Uber and Lyft going public, Highlights from AltCar Expo speakers

Ride-hailing firms going public:  Uber and Lyft, the top rivals for the U.S. ride-hailing market, are engaged in another race to see who can launch a successful stock market public offering first. While Uber went through disastrous upheaval not long ago, CEO Uber Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over a little more than a year ago, appears to be reviving the ride-hailing giant. Uber may be getting a 2019 offering at a $120 billion valuation, far above recent private market levels. Lyft, meanwhile, could find a public valuation of over $15 billion, which is much closer to IPOs than what some analysts expect Uber to find next year in initial market value.

Musk going to Mars:  While 2018 is turning out the worst of times for Tesla CEO Elon Musk, things are looking brighter on the space transport side of the business — with his grand vision of taking passengers to Mars. His SpaceX company’s Big Falcon Booster will see a factory being built in the Port of Los Angeles, 15 miles south of the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne. SpaceX is getting a lot of support for its Mars mission from NASA, along with contracts for cargo delivery. Another federal agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, has taken a dim view of Musk, but that’s getting worked out with a federal judge approving Musk’s settlement with the SEC. Musk’s mission to Mars goes back before he came over to Tesla. In 2002, he founded the space travel and exploration company through his frustration that NASA wasn’t doing enough to get humans to Mars. It’s typical to see him featured in interviews wearing his “Occupy Mars” t-shirt to get the message across.

Highlights from AltCar Expo:  AltCar Expo speakers talked about the key issues that government regulators, fleet managers, automakers, and technology partners are facing deploying clean vehicles and supporting clean fuels and energy in California. The popular ride-and-drive was a showcase for green vehicles of all types, including the debut of Electra Meccanica’s Solo single-passenger electric vehicle. The Audi etron 55 quattro was displayed and discussed in a panel by Audi of America’s Spencer Reeder; and attendees had a preview of the new Chanje V8100 Generation 2 Model of the electric van by the Chinese manufacturer.

Terry Tamminen, who now serves as CEO at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, talked about the lack of clear understanding in the federal government over climate change and its devastating impact from Hurricane Michael and other signs of dire conditions. Former head of California’s Environmental Protection Agency and later Cabinet Secretary under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tammimen served as architect of key legislative changes including the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, the Hydrogen Highway Network, and the Million Solar Roofs Initiative. He sees California playing a critical role in the future of government policy and supporting growth in clean transportation. The state’s mandate to have 100% renewable energy by 2045, and tapping into more renewables to power the state’s energy grid, are signs of the state’s commitment to fight climate change. The cost of electricity dropping from $4 a watt when Schwarzenegger took office to under $1 a watt now is a sign the economic dynamics are coming together, as well, he said.

Santa Monica city council member, and Innogy e-Mobility US strategy and market development head, Terry O’Day, had a conversation with annual AltCar award winner Phillip Kobernick, Logistics Service Manager for County of Alameda, about the latest in Bay Area developments for clean vehicles and infrastructure. The county’s fleet now has 300 hybrid vehicles and 80 all-electric vehicles in its 1,300-vehicle fleet. Hybrid police patrol cars, motorpools, and car-sharing programs are supporting these efforts, he said. The County of Alameda and other government fleets in the region are tapping into incentives for chargers being purchased and installed, with the county reaching about 1,400 charger locations, he said. Kobernick offered three suggestions for meeting sustainability targets: gaining better data from EV usage patterns, similar to what’s available now on gasoline-engine vehicles; more charging options based on fleet vehicle duty cycles — such as when Level 1 charging can work and nighttime charging; and becoming smart users in the electricity grid — how to work with utilities on avoiding being penalized with extra fees during peak demand periods. He’s also interested in exploring whether battery swapping might work in EVs, such as police patrol cars that don’t have downtime to wait for charging.

Stay tuned for an upcoming video link in Green Auto Market that will show the Friday speakers. That will also include “Is California Past the Turning Point?” moderated by Marco Anderson, Southern California Association of Governments and featuring Clinton Bench of UCLA Transportation, Kobernick, and Ken Reichley of Southern California Edison. “Are Auto Makers Truly Committed to Low- and No-Emissions Technology?” was moderated by Sue Carpenter of KPCC “Take Two” and featured Anthony Luzi of Electra Meccanica and Spencer Reeder of Audi of America. Reeder also discussed where Volkswagen’s Electrify America program will be going in the next couple of years.

Tesla settling with SEC over fraud lawsuit, EDTA reports two thirds spike in plug-in sales

Tesla settling SEC fraud suit:  Tesla Inc. may see the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s securities fraud lawsuit settled through a joint filing Wednesday to the federal judge overseeing the case. The settlement means that CEO Elon Musk will be stepping down as chairman for three years, and that two new independent directors will be appointed to the board. Musk will be paying $20 million, and Tesla will pay another $20 million, in fines distributed to harmed investors. Musk’s insulting tweet last week on Thursday, mentioning that the SEC is changing its name to “Shortseller Enrichment Commission.”

While outgoing Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. CEO James Murdoch has been said to likely be appointed the next chairman, Musk tweeted that “This is incorrect.” That comment was directed at a Financial Times report that the son of Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch would be taking one of Musk’s titles. Murdoch joined Tesla’s board last year after years of work with media companies.

EDTA reports spike in plug-in sales:  The number of plug-in vehicles sold from January through September 2018 is a 64% increase over the same period last year in the U.S., according to the Electric Drive Transportation Association’s sales dashboard. EDTA reported that there has been 229,874 total plug-in vehicles sales in 2018, with battery electric vehicles (BEVs) at 144,505 and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) at 85,369 through the end of September. Sales between the two segments were close during the first half of this year, with BEVs taking a leap in the third quarter. During September, BEVs made up 34,046 of the U.S. total and PHEVs made up 10,543 units. EDTA also reported a new look for the dashboard and updates to its research methods.

BYD wins major electric bus deal:  BYD will be helping Vancouver’s largest private bus operator, WESTCOAST Sightseeing, to become a 100% clean-energy fleet by 2023. That deal will consist of 90 electric buses of various types, with the Chinese maker being named the exclusive supplier to WESTCOAST. BYD’s North America manufacturing unit, based in Lancaster, Calif., has taken orders for over 600 electric buses. The company has invested more than $250 million and has delivered 270 of the electric buses so far. BYD is also building electric commercial trucks to serve fleets outside the bus sector.


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.