Yandex spins out self-driving biz, Ike takes the SaaS highway and a solid-state battery startup strikes SPAC – TechCrunch
The Station is a weekly e-newsletter devoted to all issues transportation.
Howdy and welcome again to The Station, a e-newsletter devoted to all the current and future methods individuals and packages transfer from Level A to Level B.
As summer season involves an finish, offers have lagged a skosh forward of what guarantees to be a busy fall. And whereas the information cycle continues, there was a slight dip in depth. Appears like a great time to take a break, no? Yup, it’s. Subsequent week, there won’t be a difficulty of the e-newsletter. Don’t fear, it is going to return Sept. 19.
Alright let’s get to it.
And this week, a brand new SPAC stands out. Yup, you knew it. I knew it; all of us knew one other SPAC was coming. Some SPAC merger bulletins really feel like a determined try by younger unproven firms to entry capital. That’s not the case this week.
QuantumScape, the solid-state battery firm backed by Volkswagen Group, agreed to merge with a particular function acquisition firm Kensington Capital Acquisition Corp. The merger will give QuantumScape a post-deal market valuation of $3.3 billion.
QuantumScape will not be a fledgling startup. It’s been round for decade, attracting consideration and capital early on from high-profile enterprise companies like Kleiner Perkins and Khosla Ventures. Volkswagen entered the image in 2012 and has invested a complete of $300 million in QuantumScape, together with $200 million this yr.
QuantumScape goes after the capitally intensive objective of making an attempt to commercialize solid-state batteries for electrical autos. Stable-state batteries use a stable electrolyte and never a liquid or gel-based electrolyte present in lithium-ion batteries. Builders declare that stable electrolytes have better vitality density, which interprets into squeezing extra vary out of a smaller and lighter battery. Stable electrolytes are also speculated to be higher at thermal administration, lowering the chance of fireside and the reliance on the sorts of cooling methods present in at present’s EVs.
Geely Vehicle Holdings plans to lift 20 billion yuan ($2.93 billion) from a public share sale on Shanghai’s STAR Market, funds that will likely be used to spend money on new automobile fashions and applied sciences, Reuters reported.
Zomato, the Indian meals supply startup, has raised $62 million from Temasek, resuming a financing spherical that it initially anticipated to shut in January this yr. Singapore’s state funding arm Temasek financed the capital by its unit MacRitchie Investments, a regulatory submitting confirmed.
AV highlight: Yandex
Protection of automated automobile expertise firms tends to concentrate on U.S.-based efforts. Relaxation assured, there may be motion elsewhere. Yandex, the publicly traded Russian tech big that began as a search engine, is a kind of firms.
The corporate has expanded into numerous different, associated areas (just like U.S. counterpart Google) together with automated automobile expertise. In January, I rode of their self-driving automobile (with no human behind the wheel) throughout a demo on public streets of Las Vegas throughout CES. I’ve by no means been an enormous fan of demos as it will possibly assist firms disguise issues with their tech. Yandex’s demo was notable nonetheless. The automobile moved confidently, perhaps even aggressively, because it maneuvered round a bus that had stopped within the roadway, it dealt with left turns in addition to a parking storage with ease. (this GIF from Yandex is of a drive in Moscow, fyi)
I point out all of this background as a result of Yandex stated this week it’s spinning out its self-driving car unit from MLU BV — a ride-hailing and meals supply three way partnership it operates in partnership with Uber. The transfer comes amid studies that Yandex and Uber have been eyeing up an IPO for MLU final yr. On the time, the JV was estimated to be valued at round $7.7 billion.
As a part of the spin-out, Yandex is investing $150 million into the enterprise, a sum that may embody $100 million in fairness, plus $50 million within the type of a convertible mortgage. Yandex is shopping for out a few of Uber’s shares on this course of and can now have a 73% stake within the spun-out enterprise, with Uber proudly owning 19%. The remaining 8% will likely be owned by Yandex self-driving group (SDG) administration and workers. Yandex stated it has invested some $65 million within the enterprise to date.
Spinning out the unit might assist enhance the unit economics and value base of the MLU unit, as TechCrunch editor Ingrid Lunden famous in her report. However Yandex says that it’s being finished to double down on a extra targeted funding in self-driving.
A unique sort of EV startup
This isn’t an electrical automobile startup; it’s extra like EV adjoining. And it’s an app!
Plenty of apps have popped over the previous a number of years — consistent with Tesla’s rising recognition. Most goal to let drivers monitor and plan their routes and sometimes have a social part. Tezlab is an efficient instance, and I’ve written about them earlier than.
