The Station: Lucid Motors spy shot and the birth of an AV startup

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The station is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all forms of transportation. Sign up here – just click The Station – to get it in your inbox every Saturday.

Hello again – or maybe for the first time. This is Kirsten Korosec, senior transport reporter at TechCrunch and your host here at The Station. This weekly newsletter will also be published as an article after the weekend – you are reading that. To get it first, subscribe to it for free. Please note that there will be no newsletter on February 22nd.

It was a dramatic week with a hearing on DC's hill about autonomous vehicle laws that got a little tense at times. Meanwhile Uber The EV startup Lucid raised the veil of his aircraft (scroll down for a spy shot!) And prepared the micromobility for headwind in Germany.

Before I go into the sunset for my vacation, a reminder for all of you. Don't forget to contact me at [email protected] and email me to share thoughts, opinions or tips or send a direct message to @ Kirstenkorosec,

Micromobbin ’

Welcome back to Micromobbin, a regular feature from reporter Megan Rose Dickey at The Station. Before we look at their micromobility insights, a brief comment that shared scooters in Germany are facing a fight that has prompted companies to come together on their “shared” cause. (Got it?)

Micromobility vehicles, which were legalized in Germany for the first time last June, have flooded the market and in cities like Berlin, where at least six apps, including Bird, Circ (now owned by Bird), Lime, Tier, Uber Jump and Voi work. As the Financial Times reported for the first time, changes to the country's road traffic law would allow individual cities to severely restrict or prohibit the areas where e-scooters can be parked.

Now back to Dickey's microbobbin.

Swiftmile, The startup, which wants to become the petrol station for electric micromobility vehicles, announced its entry into advertising this week. Swiftmile already supplies cities and private operators with docks where scooters and e-bikes can be parked and charged. Now the company is beginning to integrate digital displays that connect to its charging stations to provide information about public transportation, traffic announcements and, of course, advertisements.

"It adds tremendous value because it's a huge market," Colin Roche, Swiftmile CEO, told TechCrunch. “Tons of these companies want to market to this group, but you can't and shouldn't do that with a scooter. So there is a huge audience that wants to market to this group, but also cities like us because we bring order to chaos. "

In the meantime, Bird revealed more details about its loyalty program called frequent flyer. It is currently in the pilot phase, meaning that it is only available in selected markets. The benefits of riding five times in 28 days include no starting fees for trips between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. from Monday to Friday and the option to reserve your bird free of charge up to 30 minutes in advance.

– Megan Rose Dickey

A little bird

blinking cat bird green

We don't just hear things. We also see things. This week I'm going to share two spy shots of a production version of Lucid Motors in a little bird – the place where we spread inside news, not gossip. upcoming air electric vehicle. See below.

The photos of the production version of Lucid Air were recorded during an event for some of the vehicle's first reservation holders. (I wasn't there, but luckily there were some readers of The Station.) Incidentally, we also hear that the reservations are in the "low four-digit range".

Reveal Lucid Air production

You will find that the production version of Air is almost identical to the beta version. Unfortunately we don't see the interior. However, it is reported to fall into the understated luxury goods category and without huge screens.

Lucid is preparing for one of the most important moments in the company's history. The production version of Air will be presented at the New York Auto Show in April. Ahead of the auto show, Lucid reveals more information about the vehicle, including a recently released video that pointed out that the vehicle has a real range of over 400 miles. Lucid has achieved this 400 mile range in simulated tests, but how it works on the streets is really important.

What is impressive when these numbers are correct is that this was achieved with a 110 kWh battery. This is an improvement over 2016 when Lucid said a 130 kWh battery would be required to achieve this range. In my previous conversations with CEO Peter Rawlinson – and a wild ride with him behind the wheel of an early Air prototype in Vegas – it's clear that he's obsessed with battery efficiency. Apparently that has not subsided.

The car and driver who attended this special event stated in their report that Rawlinson's goal is to reach five miles per kilowatt hour. With the upcoming Model Y, Tesla can currently claim 4.1 miles per kilowatt hour as the most efficient electric vehicle.

And late Friday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has tweeted that the Tesla Model S now has an estimated EPA range of over 390 miles or ~ 630 km.

In the bypass

During a week's House Panel hearing about how best to regulate autonomous vehicles, things got a little prickly on Capitol Hill. Watch the hearing to see how everything unfolds. Here is a practical link to it.

A short history lesson: The SELF DRIVE ACT was passed unanimously by the republican controlled House of Representatives in 2017. AV START, a complementary law introduced in the Senate, has not been passed because the Democrats said it did not go far enough to address security and liability issues.

