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Hello friends and first readers. Welcome back to The Station, a newsletter covering all current and future ways that people and packages get from point A to point B. I am your host, Kirsten Korosec, chief transport reporter at theinformationsuperhighway.
COVID-19 has not disappeared in case you are wondering. And yet city, county, and state governments continue to open economies, some more slowly than others. The calm and sleepy streets of subway areas around the world are bustling again. Yes, the congestion is back and worse in some areas than before COVID. Take San Francisco as an example. The San Francisco County Transportation Authority has introduced a traffic jam tracker that provides a weekly overview of vehicle speeds in its network. Try it out and see how it has changed.
The photo below of a freeway system in the Los Angeles area is a reminder of how COVID-19 and subsequent orders to stay at home reduced traffic.
We will monitor over the coming weeks and months whether cities will maintain some of the pedestrian, bike, and scooter-friendly initiatives that were taken during the COVID-related closures. We assume that this is a mixed bag, which depends heavily on how squeaky these wheels are (we are talking about the pressure from residents, activists and the business world).
A freeway project worth seeing is the $ 7 billion project to rebuild most of the freeway system in downtown Houston and to redirect and expand it Interstate 45. A new impact study shows that "158 houses, 433 apartments or condos, 486 public housing units, 340 companies, five churches and two schools" would have to be destroyed to expand the freeway, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Streetsblog believes that this project should be understood. The buildings planned for demolition are disproportionately in low-income color communities, including many within the boundaries of Texas' first black-shaped community, Independence Heights. Highway projects are often seen as a sign of progress. The Interstate Highway System also decimated entire communities to achieve this progress. Check out the lane change: visions and stories of urban highways for a deep dive.
Contact me and send me an email at email@example.com to exchange thoughts, criticism, opinions or tips. You can also send me a direct message on Twitter – @kirstenkorosec.
Okay, time to dig in. Vamos.
Spin made its first trip to Europe with the introduction of its electric scooters in Cologne. In the coming weeks, Spin will use more scooters in Dortmund and Essen. Competitor Bird started expanding to Europe in August 2018, while Lime has been operating electric scooters in Europe since June 2018.
In the meantime, Wheels implemented its self-disinfecting handlebars and brake levers in Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Austin and Orlando. This happened after the company temporarily suspended its services in March due to COVID-19. In addition, Wheels announced a donation program in honor of George Floyd. For the first eight minutes and 46 seconds of all riders' first rides by 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 overflowing with unusual deals. But hey, we live in a world where the NASDAQ network has passed the 10,000 point milestone, even though the US economy is formally in recession and a continuing global pandemic.
Let's start with the car rental company Hertz, which received approval on Friday from a judge in the process of bankruptcy to sell shares worth up to $ 1 billion. Here are the important details. Hertz submitted for Chapter 11Bankruptcy protection at the end of May. On Thursday. hertz applied for the sale of up to 246.8 million unissued shares to Jefferies LLC in an emergency. A judge approved the request.
Hertz stock was on a wild ride and retail investors, particularly robinhood users, seem to be in the front seat, despite the likelihood that this equity could be wiped out soon. Read below for a deeper breakdown of the numbers.
If you are wondering what is cooked in the food industry, I can tell you that there is only one specialty on the menu: consolidation with additional sriracha. It's getting hot!
The latest example is Just eat to gowho entered into an agreement to acquire Grubhub in the United States as part of an all-share deal for an enterprise value of $ 7.3 billion. The deal comes immediately after Just Eat merges with Dutch company Takeaway.com. This connection is juicy and not just because it is a big piece of M&A in the delivery of food. According to a source familiar with the deal, this also led to a slump in competition at Uber Eats, which has been working with Grubhub for more than a year to acquire the company.
Here are the numbers: Grubhub shareholders receive 0.6710 Just Eat Takeaway.com common shares in return for each Grubhub share, which is an implicit value of $ 75.15 for each Grubhub share (based on Just Eat's undisturbed closing price Takeaway.com on June 9, 2020 from € 98.602). This gives Grubhub an equity investment (with full dilution) of $ 7.3 billion.
