Connect with us

Government

The Station: Robotaxi roadblock and Tesla layoffs hit Autopilot team

The Station is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. Sign up here — just click The Station — to receive it every weekend in…

Published

on

The Station is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. Sign up here — just click The Station — to receive it every weekend in your inbox.

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.

Happy July 4th for all Americans, in the U.S. and abroad. On this independence day, I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom of movement — this is after all a newsletter dedicated to mobility. I’m talking about the privileges and immunities clause in the U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 2, Clause 1.

The fundamental right of movement, includes interstate travel. Consider reviewing the clause; I suspect it will get more attention in a post Roe v. Wade world.

Since this is a holiday weekend, I’ll keep this short and sweet. See you next week.

Oh, one item to flag. Our regular founder Q&A series went a bit further afield this week. Rebecca Bellan interviewed Fia Jones, who at 19 approached Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck at a party and told him she had an idea that would change the game for powering satellites. She’d be happy to tell him all about it … if he’d be willing to sign a nondisclosure agreement. Fia’s startup is Astrix Astronautics.

As always, you can email me at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share thoughts, criticisms, opinions, or tips. You also can send a direct message to @kirstenkorosec

Micromobbin’

Bird has been experiencing quite a bit of drama lately, what with the NYSE giving it a warning for trading at too low of a stock price and having to let go 23% of staff. This week, CEO Travis VanderZanden has stepped down from a role as president to be succeeded by Shane Torchiana, Bird’s COO. VanderZanden will maintain his position as CEO and chair of the board. 

Bo Mobility, a UK-based e-scooter manufacturer, recently launched a new scooter with a unibody frame that gives it a seamless, curvy appearance and a stable, smooth riding experience. The company was founded by ex-Formula One engineers, so it’s certainly got promise. 

The dawn of the electric micro-bike – like something between a scooter and a bike.

I have no idea if any of them are good, but targeted advertising has taught me that you can buy electric mototaxis wholesale off Alibaba

Gozem, a West African super app, has raised $10 million to expand its fleet of electric moto-taxis.

Global revenue from shared mobility, including car rentals, ride hailing and bike-share apps, are expected to generate an annual revenue of $660 billion in 2030, which is nearly 40% increase from revenue generated in 2020. 

Numan, a German-Indian startup, is using Audi-sourced second life batteries to bring electric rickshaws to India.

Populus was selected as the mobility management program for the new launch of Chicago’s permanent shared scooter program. The company will share vehicle and trip data with the city so it can manage vehicle caps, parking policies, equity zones, curb management solutions and more. In other Populus news, former Spin CEO Ben Bear has signed on as an advisor to the company.

Why e-bike companies need to give their vehicles USB-C charging.

The UK is extending shared scooter trials until May 2024!

Velotric, a mobility startup led by Lime’s hardware co-founder Adam Zhang, has launched its first e-bike, the Discover 1. It’s got a straight back riding posture so it’s comfortable to ride, a range of 60 miles on a single charge, a removable battery pack and it’s not too expensive – $1,399. 

 — Rebecca Bellan

Deal of the week

money the station

Every time I drive an EV on a long road trip — that is not a Tesla — I’m disappointed by the charging infrastructure in the United States. Maybe this deal will change that.

I’m talking about Volkswagen Group subsidiary Electrify America raising $450 million in a deal that includes its first external investor as it aims to accelerate its rollout of ultra-fast charging stations in the U.S. and Canada.

The deal, which values North America’s largest ultra-fast EV charging network at $2.45 billion, includes more than $100 million from German industrial company Siemens and additional capital from VW Group.

Other deals that got my attention …

Bykea, Pakistani bike ride-sharing and on-demand delivery startup, raised $10 million from existing backers Prosus Ventures, MEVP, Sarmayacar, Tharros and Ithaca Capital.

Clarios International, a low-voltage vehicle battery manufacturer based in Wisconsin, revived its IPO. The company disclosed plans to raise up to $100 million. Renaissance Capital notes this is likely a placeholder for a deal and estimates the company could raise up to $1 billion.

Mottu, a São Paulo-based motorcycle rental startup, raised $30 million in equity in a Series B round of funding. The company also secured $10 million in debt financing.

Paragon ID, a provider of identification solutions for e-ID, transport and smart cities, traceability, brand protection and payment, acquired UrbanThings. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Tenet, a drive now, pay later fintech startup focused on EV auto loans, raised $18 million in a seed round led by San Francisco-based Human Capital and London’s Giant Ventures.

