Mobility Future: Uber acquiring Postmates during a tough year, Best tech news sources to read

Green Auto Market will occasionally publish two special editions, Mobility Future and Sustainable Future — two topics integral to what’s next in clean transportation.

Big news took place this week for those following mobility, on Monday, when ride-hailing giant Uber announced that it had acquired major food delivery company Postmates in a $2.65 billion, all-stock deal. Food delivery is doing well these days, while ridesharing and ride-hailing is facing a tough time during COVID-19. Uber and Lyft went public last year, with two other delivery companies preparing to going public soon, DoorDash and Instacart. Being acquired can be an even better bet for founders and early investors in firms like Postmates.

Uber Technologies Inc
NYSE: UBER
IPO: May 10, 2019 opened at $41.57
Closed at $33.15 on June 9, 2020
Market cap: $57.48 billion
Q1 2020 Results: $3.54 billion revenue and a net loss of $2.9 billion

Lyft
NASDAQ: LYFT Inc
IPO: March 29, 2019 opened at $78.29 per share.
Closed at $29.84 0n June 9, 2020.
Market cap: $8.89 billion
Q1 2020 Earnings: $955.7 million revenue and a net loss of $398.1 million

Uber plans to run Postmates alongside its own food delivery business, Uber Eats. Combined, it will be No. 2 in meal delivery after DoorDash. Operations will be streamlined for efficiency, including having drivers delivering orders for both businesses. The deal came together after Uber failed to acquire another major food delivery company, Grubhub, which was instead acquired by Europe’s giant, Just Eat Takeaway, for $7.3 billion. The Postmates transaction is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in Q1 2021, at which point the two companies will integrate more of their efforts, according to Postmates.

For anyone following Silicon Valley startups in mobile apps, devices, software, hardware, connected cars, and autonomous vehicle technology, it’s very typical to see a startup like Postmates become acquired by one or more of the major players in the industry; while other startups sometimes go after IPOs with mixed results. Silicon Valley has extended out to other zones over the past two decades — Silicon Beach in Los Angeles; Austin, Texas; Seattle (including gaming companies); and an extended map from San Jose to San Francisco along US Highway 101. Many times, major companies like Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon, and Facebook, are setting up satellite offices in other cities. But San Francisco continues to be the home base HQ for many of the startups such as Uber and Lyft.

The impact of COVID-19 has been harder on Uber and Lyft than food delivery companies or grocery shopping and delivery company Instacart. As people have stayed home from work and other activites, having meals and groceries delivered has skyrocketed in demand. But for Uber, Lyft, and other ride-hailing firms, it’s been a tough time. One issue has been whether passengers can feel safe from Coronavirus while taking a ride.

Uber in May announced more than 6,500 layoffs, about a quarter of its workforce. The company said its ride-hailing business was down 75 percent from a year earlier. A month earlier, Lyft announced it would cut about 17 percent of its workforce (982 employees), furlough workers and slash pay in cost-cutting efforts to cope with lost sales during the pandemic. Lyft doesn’t report bookings, but analysts have estimated total rides will fall 63 percent in the quarter versus last year. Financial performance has never been strong for the two ridesharing giants, but Covid-19 has added to the pressure.

 

Tech innovation news sources you should know about
While I still read The Wall Street Journal and sift through news on my iPhone (typically from a few of the dwindling media outlets still in existence), I also spend more time reading relatively new publications. These media outlets cover technology innovations, startups, Silicon Valley, mobility, autonomous systems, sustainability, politics, and more. Here are the ones that seem to stand out most significantly, and that you might want to consider getting on their newsletter distribution lists.

TechCrunch
Founded in 2005 by Silicon Valley innovator and investor Michael Arrington, TechCrunch profiles and reviews new Internet products and companies. It also profiles startups and existing companies that are making an impact (commercial and/or cultural) in the digital revolution.
Crunchbase and Crunchbase News
Crunchbase was originally founded in 2007 by Michael Arrington, as a place to track the startups that parent company TechCrunch featured in articles. In 2015, Crunchbase separated from AOL/Verizon/TechCrunch to become a private entity. You can find information on equity and angel investor deals made on startups and existing companies, with Crunchbase News offering late-breaking news on the market.
Vox
A news analysis source in the spirit of investigative journalism with a bit of wry humor. Such as this one: “Truly, what is up with Elon Musk. Musk declared he’s selling all his possessions, and Tesla’s stock price dropped 10 percent in a matter of minutes.” Vox is left leaning, but it’s also in the spirit of the critical importance of journalism in US history — the fourth pillar of democracy, just as important as the three branches of government.
Wired
This magazine goes back the birth of the world wide web — 1993. It’s been devoted to covering, exploring, and analyzing cutting-edge technology ever since then — and has delivered. Wired is still a must-read for people in the tech business.
Quartz
Global news and insights including the future of mobility as one of its “obsessions” — along with global economic disruptions and the aging effect. If you’re going to read Quartz, plan for extra time to read long features (similar to The Verge).
The Verge
This is where you’ll see in-depth features on what’s behind movements in the world of mobility and tech startups, and a bit of investigative reporting. The Verge prides itself on providing breaking news in mobile app and digital tech innovations.
Mashable
This one tracks media and entertainment and the latest tech toys. Mashable also covers global news impacting new media and technology, such as government crackdowns on internet companies and mobile apps; along with some coverage on the latest from Uber, Lyft, and competitors.
Buzzfeed
Interested in lightening up and having a bit of fun? Buzzfeed offers quizzes, videos, celeb news, recipes, news analysis, photo galleries, ridiculous and hilarious tweets and text messages, and the latest buzz on trends. If you scan the news app on your iPhone or Android, you might see an article with a headline such as, “26 Popular Movies with Awful Endings;” or a photo gallery and captions called “18 Dogs Who Haven’t Let the Quarantine Stop Them From Being Utterly Ridiculous.”
Axios
Founded in January 2017 based on this belief: Media is broken, and too often a scam. Stories are too long or too boring. Websites are a maddening mess. Axios has attempted to simplify it with clear, smart, and efficient coverage of topics such as robotics, machine learning and AI; China’s growing influence; and how human activity is posing threats to Earth’s climate.
Digital Trends
The Portland, Oregon-based website publication offers news, reviews, guides, how-to articles, and descriptive videos and podcasts about technology and consumer electronics products. Digital Trends is a good place to visit while shopping for the latest in smart phones and other devices, laptops, TVs, and more.
Medium
Medium, an internet platform whose “sole purpose is to help you find compelling ideas, knowledge, and perspectives.” I first discovered the website through its in-depth coverage of Google getting into the self-driving car arena and becoming Waymo. Medium seems to be customized to those working in new media and tech. Hot topics more recently have been real issues between men and women, and how dating and relationships tend to go these days. There’s also been quite a few pieces on making it in freelance writing and other digital media opportunities. And what it’s like to work for Netflix, Facebook, and Google/Alphabet.
Another mobile app to know about: TikTok
An app for sharing comedic videos, skits, and karaoke — started in 2017 that’s become wildly popular. Real people making real videos, says TikTok. It’s brand name has been all over the news lately, including President Trump’s reelection event in Tulsa. TikTok users and fans of Korean pop music groups claimed to have registered potentially hundreds of thousands of tickets for Mr. Trump’s campaign rally as a prank.

