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Welcome back to The Station, your central hub for all the past, present and future ways to move people and packages from Point A to Point B.
This week, we’re going to slow things down due to the Veteran’s Day holiday; don’t worry, we have more for you to catch up on.
But first, a fun thing.
LTA Research, the Sergey Brin-backed startup, took the wraps off its prototype electric airship – the largest plane in the world – right in the heart of Silicon Valley. As contributor Mark Harris writes, the airship — its snow-white steampunk profile visible from the busy 101 highway — takes on drone technology like fly-by-wire controls, electric motors and lidar sensing, and supersized it to longer than three Boeings. 737s, potentially carrying tons of cargo over hundreds of miles.
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Ridepanda, the D2C micromobility marketplace launched by a couple of Bird, Lime and Scoot alumni in 2020, has made a significant business pivot focusing on enterprise level business. Now, instead of selling different models of e-bikes and e-scooters from leading brands to customers across the country, Ridepanda has become an end-to-end solution for owners – like Amazon and Google – to provide benefits to commuter employees.
The key takeaways here are 1) What is not available in D2C; and 2) Why they chose B2B2E. The tl;dr is that creating a supply chain and service set up for many different brands across the US is very difficult, and businesses are doing their best today to get people back into the office and reach the objectives of sustainability.
Technology continues to penetrate micromobility. For example, Gogoro, the Taiwanese two-wheeler battery-swapping giant, said its smart electric scooter can now be unlocked and turned on with the rider’s Apple Wallet key on their iPhone or Apple Watch. Car owners can also share their scooter key with other iOS users.
— Rebecca Bellan
Deal of the week
Robotaxi companies Cruise and Waymo have gotten most of the attention — and lately, not the good kind. Meanwhile, another autonomous car startup is calling With Mobility operates quietly in the background, which co-founder and CEO Edwin Olson told TechCrunch by design.
That under-the-radar approach — likely helped by its B2B business model — hasn’t stopped it from raising money. May Mobility has raised $105 million in a Series D round led by Japanese telecom giant NTT. Toyota Ventures, BMW i Ventures, Trucks VC and State Farm Ventures also participated in the deal, among other investors. To date, the company has raised nearly $300 million.
Other deals that caught my attention…
EasyPark Group, a mobile paid parking company, said it intends to acquire Flowbird Group, which operates under the brands Flowbird, YourParkingSpace, TPARK, Extenso Cloud, and Yellowbrick. Flowbird offers many services such as pay and display machines, software, and “park and charge.”
hovera pay-by-mile insurance tech startup based in Paris, raised €3.5 million ($3.75 million) seed funding led by Swiss insurer Helvetia. Frenchfounders fund, former Sarenza CEO Stéphane Treppoz, Optimind founder Christophe Eberlé, Voodoo co-founder Laurent Ritter and Sorare co-founder Adrien Montfort also participated.
gether, the Turkish instant grocery delivery startup, has acquired FreshDirect, an online grocery delivery service based in New York.
Niron Magnetics, a Minnesota-based startup developing unique landless permanent magnets, has raised $33 million with new investments from GM Ventures and Stellantis Ventures. Earlier investors Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the University of Minnesota also participated. The company plans to use the funds to expand its pilot production facilities and scale up its capacity to produce “clean earth magnets.” The CEO told me the company plans to double its 60-person workforce by the end of 2023 and double it again in 2024.
Zeekranother Geely company, is preparing for a US IPO.
Great reads and other tidbits
navigationand its parent company GM, is still dealing with the aftermath of an incident on October 2 that left a woman, who was first hit by a human driver, trapped underneath and then dragged by a robotaxi. Just this week, the company halted production of custom-built Origin vehicles, recalled a fleet of 950 vehicles equipped with autonomous vehicle software and laid off contract workers responsible for maintenance and operations without’ y driver. Meanwhile, the California Public Utilities Commission issued an order halting enforcement of Cruise’s permit to charge robotaxi riders across San Francisco 24/7 while they consider the city’s request for a rehearing that granted the permit.
Ghost Autonomy said it plans to begin exploring applications of multimodal large language models (LLMs) — AI models that can understand text as well as images — in self-driving through the OpenAI Startup Fund, which provides early access to OpenAI systems and Azure resources from Microsoft , OpenAI’s close collaborator, plus a $5 million investment. TechCrunch reporter Kyle Wiggers found that experts are skeptical and say that LLMs are the wrong tool for self-driving.
Motional and Uber Eats working together to autonomously deliver food from Shake Shack.
Waymo began winter testing its robotaxis in Buffalo, New York.
Electric vehicles, batteries and charging
rum introduced the 2025 Ramcharger — an electric truck that draws EV juice from a gas-powered generator. Based on feedback from some readers, this is going to be a polarizing car. Some people are extremely excited and call it the perfect truck; others resent the EV branding.
Polestar held its inaugural Polestar Day to showcase its vision for the future: new tech and next-generation vehicles that the Swedish EV company owned by China’s Geely Holdings hopes will stimulate sales and stimulate a period of growth. But as contributor Abigail Bassett notes, the event was very different from today.
Lucid no maximum income reports. The company revised its production outlook to 2023 amid softening demand for expensive electric vehicles. Meanwhile, the company has jumped on the Tesla charging standard bandwagon.
Lyft reported 22.4 million active riders in the third quarter, up from 21.5 million in the second quarter and 19.6 million in the first. The growth suggests its strategy of slashing ride-hail fares to compete with Uber has resulted in slow and steady wins for the company, but competition remains fierce. Get the full Q3 rundown here. The ride-hailing company also said it will introduce a “cheaper type of higher end trip” in an attempt to offer ride-hail products that customers want, according to the CEO.
Rivian continued to close the gap on losses, reduce costs and increase production in the third quarter with results that beat Wall Street’s expectations and suggest a rosier future, including raising its annual production guidance from 52,000 to 54,000 vehicles. The big news: Rivian and Amazon are no longer exclusive. Oh, and Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe also weighted by subscriptions. Tl;dr: he’s looking at software upcharges around AR and autonomy, not heated seats.
in Uber Third-quarter earnings show a profitable ride-hail and delivery company that continues despite slowing growth in some sectors.
Future of flight
Archer Aviation has partnered with India’s travel and hospitality conglomerate InterGlobe Enterprises to launch an all-electric air taxi service in the country by 2026.
Skyrise, the aviation software startup, has completed a full autorotation emergency landing procedure in a helicopter. The milestone puts the company on track to unveil the first production helicopter featuring this technology in the first quarter of next year.