Zipp Mobility raised a $6.1 million Series A to expand beyond Ireland into Europe.

Notable reads and other tidbits

Advanced driver assistance systems

Tesla gutted the data annotation team working on Autopilot, laying off nearly 200 employees and shutting down the San Mateo, California office where they worked.

Autonomous vehicles

Cruise robotaxis stopped operating and sat in a street in San Francisco late Tuesday night, blocking traffic for a couple of hours until employees arrived and manually moved the autonomous vehicles.

Aurora, Luminar, UPS and Waymo are among a group of 34 autonomous vehicle developers, California business organizations, and automotive and logistics companies that signed an open letter to Governor Gavin Newsom asking him to revisit the California Department of Motor Vehicles’s 2015 prohibition on the operation of autonomous trucks in the state.

Waymo’s most serious crash to date (which was not its fault) and that involved a self-driving truck might have resulted in only moderate injuries, but it exposed how unprepared local government and law enforcement are to deal with the new technology.

Waymo announced a partnership with JB Hunt to deliver goods for its customer Wayfair in a pilot program.

Electric vehicles & batteries

CATL, a battery behemoth in China, might not be a household name. But it should be. Check out this feature on CATL and the man who runs it.

Cadillac is reportedly pricing the Celestiq, the brand’s halo EV set to debut during Monterey Car Week in August, around $300,000. TechCrunch looks at Cadillac’s large-scale ambitions for this small-batch car.

Canoo might be facing more problems, this time on the factory side of things. Tulsa World reports that plans by Canoo to build a production plant at Mid-America Industrial Park may be delayed by unfavorable economic conditions.

Drako Motors, an EV startup, released details on its 2,000-horsepower Drako Dragon Super-SUV.

Hyundai previewed the IONIQ 6 sedan, the heavily-anticipated follow-up to the brand’s popular first battery-electric model, the IONIQ 5 SUV. The automaker won’t announce details such as the IONIQ 6’s price range and production run size until the vehicle’s world premiere in July.

J.D. Power released its U.S. Initial Quality Study and found that  battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids have more problems than the average car.

LFP batteries: An older, cheaper and safer battery technology already dominating China’s electric vehicle industry is now poised to reshape battery manufacturing worldwide and boost EV sales in the United States, Jaclyn Trop reports in this TC+ deep dive.

Nikola adjourned its annual meeting to July 18, giving the company time to lobby shareholders to pass a money-raising measure to issue more shares of common stock.

Rivian opened its first three EV fast charging sites in California and Colorado as part of the automaker’s bid to build out an “adventure” network along interstates as well as locations near recreational activities aligned with its customer base

Tesla delivered 254,695 electric vehicles globally in the second quarter, a nearly 18% drop from the previous period as supply chain constraints, China’s extended COVID-19 lockdown and challenges around opening factories in Berlin and Austin took their toll on the company. The QoQ drop is the first in two years.

Volkswagen Group unveiled its ID. AERO concept in China, which is mean to serve as the inspiration behind the automaker’s flagship EV, and first-ever global all-electric sedan, next year.

In-car tech

BMW Group tapped Valeo to provide the advanced driver assistance system for the automaker’s new electric vehicle platform due to launch in 2025.

Updates to a right to repair law in Massachusetts prompted automakers represented by the Alliance for Automotive Innovation to file a lawsuit. The outcome has been delayed yet again. A federal judge postponed a decision this past week — the third time since March that the long-awaited ruling has been delayed.

People

Activist investors are shouting for the Securities and Exchange Commission to intervene in Tesla’s shrinking board.

Hyzon Motors appointed Shawn Yadon president of commerical. He will be responsible for the commercialization of the North American market while supporting Hyzon’s strategic position of the production and sales of its hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Owen Diaz, a former elevator operator at Tesla’s Fremont factory who accused the company of racial discrimination, will once again face off against the automaker in court.

Volta, the EV charging network, appointed Yifan Tang as Chief Technology Officer.

Woven Planet Holdings, a subsidiary of Toyota Motor, hired John Absmeier as chief technology officer, effective July 25, 2022. He will report to Woven Planet CEO James Kuffner.

 

Read More

Continue Reading

Government

Coronavirus dashboard for October 5: an autumn lull as COVID-19 evolves towards seasonal endemicity

  – by New Deal democratBack in August I highlighted some epidemiological work by Trevor Bedford about what endemic COVID is likely to look like, based…

Published

on

 

 - by New Deal democrat

Back in August I highlighted some epidemiological work by Trevor Bedford about what endemic COVID is likely to look like, based on the rate of mutations and the period of time that previous infection makes a recovered person resistant to re-infection. Here’s his graph:




He indicated that it “illustrate[s] a scenario where we end up in a regime of year-round variant-driven circulation with more circulation in the winter than summer, but not flu-like winter seasons and summer troughs.”

