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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.
Welp, this week delivered a firehose of news. Shall we jump in?
Reminder: I will be in San Francisco for TechCrunch Disrupt. Woohoo! I do hope to see y’all there.
By the way, if you’ve been laid off recently, TechCrunch is offering a free expo pass to Disrupt (October 18-20) in San Francisco. No strings attached. These tickets get you access to the expo floor, breakout sessions and plenty of networking opportunities like partner roundtables and parties. For more info, check out this page.
You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share thoughts, criticisms, opinions or tips. You also can send a direct message to @kirstenkorosec.
The big news of this week was, sadly, more layoffs in the micromobility world.
Tier laid off about 10% of its Spin staff, including a number of executives. The company is also exiting Canada and Seattle. Spin told its workforce that U.S. demand had been underwhelming and rising inflation and a tightening VC funding environment led to the need to tighten the purse strings.
While the layoffs affected corporate teams — including engineering, partnerships and policy, community partnerships and HR, according to a source familiar with the matter — the operations teams were largely unaffected. One industry insider told TechCrunch that might be because Tier can handle many of those tasks, but would still need help on the ground when it decides to send over its new e-scooters.
The micromobility sector has struggled in 2022. A number of companies, including Bird, Superpedestrian and Voi have cut staff. Many of those layoffs occurred over the summer, but now it seems another wave of layoffs is washing over the industry.
Spin wasn’t the only micromobility company that has made cuts this month. Zoomo also suffered some layoffs this week. The Aussie company downsized its global workforce by 16%.
In other news …
Barcelona is doing a one-year pilot project using the energy recovered from metro trains braking to charge personal e-scooters. *Chef’s kiss!* Two of my favorite things — public transit and micromobility.
A New York City Council member is pushing a bill that will allow New Yorkers to benefit from ratting out owners of vehicles blocking bike lanes or entrances/exits of school buildings, sidewalks and crosswalks. The bill would give an individual 25% of a proposed $175 ticket. New Yorkers aren’t snitches, but they are hustlers, so who knows?
Yamaha has launched three new e-bikes for gravel riders, mountain bikers and urban commuters.
You’re reading an abbreviated version of micromobbin’. Subscribe for free to the newsletter and you’ll get a lot more.
Deal of the week
Five years ago, Intel bought Mobileye for $15.3 billion. Now, Mobileye is on the path to becoming a publicly traded company.
The company touts a broad vision: An autonomous future “where congestion is seen only in history books.” But its S-1 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission underscores its precarious position in the ever-evolving self-driving vehicle industry, Jaclyn Trop reports in a recent TC+ article.
Tl;dr: the company, which has carved out massive market share by supplying automakers with computer vision technology to power their advanced driver assistance systems, is facing pressure from supply chain constraints and a trend among OEMs to become more vertically integrated.
The S-1 did contain some brights spots though, including long-term partnerships with China’s Geely, Great Wall Motors and SAIC, and Indian automakers such as Mahindra & Mahindra position it for growth in an emerging market.
Other deals that got my attention …
Canada Drives closed a $7.3 million round to expand its online car shopping/delivery platform into new markets. The raise comes a few months after raising $30 million.
Halo Car, a Las Vegas-based startup that combines teleoperations and car sharing, raised $5 million in a seed round led by climate tech fund At One Ventures, with participation from T-Mobile Ventures, Earthshot Ventures and existing investor Boost VC.
Phantom Auto acquired video communications company Voysys AB to bolster its teleoperations platform used to remotely operate forklifts, yard trucks and delivery robots. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Want more deals? A whole list of them, including info on Aptiv, TerraWatt and TruckSmarter, were in the subscription version this week. Subscribe for free here.
Notable reads and other tidbits
Gatik, the AV company focused on the middle mile, and Canadian food and pharmacy retailer Loblaw launched fully driverless commercial operations. Gatik has been working with Loblaw since 2020. It will move select online grocery orders for Loblaw’s PC Express service with a fleet of multi-temperature autonomous box trucks (without a human driver behind the wheel).
Motional will put its robotaxis on the Uber network later this year as part of a 10-year operating agreement that will eventually roll out to major cities across North America. TechCrunch interviewed Akshay Jaising, who is heading up commercialization efforts at Motional, about the company’s progress. Look out for the interview this coming Monday.
Electric vehicles, charging & batteries
Rivian has issued a voluntary recall of all 13,000 vehicles it has delivered so far due to a loose fastener. The fastener, which may not have been sufficiently torqued on a small percentage of vehicles, connects the front upper control arm and steering knuckle. This can cause loose and vibrating tires, wheel tilt and loss of steering control.
Sixt said it plans to buy more than 100,000 electric vehicles from Chinese automaker BYD for its European rental fleet between now and 2028.
Tesla dominated the news cycle once again:
- The automaker delivered 343,830 vehicles in the third quarter, a record number that still failed to meet analysts’ expectations. There was also a larger-than-usual gap between production and delivery numbers.
- The Tesla Semi is officially in production, with Pepsi taking the first deliveries.
- Tesla is removing ultrasonic sensors from Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, the next step in CEO Elon Musk’s plan to only use cameras and software to support its advanced driver assistance system and other active safety features.
Future of flight
Joby Aviation and Skyports Infrastructure are developing a Living Lab passenger terminal where the companies can virtually test a variety of technologies and procedures to help define how passengers experience vertical flight in the future.
Volocopter conducted its first crewed public test flight in Italy.
Wisk Aero unveiled its go-to-market aircraft: a four-passenger autonomous air taxi that the startup will put forward for U.S. Federal Aviation Administration type certification.
Faraday Future executive chairperson Sue Swenson and directors Scott Vogel and Jordan Vogel resigned from all positions on the FFIE board after receiving death threats.
Rivian hired Diane Lye as its first chief information officer. It’s a bit surprising that this critical position wasn’t filled years ago.
Uber’s former head of security Joseph Sullivan was found guilty of criminal obstruction for attempting to cover up a data breach that saw tens of millions of customer and driver records stolen.
Want to read more of the notable reads plus other bits of news from the week? The Station’s weekly emailed newsletter has a lot more on EVs and AVs, future of flight, insider info and more. Click here and then check “The Station” to receive the full edition of the newsletter every weekend in your inbox.