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Hello friends and new readers. Welcome to The Station, a newsletter dedicated to all present and future ways of moving people and packages from point A to point B. I’m your host Kirsten Korosec, senior transportation reporter at ClearTipsNews.
COVID-19 is not gone, in case you’re wondering. Yet city, county and state governments continue to reopen economies, some more slowly than others. The quiet and sleepy streets of metropolitan areas around the world are once again bustling. Yes, congestion is back and, in some areas, already worse than pre-COVID. Take the example of San Francisco. The San Francisco County Transportation Authority has launched a congestion tracking system that provides a weekly view of vehicle speeds on its network. Check it out and see how it has changed.
The photo below of a road network in the Los Angeles area recalls how COVID-19 and the residence orders that followed the decline in traffic.
We will be monitoring in the coming weeks and months whether cities will keep some of the pedestrian, bicycle and scooter-friendly initiatives put in place during the COVID closings. We expect it to be a mixed bag, and very much dependent on how these wheels creak (we’re talking about pressure from residents, activists and the business community).
A freeway project to watch out for is the $ 7 billion project to rebuild most of Houston’s downtown highway network and to Interstate 45. A new impact study finds that “158 homes, 433 apartments or condos, 486 social housing, 340 businesses, five churches and two schools” should be destroyed to expand the highway, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Here’s what it’s worth understanding about this project, according to Streetsblog, buildings for demolition are disproportionately located in low-income communities of color, many of which are within the borders of the first black municipality of Texas, Independence Heights. Road projects are often seen as signs of progress. The interstate road network has also decimated entire communities in pursuit of this progress. Check out Changing Lanes: Visions and Histories of Urban Freeways for a deep dive.
Contact me and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share thoughts, reviews, offer opinions or advice. You can also send me a direct message on Twitter – @kirstenkorosec.
Okay, it’s time to dig. Vamos.
Spin made its first foray into Europe with the launch of its electric scooters in Cologne, Germany. In the coming weeks, Spin will deploy additional scooters in Dortmund and Essen. Competitor Bird started its expansion in Europe in August 2018, while Lime has been operating electric scooters in Europe since June 2018.
Meanwhile, Wheels redeployed its scooters with self-disinfecting handlebars and brake levers in Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Austin and Orlando. This came after the company temporarily suspended services in March due to COVID-19. In addition, Wheels announced a donation program to honor George Floyd. During the first eight minutes and 46 seconds of the first outing of all drivers until June 17, 2020, Wheels will donate all proceeds to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Equal Justice initiative, Color of Change and the ACLU.
– Megan Rose Dickey
Offer of the week
This week was brimming with unusual offers. But hey, we live in a world where the NASDAQ composite has surpassed the 10,000 point mark despite details as delicate as the American economy being officially in recession and in the event of a persistent global pandemic.
Let’s start with car rental company Hertz, which received approval on Friday from a bankruptcy judge to sell up to $ 1 billion in stock. Here are the important details. Hertz filed for Chapter 11bankruptcy protection in late May. Thursday. Hertz has made an emergency request to sell up to 246.8 million unissued shares to Jefferies LLC. A judge approved the request.
The Hertz share has had a crazy wave and retail investors, particularly Robinhood users, appear to be the front seat passengers – applauding despite the likelihood that this equity will soon be wiped out. Learn more below for a more detailed breakdown of the numbers.
If you are wondering what cooks in the food delivery industry, I can tell you that there is only one specialty on the menu: consolidation with extra Sriracha. It gets spicy!
The last example is Just eat takeout, which entered into an agreement to acquire Grubhub in the United States as part of a share-sharing agreement for an enterprise value of $ 7.3 billion. The agreement has just come out of Just Eat’s merger with the Dutch site Takeaway.com. This link is juicy, and not just because it’s a big chunk of mergers and acquisitions in food delivery. It also resulted in a competitive sweep at Uber Eats, which had been working with Grubhub for more than a year to acquire the company, according to a source close to the deal.
Here are the numbers: Grubhub shareholders will receive 0.6710 Just Eat Takeaway.com common shares in exchange for each Grubhub share, representing an implied value of $ 75.15 for each Grubhub share (based on the undisturbed closing price of Just Eat Takeaway.com June 9). , 2020 from 98.602 €). This gives Grubhub a total equity consideration (on a fully diluted basis) of $ 7.3 billion.