Facebook is shutting down Lasso, it’s own version of TikTok. That decision was made as Instagram prepares to roll out Reels, a feature that will allow users to edit short videos in their stories and share it, a TikTok-like feature.

Looking for a silver lining during the global pandemic

So Gavin Newsom, California’s governor, just told us Thursday to stay in our homes and not go out to restaurants, bars, events, places of worship, gyms, parties, or any other social activity. We’re to avoid non-essential social contact to slow the spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, and to stay six feet or father apart — aka social distancing. He’s not the only governor to issue emergency orders.

When this global health crisis will reach its peak and begin to change course is a troubling unknown. Pharmaceutical scientists may be developing drugs that could play a vital role for change, but the medications aren’t going to be here for a while. Onlookers want to see the number of new cases flatten out and then diminish.

We’re advised by governors, the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to stay informed and to practice preventive actions.

I think there’s one more step: finding reasons to be hopeful — to look for a silver lining. This is going to go on for awhile, and it would be better for loved ones and co-workers if we weren’t completely miserable to be around.

Here are a few resources and interesting news stories I’ve discovered.

Zoom offers an antidote to social distancing and isolation
If you’ve ever seen the 1968 science fiction classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey, you may remember a scene where a future space traveler businessman takes a break to call his adorable little daughter on a videophone. I saw the movie again a couple of years ago, and thought, wow that will be wonderful when we someday can do something like that with such a crystal clear image and strong, consistent transmission. We could use Skype or FaceTime then, but there were a lot of glitches and inconsistencies.

That’s all changed with Zoom Video Communications and it’s remote conferencing services — which makes it seem like these participating people are right next door to you, and not 3,000 miles away. There are other products fulfilling the demand lately — Microsoft Teams, Slack, and RingCentral are out there — but for now Zoom is pervasive and everywhere with its free-to-low-cost services supporting video conferencing, online meetings, chatting, and other features. I’ve so far participated in two of these meetings, and now have a few more scheduled. Any question I’d had about it would be answered by someone on the call who’d already tried it out a few times and understood the control panel.

I’ve heard a few recurring themes — such as we’re already getting cabin fever stuck in our homes, unable to go out to dinner or do much of anything outside the house. There are a lot of stories about employees being put on unpaid leave for the next month or more; or having all their employee benefits covered but no pay for an unspecified period of time. A lot of comments are being made about dealing with fear and stress; I shared about how much I’d been remembering living through the LA Riots of 1992 and Sept. 11, 2001, both of which I happened to be in places pulled into the emergencies — at least for a few days (1992) or hours (9/11).

We can’t get close to anyone we’re not living with for now — especially to give and receive handshakes and hugs. We’re feeling an amalgam of stress, fear, dread, fatigue, and paranoia about the worst-case scenarios we’re hearing about in the media.

Giving thanks to the frontline
So far, I’ve heard a lot about the intense pressure that two segments of workers have been feeling over the past month or more — healthcare professionals and grocery store employees. Doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers are being praised in many European cities at least one minute each night as they come together in gratitude. That can take place in open windows or balconies in Rome, Madrid, Paris, Athens, or Amsterdam, where they send cheer and applaud people too busy working in hospitals non-stop to hear them.

In America, Larry Brilliant, the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox, had this to say: “I’m seeing an incredible influx of nurses, heroic nurses, who are coming and working many more hours than they worked before, doctors who fearlessly go into the hospital to work. I’ve never seen the kind of volunteerism I’m seeing (now).”

Major grocery store chains are giving praise to their supermarket employees, who are feeling the pressure of serving frightened, demanding customers standing in long lines and searching for what they can get in toilet paper, paper towels, bottled water, pasta, spaghetti sauce, soup, baking goods, Clorox, and other popular products. Kroger is giving full-time employees a one-time “appreciation” bonus of $300 at its Ralph’s, Fred Meyer, and other retail brand stores. Albertsons Cos. will be installing plexiglass barriers in its checkout lanes to safeguard shoppers and cashiers — and will pay employees an extra $2 an hour as an “appreciation” bonus at its Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, and other retail brand stores.

“Our associates are working around the clock to keep our stores open for our customers. I am incredibly grateful for all they are doing,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO, in a statement. “The true heroes in this story are our associates, and we want to provide them with additional resources and support to help them continue their remarkable effort.”

Musk changes course, makes contributions for coronavirus patients
While Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been up to his usual antics lately by dismissing COVID-19, he’s now joining up with colleagues to contribute to support for patients impacted by the disease. He’s delivered more than 1,200 ventilators to California officials this week, an effort that will provide treatment for hospital patients with severe cases of COVID-19 — gaining kudos from Gov. Gavin Newsom. That followed soon after President Trump praised Tesla, General Motors, and Ford for contributing to the desperately needed equipment.

This happened about a week after Musk gained notoriety for dismissing the novel coronavirus in a SpaceX company email, and not long after a controversial Twitter post stating that that “the coronavirus panic is dumb.” Like his auto executive colleagues, Musk is having to face the shutdown of factories and consumers putting off purchasing their products. The Fremont, Calif.-based Tesla plant did close yesterday, after Musk had pledged to keep it open. Tesla’s stock has been hit hard, like all the other automakers and tech giants. But investors and the general public do expect Musk to show signs of being a good citizen, which he has gotten around to. Stock market analysts see that Tesla and other publicly traded companies are just going to have to wait until the novel coronavirus statistics begin dropping down.