The deal closes a turbulent time for Grubhub, which is also the result of a combination with another rival, Seamless. Keep up? Well, you can expect more from that.
Uber may have been bitten by Grubhub, but it won't leave the food industry. The ride hail business dumped its micro-mobility game Jump and doubled the delivery of food with its eats business. Uber continues to see a path to profitability in the consolidation of the food industry. The conclusion: Uber sniffs for the next available candidate.
Other offers that caught our attention….
Instacart secured $ 225 million in a round led by DST Global and General Catalyst. Existing investor D1 Capital Partners participated in the round, bringing Instacart's valuation to $ 13.7 billion.
Upstream security secured an expansion of Series B funding with an investment from Salesforce Ventures. The undisclosed amount adds to the $ 30 million previously invested by Alliance Venture Capital (Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi), Hyundai, Nationwide Insurance, the Volvo Group and others. The company wouldn't tell exactly how much Salesforce invested told us it was "a few million."
LilliumThe German startup, which designs an all-electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft for the transportation of passengers within and between cities, received additional funding of $ 35 million. The capital is an extension of a round of $ 240 million Lilium announced in March, and will bring in particular Baillie Gifford, the famous Scottish venture company that has supported Tesla and SpaceX, Spotify and Airbnb, among others.
Dr. Remo Gerber, Lilium's chief commercial officer, confirmed in an interview that Lilium is in talks to add more to the group. This would be consistent with the sources we were told last year when we reported that Lilium wanted to raise more than $ 400 million. For those who stay on top of things, the total raised so far is more than $ 375 million. The valuation, which sources close to the company confirm, is now over $ 1 billion.
viaduct, a startup that uses machine learning to provide analytics on connected vehicle data, raised $ 11 million in Series A funds led by Innovation Endeavors and supported by Exor Seeds and Box Group. Founded by CEO David Hallac, the startup includes a mashup of machine learning academics from Stanford and Georgia Tech, as well as former Tesla employees. Facebook, Google Brain, Medallia and Boeing.
The software was developed to help car manufacturers unlock all of the connected vehicle data they collect and convert it into revenue-generating services and functions. The software analyzes the data that has been collected from the increasing number of connected vehicles so that OEMs can offer services such as predictive maintenance, personalized experience in the vehicle and usage-based insurance.
BMW i Ventures announced an investment in Prometheus Fuels, an energy company that removes CO2 from the air and converts it to carbon-free gasoline that is sold at petrol stations. BMW i Ventures has not announced the amount of the investment.
VroomThe online vehicle market brought in $ 468 million at the IPO. The company had planned to value its initial public offering between $ 15 and $ 17 per share. Instead, 21.3 million shares were valued at $ 22 for a fully diluted market value of around $ 2.8 billion.
Vroom is another example of investors who seem to focus on growth metrics and ignore everything else. The company's gross margin decreased from 7.1% in 2018 to 4.9% in 2019, and net losses (excluding the redemption of redeemable convertible preference shares) increased from $ 85.2 million in 2018 to 143 million. USD in 2019. These deficits continue to increase. However, the company's revenue 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, Alex Wilhelm wrote earlier this week after looking through the numbers. No, we have a very low-margin, unprofitable unicorn that still attracts enough investor interest to increase its IPO reach. The result? The growth is hot as hell again.
Layoffs, breakdowns and people
This section is often dominated by layoffs. But there were some notable shots this week.
Rivian, The last week that we reported having fired 40 people from our headquarters in Plymouth, Michigan and hired some key executives is back. This time Rivian hired an emerging star at GM. Alex Archer, who was GM's design engineer, is now working at Rivian as a design and release engineer, the Detroit Free Press reported. Archer is a 2015 Stanford University graduate who led the full-size invention of the Power Sliding Console in the 2020 models of the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, Denali, Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban SUVs.
cruise hasn't let go of the gas to hire as many engineers and technical experts as possible. Last week we wrote about the co-founder of Cruise and CTO Kyle Vogt, who emailed Zoox employees with a direct call to join his company. We are not sure how these efforts will go, although we have heard that many Zoox employees do not like them.