The agreement ends a tumultuous period for Grubhub, which was also created through a combination with another rival, Seamless. You continue? Okay, you can expect more of this.
Uber may have been bitten by Grubhub, but it’s not going to shirk the food delivery industry. The public transport company unloaded its Jump micromobility game and doubled the delivery of food with its Eats activity. Uber still sees the consolidation of the food delivery industry as a path to profitability. Result: Uber searches for the next available candidate.
Other offers that caught our attention….
Instacart raised $ 225 million in a round led by DST Global and General Catalyst. Existing investor D1 Capital Partners participated in this round, bringing the valuation of Instacart to $ 13.7 billion.
Upstream security obtained expansion of its Series B financing through an investment from Salesforce Ventures. The undisclosed amount is in addition to the $ 30 million previously invested by Alliance Venture Capital (Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi), Hyundai, Nationwide Insurance, Volvo Group and others. Although the company would not share exactly the amount invested by Salesforce, sources told us that it was “a few million”.
Lillium, the German start-up that designs a fully electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft to transport passengers inside and between cities, has obtained additional funding of $ 35 million. The capital is an extension of a $ 240 million round announced by Lilium in March and notably calls on Baillie Gifford, the famous Scottish venture capital company that has supported companies like Tesla and SpaceX, Spotify and Airbnb, between other.
Dr. Remo Gerber, Lilium’s commercial director, confirmed in an interview that Lilium was in talks to add more to the round. This would match what sources told us last year when we reported that Lilium was looking to raise more than $ 400 million. For those who keep track, the total raised so far is more than $ 375 million, at an estimate which, according to sources very close to the company, now exceeds $ 1 billion.
Viaduct, a start-up that uses machine learning to provide analytics on connected vehicle data, has raised $ 11 million in Series A funding led by Innovation Endeavors and joined by Exor Seeds and Box Group. The startup, founded by CEO David Hallac, includes a mashup of Stanford and Georgia Tech machine learning academics and former Tesla employees, Facebook, Google Brain, Medallia and Boeing.
The software was developed to help automakers unlock all of the connected vehicle data they collect and turn it into revenue-generating services and features. The software analyzes the wealth of data collected on the growing number of connected vehicles so that OEMs can offer services such as predictive maintenance, personalized vehicle experiences and usage-based insurance.
BMW i Ventures announced an investment in Prometheus Fuels, an energy company that removes CO2 from the air and turns it into net zero carbon gasoline that it will sell at gas stations. BMW i Ventures did not disclose the amount of the investment.
Vroom, the online vehicle market, raised $ 468 million during its initial public offering. The company had planned to set the price of its IPO between $ 15 and $ 17 per share, according to the file. Instead, he valued 21.3 million shares at $ 22 for a fully diluted market value of around $ 2.8 billion.
Vroom is another example of investors who seem to be focusing on growth metrics and ignoring everything else. The company’s gross margin increased from 7.1% in 2018 to 4.9% in 2019 and its net losses (not including the accretion of redeemable convertible preferred shares) increased from $ 85.2 million in 2018 to 143 million dollars in 2019. These deficits continue to increase. However, the company’s revenues in the first quarter increased from $ 235.1 million in 2019 to $ 375.8 million (+ 60%) in 2020.
What we have here is not just another unprofitable unicorn, wrote Alex Wilhelm earlier this week after going through the numbers. No, we have a very low-margin, unprofitable unicorn that still generates enough investor interest to to raise its IPO range. The result? Growth is hot as hell again.
Layoffs, business disruptions and people
This section is often dominated by layoffs. But this week, there were notable hirings.
Rivian, who, last week, we announced that we have laid off 40 employees from our Plymouth, Michigan headquarters and hired key executives, is back. This time Rivian hired a rising star at GM. Alex Archer, who was GM’s design engineer, now works at Rivian as a design and publication engineer, reported the Detroit Free Press. Archer is a 2015 Stanford University graduate who spearheaded the invention of the electric sliding console found in the 2020 models of the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, Denali, Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban full-size SUVs.