Donations are starting to come in to fund solutions
Pop star Rihanna’s charitable organization, the Clara Lionel Foundation, has announced it will be donating $5 million to coronavirus response efforts to do its part to help limit the spread of COVID-19. The organization, which Rihanna named after her grandparents Clara and Lionel Braithwaite, said it will be making the donation to several organizations – including Feeding America, The World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, and International Rescue Committee. Funds will go toward supporting local food banks serving at-risk communities and the elderly in the US as well as the “acceleration of testing and care in countries like Haiti and Malawi.”

The donation will also go toward “protective equipment for frontline health workers and diagnostic labs,” healthcare worker training and virus prevention “in countries that will be on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response,” and the “distribution of critical respiratory supplies,” the group added.

Big-dollar donations have been pledged by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies earlier this month that were aimed at supporting global response efforts to the COVID-19 outbreak. Donations are also rolling in from pharmaceutical companies supporting the research process, such as Novartis donating its malaria drug for testing.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a fund to prepare for and respond to the spread of the coronavirus. The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund anticipates a need of $675 million through April to address the worldwide outbreak, and said funding needs will likely increase as the pandemic evolves.

Funds will be used to support efforts in tracking and understanding the spread of the disease, ensuring that patients can access the care they need and that frontline workers can get supplies and information. Another goal is to accelerate the development of vaccines, tests and treatments, according to UN Foundation representatives.

CALSTART turning 2030 Policy Summit into interactive online experience

CALSTART is committed to bringing partners together to transform transportation for good. In light of the COVID-19 issue, the organization has modified its format of the Policy Summit to be a highly interactive web conference. It’s taking place tomorrow, March 25, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Pacific time. The agenda has been revamped to accommodate a new format with a shorter day and a dynamic format with high-energy panels and hard-hitting keynotes. CALSTART encourages people to register now, as space will be limited. The cost is $75. A Zoom call-in number and link will be sent to your email on file. Sponsors include Southern California Edison, Cummins, Volvo, the Propane Education and Research Council, Roush CleanTech, and Toyota.

Waste and recycling companies working hard to make doing the right thing profitable

So there I was sitting in my car on a Saturday afternoon, taking care of something for my parents that I’d put off doing for several years. I was waiting in line to drop off 40-year-old paint cans, spray paint cans, empty lacquer thinner containers, and more paint cans. Some of the paint cans were still partially filled, and most were empty. Either way was fine to drop off, I was told the day before when I called the EDCO Disposal center in Signal Hill, Calif., for more information.

My interest had also been sparked by the Chinese government announcing in July that it would no longer be buying mega-tons of America’s recycling waste. It was described as being a potential fatal blow to the already struggling recycling industry. So what’s going to happen to all of it? Will it be dumped where it shouldn’t be?

Talking to staff at EDCO Disposal, reviewing the facility, and feeling relieved to find an accessible way to be rid of toxins and waste for no fee, motivated me to look into the company; and from there, what the waste collection and recycling industry is dealing with on these critical environmental issues — not to mention its very survival. Environmental groups are concerned about what’s happening in refuse landfills and waste being dumped into rivers, lakes, and oceans, especially during storms. There’s also concern over recycling services being abused by people dumping trash into recycling bins that doesn’t belong there; and what should be accepted as recyclable, such as grocery stores being allowed to provide customers with plastic bags with a recycling symbol of #1 to #7, that may or may not be meeting environmental rules.

“Trash can travel throughout the world’s rivers and oceans, accumulating on beaches and within gyres. This debris harms physical habitats, transports chemical pollutants, threatens aquatic life, and interferes with human uses of river, marine and coastal environments,” according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Properly disposing toxic waste has been a challenge for many. Years ago, there might be one Saturday afternoon a month where you had to drop-off your waste that wasn’t allowed to be dumped into trash cans. It might be taking place at a high school’s football field temporarily set up as a disposal site. But it wasn’t at all convenient or clear on how to be ready for it, and what you could include in the drop off. Cities had already started adding recycling bins to their weekly trash pickup services in the 1990s, which did help, but it didn’t resolve the question of dumping toxins and other waste that wasn’t going to be taken to the city dump.

What does EDCO allow to be picked up for recycling? Carton containers, mixed paper, styrofoam, aluminum, shredded paper, glass containers, paperboard, cardboard, and plastics can be dropped off. They do have some restrictions enforced, such as only allowing plastics with a recycling symbol of #1 to #7, and lids to these containers can be included in the drop-off. On the waste disposal side, my local EDCO disposal site allows for carpet, paint, paint cans, cleaners, oils, batteries, medical sharps and medicine, pesticides and fertilizers, electronic products, fluorescent lamps, cathode ray tubes, instruments that contain mercury, and more.

Like some of its large waste management and recycling competitors, the company has adopted a sustainability program, and issues an annual statement on its accomplishments. Its truck fleet consist of over 200 natural gas powered vehicles including collection, transfer, flatbeds and pickup trucks. Renewable natural gas (RNG) started being brought into the fueling stations nearly two years ago; and the company operates public CNG fueling stations in Buena Park, San Marcos, and La Mesa.

EDCO has been able to fill the void of one recycling company, rePlanet, which had to close its 283 recycling locations in Southern California last August after the Chinese government put the last nail in its coffin. EDCO saw a huge increase in redeeming recyclables at several of its locations. Another driver of recycling business has been supermarkets that are required by law to buy back bottles and cans. But the stores don’t like doing it, and the process takes much longer, according to one redeemer.

The company is also tapping into California Senate Bill 1383, which was passed in 2017. That bill aims to reduce the amount of organics in landfills. The company, and several other waste management and recycling companies, saw this coming several years ago. Over the past decade, customers have been asked to help the company build up green waste by dumping material such as tree limbs, grass, and food waste, into green cycling containers. That’s increased its organics collected over 20 percent. With the new state law, EDCO is constructing a new anerobic digestion facility in Escondido, Calif., and it should be operating by early 2021. It can handle up to 500,000 gallons of material. Methane gas comes out form microorganisms breaking down the material, which will create renewable natural gas to power the company’s fleet and for other power uses.

Waste disposal and recycling has been going through a transformation for several years. The US population has been increasing at a quick pace, as have the numbers in several countries around the world. There’s more refuse to dispose of without seeing it dumped into oceans or landfills creating a multitude of problems. Cities around the country had taken on unrealistic projects, such as San Francisco pledging 16 years ago to achieve zero waste by 2020; but the city is nowhere near that goal.

