Cruise’s mea culpa and all that LA Auto Show fame

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the LA Auto Show this week and while it doesn’t have the cache of the days before COVID, there are still some notable news that came out of the event. TechCrunch reporter Harri Weber was on the scene helping me cover the news. One of the biggest announcements had nothing to do with the car reveal. No, it was Amazon which stated that it will now sell cars online, starting from Hyundai.

Other coverage includes the Lucid Gravity SUV debut and a handy roundup covering tech, EVs and other fun things that caught our attention.

Alright, let’s dive in!


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Upway, the French refurbished e-bike marketplace, raised $30 million at a higher valuation. Normally this piece of news would go into our deals section below, but I wanted to reflect on the meaning of this round.

Upway is present in several European countries and has recently expanded to the US. It takes used e-bikes from reputable and desirable brands, repairs them, and ships them to customers for a decent price. Getting this business right requires smart supply chain and logistics management, and it appears that Upway is on the right track. In today’s capital markets, it is not easy to get new investors if you cannot prove the viability of the business.

Zooming out into the macro environment, e-bikes aren’t going anywhere. In fact, as more and more people buy new bikes, the market for used bikes will grow. And with all the e-bike battery fires we’ve seen, a company that offers safely repaired e-bikes seems like a good deal.

— Rebecca Bellan

Deal of the week

the station is money

Just one roundup this week!

Divergent Technologies, a Torrance, Calif.-based startup developing an industrial digital manufacturing system, has raised $230 million in a Series D funding round led by a $100 million investment from Hexagon AB. The round also includes participation from new and existing institutional and family office investors.

gravityan EV infrastructure startup, has raised $13 million in a seed round led by GV (Google Ventures).

GM acquired key Tesla gigacasting supplier Tooling & Equipment International, Reuters reported.

InDrive, the “bid-based” ride-hail platform popular in Latin America and Asia, launched a venture and merger and acquisition division named New Ventures to invest up to $100 million in startups inside bags market in the next few years. The $100 million doesn’t come from a single fund, exactly. The plan is to invest the money “over the next few years by making an annual investment capital allocation from our balance sheet, starting in 2024,” Andries Smit, vice president of New Ventures told TechCrunch.

Luupa shared e-scooter startup based in Tokyo, raised $24 million to expand its payment ports to 10,000 by 2025, from 4,900 today.

Revolveran electric commercial fleet company based in San Francisco, has raised $25 million in equity project financing from Greenbacker Capital Management.

Shekel Mobility, a B2B auto dealers marketplace in Africa, has raised over $7 million in funding consisting of $3.2 million in equity and over $4 million in debt. Ventures Platform co-led the round with MaC Venture Capital. Other investors include Y Combinator, Rebel Fund, Unpopular Ventures, Maiora Capital, PageOne Lab Inc., Phoenix Investment Club, Heirloom VC, Pioneer Ventures and other angel investors. Meanwhile, Zedvance, VFD Microfinance Bank, Zenith Bank and Fluna, among others, provided the loan portion.

Tenetan EV financing startup based in New York, rtook $10 million in the Series A funding round led by Nyca Partners. Assurant Ventures and Giant Ventures also participated.

Great reads and other tidbits

Autonomous vehicles

Texas poised to become the next hotbed for autonomous cars and a likely regulatory battleground. AVs aren’t regulated by the state, but as robotaxis incidents rise, cities may turn to a weapon California doesn’t have, TechCrunch reporter Rebecca Bellan writes.

Meanwhile, GM is leading troubled AV subsidiary Cruise, to the point of bringing in one of its own executives to lead the self-driving company’s legal and policy, communications and finance groups.

A number of navigation Employees reported to TechCrunch that morale is at a new low point thanks to a decision by parent company GM to suspend its employee share sales program. But wait! On Saturday, Cruise co-founder and CEO Kyle Vogt sent an email to employees (which was seen by TechCrunch) apologizing to employees, taking responsibility and changing course, sort of, to sell shares. He opened with:

“I know the news about the changes to our RLO program is very hard to hear, and there are many unanswered questions. We leave you with concerns about your colleagues, your careers, and your personal finances. That’s the last thing I want for anyone, and I’m truly sorry.”