But it seems that the company Louise Zhang was able to lure the claws of the electric vehicle startup Lucid Motors. Zhang, who was also a former Tesla engineer, is now Cruise's vice president of product safety. This is a new position at Cruise. Interesting side note: Zhang, the Ph.D. He studied mechanical engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology and also worked as a forensic consultant. He advised lawyers on litigation with complex real crashes.
Over appointed Pradeep Parameswaran, who led the giant's business in India and South Asia for two years, as regional general manager of its activities in the Asia-Pacific region. Parameswaran is mandated to improve Uber's presence in the nine Asia Pacific countries where the company currently operates.
Nikola Motor Corporation has expanded its management team with two industry veterans. Pablo Koziner left Caterpillar and, as President of Nikola Energy, will lead the hydrogen business as Nikola’s fuel and battery charger. Mark Duchesne was hired as the global head of manufacturing. Duchesne worked at Toyota for 22 years and at Tesla for five years.
Notable readings and other delicacies
Ah, the catch for everything else that has to do with the future of mobility – and even what happens in normal old conventional transport.
Over launches its digital wallet function Uber Cash in sub-Saharan Africa through a partnership with the San Francisco-based fintech company Flutterwave. The arrangement allows drivers to top up Uber wallets with the dozens of referral partners active in Flutterwave's pan-African network. In the article, theinformationsuperhighway's Jake Bright also updated Uber's activities in Africa, including the fact that the company is experimenting with impact-resistant plastic parts for its cars in Kenya and Nigeria.
Nikola MotorThe Arizona startup, which debuted as a listed company on June 4, will open reservations later this month for an electric pickup with hydrogen fuel cells designed to compete with the Ford F-150. Reservations or pre-orders for the hydrogen-electric pickup truck known as Badger will open on June 29th.
Nikola Motor's founder and chairman, Trevor Milton, told theinformationsuperhighway that the Badger will go into production in 2022. However, according to Milton, Nikola does not plan to produce the Badger itself. Instead, the company plans to partner with an OEM, which Milton says will be announced later this year.
ford released new details for its 2020 Escape Plug-In Hybrid. This is the first plug-in version of the Escape, and Ford is clearly keen to compete with the new Toyota RAV4 PRIME plug-in. (Be curious about a review of the RAV4 PRIME by the way). The Escape plug-in hybrid has an EPA-estimated all-electric range of 37 miles and an equivalent of 100 miles per gallon.
Volkswagen began selling a home charger as the automaker was preparing to launch its new ID family of electric vehicles. The ID.3 is the first electric vehicle under the ID label and is only sold in Europe. Customers who have made reservations for the Launch Edition known as ID.3 1st can order their vehicle from June 17th. Volkswagen announced this week that delivery for the ID.3 1st will begin in September.
Lordstown Motors CNET's roadshow reports that it plans to unveil its electric pickup endurance in a virtual event in the week of June 22.
David Zipper, a startup and political consultant who focused on urban planning, discovered and tweeted an interesting provision that was included in the House Democrats' transportation bill. The draft law states that federal funds cannot be used for automated vehicles that offer public transportation unless this provider can demonstrate that it is not "duplicating, eliminating, or reducing frequency" of existing services. As Zipper cleverly notes, "this would create an enormous barrier for AV transit projects."
WHILLThe developer of autonomous wheelchairs based in Yokohama, Japan is gaining momentum in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company announced this week that Haneda Airport in Tokyo will use the WHILL Autonomous Drive System to help passengers with reduced mobility between the gates. The implementation is still quite limited and serves gates three to seven at the fourth largest airport in the world.
WHILL mentions concerns about the prevalence of COVID-19 as a key driver for accelerating adoption after eleven attempts, which have seen around 400 passengers participate since 2019.
