Cruise rolls out autonomous ride-hailing. $50M lidar raise. Nvidia makes AV investment.
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Power struggles

Hi there,

Financing to private EV companies is roaring upward after the asset sales and bankruptcies that plagued the early 2010s. Today's $1B investment in Chanje, a California-based startup developing electric medium-duty trucks, pushed investment well over $2B in 2017 to date.

As traditional VCs have withdrawn from the EV space, funding momentum is largely being driven by deep-pocketed Asian investors. Auto and tech corporates are prominent backers; Chanje's investment was led by Hong Kong-based EV maker FGE.

Competition is fierce in the passenger car market, where incumbents are mobilizing (sorry) billions to boost EV programs. Audi alone is cutting $12B in costs to invest in electrification.

Even 14-year-old Tesla is still hungry for capital in its quest to go mainstream, now targeting a $1.5B debt offering. Although EV economics have improved vastly since Tesla's inception, EV upstarts still require constant streams of capital to reach scale.

Chanje is surely hoping to avoid the struggles of other US-based, Chinese-backed, and (initially) well-funded players like Faraday and Lucid. Among others, Chanje is seeking better fortunes with larger form factors and EV-friendly use cases. The company says its vans' 100-mile range is well-suited for urban delivery routes, which average around 70 daily miles.

Another example is Proterra, which is going head-to-head against leading electric busmakers like BYD. Its vehicles could fit nicely with short urban routes, and patents describe its fast-charge tech for top-offs in bus terminals. Check out our full Proterra case study in our 72-page EV briefing.

These bets rely on fleet operators like delivery companies and metro transit agencies swallowing significant fixed costs upfront in the hopes of drastically lowered operating costs down the line.

Though some transit agencies (particularly in the US) are strapped for cash, at least LA Metro recently set an ambitious goal of electrifying or otherwise eliminating tailpipe emissions from its 2,200+ strong bus fleet by 2030.


With each week now bringing a flood of developments in auto and transport tech, we'll make a habit of extracting highlights up top for your reading convenience:
  • The Travis Kalanick lawsuit: The week began with rumors swirling that the ex-Uber CEO was looking to muscle back into his former role, hiring "CEO advisory" firm Teneo. Early Uber investor Benchmark Capital is now suing Kalanick for his alleged power grab. The firm led the original charge behind his resignation, and currently owns about 13% of the company compared to TK's 10%.
  • AV fleets: Cruise has racked up 1,000 trips on its AV ride-hailing service for employees, which is notably operating within San Francisco city proper. After closing its Mobileye acquisition, Intel announced it would build a fleet of 100+ Level 4 autonomous vehicles.
  • SoftBank eats everything: The conglomerate and its $93B Vision Fund continue distorting the private markets funding environment; mobility is still in the crosshairs, with SoftBank mulling an Uber or Lyft deal while also partnering with bike-sharing unicorn Ofo.
  • Mazda's strategy: As a smaller player, Mazda has focused its resources on gas-engine development rather than spreading R&D across alternative powertrains. It announced a breakthrough in HCCI tech this week (which could boost fuel economy 20-30% in the near term) while also securing Toyota as a partner for EV know-how down the road.
As always, read on for the full roundup. Have a great rest of the week!


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This Week in Auto Tech
A curated mix of recent articles on auto tech financings, exits, announcements, hirings, partnerships & perspectives.

Deals & Funds
Oryx Vision grabs $50M. Third Point Ventures led the investment for the Israeli lidar producer.

TuSimple raises. Nvidia invested in the Chinese autonomous driving company for an undisclosed amount.
South China Morning Post

Preferred Networks raises $95M. Toyota's investment will further spur its joint research with the AI startup.
Tech in Asia

Denso, Toyota invest in MaaS Global. The Finnish mobility operator startup raised from several strategic backers.
Fleet Europe

Autonet Mobile snags $1.55M. Easton Capital and Valley Ventures invested in the in-car wireless connectivity startup.
CB Insights

Carvana buys Carlypso. The peer-to-peer car sales marketplace, which previously raised $1.2M, was acquired for an undisclosed amount. 

Jingyu Chuxing nabs $750K. The car rental company targeting rural populations raised from undisclosed investors.

CarDash receives $5.3M. Index Ventures and Felicis Ventures led the round for the end-to-end concierge and repair company. 

Careem raises. Didi expands its global partnerships with an investment in the Middle Eastern ride-hailing company.