But like vehicle pollution, energy inefficiency, coal-powered plants, and oil drilling, the challenges are high in waste and recycling — but there is hope. As one study describes it, solutions “will be accomplished through the implementation of cutting-edge technology and through an unprecedented level of cooperation and coordination between recyclers, designers, packagers, manufacturers, businesses, municipalities, governments, and others.”

And in other news:
China sees sales plunge:  China new vehicle sales plunged 92 percent during the first two weeks of February as the coronavirus outbreak kept buyers afraid to go out in public and visiting dealer showrooms. The first week was even worse, with a 96 percent plunge in sales, the China Passenger Car Association said in a report. The national government is now considering extending subsidies for electric vehicle purchases beyond this year to revive sales in its “new energy vehicle” sector. Local companies are looking forward to it, such as BYD, BAIC, and startup NIO. Tesla would also like to see it happen as new deliveries starting coming from its Shanghai factory. Sales of these NEVs tumbled 54 percent in January from the year before, along with a shrink in the overall market; and that was largely before the coronavirus outbreak hit, causing city-wide lockdowns and production line halts.

Lucid partners with LG Chem:  Lucid Motors announced a long-term partnership with leading EV battery supplier LG Chem for the Lucid Air electric sedan. The startup said it chose LG Chem because of confidence in its batteries bringing an ideal level of efficiency, and further optimizing Lucid’s goal of meeting or exceeding its targets for range, energy density, and recharge/discharge rates. The company expects it will reach full production this year at its Arizona factory, with LG Chem having an exclusive agreement to provide battery packs for standard versions of the electric car through at least 2023.

NACFE supporting electric trucks for regional hauling:  The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) has determined that regional trucking operations are well suited to be early adopters of electric trucks. It is also a rather large segment of the market with sufficient scale to have a big impact on the industry. It study will be focusing a few key topics: identifying high-potential regional trucking routes in concert with changes to freight movement; supporting the implementation of initial and future deployments outside of California; scaling best practices in infrastructure development for fleets and communities; and increasing confidence in the value of electrification.
“We are embarking on a three-year project to gain a better understanding of how commercial battery electric vehicles will best fit into the regional haul market, said Mike Roeth, executive director of NACFE.

LA places biggest order for electric buses:  Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti announced on Feb. 20 that the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) has placed the largest order for electric buses in US history and that 134 of the 155 new buses will come from BYD. It’s part of the city’s goal of having 100 percent of its buses running on electricity by the opening ceremonies of the 2028 Summer Olympics. “The clean transportation revolution is not a distant dream — it’s happening on L.A.’s streets right now,” said Garcetti, who spoke to dozens of LA reporters and city workers after quietly arriving at the Department of Transportation in a 30-foot BYD electric bus.

BMW beats Tesla in Europe, Prediction on electric fleet trucks

Competitors beating Tesla in Europe:  While Tesla dominates electric vehicle market share in the U.S., Europe is benefiting local automakers even more. BMW just issued a report conducted by IHS Markit based on new vehicle registrations from Feb. 2018 to Feb. 2019. BMW has 16 percent of plug-in vehicle market share in Europe, while Tesla ties for fifth place with Volvo. Volkswagen, Nissan, and Renault came in 2nd through fourth place. In Germany, BMW has 20 percent share with Tesla coming in at 3 percent. In Norway, the largest EV market in Europe, BMW has nearly 77 percent of that market while Tesla saw its sales drop there in the fourth quarter. Lack of retail stores in key European metro market areas is probably a factor. Tesla is tied with China’s BYD for first place globally, with Beijing Auto coming in second and BMW third. China is expected to play a big role in the future of EV sales. Tesla is getting ready to open its Shanghai production plant in May; while BMW was granted permission last year by the Chinese government to increase its stake in Brilliance China, the first company to take more than 50 percent in one of the joint venture vehicle manufacturers with factories in China. BMW hopes to lower its costs in that market, with EVs expected to be part of its growing presence.

Ford building more EVs and AVs in USA:  Ford has recommitted to building more electric vehicles and autonomous vehicle technology at its North American plant, with less emphasis on AVs. The $900 million Ford had planned to spend on AV production in its Flat Rock Assembly plant in Michigan through 2023 will instead be largely dedicated to EVs and the next-generation Mustang, the company said. The Flat Rock plant will become the production home to vehicles from the company’s “next-generation battery electric flexible architecture.” These vehicles will follow the all-electric performance SUV coming in 2020 from Ford’s Cuautitlan, Mexico, plant. Autonomous vehicles will be coming from a new AV manufacturing center in southeast Michigan. The company said that production of Ford’s first autonomous vehicles will begin in 2021 for deployment in commercial services to move people and goods.

Trump attack misses the point:  In the aftermath of a bitter Twitter feud with General Motors and the United Auto Workers in previous days, President Trump visited Ohio to continue attacks. After viewing the Lima, Ohio-based Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, which makes the 1M Abrams tank, on Wednesday, Trump attacked deceased Sen. John McCain and blamed Democratic union leaders for GM’s decision to close a plant in Lordstown, Ohio, eliminating about 1,700 jobs. All of this comes after announcements by GM and Ford late last year to initiate layoffs and close more plants to offset losses in the slowing economy and the steep tariffs implemented by the Trump administration. Tesla stirred up its own controversy last week after announcing it would close its U.S. retail stores and go to online sales to cut costs — which CEO Elon Musk later cut down to an expected 10 percent to 30 percent store closures. Tesla is joining several major global companies feeling pressure to close retail stores as shareholders put more pressure on management to increase performance and profits. Stores may not be worth the cost as companies such as Amazon lead the revolution toward online shopping and fast delivery services, analysts say. Overall, GM, Ford, Tesla, and competitors are facing a wave of changes in the imminent future impacting profits and market share. Job losses will continue as industries consolidate, robotics take over plants, and consumers want less retail stores and more digital transactions. The issues are much deeper than merely job losses at plant closures in Ohio and Michigan.

Model Y reveal:  Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed the company’s Model Y a week ago, a compact SUV that had been mentioned long before. It shares the same architectural platform with the Model 3 compact electric car. It’s more conservative than Tesla’s other SUV, the Model X, with its falcon-wing doors. It’s putting safety and cost savings before flash, as Tesla continues to reach out more to middle income consumers with its Models 3 and Y. It offers the perks of a hatchback such as the Toyota Prius with the advantages of driving a smaller vehicle through crowded cities instead of a large SUV. The Model Y’s Standard Range model will roll out in the spring of 2021 with a $40,200 price tag and a 230-mile range.

