade secret legal dispute more than two years after the lawsuit was originally filed.
In a somewhat surprise twist — given how bitterly the legal battle had become — the two companies have agreed to collaborate, TechCrunch reported. Archer also agreed to make Wisk its exclusive provider of autonomy technology to be integrated into a future autonomous variant of Archer’s Midnight aircraft, in addition to the collaboration, according to a source familiar with the settlement.
Inrix, the transportation analytics and connected car services, raised $70 million in a financing round from investment funds managed by Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital and Morgan Stanley Tactical Value.
Proterra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. I dug into Proterra’s day one declaration and while some parallels can be drawn between Proterra and other failing or defunct EV companies, this company faces specific headwinds that took it down a rocky financial path. I break down what led to Proterra’s bankruptcy.
Treehouse, a home EV charging startup, raised $10 million in a funding round led by Montage Ventures and Trucks Venture Capital, with participation from CarMax, Assurant Ventures, Acrew Capital, Gutter Capital, Detroit Venture Partners, Holman and Automotive Ventures.
Yellow, a Nashville-based trucking company, filed for bankruptcy and has plans to shutter. The company had received a $700 million loan from the Trump administration in 2020.
Notable reads and other tidbits
Cruise has started testing its self-driving vehicles in Atlanta.
There were loads of earnings this week, but maybe you missed these two.
Two-wheeler battery-swapping company Gogoro reported revenue of $87.2 million in Q2, down 3.8% YoY and up 0.2% on a constant currency basis. Of that revenue, $33.3 million came from its battery-swapping service, predominantly active in Taiwan, which is up 9.5% YoY.
Gogoro recorded a net loss of just $5.6 million, which is way down from a net loss of $121.1 million last year, which was primarily due to a one-time $178.8 million listing expense for its SPAC merger in 2022. In adjusted terms, Gogoro recorded $12.9 million, which is up from $9.3 million in Q2 2022.
Shared micromobility operator Bird recorded revenue of $48.3 million, down from the $66.8 million reported in Q2 2022. Bird says this is because it is operating in fewer markets than last year. That said, ride profit also went down to $26.6 million, compared to $28.4 million last year.
Bird has been trying to bring down costs, and it seems to be working. The company recorded a net loss of $9.3 million in Q2 2023, compared to $320.3 million in the same period of 2022. But it might not be enough to keep the company afloat. Bird has just –$1.8 million in free cash flow, and its total operating expenses in Q2 were $36.1 million. Maybe the company’s new CEO will be able to turn the ship around.
Electric vehicles, charging and batteries
BrightDrop, GM’s commercial EV delivery business unit, plans to expand sales of its flagship electric vans to Mexico.
Cadillac revealed the Escalade IQ — an absolutely massive EV, laden with screens, luxury features, an estimated 450 miles of range and the option to upgrade the automaker’s standard advanced driver assistance system, known as Super Cruise, to the next-level Ultra Cruise.
Lucid said during its Q2 earnings call that it will reveal its long-awaited, all-electric Gravity SUV in November with production not kicking off until late 2024.
Motiv Power Systems said it plans to launch a medium-duty chassis with a cab that can be used in various sizes of box trucks, step vans, shuttle buses, refrigerated vehicles and vocational vehicles.
Rivian gained positive momentum in the second quarter as it ramped up EV sales, narrowed losses, reduced costs and shored up its supply chain. The company also raised its production guidance for the year from 50,000 to 52,000 vehicles and said it expects its adjusted earnings guidance for the year to improve to a loss of $4.2 billion. While still a massive number, it is better than it expected.
Arrival‘s board of directors appointed Igor Torgov as an executive director.
Verge Motorcycles appointed Mark Wilson as its new CFO. Wilson was most recently CFO for Aston Martin Lagonda Plc and before that McLaren Automotive.
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