In other words, we could expect higher caseloads during regular seasonal waves, but unlike influenza, the virus would never entirely recede into the background during the “off” seasons.

That is what we are seeing so far this autumn.

Confirmed cases have continued to decline, presently just under 45,000/day, a little under 1/3rd of their recent summer peak in mid-June. Deaths have been hovering between 400 and 450/day, about in the middle of their 350-550 range since the beginning of this past spring:



The longer-term graph of each since the beginning of the pandemic shows that, at their present level cases are at their lowest point since summer 2020, with the exception of a brief period during September 2020, the May-July lull in 2021, and the springtime lull this year. Deaths since spring remain lower than at any point except the May-July lull of 2021:



Because so many cases are asymptomatic, or people confirm their cases via home testing but do not get confirmation by “official” tests, we know that the confirmed cases indicated above are lower than the “real” number. For that, here is the long-term look from Biobot, which measures COVID concentrations in wastewater:



The likelihood is that there are about 200,000 “actual” new cases each day at present. But even so, this level is below any time since Delta first hit in summer 2021, with the exception of last autumn and this spring’s lulls.

Hospitalizations show a similar pattern. They are currently down 50% since their summer peak, at about 25,000/day:



This is also below any point in the pandemic except for briefly during September 2020, the May-July 2021 low, and this past spring’s lull.

The CDC’s most recent update of variants shows that BA.5 is still dominant, causing about 81% of cases, while more recent offshoots of BA.2, BA.4, and BA.5 are causing the rest. BA’s share is down from 89% in late August:



But this does not mean that the other variants are surging, because cases have declined from roughly 90,000 to 45,000 during that time. Here’s how the math works out:

89% of 90k=80k (remaining variants cause 10k cases)
81% of 45k=36k (remaining variants cause 9k cases)

The batch of new variants have been dubbed the “Pentagon” by epidmiologist JP Weiland, and have caused a sharp increase in cases in several countries in Europe and elsewhere. Here’s what she thinks that means for the US:


But even she is not sure that any wave generated by the new variants will exceed summer’s BA.5 peak, let alone approach last winter’s horrible wave:



In summary, we have having an autumn lull as predicted by the seasonal model. There will probably be a winter wave, but the size of that wave is completely unknown, primarily due to the fact that probably 90%+ of the population has been vaccinated and/or previously infected, giving rise to at least some level of resistance - a disease on its way to seasonal endemicity.

Read More

Continue Reading

Government

JOLTs jolted: Did the Fed break the labour market?

In the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) August release of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report, the number of job openings, a measure…

Published

on

In the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) August release of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report, the number of job openings, a measure of demand for labour, fell to 10.1 million. This was short of market estimates of 11 million and lower than last month’s level of 11.2 million.

It also marked the fifth consecutive month of decreases in job openings this year, while the August unemployment rate had ticked higher to 3.7%, near a five-decade low.

In the latest numbers, the total job openings were the lowest reported since June 2021, while incredibly, the decline in vacancies of 1.1 million was the sharpest in two decades save for the extraordinary circumstances in April 2020. 

Healthcare services, other services and retail saw the deepest declines in job openings of 236,000, 183,000, and 143,000, respectively.

With total jobs in some of these sectors settling below pre-pandemic levels, the Fed’s push for higher borrowing costs may finally be restricting demand for workers in these areas.

The levels of hires, quits and layoffs (collectively known as separations) were little changed from July.

The quits rate (a percentage of total employment in the month), a proxy for confidence in the market was steady at 2.8%.

Source: US BLS

From a bird’s eye view, 1.7 openings were available for each unemployed person, cooling from 2.0 in the month prior but still above the historic average. 

The market still appears favourable for workers but seems to have begun showing signs of fatigue.

Ian Shepherdson, Economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics noted that it was too soon to suggest if a new trend had started to emerge, and said,

…this is the first official indicator to point unambiguously, if not necessarily reliably, to a clear slowing in labour demand.

Nick Bunker, Head of Economic Research at Indeed, also stated,

The heat of the labour market is slowly coming down to a slow boil as demand for hiring new workers fades.