Vogt continued to say that the company is working on a way to conduct a new tender offer that will reduce potential tax obligations.

He later wrote that “as CEO, I accept responsibility for Cruise’s current situation. There are no excuses, and no sugar coating has occurred.”

Revenues

This is a slow revenue week for transportation. However, there are a couple that are important.

It still doesn’t look good BIRDSthat closed the quarter after being delisted from the stock market with a $19.8 million loss. Bird’s warning to keep worrying is even more effective – the company has repeated losses and negative cash flow since its inception and has accumulated a deficit of $1.6 billion as of September 30, 2023.

Revenue remained light, despite the acquisition of Spin, at $54.3 million (down from $72.8 million in Q3 2022). Now we’re approaching winter, when cash flows are even tighter. Bird closed the quarter with $10.2 million in cash and cash equivalents, which by my calculations gives it another 9 months of current cash burn. The company says it will not be able to meet its obligations for the next 12 months.

Gogoroalso, still felt his previous stings currency conversions. Its revenue of $91.8 million for the quarter was down 10.2% YoY. However, battery exchange service revenue of $33.6 million was up 10.4% YoY. The battery swapping giant closed Q3 with a net loss of $3.1 million, down from net income of $56.4 million in the same quarter last year. On an adjusted basis, Gogoro reported EBITDA of $13.1 million, up from $9.2 million in Q3 2022.

Fisker also had a troubling third quarter, reporting a bigger-than-expected loss.

Electric vehicles, charging and batteries

Reachingthe once-buzzy EV startup that went public through a merger with a blank check company, has secured a $50 million bridge loan —funds that will keep it afloat long enough to explore a potential sale.

Cadillac Optiq debutan entry-level compact crossover EV that will slot in below the Lyriq

said Candela electric hydrofoiling ferry, now in production, took its first “flight” in Stockholm.

Exxon wants to drill enough lithium from Arkansas to power 1 million EVs per year.

GM absorbed BrightDrop, its wholly owned commercial EV subsidiary, a change that included the ouster of its CEO. Does the same fate await Cruise, another one of its subsidiaries?

Mercedes plans to build about 30 fast-charging hubs at Buc-ee locations throughout the South. TC+ reporter Tim de Chant explores why supersize convenience stores could be the key to unlocking fast EV charging?

Material Redwood will supply Toyota with cathode material and anode copper foil for battery cells made at the automaker’s $13.9 billion plant in North Carolina that is slated to be in production by 2025.

Tesla went back on its previous threat to sue Cybertruck resellers. Also, the upgraded Tesla Cyberquad for kids is on sale again after a safety recall.

Future of flight

Archer Aviation signed a memorandum of understanding with Air Chateau, a private aviation operator in the UAE, at a cost of around $500 million for the planned purchase of up to 100 of Archer’s Midnight eVTOLs.

Joby Aviation and Volocopter gave the public a clear look at what the future of aviation could look like this weekend, with both companies conducting short demonstration flights of their electric aircraft in New York City.

Zipline hit an important milestone in its US operations. The Federal Aviation Administration has approved Zipline for flying its autonomous drone without line of sight visual observers. Shortly after The FAA has removed this requirement, Zipline flew its Platform 1 plane in the Salt Lake City area without the previously required observers. Zipline now flies in Utah without this requirement and will soon expand that method to US operations, according to the company.

In-car tech

Feeds want speed reduction tech in every new car. Are American drivers ready?

A software update bricked Rivian infotainment systems. About 3% of its vehicles were affected by the issue, which was addressed with an over-the-air software update.

Ride-hailing

Uber the introduction of new features aimed at solving unfair deactivation issues that ride-hail and delivery drivers often face.

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