Plug-in sales for February:  EDTA’s Electric Drive Sales Dashboard on U.S. sales in February reported 17,239 plug-in vehicles sold, made up of 6,792 plug-in hybrids and 10,447 battery EVs. The 34,279 plug-in vehicles sold so far in 2019 represents a 19 percent increase over the total sold thru the same period last year. The association will be including fuel cell electric vehicle sales data in future reports.

Prediction on electric trucks:  GNA’s Erik Neandross shared his thoughts on the boom coming this year with electric trucks coming to market at major trade shows and through compliance with government policy. Much will be learned in the next one-to-three years as a wave of electric work trucks come to market. Fleet managers and operators will be taking a close look at operating costs as more EVs go into daily fleet operations.

White paper studies mobility revolution and its impact on fleets, GAM editor emcee at AltCar Expo

New study explores how mobility is transforming fleets:  A new white paper has been released for fleet professionals and other interested parties facing an historic change — transitioning from fleet managers to mobility managers.

The Mobility Revolution: A Primer for Fleet Managers, explores four trends that are shaping the near-term future of vehicles and transportation — connected, electric, shared, and autonomous vehicles. Written by Lukas Neckermann, a former auto executive and consultant on mobility services, and Green Auto Market editor Jon LeSage, the study explores the issues poised to transform transportation in the next decade. It was sponsored by NAFA Foundation as a tool for fleet professionals to prepare for the near future.

“As the fleet industry makes a rapid transformation into the ‘mobility’ industry, the NAFA Foundation, in cooperation with NAFA Fleet Management Association, is providing fleet professionals with the building blocks to transform their units, teams, and personal careers to a mobility orientation,” said Phillip E. Russo, CEO of the NAFA Foundation and NAFA Fleet Management Association.

Fleet managers and operators of all types — corporate, government, emergency response, trucking, and urban delivery — are beginning a transition over to mobility managers. That means building in systems that allow them to observe fleet vehicles and make rapid decisions to increase efficiency — such as avoiding bottlenecks from traffic and vehicle collisions. The pressure is on for fleet managers and operators to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions, make their fleets safer, and to try out connected, automated systems for these goals and cost containment. The paper delves into ways that fleets are already testing and exploring these changing technologies and methods.

Fleets are playing a key role in the testing and development of technology in trial test programs. Some of it is starting to be deployed, such as Voyage, a firm that is rolling out electric, autonomous shuttle vans in senior citizen communities in the U.S. Amazon and UPS are featured in case studies for their participation in advanced mobility projects.

First responder fleets — fire, police, and emergency medical responders (EMR) — have been a platform for testing connected, automated systems including fleet vehicle tracking earlier than other fleet segments. In recent years, that’s played out in emergency services delivered after hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, and Mathew devastated local communities through flooding, highway and bridge destruction, collapsed buildings, and disrupted utility services including power transmission. Energy storage in electric vehicle battery packs can be used during power outages is one of several examples featured in the white paper.

The study also explores how automakers, Silicon Valley giants, and partners such as autonomous technology and vehicle charging suppliers, are taking all four of the trends very seriously. Companies such as General Motors, Alphabet’s Waymo, Tesla, and Apple, are becoming the source of both cooperative test projects and competitive forces as each strives to be a leader in the emerging field. This point is being reinforced by Honda’s announcement this week that it will be investing $2.75 billion into GM’s Cruise autonomous vehicle unit; Renault-Nissan and Daimler possibly extending their alliance in autonomous vehicles, battery tech, and mobility services; and Toyota and Japanese tech giant SoftBank deciding to jointly fund a new mobility company that combines autonomous driving and mobility services.

The free white paper is available for download.

GAM editor MC’ing Friday at AltCar:  The 13th annual AltCar Expo & Conference will be taking place Oct. 12-13 in Santa Monica, Calif. Jon LeSage, editor of Green Auto Market, will serve as Master of Ceremonies on Friday, Oct. 12. This year’s Industry & Fleet Conference on that day will focus on California’s trailblazing commitment to alternative technology transportation, infrastructure and energy. Terry Tamminem, CEO, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, will make opening remarks. Phillip Kobernick, Interim Logistics Services Manager for the County of Alameda, will be in discussion with Terry O’Day, Executive Vice President,  Innogy e-Mobility and Santa Monica City Council Member. “Is California Past the Turning Point?” Will be moderated by Marco Anderson, Southern California Association of Governments and will feature Clinton Bench of UCLA Transportation, Kobernick, and Ken Reichley of Southern California Edison “Are Auto Makers Truly Committed to Low- and No-Emissions Technology?” will be moderated by Sue Carpenter, KPCC “Take Two” and will feature Anthony Luzi of Electra Meccanica and Spencer Reeder of Audi of America. You can visit the AltCar Expo and Ride & Drive, which provides consumers with access to the most extensive array of battery electric, fuel-cell electric, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid electric vehicles available. Debuting at this year’s event is Electrica Meccanica’s new all-electric, single-passenger vehicle, SOLO.

Musk stepping down as chairman:  Tesla CEO Elon Musk had to back down from a threat to resign if a settlement was reached with the Securities and Exchange Commission. During a phone call with Tesla directors, board members insisted that the settlement be reached. Musk later gave his “grudging approval” through his attorneys to pay $20 million and step down as chairman but remain as CEO, according to The New York Times. The newspaper also reported the board proposed that James Murdoch become the new chairman. Murdoch is a Tesla board member and CEO of the Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. media company; but the board had not made a decision on filling that position yet. CNBC reported that Musk has 45 days to resign as chairman through the SEC settlement and the pay the $20 million fine over an agreement to settle a fraud lawsuit filed by the SEC on Thursday stemming from Musk’s Twitter posts announcing potential removal of Tesla, Inc., from the stock market. The electric carmaker has also agreed to appoint two new independent directors to its board and establish a new committee of independent directors and put in place additional controls and procedures to oversee Musk’s communications, according to the SEC. The Tesla CEO will continue to have his voice heard on the matter. Business Insider studied the SEC papers on Wednesday and found that Musk won’t be barred form voting his shares in favor or against nominees to Tesla’s board.