Cruise did not let go in its quest to hire as many engineers and technical experts as possible. Last week, we wrote that Cruise co-founder and CTO Kyle Vogt sent an email to Zoox employees with a direct call to join his company. We do not know how this effort is going, although we have heard that it is not suitable for many Zoox employees.
But it looks like the company may have poached Louise Zhang from the clutches of electric vehicle startup Lucid Motors. Zhang, who was also a former Tesla engineer, is now Cruise’s vice president for product safety. This is a new position at Cruise. Interesting note: Zhang, who has a doctorate. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Missouri Science and Technology, also worked as a forensic consultant, advising lawyers on litigation involving complex accidents in the real world.
Uber has appointed Pradeep Parameswaran, who has overseen the transportation giant’s activities in India and South Asia for two years, as regional general manager of its operations in the Asia-Pacific region. Parameswaran will be responsible for enhancing Uber’s presence in the nine countries in the Asia-Pacific region where the company currently operates.
Nikola Motor Corporation added two industry veterans to its management team. Pablo Koziner has left Caterpillar and will now head Nikola Energy as President of Nikola Energy. Mark Duchesne was hired as global manufacturing manager. Duchesne worked at Toyota for 22 years and five years at Tesla.
Notable readings and other treats
Ah, everything for everything about the future of mobility – and even what is happening in the old conventional conventional transport.
Uber launches its Uber Cash digital wallet function in sub-Saharan Africa thanks to a partnership with the fintech based in San Francisco and in Nigeria, Flutterwave. The arrangement will allow runners to top up Uber wallets using the dozens of active money transfer partners on the Pan-African network of Flutterwave. In the article, Jake Bright of ClearTipsNews also provided an update on Uber’s operations in Africa, including the fact that the company is experimenting with shock-absorbing plastic dividers for its cars in Kenya and Nigeria.
Nikola Motor, the Arizona startup that debuted as a publicly traded company on June 4, will open reservations later this month for a hydrogen fuel cell electric pickup designed to compete with the Ford F-150. Reservations, or pre-orders, will open on June 29 for the hydrogen-electric van known as the Badger.
Nikola Motor founder and president Trevor Milton told ClearTipsNews that the Badger would go into production in 2022. But Nikola does not plan to produce the Badger alone, according to Milton. Instead, the company plans to partner with an OEM, which Milton says will be revealed later this year.
Ford has released new details on its 2020 Escape hybrid plug-in. This is the first plug-in version of the Escape and Ford is clearly aiming to compete with Toyota’s new RAV4 PRIME plug-in. (Stay tuned for a review of the RAV4 PRIME by the way). The Escape plug-in hybrid comes with an all-electric driving range estimated at 37 km by the EPA and 100 miles per gallon equivalent.
Volkswagen has started selling a home charging device as the automaker prepares to market its new family of ID electric vehicles. The ID.3 is the first electric vehicle under the ID label and will only be sold in Europe. Customers who have reserved for the launch edition, known as ID.3 1st, will be able to order their vehicle from June 17. Volkswagen announced this week that deliveries for ID.3 1st will begin in September.
Lordstown Motors plans to reveal its Endurance electric pickup at a virtual event the week of June 22, CNET’s Roadshow reported.
David Zipper, a startup and policy advisor focusing on urban planning, spotted and tweeted an interesting provision buried in the Democrats’ transportation bill. The draft bill stipulates that federal funds cannot be used for any automated vehicle providing public transit unless this supplier can show that it does not “reproduce, eliminate or reduce the frequency” of the existing service. As Zipper cleverly notes, “it would create a huge barrier to AV transportation projects.”
WHILL, the autonomous wheelchair developer based in Yokohama, Japan, is gaining ground in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company noted this week that Tokyo Haneda Airport will use the WHILL autonomous driving system to help passengers with reduced mobility move between doors. Implementation is still quite limited, serving doors three to seven of the world’s fourth busiest airport.
