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The Station: Summer of the SPAC, Adam Neumann returns and the Nissan Ariya debuts

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Hello and welcome back to The Station, a newsletter dedicated to all the present and future rooms beings and boxes move from Point A to Point B.

The dog days of summer are almost upon us. Technically, we won’t enter this period until July 22. In normal times, trip season would be well underway and the touch song of the summer would be established and a regular patron at every beach party, barbecue and dance sorority. That’s not exactly what’s going down this summer. Nonetheless, we do have ourselves a knock financing instruments of the season. The SPAC, or Special Purpose Acquisition Company, is this summer’s ” Seniorita .” Everywhere you turn, there it is.

More on the SPACs and other fun substance below. Vamos!

Reach out and email me anytime at kirsten.korosec @techcrunch. com to share thoughts, criticisms, offer up sentiments or gratuities. You can also send a direct send to me at Twitter — @kirstenkorosec.


We know that COVID-1 9 has changed the way we work and are moving metropolitans where reference is do leave our homes. Public transit ridership has to decline in many thick-witted urban centres. And so did shared scooter and bike ridership, although there is evidence that these two means of transportation are rebounding.

Micromobility company Lime looked at its ridership data the month before the lockdown began and equated it with the month after. Lime CEO Wayne Ting noted in a blog affix this week a few cases developing trends. People are razzing scooters 34% longer and 18% deep; and they’re using them for recreation and to run errands. Lime also discovered that travel is starting in neighborhoods most frequently than in pre-COVID times.

And bikes, as we’ve noted here before, are back and most popular than ever. Lime said its e-bike rental service has encountered record practice, with consumers taking longer pilgrimages and the motorcycles being used more frequently. In London, Lime recorded its highest-ever usage in a single date last-place month, with over 4,000 new users, the company said.

While the survey by Lime might seem self serving, the data has been obliging enough to change how, and more specifically where, it controls. The busines has taken the bicycles and scooters out of areas normally dominated by tourists and moved them into places. It’s also flattened out brand-new flex elapses and is finally bringing some of those Jump bikes back to cities.

In other micromobility news …

In the mopeds arena, TechCrunch’s Catherine Shu examines Taiwan-based WeMo and its plans to expand internationally.

Meanwhile, shared electric moped startup Revel received a permit that will allow it to operate in San Francisco, beginning in August. Revel will start with a sail of 432 mopeds featuring a brand-new make-up scheme and a more powerful engine to help riders get up and over the city’s infamously steep hills.

Over in the bikes macrocosm, a new brand has surfaced called Superstrata that hopes to standout with its 3D engraved carbon fiber unibody that is based on precise measurements of each customer. Superstrata told TechCrunch that this translates into more than 250,000 unique combinations

But Superstrata is not just some new motorcycle startup. It’s a new firebrand under Arevo, the Bay Area-based additive manufacturing startup. Superstrata is meant to demonstrate Arevo’s push into manufacturing as a service and composite additive manufacturing.

The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition will maintain its two-day summit virtually next month. Registration is $50. While many of the discussions will have a local focus, these are universal issues that metropolis around the U.S. and beyond face. Expect discussions on slow streets fluctuation, equity, bikeway layouts and safety.

Deal of the week

Remember way back in January when it looked like direct inventories were the “re going to be” the favored method to bringing a company public? Welp, direct directories are out and SPACs are in.

Electric car maker Fisker has become the latest example of this trend. The corporation, which really conjured $50 million from investors, said it reached an agreement to merge with Spartan Energy Acquisition Corp ., a special determination buy corporation sponsored by an affiliate of Apollo Global Management Inc. As a decision, Fisker will become a public company with a valuation of $ 2.9 billion. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Fisker said this will provide the funding it needs to bring its first produce, the all-electric Fisker Ocean SUV, to make in late 2022.

The agreement labels the latest company to turn to SPACs in lieu of a traditional IPO process. Online exploited vehicle mart startup Shift Technologies, Velodyne Lidar and Nikola Motor have all gone public by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company.

SPACs are not new, even if you’re learning about them for the first time. Would a SPAC by any other name smell as sugared? Why yes, yes it would. These have been around for decades and have gone by different appoints, including” blind consortia” and” clean shell firms .” These blank-check fellowships — experience another refer — is a corporation that has no defined business propose or intent other than to raise money from public business to acquire a private company.

Other transactions that got our tending this week …

Adam Neumann, the contentious co-founder and former CEO of WeWork, is back and investing in the shared economy. This time with its emphasis on mobility.