Cycle 2 of VW diesel vehicle settlement:  Electrify America released details of the second cycle for Volkswagen’s zero emission vehicle settlement with California and the EPA. Cycle 2 begins in July 2019, and will offer its next $200 million investment in California’s charging infrastructure over a 30-month period. DC fast charging stations will be the central focus in nine metro areas within the state: Riverside-San Bernardino; Santa Cruz-Watsonville; Santa Rosa; Fresno; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim; Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade; San Diego-Carlsbad; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward; and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara. The charging stations will be placed in retail locations, but Electrify America will also consider the needs of adjacent multi-unit dwellings where Level 2 residential charging deployment can be challenging. Electrify America also will invest in DC fast charging stations specifically targeting shared mobility drivers — car share, taxis, and transportation networking company (TNC) drivers.

Cities leading the way for EV charging, NHTSA safety rating for Model 3 a bright spot for Tesla

Cities leading the charge:  Cities, utilities, and technology suppliers are making serious commitments to expanding the electric vehicle charging infrastructure, according to speakers at last week’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. The Climate Group and C40 Cities groups announced that 26 cities, states, regions and businesses took on commitments. Those include 12 states and regions joining The Climate Group’s zero-emission vehicle challenge, such as California and Washington state, Quebec, Scotland, and Australia’s Capital Territory; and 12 cities joining C40’s fossil fuel-free streets declaration, including Seoul, Tokyo, Honolulu, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood, Calif.  Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that 19 cities and two counties in the U.S. have formally launched the Climate Mayors Electric Vehicle Purchasing Collaborative. EVBox, which now has about 60,000 charging stations installed globally, expects to have 1 million EV chargers installed by 2025. ChargePoint announced a target of 2.5 million public chargers by 2025, mostly in North America and Europe. That will shoot up from about 53,000 public charging sites the company currently operates.

Bright spot for the Model 3:  Tesla, Inc., had a bright sport in its continuing struggle to mass produce the Model 3 and to restore its brand image. The Model 3 received a five star safety rating in all crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The rear-wheel-drive version of the Tesla Model 3 earned an all-around five-star safety rating from NHTSA, the highest possible issued by the agency from frontal, side, and rollover crashes. As for the continuing challenges faced by Tesla and CEO Elon Musk, the company saw another top executive leave. Liam O’Connor, vice president of global supply management, has resigned said people familiar with the matter. O’Connor had come over from Apple Inc. in 2015, and is at least the fifth senior Tesla executive to leave the company in recent weeks. Another blow took place this week with the U.S. Dept. of Justice reportedly opening a criminal fraud investigation into the electric carmaker, stemming from Musk’s announcement last month that he would be taking the company private and that he secured the needed funding to do so. The probe appears be at an early phase, but it follows a reported Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and shareholder lawsuits over the same issue; and a libel lawsuit filed against Musk by a man he accused of being a pedophile. A Tesla spokesperson said the Justice department did send Tesla a voluntary request for documents and that the automaker has been cooperating.

Volvo supports efforts to reduce plastic:  Volvo Cars this week joined the G7 Ocean Plastics Partnership during the G7 Summit in Halifax, Canada. The company also presented its own sustainability program in detail, including its Plastics Vision that aims to substantially increase the amount of recycled material used in new Volvo cars and to support efforts to reduce plastics pollution. “Volvo Cars is the only car maker to be invited to the G7 summit, underlining the company’s position as an industry leader in sustainability,” the company said in a statement.

Lucid Motors gets $1B:  Luxury electric vehicle startup Lucid Motors gained a $1 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, an entity once rumored to be Musk’s potential partner in taking Tesla private. Lucid Motors will use the investment to finance the 2020 launch of its first EV, the Lucid Air. Tesla CEO Elon Musk had previously touted conversations with the Saudi fund as key in considerations to take Tesla private, which won’t be happening for Tesla.

IKEA delivering in EVs:  IKEA says all its home deliveries in the inner cities of Amsterdam, Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Shanghai will be made by electric vehicles or through other zero-emission solutions. That will take place by 2020 and will also support adding charging stations to its retail stores. Last year, the company joined EV100, an initiative launched by the Climate Group, that aims to meet the five-city EV goal by 2020, make all home deliveries in ZEVs by 2025, setting up chargers at IKEA locations by 2020, and cut in half emissions from IKEA employees and customers by 2030.

Daimler investing in Proterra:  Daimler Trucks is investing in the fast-growing electric bus market through leading a $155-million investment round in electric busker Proterra. Tao Capital Partners, a San Francisco investment firm, is the other lead investor. Proterra and Daimler will also explore electrifying select Daimler heavy-duty vehicles. One of the first ventures will be to bring Proterra’s battery and drivetrain technologies to the North American school bus market through Daimler’s Thomas Built Buses division. “We aren’t just the leading supplier of conventional truck and buses; when it comes to electrification we also want to be the leader,” said Martin Daum, global head of Daimler Trucks and Buses, at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hanover, Germany, on Wednesday.

Nio goes public and ready to compete for premium EV share, Tesla loses more executives in its turbulent workplace

Nio IPO:  Chinese electric car startup Nio made its way to the stock market, raising $1 billion in its IPO this week and market valuation at $6.42 billion; but that’s well below the $20 billion company executives had been initially hoping for. Shanghai-based Nio is targeting the premium electric-SUV segment, calling itself Tesla-competitive in its home market of China. Nio launched its first electric SUV in December, the seven-seat Nio ES8, which is priced at about half the cost of a Tesla Model X sport utility in China. Formerly known as NextEV, Nio says it will be bringing an autonomous EV to the U.S. by 2020. The ES6, an electric five-passenger SUV, is in development. Nio backers include Chinese internet giants Baidu and Tencent, as well as Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi. Tencent also owns a small stake in Tesla stock.

Tesla Inc. has been losing executives this year, with turbulence coming from the company transitioning into a mass market automaker with production of the Model 3. CEO Elon Musk’s erratic behavior has also taken its toll. Justin McAnear, vice president of worldwide finance and operation, said in a statement Wednesday that he is leaving to take the role of chief financial officer at another company. Tesla’s chief accounting officer, Dave Morton, announced his exit last week. The work pace at Tesla and the level of public attention of the company were cited as reasons for his departure. One executive, Jerome Guillen, may be able to keep pace with Musk’s intense demands. Guillen has been named president of automotive operations, and is known for being a skilled multitasker who’s been able to operate within the Tesla culture.