A bipartisan group has revived efforts to draft laws that address Democratic concerns and give automakers and AV developers more freedom to use vehicles that lack controls such as a steering wheel or pedals that are currently required by federal law.

There has been some public agreement between the traditional automakers and AAJ on the issue of accountability. However, there is still a huge gap between organizations such as the Consumer Technology Association and security lawyers and litigators on the issue of forced arbitration.

Groups like the American Association for Justice, a group that represents litigants, want to ban arbitration in any autonomous vehicle bill.

Meanwhile, CTA President and CEO Gary Shapiro provided evidence that was clearly against restricting the use of arbitration. The CTA argues that arbitration lowers litigation costs and provides more timely remedies.

People who were in the room told me they were surprised at how unshakable Shapiro's comments were and suggested that this was not in line with some automakers' views.

After the hearing, the Senate's energy and retail, trade, science and transportation committees distributed seven sections to industry groups dealing with issues such as crash data exchange and cyber security. This is evident from reports by the Bloomberg government. There was no provision. Any ideas? Yes, the provision on forced arbitration. This has prompted some Democrats to give up the bill.

There are two ways in which this bill can survive in this congressional session – by unanimous consent, meaning everyone agrees, or by appending to another bill. The first option is highly unlikely. And the second is just as lean, as the Senate has limited options for adding self-driving laws to another bill.

Hail adventure

Two points to mention that illustrate how the world of ride hail is evolving.

Uber comes first. The company is testing a new feature for older adults that allows customers to dial a 1-800 number and speak to an actual person to greet a ride. The pilot starts in Arizona, followed by other countries not yet mentioned. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

However, it's not quite like calling a taxi dispatcher. You still need a phone that can receive SMS or text messages to get information about the driver and his ETA.

Now let's jump to Nigeria, where new regulations in the country's commercial center, Lagos, are causing chaos.

Lagos has started to limit where common motorbikes, so-called okadas, can be operated. This affects motorcycle taxi companies like ORide, Max .ng and Gokada.

In a statement by email, Olalere Ridwan, Senior Director of Operations at ORide, said the rules "prohibit commercial motorcycles … in the city's major commercial and residential areas, including Victoria Island and Lagos Island."

According to reporter Jake Bright, the restrictions on motorcycle taxis have also overridden Lagos' disordered transit network – other modes of mobility (such as minibuses) have been overloaded and more people have been forced to hammer on pavement and red dirt to get to work.

Google's ax triggers a spin-off

Google Bookbot Cartken

I wanted to highlight one of our ONMs, which is also known as the original news producer. Ba dum bulge.

Freelancer Mark Harris is back with an insight into Google's short-lived bookbot program and how his death sparked a new and hidden startup called Cartken.

Bookbot was a robot that was developed in Google Area 120 incubator for experimental products. The plan was to control an autonomous robot in Mountain View that would pick up library books from users and bring them back to the library. Apparently it was well received. But it was killed well before the end of its nine-month pilot. Bookbot's decline followed Google's decision to reduce efforts to compete with Amazon while shopping.

But Bookbot seems to be back, albeit in a leaner form and with a broader use case than a library book shuttle. Engineers working on Bookbot, as well as a logistics expert who was once responsible for operations at Google Express, left the company to found Cartken in autumn 2019.

Check out Harris & # 39; deep immersion in Bookbot, Google's move away from shopping and Cartken.

TC sessions: mobility savings

Perhaps you have heard or read here in this newsletter that TC Sessions: Mobility On May 14th we will return to San Jose for a second year – a one-day event full of the best and brightest engineers, policy makers, investors, entrepreneurs and innovators all trying to be part of this new era of transportation.

Here is my discount offer for you. Use the code to get a 10% discount on tickets, including early bookings AUTOMOBILE. The early bird sale ends on April 9th. Early bird tickets are available Now for $ 250 – that's $ 100 savings before prices go up. Students can book a ticket for just $ 50. Book your tickets today.

So far we have announced:

  • Shin-pei Tsay, director of politics, cities and transport at Uber
  • Boris Sofman, who leads Waymo's autonomous trucking efforts
  • Nancy Sun, chief engineer and co-founder of Ike Robotics
  • Truck VC General Partner Reilly Brennan
  • Klaus Zellmer, CEO of Porsche North America
  • Olaf Sakkers, general partner at Maniv Mobility

Expect more announcements each week ahead of the May 14 event.