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The biggest micromobility news of the past week was that Ford-owned Spin laid off a quarter of its staff and is preparing to exit all open-permit markets around the world. The company will close its operations in Germany, Portugal and the U.S. as early as February 2022. Ben Bear said in a post that the strategy would help accelerate the company's path to profitability, as open permit market dynamics have made it difficult to identify a clear path to profitability.
I saw something like this coming. In June, I wrote about how Spin was shifting its strategy to angle for more exclusive partnerships with cities and campuses. Reports that Ford might be selling Spin came as Bear took over as CEO. Ford is still committed to helping the company on its path to profitability, according to the company.
It's not clear if Bear knew that closing down operations in certain markets would be required for this strategy to work. He told me in June that Spin was full speed ahead on the hiring front with ambitious growth plans. Spin might have been hoping that cities would align with the company's strategy and start moving towards limited vendor permits. It might be true in mid-tier cities, which are just as important to convert to micromobility as the big dogs.
Micromobilty World 2022.
Micromobility World 2022, an event for micromobility lovers around the world, was held this week. Here are a few of the highlights.
I spoke to the CEO of Gogoro about how the company has dominated Taiwan, why it is important to make charging easy and fast through battery swaps, and why partnering with local businesses is important to expanding into new markets quicker.
Bird wants to continue the micromobility momentum started by the pandemic by focusing on climate change and congestion in cities, how to create main market adoption by showing cities that people are willing and ready to get out of cars and potential, and how to talk to people about getting out of cars and potential
The VP of micromobility at Lyft spoke to Andrew Hawkins about public-private partnerships. She talked about the benefits of being reliably stationed and the challenges of running a shared business, like the need for exclusiveness with a city and cost-prohibit. She spoke of the importance of the bike and scooter working together and said that cities needed to work on their systemic vehicle-centered mindset.
In other news.
Rivian has filed a trademark to make electric bikes. Rivian wouldn't tell anyone else about the matter, but they wouldn't be the only company to notice the trend.
The new bike will have a swappable battery that can be used with the company's scooters, which should help improve Lime's bottom line.
Trek Bicycle and World Bicycle Relief donated over one million dollars to communities in developing regions. Consumers around the world made donations towards Trek's 2021 Bike of the Year, WBR's Buffalo Bicycle, which is designed to help people travel long distances over difficult terrain.
The partnership with Wheels will allow for the deployment of 2,500 seated e-mobility vehicles in four U.S. cities and two Italian innovation hubs.
The DeliBox, a temperature-controlled thermal box, is going to be mounted onto some of the :work series bikes to create a more innovative delivery solution.
The Mini, an e-bike made by Seattle-based Propella, is currently going for $899 in the US. The e-bike is ultra lightweight (33 lbs) and has 20-inch wheels. It has a top speed of 18 mph and a range of up to 35 miles. It looks like a nice bike.
The Koa Rev fat tire e-bike has a top speed of 20 mph, shock absorbers, up to 46 miles of range, and a throttle. The price is starting at $1,799.99.
Deal of the week.
Turo's filing to become a publicly traded company in the U.S. did not include terms for its offering.
Turo is a startup that allows private car owners to rent out their cars through their website or app. Turo is gaining some market share that could lead to success as car rental prices are increasing due to supply chain issues. Turo has a lot of risk, as shown in its S-1 filing.
Turo and other similar apps might face liability for criminal activities of their hosts, like the ones who have been using them to smuggle humans near the U.S. border. Turo is liable to lawsuits from airport authorities that require the startup to obtain rental car permits.
There is plenty of room for expansion within the U.S. and internationally.
Other deals got my attention.
Balderton Capital, Global Founders Capital, and Burda Principal Investments are leading the funding for Arive.
The acquisition of Wind River by Aptiv will help the auto parks maker to better serve the needs of an industry that is quickly becoming self-driving and electric.
Bolt, which offers on-demand ride-Hailing, shared cars and scooters, and restaurant and grocery delivery, has raised $709M at a valuation of $8.4B to expand into new geographies and bulk out new business lines like its 15-minute grocery delivery option.