While President Trump’s high import tariffs have taken their toll on several industry sectors, solar power has been able to find growth and stability. Data reported on the the second quarter of 2018 showed signs of a market turnaround. Utility solar project procurement soared in Q2 2018 as component prices declined and home solar installations steadied after a 15% contraction last year, according to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables (previously known as GTM Research) and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Volkswagen Group warned that it will be spending a lot more to meet its target for electric vehicle product launch. While the German automaker had originally estimated that 20 billion euros ($23 billion) would be going into it, CEO Herbert Diess says this will not suffice, without providing a new cost figure. The automaker needs to reduce expenses more to be able to invest in future technology and weather turbulent periods, he said. The target is huge — VW Group plans to launch 80 new EVs across its brands including Audi, Porsche, Skoda and Seat by 2025 and offer an electrified version of each of its 300 group models by 2030. “The burden for our company, such as the cost of bringing to market electric cars, will be higher than expected,” Diess said in a joint interview with labor head Bernd Osterloh in VW’s internal newsletter. “This is particularly so since some of our competitors have been making more progress.”

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) on Wednesday released its white paper analyzing the fuel efficiency of the 20 leading airlines on routes between the U.S. to Europe in 2017. Following rigorous scientific assessments, Norwegian once again rose to the top as the most fuel-efficient airline on transatlantic routes for a second time, also receiving this honor in 2015 when the ICCT released its first study.
Findings showed Norwegian, on average, achieved 44 passenger kilometers per liter, which is 33% higher than the industry average. Norwegian, flies one of the youngest fleets in the world, comprised of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, 737-800s and 737-MAXes.

Amazon continues to invest in the grocery delivery business, now expanding Whole Foods Prime Delivery to 10 additional U.S. cities. The full list of 38 cities now includes Charlotte, Las Vegas, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Raleigh, Seattle, and Tucson. Coverage will also be expanding in New York, Los Angles and Dallas/Ft. Worth. Amazon acquired Whole Foods, known for its organic and locally-grown produce, last year for $13.7 billion.

ACT Research Co. forecasts commercial electric vehicles will make up a “significant share” of the Class 4 through Class 8 market in 2030 to 2035. Growth will be coming from U.S. truck makers, new startups, and engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. Interest is coming from fleet operators who need to reduce tailpipe emissions and reliance on diesel fuel. “They want to take it into production but it all depends on how that market votes,” ACT Research Co. Vice President Steve Tam said.

 

Daimler, BMW, and Audi bringing EVs to production level, Musk smokes pot and shares wide-ranging opinions during podcast

Premier EVs rolling out:  German automakers are now stepping up to their commitment made two years ago at the Paris Motor Show to become Tesla-competitive and produce production-level premier electric vehicles. Mercedes-Benz unveiled the Mercedes EQC all-electric SUV on Tuesday, and it will be Daimler’s first production model under the company’s electric EQ sub-brand. BMW next week will be flying the autonomous iNEXT electric crossover in a Boeing 777 Freighter to press events in Munich, New York, San Francisco, and Beijing. On Monday, Volkswagen’s Audi began mass production of the Audi e-tron, the brand’s first all-electric SUV with longer range. Audi will unveil the battery electric SUV at a world premiere in San Francisco on Sept. 17. It’s a good time to roll out these high-performance, premier EVs as Tesla and its leader, Elon Musk, face a series of challenges. Production problems for the high-volume Model 3 continue, as do controversial moments with Musk — made more so last night during a podcast (see below). Editor’s note: See my Oilprice link for more articles on EVs and energy trends.

Musk enjoys podcast:  Tesla CEO Elon Musk puffed on a marijuana joint, lit up a flamethrower, and showed off a Samurai sword during a Thursday night interview with podcast host Joe Rogan. It’s been a tumultuous month for Musk, attempting to take the electric carmaker private and releasing a series of controversial tweets that sent Tesla stock prices on a roller coaster. He appeared to be more at ease during the casual interview wearing his Occupy Mars t-shirt and commenting on the future of artificial intelligence. As for interesting comments: manufacturing electric cars is “very difficult,” getting governments to regulate artificial intelligence isn’t going anywhere, and his underground tunnel in Los Angeles isn’t going forward, “Mostly because of paperwork.” While marijuana is legal in California, where the interview took place, Musk’s phone started getting hit with messages. “I’m getting text messages from friends saying, ‘What the hell are you doing smoking weed?'” he said. Musk explained that he’s “not a regular smoker of weed” because he “doesn’t find it’s very good for productivity. It’s like a cup of coffee in reverse,” he said. Using marijuana, along with taking Ambien to deal with his sleeping problem, has been of concern among Tesla shareholders and board members since a New York Times interview last month. As for flying cars, Musk doesn’t see the point of investing in it as a practical mode of transportation. “If you get one of those toy drones and imagine it’s 1,000 times heavier — that’s not going to make your neighbors happy,” Musk said. “If you want a flying car, just put wheels on a helicopter.”

Bolt going global:  The Chevrolet Bolt is getting ready to roll out to new markets. Pam Fletcher, vice president of the automaker’s global electric vehicle programs, told an audience at Citi’s 2018 Global Technology Conference that the Bolt EV electric car will ship out to new markets around the globe due to unforeseen demand. “We see demand increasing in markets we’re already in and we’ve seen new markets around the globe that we didn’t originally plan to have the Bolt in asking for it,” she said. “And so, we’ll be announcing some of these additional markets, here, in the not-so-distant future.”

California bill supporting clean trucks:  Sixty companies are urging California Governor Brown to sign a bill that will encourage more big rigs powered by clean fuels to operate on California highways and roads. Assembly Bill 2061 (D-Frazier) will speed the improvement of air quality in disadvantaged communities that are often heavily impacted by polluting diesel trucks weight limit by a small percentage. Current law restricts the gross vehicle weight of trucks to 80,000 pounds. Because the energy storage and fuel delivery systems for zero emission (ZE) and near-zero (NZE) vehicles are presently heavier than diesel tanks, the restriction means that fleet operators who use cleaner technologies must carry smaller payloads, which creates a significant disincentive. AB 2061 would increase the weight limit for ZE and NZE trucks to 82,000 pounds and thereby improve the business case for cleaner trucks. The bill is co-sponsored by CALSTART, the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition, and San Diego County Disposal Association.