Ironically, equities surged as investors pinned their hopes on weakness in headline jobs numbers being the sign of breakage the Fed needed to pull back on its tightening.

Kristen Bitterly, Citi Global Wealth’s head of North American investments added,

(In the past, in) 8 out of the 10 bear markets, we have seen bounces off the lows of 10%…and not just one but several, this is very common in this type of environment.

The worst may be yet to come

As for the health of the economy, after much seesawing in its projections, which swung between 0.3% as recently as September 27 and as high as 2.7% just a couple of weeks earlier, the Atlanta Fed GDPNow estimate was finalized at a sharply rebounding 2.3% for Q3, earlier in the week.

Rod Von Lipsey, Managing Director, UBS Private Wealth Management was optimistic and stated,

…looking for a stronger fourth quarter, and traditionally, the fourth quarter is a good part of the year for stocks.

As I reported in a piece last week, a crucial consideration that has been brought up many a time is the unknown around policy lags.

Cathie Wood, Ark Invest CEO and CIO noted that the Fed has increased rates an incredible 13-fold in a span of just a few months, which is in stark contrast to the rate doubling engineered by Governor Volcker over the span of a decade.

Pedro da Costa, a veteran Fed reporter and previously a fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, emphasized that once the Fed tightens policy, there is no way to know when this may be fully transmitted to the economy, which could lie anywhere between 6 to 18 months.

The JOLTs report reflects August data while the Fed has continued to tighten. This raises the probability that the Fed may have already done too much, and the environment may be primed to send the jobs market into a tailspin.

Several recent indicators suggest that the labour market is getting ready for a significant deceleration.

For instance, new orders contracted aggressively to 47.1. Although still expansionary, ISM manufacturing data fell sharply to 50.9 global, factory employment plummeted to 48.7, global PMI receded into contractionary territory at 49.8, its lowest level since June 2020 while durable goods declined 0.2%.

Moreover, transpacific shipping rates, a leading indicator absolutely crashed, falling 75% Y-o-Y on weaker demand and overbought inventories.

Steven van Metre, a certified financial planner and frequent collaborator at Eurodollar University, argued

“…the next thing to go is the job market.“

A recent study by KPMG which collated opinions of over 400 CEOs and business leaders at top US companies, found that a startling 91% of respondents expect a recession within the next 12 months. Only 34% of these think that it would be “mild and short.”

More than half of the CEOs interviewed are looking to slash jobs and cut headcount.

Similarly, a report by Marcum LLP in collaboration with Hofstra University found that 90% of surveyed CEOs were fearful of a recession in the near future.

It also found that over a quarter of company heads had already begun layoffs or planned to do so in the next twelve months.

Simply put, American enterprises are not buying the Fed’s soft-landing plans.

A slew of mass layoffs amid overwhelming inventories and a weak consumer impulse will result in a rapid decline in price pressures, exacerbating the threat of too much tightening.

Upcoming data

On Friday, the markets will be focused on the BLS’s non-farm payrolls data. Economists anticipate a comparatively small addition of jobs, likely to be near 250,000, which would mark the smallest monthly increase this year.

In a world where interest rates are still rising, demand is giving way, the prevailing sentiment is weak and companies are burdened by excessive inventories, can job cuts be far behind?

The post JOLTs jolted: Did the Fed break the labour market? appeared first on Invezz.

Read More

Continue Reading

International

Trade Deficit decreased to $67.4 Billion in August

From the Department of Commerce reported:The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis announced today that the goods and services deficit was $67.4 billion in August, down $3.1 billion from $70.5 billion in July, revised.August exp…

Published

on

From the Department of Commerce reported:
The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis announced today that the goods and services deficit was $67.4 billion in August, down $3.1 billion from $70.5 billion in July, revised.

August exports were $258.9 billion, $0.7 billion less than July exports. August imports were $326.3 billion, $3.7 billion less than July imports.
emphasis added
Click on graph for larger image.

Exports increased and imports decreased in August.

Exports are up 20% year-over-year; imports are up 14% year-over-year.

Both imports and exports decreased sharply due to COVID-19 and have now bounced back.

The second graph shows the U.S. trade deficit, with and without petroleum.

U.S. Trade Deficit The blue line is the total deficit, and the black line is the petroleum deficit, and the red line is the trade deficit ex-petroleum products.

Note that net, imports and exports of petroleum products are close to zero.

The trade deficit with China increased to $37.4 billion in August, from $21.7 billion a year ago.

The trade deficit was slightly lower than the consensus forecast.

Read More

Continue Reading

Trending