WHILL cites concerns over the spread of COVID-19 as a major factor in accelerating adoption, after 11 trials that have served approximately 400 passengers since 2019.
the US Department of Transportation launches the Automated Transparency and Vehicle Engagement Initiative for Safe Testing. The agency said the AV TEST initiative aims to increase transparency by providing an online platform open to the public to share the automated driving system road test activities and other relevant information with the public. . Online mapping tools will eventually show local, national and national test sites, as well as test activity data, such as vehicle types and uses, dates, frequency, number of vehicles and routes.
The USDOT will be hosting this week – starting Monday, June 15 – a series of virtual launch events aimed at raising awareness of the development and testing of automated driving systems. There are three days of events. Check it out here.
United announced the addition of 219 contactless check-in kiosks in the U.S. The new check-in option was one of many announced as part of the carrier’s CleanPlus strategy to combat travel during the pandemic .
Honda confirmed a cyber attack that halted part of its global operations. The company said in a brief statement on Tuesday that the attack had caused production problems outside its headquarters in Japan. Details of the attack are thin. An earlier report suggests that Snake ransomware is probably the culprit. Snake, like other file encryption malware, scrambles files and documents and holds them hostage for ransom, which should be paid in cryptocurrency.
Google Maps added new features to better inform travelers and commuters about how their trip may be affected by COVID-19, including travel restrictions, COVID-19 checkpoints or even overcrowding in public transport. It also adds features that will help those who visit COVID-19 test centers to better understand eligibility and facility guidelines.
We read them, so you don’t have to. But we also include links in case you want to explore further.
Kodiak Robotics is the latest AV startup to publish a voluntary self-assessment safety report. The 49-page report analyzes what the company does, how and why. I will be offering a deeper dive next week; I spoke to the founders and talked about their approach to structured highway driving. Stay tuned. In the meantime, the company has also published a few blog articles.
MIT researchers conducted a desk study and found that changes in the way roads are redone could improve the fuel consumption of heavy vehicles and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The researchers, whose study is detailed in an article in the journal Transportation Research Record, reviewed state-by-state data on weather, road lengths, material properties and road use, and modeled different scenarios for pavement resurfacing practices.
A key point to remember is that making pavements more rigid improves mileage efficiency. It is possible to make the roads more rigid in various ways, in particular by adding a small amount of synthetic fibers or carbon nanotubes to the mixture when laying asphalt or to adjust the classification of the different sizes of aggregates used in the mixed. The study also indicated that switching from bituminous coatings to concrete, which has a higher initial cost but is more durable, would result in equal or lower total life cycle costs. Important note: The research was funded by the Concrete Sustainability Hub by the Portland Cement Association and the Ready Mixed Concrete Research and Education Foundation.
Global consulting firm AlixPartners released new research last week (sorry, I missed this one) predicting the auto industry will face a cumulative drop in volume of up to 36 million vehicles this year until 2022 (relative to sales in 2019), as well as a burden of $ 72 billion in new debt added since the beginning of March this year. The AlixPartners Global Automotive Outlook: Mastering Uncertainty study also predicts that global automaker sales will be 70.5 million vehicles this year, with sales in the United States reaching 13.6 million units.
The broad study covers the supply chain, auto sales and the future of transportation (you should contact the company for the full study). AlixPartners notes that industry investment in autonomous vehicles is expected to add up to $ 79 billion from 2020 to 2025. The company has confirmed what we are already seeing and hearing: this spending rate is likely to be significantly reduced.
AlixPartners’ global sales forecast for this year includes what the company calls a “mixed speed recovery”, with China recovering the fastest, at 23 million units; followed by the United States, with 13.6 million; and Europe with only 14.1 million. And finally, AlixPartners does not see global sales return to the recent peak levels observed in 2017 until after 2025.
Bentley’s new Flying Spur
Why does Matt Burns get all the luxury rides? Who knows. But continue for a fun ride.
Here’s a little teaser:
The new Bentley Flying Spur is a super luxury sedan. It contains a larger engine than most sports cars, has four heavenly seats and slides on the road like soap on a shower floor. This example costs $ 279,000, so I wouldn’t expect anything less.
This sedan is extremely comfortable, yet it is powerful. Bentley says the W12 engine allows it to reach 207 mph, but I had no reason to verify this claim. Going fast means arriving at your destination earlier and, during my week with the new Flying Spur, I never wanted the ride to end.