Neumann’s home agency, 166 2nd Financial Works, vested $10 million into GoTo Global as one of the purposes of a $19 million Series B round. GoTo Global is a shared mobility corporation that operates in Israel and Malta and aims to expand into Europe last-minute this year. The firm is aiming to cover the entire assortment of shared vehicles from automobiles and mopeds to bicycles and electric scooters.

Neumann has a 33% stake in GoTo Global and can nominate one board member on his behalf. Existing stockholder Shagrir Group Vehicle Services, a publicly traded Israeli company, too was represented at the round.

Drover, a UK startup that is providing flexible car dues for private consumers, raised PS20. 5 million ($ 25.7 million) in a round of funding co-led by Target Global, RTP Global( the Russian company formerly known as ru-Net) and Autotech Ventures. New investors Channel 4 Endeavours and Rider Global, as well as previous patrons Cherry Ventures, BP Ventures, Partech, Version One and Forward Collaborator likewise participated. Drover did not disclose its valuation. The corporation has raised PS27. 5 million to date.

Chinese electric automaker Li Auto filed for a $100 million IPO and plans to list on the Nasdaq.( missed this filing last Friday ). The firm recently invoked $550 million.

Navistar and self-driving trucks startup TuSimple extended their two-year relationship and announced plans to develop and begin producing autonomous semi trucks by 2024. Navistar also took an undisclosed stake in TuSimple. The program is to move away from retrofitting the Navistar International commercial trucks that TuSimple currently uses and instead develop semi trucks specifically designed for autonomous operations.

Self-driving trucks startup is in talks to raise $ 60 million, The Information reported. The fundraising for the company that is based in China and the U.S ., is still under negotiation. Hong Kong-based investment and securities firm Guotai Junan International is expected to lead the round that have been able to appreciate between $600 million to$ 1 billion.

Skydio invoked $100 million in a Series C funding round led by Next4 7. New investors Levitate Capital and NTT DOCOMO Ventures joined the round with existing allies a16z, IVP and Playground. The funding will be used to accelerate product development endeavours, expand its go-to-market strategy beyond customer employments to enterprise and public sphere monotone technology.

Uber acquired Routematch, an Atlanta-based company that offer software to transit authorities as the ride-hailing company searches to offer more SaaS-related services to municipalities. Expect more public transport SaaS deals.

Uber did not share periods of the batch. This doesn’t appear to be a minor “acqui-hire,” in which a company is purchased to property a few talented employees. Instead, Uber is making a strategic acquisition for a company that has developed software used by more than 500 transit bureaux. The the activities of the 170 -person companionship will continue and CEO Pepper Harward will remain.

More Uber news. This time the company is reportedly talking with investors about taking a stake in its Uber Freight division, Bloomberg reported. Discussions are underway to raise $ 500 million, a round that they are able to give the freight business a standalone its evaluation of about$ 4 billion after the deal.

Startup spotlight

The startup spotlight is like a mini edition of my” startup editions” newsletter that was sent out earlier this month. I’m not expend a technical programme to pick these startups and when I do, it might not even be restrained to a particular announcement. Basically, if I see anything interesting I will position it here.

Which raises me to Onfleet, a SaaS company that established a programme for last-mile delivery services across a wide array of manufactures. The application pulpit handles the logistics of bringing such as route planning, complete, real-time tracking, analytics and communications for companionships like Imperfect Nutrient, MedMen and Total Wine& More. As you might suspect, deliveries are hot right now. But that doesn’t mean Onfleet hasn’t had to adjust.

Image Credits: Onfleet

Co-founder and CEO Khaled Naim and I spoke awhile back about how the company has had to change in response to COVID-1 9. For example, the company made a contactless signature peculiarity that it flattened out in early May. Now its corporate patrons can include a special URL in the SMS notifications that go out to recipients when a operator goes close to their destination. The user, say a person waiting for that wine-coloured or brew bringing, is then stimulated to sign for the pack on their telephone. It has been a critical addition for regulated industries such as alcohol, cannabis and medicines, where a signature is legally required, Naim said , noting these are significant segments for the company.

Onfleet has verified bringings explode since March and is now averaging more than one bringing per second throughout the week, with peaks of more than three bringings per second, Naim said.

Global delivery volume is up with striking spikes in booze, cannabis, grocery, pharmacy, readied banquets, dinner gears and restaurants. He added that a handful of areas like gratifying, laundry and cool clean have been hit somewhat hard by COVID-1 9.

There are new segments surfacing as well. For instance, seafood distributors and breweries, which once were delivering to eateries, have shifted to business-to-consumer functionings. Pet food deliveries are also up as local pet accumulations find new opportunities to generate revenue.

” A plenty of our purchasers have been strained and are trying to serve an increase in demand, while at the same time struggling with a shortage of moves ,” Naim said.