The U.S. Department of Transportation launches the initiative for automated vehicle transparency and commitment to safe tests. The agency said the AV TEST initiative aims to increase transparency by providing a publicly available online platform where automated driving system on-road test activities and other relevant information can be shared with the public. Finally, online mapping tools display test locations at local, state, and national levels, as well as test activity data such as vehicle types and uses, data, frequency, number of vehicles, and routes.
USDOT will host a series of virtual kick-off events next week, starting Monday, June 15, to raise awareness of the development and testing of automated powertrain systems. There are three event days. Check it out here.
United announced the addition of 219 non-contact check-in machines in the United States. The new check-in option was one of several initiatives announced as part of the airline's CleanPlus strategy to combat travel during the pandemic.
Honda confirmed a cyber attack that brought parts of its global activities to a standstill. The company said in a brief statement on Tuesday that the attack caused production problems outside of its headquarters in Japan. Details of the attack are slim. An earlier report suggests that the snake ransomware is the likely culprit. Like other malware that encrypts files, Snake encrypts files and documents and holds them hostage for a ransom that is expected to be paid in cryptocurrency.
Google Maps has added new features to better inform travelers and commuters about how COVID-19 can affect their travel, including travel restrictions, COVID-19 checkpoints, or even congestion in public transport. Features are also added to help those traveling to COVID-19 test centers understand the eligibility and establishment guidelines.
We read them so you don't have to. We also add links if you need more information.
Kodiak Robotics is the latest AV startup that publishes a voluntary self-assessment security report. The 49-page report looks at what the company does, how and why. I will offer a deeper dive next week; I talked to the founders and about their approach to structured driving on highways. Stay tuned. In the meantime, the company has also published some blog posts.
MIT researchers conducted a theoretical study and found that changes in the way roads are re-paved can improve mileage for heavy vehicles and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The researchers, whose study is described in an article in the Transportation Research Record, examined state-to-state data on climate conditions, road lengths, material properties and road use and modeled different scenarios for surface renewal of sidewalks.
An important aspect is that a stiffer road surface improves mileage efficiency. Road stiffness can be achieved in a number of ways, including adding a small amount of synthetic fibers or carbon nanotubes to the mix when laying asphalt or adjusting the classification of the different sizes of the aggregates used in the mix. The study also said moving from asphalt to concrete, which has higher initial costs but is more durable, would result in the same or lower overall life cycle costs. Important side note:: Research was supported by the Concrete Sustainability Hub from the Portland Cement Association and the Ready Mixed Concrete Research and Education Foundation.
Global consulting company AlixPartners published new research results last week (sorry folks, I missed this one) that predicts the automotive industry will see a cumulative volume decrease of up to 36 million vehicles by 2022 (compared to 2019 sales) and a burden of 72 billion US dollars have been added to new debt since early March this year. The AlixPartners Global Automotive Outlook: Mastering Uncertainty study also predicts that global automaker sales this year will be 70.5 million vehicles, with sales in the US reaching 13.6 million units.
The comprehensive study covers the supply chain, car sales, and the future of transportation (you must contact the company for the full study). AlixPartners notes that industrial investment in autonomous vehicles should total $ 79 billion between 2020 and 2025. The company confirmed what we are already seeing and hearing: this spending ratio is likely to be significantly reduced.
AlixPartners' worldwide sales forecast for this year includes a so-called "mixed-speed recovery", in which China is recovering fastest with 23 million units. followed by the US with 13.6 million; and Europe at only 14.1 million. And finally, after 2025, AlixPartners only sees that global sales will return to the recent highs of 2017.
Review: Bentley's new Flying Spur
Why does Matt Burns get all the luxury rides? Who knows. But follow for a fun ride.
Here's a little taste:
The Bentley's new Flying Spur is a luxury super sedan. It has a larger engine than most sports cars, four heavenly seats, and glides across the street like soap on a shower floor. This example costs $ 279,000, so I wouldn't expect anything less.
This limousine is extremely comfortable and yet offers a strong punch. Bentley says the W12 engine does it at 207 mph, although I had no reason to verify this claim. Driving fast means arriving at a destination earlier, and during my week with the new Flying Spur I never wanted the trip to end.