National Drive Electric Week:  National Drive Electric Week will be starting tomorrow at nationwide EV ride and drives. Running Sept. 8-16, the nationwide celebration is geared toward heightening awareness of the widespread availability of plug-in vehicles and the benefits of all-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric cars, trucks, motorcycles, and more. They are fun to drive, are less expensive and more convenient to fuel than gasoline vehicles, are better for the environment, promote local jobs, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, according the event organizers. Those interested in buying or leasing an EV can go to one of the events and talk to owners who have successfully done so.

DOE grants:  The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of 42 projects totaling $80 million to support advanced vehicle technologies that can enable more affordable mobility, strengthen domestic energy security, reduce U.S. dependence on foreign sources of critical materials, and enhance the country’s economic growth. Batteries and electrification projects won $31.9 million in funding. These research projects will develop technologies to recharge multiple electric vehicles quickly and at very high “extreme” power levels; software, controls, and hardware to provide physical and cybersecurity protection of electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The projects will also work to develop cathode materials for next generation electric vehicle batteries that eliminate or significantly reduce the use of cobalt, an expensive and foreign-sourced critical material.

California and Trump administration officials meet on clean car rules, AltCar coming up in October

Fuel economy and emissions rule:  California clean air regulators met with Trump administration officials on Wednesday to work on resolving their conflict over clean vehicle emissions and mileage standards. The Trump administration had set off protests and lawsuit filings with its Safer and Affordable Fuel Efficient Vehicles rule that would freeze the mpg and emissions rules at 2020 levels through 2026. It would also take away California’s power to set state emissions rules — which is being followed by a dozen other states and the District of Columbia. Officials said they agreed to hold future meetings to work out the national fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards. California Air Resources Board chair Mary Nichols last month told Reuters that she sees a “window” to making a deal this fall.

NIO going public:  Chinese electric-vehicle maker and Tesla-rival NIO Inc. launched a U.S. stock sale that could raise up to $1.32 billion and bring its market valuation up to about $8.5 billion. That would happen before the startup has generated any substantial revenue. The Shanghai-based company is planning to list on New York Stock Exchange in about two weeks.

Lyft also going public:  Lyft has started the process for an initial public offering in an effort to beat Uber to the public markets, sources said. The ride-hailing firm has hired IPO adviser Class V Group LLC to guide Lyft management, said people familiar with the discussions who asked not to be identified. Banks will be pitched as financial backers as soon as September with the listing targeted for March or April. In another story, Toyota Motor Corp. announced a $500 million investment in Uber to jointly develop autonomous vehicle technology. The ride-hailing giant will integrate Toyota’s Guardian autonomous technology into Toyota Siennas for use in Uber’s ride-hailing network.

AltCar Expo coming in October:  The 13th annual AltCar Expo & Conference will be held Oct. 12-13, 2018, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. This year’s conference will focus on California’s trailblazing commitment to alternative technology transportation, infrastructure and energy. “AltCar has become the most nationally respected event for industry, municipalities and general public that showcases the latest products, news and information for alternative technology vehicles and infrastructure,”says California State Senator Fran Pavley.

On Friday, Terry Tamminem, CEO, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, will make opening remarks. Panel topics include legislative issues, “Current and Ongoing OEM Commitments to Alternative Technology Vehicles,” and “Alternative Technology Transportation – ‘No Turning Back.’” Friday will feature the Industry & Fleet Conference, and the Expo and Ride & Drive is open to industry and the public. Those attending the Friday speaker panels can find an early bird discount here.

 

Hyundai Kona Electric joins 200-mile plus club, CALSTART hosting Drive-to-Zero event on commercial vehicles

New member to 200-mile plus club:  The Hyundai Kona Electric received a rating of 258 miles per charge in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rating. For MPGe figures, it was given 132 city, 108 highway, and 120 combined. The range rating puts it in a small league with above 200-miles per charge vehicles that includes the Chevy Bolt, Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model S, and Tesla Model X. The Kona Electric is powered by a 64 kWh battery that has a 150 kW and 395 Nm electric motor (front-wheel drive), and a top speed of 104 mph. It has 100 kW CCS Combo DC fast charging capability.

Lucid Motors finds $1B investor:  PIF, the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund that may be helping Tesla go private, may also be investing more than $1 billion in Lucid Motors and its high-performance electric models. According to sources familiar with the matter, that would be $500 million at fist and cash injections later based on goals being met. CEO Elon Musk has said that PIF may be investing up to $72 billion in taking Tesla off the stock market into a private company. PIF has already agreed to other investments including $45 billion into a giant fund led by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. that will be funding several new mobility technologies.

Getaround raising funds:  Car-sharing/car rental firm Getaround is taking on Hertz and Avis with its “peer-to-peer car-sharing model. It’s been enough to raise $300 million from an investment round led by SoftBank. The car rental company has raised $400 million since its founding, with Toyota having previously made an early investment in the startup. Using the Getaround app, users can search for cars parked near them to choose one for a ride. The account is set up with the customer’s drivers license and credit card, and the app allows the user to unlock the door from their phone. These cars will be provided by other car owners who join the Getaround network and want to make side income off their car when they’re not using it.

Ford recalling some electric models:  Ford is recalling the charging cords for more than 50,000 of its plug-in hybrid and battery electric cars sold in North America since they could cause fires in electrical outlets. The 120-volt charging chords came with certain 2012 through 2015 Focus all-electric cars and some 2013 through 2015 Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrids. Ford reported that four fires had started in C-Max vehicles, but there no injuries. In three of the fires, owners had been using their own extension cord, which Ford had warned against doing. The fourth fire was inconclusive and Ford said it does not believe the fire was related to the cord. Dealers will be getting new cords for Ford owners to replace the first version; the new cords can sense high temperatures and shut off charging if necessary. Letters will be going out to owners starting next week.

CALSTART event next month:  CALSTART will host the “Global Commercial Vehicle Drive-to-Zero” workshop on Sept. 11 at the Bay Area Metro Center in San Francisco. CALSTART will launch a new seven-year program during the event aimed at dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 with a focus on global medium- and heavy-duty vehicle markets. It’s an affiliate event for the U.N. Foundation’s Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) supporting the Paris Agreement. Under contract with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), CALSTART has done an extensive analysis, validated by global OEMs, and identified which segments of the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle market could most rapidly transition to zero- and near-zero emission technology. The event next month will kick-off a multi-year partnership between CALSTART and those who share the vision of making commercial zero emission vehicles widespread by 2025. Visit this page to register.