In response, Onfleet formed a delivery driver job board to connect operators with transmission gigs globally. And as world demand has tided, Onfleet had to add four expressions to its motorist app, including Italian, German, Dutch, and Arabic. French and Spanish have been available for awhile now.

If you have a mobility startup that has adjusted its business modeling due to COVID-1 9 or have some interesting data to share, email me. As ever, I never promise coverage but I will take a examine.

Notable reads and other tidbits

More transportation news! Let’s get to it.

Autonomous vehicles

AutoX, autonomous vehicle startup backed by Alibaba, has been granted a permit in California to begin driverless testing on public superhighways in a limited area in San Jose.

German lawmakers are preparing legislation that could commercialize driverless vehicle technology by next summertime. The landmark legislation, if transferred, would specify a long overdue framework that would cros both homologation and road traffic requirements for robotaxis in which the computer controls the vehicle at all times, Automotive News Europe reported.

Nuro posted a blog in Medium about food deserts and the character that autonomous delivery bots will play in providing more healthy alternatives to underserved communities. The busines calculated how many residences could theoretically be reached within 30 times from all major supermarkets with a self-driving delivery vehicle operating at speeds up to 45 mph. Nuro equated that data to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s( USDA) data on nutrient desert places. The startup said it could contact 14 million low-income households in food deserts nationwide, or 70% of the total low-income population in menu deserts.( Again, this is all theoretical at this detail. I noted here to illustrate potential scale and the company’s desires .)

SAFE published a report called Fostering Economic Opportunity through Autonomous Vehicle Technology that aimed to better understand the transportation challenges in low-income societies. The study reached the conclusion that about two-thirds of Americans live in neighborhoods that are beyond their makes because of chiefly unseen transportation costs. SAFE, of course, understands autonomous vehicles as a way out. The hypothesizes that AV transportation could reduce household expenditures by as much as $ 5,600 per household.


Berkeley is taking police officers out of traffic enforcement and replacing them with unarmed staff members of a newly formed Department of Transportation, per Streetsblog.

Silicon Valley metropolitans San Jose, Cupertino and Santa Clara have been mulling a transport organisation that would connect its originating airfield with major employers and trade other high-profile destinations along the Stevens Creek Boulevard corridor, an orbit that includes Apple headquarters. The group asked companies to submit proposals for inventive transport modes. A consultant, who hired to evaluate the proposals from companies that included The Boring Company, BYD and Bombardier, has released its findings. San Jose Mercury News has the breakdown of the top suggestions, which included personal cod gondolas, hyperloop and driverless shuttles.

It’s electrical

Dan Brouillette, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, announced $139 million in federal funding for 55 projects that will support boosted vehicle technologies. Six of these inventive programmes will be presided over by teams in Michigan.

BMW struck a long-term deal with Swedish-based Northvolt for $2.3 billion usefulnes of battery cells. The artillery cells will be produced in Europe at the Northvolt factory that is under construction in northern Sweden.

Nissan is moving on from the Leaf. The automaker unveiled the Nissan Ariya, an all-electric SUV with an estimated 300 miles of array and a starting price tag of $40,000 that marked the beginning of a four-year plan aiming for growing and profitability. The Nissan Ariya will firstly be sold in Japan in mid-2 021, before heading to dealerships in the U.S. and Canada later in the year, the company said in digital event in Yokohama, Japan.

Image Credits: Nissan

Tesla has ensured more than $61 million of charge motivations if it improves a $1.1 billion plant near Austin, Texas. Commissioners in Travis County, home to Austin and the possible next Tesla factory, approved Tuesday property tax breaks importance at least $ 14.7 million — and potentially more — over 10 years. The incentives are on top of $46.6 million in belonging taxation abatement that the Del Valle School District Board approved earlier this month.

Elon Musk feuded a German court ruling that bans the company from use on the following website or other publicizing terms like Autopilot or” full possibilities for autonomous driving .”

Future Cars!

Automakers are rethinking the interior of vehicles, the WSJ reports.

Ford relaunched Bronco after a 24 -year hiatus. There was an abundance of coverage on the Bronco 2, Bronco 4 and Bronco Sport — including my floor that looked at how the automaker leaned heavily on nostalgia, customization, functional design and technology.

Image ascribes: Ford

And eventually, as autonomous vehicle technology firms continue the slog towards commercially deployed Level 4 trucks and robotaxis, automakers have turned to advanced operator relief systems. It’s a trend that I first noticed back in late 2018 and into early 2019. Now, it’s at full tilt as automakers hasten to offer hands-free — but driver locked — plans. Reuters examines the forks and challenges to this pursuit.

See ya’ll next week.

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