The one I wish to introduce you to known as Nikola. The app launched in 2018 as a interest venture of David Hodge, who based a mass transit app known as Embark, which Apple acquired in 2013. Hodge stayed at Apple for a number of years after which went to Stripe. However the Nikola app compelled him to exit on his personal once more.
This week, Hodge launched Nikola 2.0. Right here’s the gist: Nikola 2.0 is a subscription-based app that gives well being monitoring of the proprietor’s Tesla (simply Teslas for now, however Hodge goals to broaden).
The app, which is barely in iOS proper now, provides the consumer data on battery stage tendencies, effectivity, vitality consumption, high and common pace in addition to stats on weekly ghost drain and driving and charging historical past, which will be exported for tax or expense report functions. Customers may also verify their battery stage with the Nikola Apple Watch complication and examine their efficiency to different Tesla drivers with Nikola Fleet Stats.
What I’m keen on is that this different new characteristic known as the Nikola report. It is sort of a Carfax report that an EV proprietor can share with potential patrons after they go to promote their electrical automobile. The info assortment for the Nikola report characteristic is simply now getting began.
Notable reads and different tidbits
Welcome to the roundup part of the e-newsletter …
Bay Space Fast Transit, or BART, is selling personal hand straps that may be rapidly thrown onto poles within the practice automobile for people would fairly not contact any surfaces.
GM and Ford have fulfilled their separate multi-million-dollar ventilator contracts — collectively delivering 80,000 of the units to the U.S. authorities.
GM and Honda signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to determine an automotive alliance in North America. The deal brings collectively two automakers which have a protracted established historical past of working collectively. The businesses will share automobile platforms, which will likely be offered beneath their respective and distinct manufacturers, in addition to cooperate in buying, analysis and improvement and related companies.
Ike, the automated trucking startup, had some massive information this week. Ryder, DHL and NFI have chosen Ike as their automated driving expertise supplier. These fleets, and a few others the corporate has not but introduced, have collectively reserved the primary 1,000 vans powered by its expertise.
The startup additionally lifted the hood, so to talk, on their enterprise mannequin. Ike is taking a SaaS strategy to automated automobile expertise. The corporate defined in a blog post this week that it’s going to promote a Software program as a Service subscription to fleets. Clients will purchase vans geared up with Ike’s validated automation system from its OEM manufacturing companions. Automated vans will likely be owned and operated by fleets and “Powered by Ike,” the put up learn.
REMINDER! Nancy Solar, the co-founder and chief engineer of Ike, will likely be on our digital stage for the TC Sessions: Mobility 2020 occasion October 6 and seven. When you’ve by no means heard of Solar, or listened to her, be ready to be impressed. The occasion is shaping as much as be fairly nice and we have now just a few extra audio system left to announce.
Lucid Motors, which is ready to disclose the Air on September 9, retains dropping bits of information on the luxurious electrical automobile. This time, Lucid introduced that the Air is able to a 9.9-second quarter mile. That’s sooner than a Tesla Mannequin S and sooner than most manufacturing automobiles in the marketplace.
Metromile, a pay-per-mile insurance coverage firm, stated it’s teaming up with Ford Motor to offer homeowners of Ford autos geared up with built-in connectivity with personalised automobile insurance coverage.
Tesla didn’t make it into the S&P 500 as so many had predicted. Tesla followers took to Twitter on Friday to gripe concerning the resolution that welcomed Etsy, Teradyne and Catalan into the S&P.
Torc Robotics and its mum or dad firm Daimler Vehicles, introduced plans to expand their joint self-driving truck on-road testing to New Mexico this month and set up a take a look at heart within the Albuquerque space.
The U.S. authorities rolled out a brand new on-line software designed to provide the general public perception into the place and who’s testing automated automobile expertise all through the nation. The official identify of the web software is the Automated Vehicle Transparency and Engagement for Safe Testing Initiative tracking tool. Whereas the design is straightforward and easy, it’s incomplete since it’s based mostly off of data that firms have volunteered. Let’s hope that is the start of what is going to develop into a complete one-stop store of all automated automobile expertise within the nation.
VanMoof, the e-bike firm is opening a retailer in Seattle — its third in america. The growth illustrates the corporate’s development, which has accelerated since March as gross sales of e-bikes within the U.S. popped 85% in contrast with the identical month a yr earlier.
Volkswagen launched teaser photographs of its upcoming all-electric ID.4 compact SUV that reveals what may simply be a pleasant stability between tech and previous well timed toggles and buttons. Might this be the Goldilocks story of the EV world? I’ll discover out later this month. Keep tuned.