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Connected car data is the next big privacy fight, Fisker lays out its future EV portfolio and Waymo ramps up in Austin

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

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.

We might be in the dog days of summer, when news typically slows to a crawl, but this week was still busy thanks to earnings season, an autonomous vehicle scene that continues to heat up and even an EV reveal.

Before we jump into the news, let me direct your attention to a feature on the Volvo EX30. Contributor Patrick George explores why the diminutive EX30 is such a big deal. It’s worth the read.


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Micromobbin’

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Rebecca Bellan is out this week, but wanted to share one micromobility story that we’ve all been following. I’m talking about Van Moof — and specifically what company might buy the bankrupt ebike maker. There are already a few suiters out there, according to Bright.

One we know that is exploring an acquisition of Van Moof — because it issued a press release — is Micromobility.com, a company with its own financial struggles. There is speculation that KKR as well as bike companies Trek and Giant might have submitted a bid, but none are talking.

Deal of the week

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Wow surely there were others deals that happened this week, right? It is scant and likely the result of the summer slow season. Let’s see if it picks up soon.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the VC firm founded with backing from Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Vinod Khosla, Jack Ma, John Doerr and 15 other high-profile investors, is raising its third fund. (I mention this fund because there is overlap with transportation!)

Tesla officially acquired Wiferion, the Germany-based wireless charging startup.

TruckLabs, a Phoenix-based startup that developed hardware and software to improve fuel economy and battery range for fleets, raised an undisclosed amount in a Series B round led by Blue Bear Capital. The funding round also included an investment from Calibrate Ventures.

ZOOZ Power, an EV charging infrastructure company listed on the public exchange in Tel Aviv, has agreed to merge with special purposed acquisition company Keyarch Acquisition Corp.

Notable reads and other tidbits

Autonomous vehicles

Pony.ai and Toyota say they’re teaming up with the goal of one day cranking out a bunch of “fully driverless robotaxis.” The two companies intend to kick off their partnership sometime this year with around $139 million in capital from GAC Toyota Motor Co. — a joint venture between Toyota China and GAC, a Chinese state-owned automaker.

The San Francisco Giants will wear big Cruise ads through 2025. No really, the badges are huge.

Waymo announced plans to launch a robotaxi service in Austin — putting the company once again in direct competition with rival Cruise. Austin will be the company’s fourth commercial market following Phoenix, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The company will kick off the initial phase of its operations in the city this fall; the ride-hailing service will become open to the public at a later date.

Electric vehicles, charging and batteries

BMW said it will pump more cash into its EV development program.

The Chevrolet Blazer EV, a battery electric SUV that is part of GM’s bid to surpass Tesla in U.S. EV sales by 2025, is headed to dealerships. The upshot? Prices are higher than expected (as much as $10,000 higher.)

Fisker showed off four EV prototypes at an event in California, including a sports car, pickup and a low-cost vehicle that it intends to build with Foxconn. But, it turns out that deal with Foxconn still isn’t finalized.

Ford said it will triple production capacity of its all-electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck following a six-week shutdown to expand and retool its Rouge Electric Vehicle Center.

Lucid slashed prices of its Air lineup in a bid to attract more buyers. The cheapest trim, the Air Pure, now starts at $82,400.

Nikola was able to get enough shareholders to vote on a proposal that will allow it to issue more shares after three attempts and a change in Delaware law. The passage opens the door for Nikola to raise much needed capital.

Subaru doubles its plans for new EVs, targeting eight models by 2028.

Tesla is being sued by several owners over allegations of consumer fraud a week after a Reuters investigation found the company had exaggerated the range estimates of its EVs for years.

In-car tech

The California Privacy Protection Agency announced plans this week to review the data privacy practices of automakers that make and sell connected vehicles embedded with all kinds of data-mining features, from cameras and location sharing to web-based entertainment and smartphone integration. Don’t let the smattering of coverage fool you; it’s actually a big deal that has financial and operational consequences for automakers and tech companies. 

Researchers said they have found a way to hack the hardware underpinning Tesla’s infotainment system, allowing them to get free in-car feature upgrades.

People

Eve Air Mobility appointed Johann Bordais, current president and CEO of Embraer Services & Support, as CEO effective September 1, 2023. Eve’s co-CEOs, Andre Stein and Jerry DeMuro, will remain at Eve with new roles, according to the company.

John Krafcik, who led autonomous vehicle company Waymo for five years, has joined Rivian’s board of directors.

Luminar hired two new executives. Emily Shanklin, who was most recently a senior marketing executive at SpaceX, is now senior vp of marketing at Luminar. Kevin Hinge, who was chief supply chain officer at GoPro, is executive vice president of manufacturing, supply chain and quality.

Nikola Corp. president/CEO Michael Lohscheller is leaving the top executive positions due to a family health issue. He will be replaced by board chairman Steve Girsky, a former GM board member and the CEO of the special purpose acquisition company that merged with Nikola to make it a publicly company.

Xinzhou Wu, vice president of autonomous driving at Chinese EV maker Xpeng, has resigned over personal and family reasons, according to the company. However, rumors suggest he is taking a senior position at Nvidia.

Disrupt!

Beep beep! TechCrunch Disrupt 2023, taking place in San Francisco on September 19–21, is where you’ll get the inside scoop on the future of mobility. Come and hear from today’s leading mobility entrepreneurs on what it takes to build and innovate for a more sustainable future. Save up to $600 when you buy your pass now through August 11, and save 15% on top of that with promo code STATION. Learn more.

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