Future Mobility Corp attracts $200M. The Chinese EV maker raised from undisclosed corporate and financial investors.
China Money Network

Elio Motors seeks $100M. The EV company filed to re-list on Nasdaq to raise funds to manufacture its 3-wheeled vehicle. 

Nissan sells battery business. Chinese investment firm GSR Capital will acquire several US-based battery plants.

Go-Jek branches out. The Indonesian ride-hailing company is spinning out HaloDoc, a medicine delivery service, into its own app and acquired Loket, an online ticket booking and event management system.
Tech in Asia (HaloDoc) / Tech in Asia (Loket)

SoftBank eyes mobility. The telecom company is currently weighing a stake in Uber or Lyft, and also partnering with Chinese bike-sharing company Ofo to bring dockless bike-sharing to Japan.
Reuters (Uber/Lyft) / TechCrunch (Ofo)

Bike-sharing in China. China has over 100M bike-sharing users, nearly 10% of urban dwellers.
South China Morning Post (users)

Changes at Uber. First Uber employee Ryan Graves is stepping down from SVP of operations. Garrett Camp confirmed the firm would not bring back Kalanick, who now faces a lawsuit from Benchmark Capital. Uber is still dealing with the Waymo lawsuit and is also winding down its US car leasing business due to high losses. 
Recode (Graves) / Axios (TK suit) / TechCrunch (Waymo suit) / WSJ (leasing)

Electrifying LA. The LA Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to turn its 2,200-bus fleet emission-free by 2030. 
Smart Cities Dive

Faraday's lifeline. The troubled EV company received a $14M rescue loan from Innovatus Capital Partners and announced its new California manufacturing plant. VP Human Resources Alan Cherry is the latest exec to leave the company. 
The Drive (loan) / TechCrunch (manufacturing) / The Verge (Cherry)

Model 3 and trucks. Tesla is raising $1.5B via high-yield junk bonds to support Model 3 production. More details have surfaced around its electric semi-truck, which will be capable of platooning (more on platooning trials here).
Business Insider (bonds) / Reuters (trucks)

Aurora gets CA permit. Sterling Anderson and Chris Urmson's AV startup is the 37th company approved for California road testing.

GM, Cruise rollouts. The automaker is expanding its Maven car-sharing program. Cruise Automation is rolling out Cruise Anywhere, an app that allows its employees to hail rides from its autonomous vehicles in San Francisco. GM is also learning how to play tech incubator.
The Verge (Maven) / TechCrunch (Cruise) / Forbes (incubator)

Mazda, Toyota, Honda. Mazda announced a breakthrough in HCCI tech, also announcing a joint plant and EV development plans with Toyota. Unlike its partner-happy peers, Honda continues going it alone.
Reuters (Mazda HCCI) / Bloomberg (Mazda-Toyota) / Bloomberg (Honda)

New Velodyne CFO. The sensor supplier hired tech veteran Robert Brown to further push into autonomous vehicles, after previous CFO Qing Lu left for driverless vehicle startup JingChi Corp.

Intel's AVs. The chipmaker finalized its acquisition of ADAS provider Mobileye. The company is also building a test fleet of 100+ Level 4 autonomous cars. Smart Cities Dive has a look inside Intel's new AV lab.
TechCrunch (fleet) / Smart Cities Dive (AV lab Q&A)

Articles, Perspectives, & Studies
Disrupting autos. Patrick McGee of the Financial Times sounds off on how connected cars, ridesharing, and the dominance of suppliers are pushing auto OEMs to look for other sources of revenue. 
Financial Times

The DARPA Grand Challenge: a history lesson. Alex Davies of Wired takes us through an oral history of the seminal events in the early AV days.

AV trust. Researchers at the University of Michigan published a paper on the effects of augmented situational awareness on driver trust in semi-autonomous vehicle operation. Other researchers at Virginia Tech were caught driving disguised as car seats, studying human interactions with AVs (continuing similar work done at Stanford).
University of Michigan (operation) / Wired (car seat)

Lithium cost. Reuters visualizes the increasing cost of lithium as EV development ramps up.

ADAS and driver skills. The IIHS is worried ADAS tech will atrophy driver skills; consumers would take advantage of AVs to make calls, eat, and text (though 35% would just watch the car).

Porsche 911. Bloomberg publishes a photo essay about the history of the iconic rear-engined sports car.
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