Delivery Hero sold its entire stake in Rappi, a Latin American delivery company, for $150 million, close to the entire capital it had invested in the company.
EVage, the all-electric commercial vehicle startup based in India, raised a $28 million seed round. The company plans to use the funds to complete its production ready factory outside of Delhi in the first quarter of 2022.
BMW i Ventures, the venture capital arm of BMW Group, led a $4.7 million seed round for HeyCharge, a Germany-based startup focused on underground carparks. Statkraft is a large European generator of renewable energy and has a venture capital arm.
The assets and tech of a Boston-based electric shuttle startup have been acquired by Magna. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. It plans to use OR's tech to increase its ADAS offerings.
StoreDot, an Israeli startup that is developing a battery for electric vehicles, secured the first close of its latest funding round led by VinFast. The Series D round is due to close.
A small bird.
The company that ceased operations and sold its assets and intellectual property to a company called Magna was called Optimus Ride. The company looks to beef up its advanced driver assistance system offerings.
It was discovered that the company was considering a merger in order to go public. My sources say the company was shopping this idea around in early 2021, with a goal of raising $400 million to $500 million during the process of going public. The plan was to close the deal by the end of the second quarter.
That did not happen. Sources tell me that the deal couldn't be made because some investors lost their appetite for mobility SPACs.
There are notable news and other tidbits.
There are vehicles that are self-sufficient.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles is rethinking its approach to regulating the software after being confronted with a lot of evidence that the technology drives cars into dangerous situations. While other car developers are required to report crashes and system failures to the Department of Motor Vehicles,Tesla has been getting away with testing its technology on public roads.
When they are supposed to be testing the software on public roads, owners of the car pay $10K for the privilege, but often aren't, supervising the operation of cars as they autonomously navigate on highways and city streets.
The latest update to 10.3 of the FSD seems to bring driver profiles back with names like "Average," and "Assertive." Rolling stops, a smaller follow distance, more frequent speed lane changes, and not exiting passing lanes are some of the things that the Assertive one can do. Alright, Elon.
The city documents show that Ford is considering building a facility in Dallas. The Dallas city council voted on Wednesday to give the OEM a $3 million tax break and $250,000 grant in order to locate in Dallas rather than one of two sites in California.
According to several posts from employees on the professional networking site, LocalMotors has shut down operations and is looking for new employees. The main feature photo for this post is called "Olli" and it was an early symbol of the burgeoning self-drive industry. There is still room for consolidation in the industry after the closing of LocalMotors.
The next-gen electric self-driving vehicle was designed and manufactured by BYD North America. The Nuro, an auto-grade vehicle that operates on public roads but doesn't carry passengers, has two times the cargo volume of its previous model, a series of safety features and temp-controlled compartments.
The next-gen robot that Serve Robotics is using to deliver in certain areas of Los Angeles is Level 4 autonomy, meaning no human in the loop.
J.B. Hunt will become the first launch partner for freight movement for Waymo when it deploys fully autonomously in Texas.
The vehicles are electric.
Roberto Baldwin gave us a First Drive of the all-electric Mercedes AMG EQS and the still-V8-powered SLS, two new cars out of Mercedes's high performance unit that tick all the boxes for performance, luxury and comfort.
Rivian said it produced 1,015 vehicles in the year of 2021, and would deliver 920 by the end of the year. There are more than 71,000 pre-orders for the R1T pickup trucks.
California has the authority to set its own emissions standards for vehicles, which General GM has now acknowledged, making it a potential vehicle manufacturer for the state.
There are some things that are Miscellaneous.
The auto industry is facing a chip shortage because of the tendency to put as much technology as possible in new cars, according to an article by Jim Motavilli.
The auto tech that was released at the Consumer Electronics Show can watch and learn from drivers to anticipate their needs, schedule maintenance on their behalf, connect with smart devices at home and even stream YouTube is proof that the auto industry is leaning too hard on software. When we consider that there is no bug-free software and that much of this tech can and will be unreliable, it's hard to believe.
Motavilli writes that market reality has resulted in a collision course for buyers on the ground: higher prices and spotty availability of some of the features they say they most want.