Another autonomous vehicle startup shuttered, Zoox, fueled investor interest in driverless testing and AI.

WhatsApp Group Join Now
Telegram Group Join Now
Instagram Group Join Now

Image credit: Zooks

TechCrunch Mobility is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. Sign up here — just click TechCrunch Mobility — to receive the newsletter in your inbox every weekend. Subscribe for free.

Welcome back Tech Crunch Mobility – Your central hub for news and insights on the future of transportation.

I spent a few days in Austin. SXSW, where I met founders and executives, had some conversations and even moderated two panels. While creative AI was clearly the biggest attraction, the future of transportation still captured the attention of investors, urban planners, founders, corporations and the media. I heard a lot of talk about how autonomous vehicles would fit into cities, as well as discussions about what technology could help ease traffic and reduce emissions.

I caught an interesting conversation between the mayor of Austin. Kirk Watson And Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who predicted that the company would become greener, more affordable and challenge Amazon in the future. Those goals seem a bit more attainable — and higher on the priority list — now that Uber has finally ticked the profitability box.

Wemo Co-CEO Takedra Mokana She was also at SXSW, where she announced that the company will begin offering its robotaxi service to the public this week in Los Angeles and Austin by the end of the year. Side note: We’re hearing service will arrive in Austin sometime this summer. Maybe I’ll be back in town sooner than expected!

Well, let’s jump into the rest of the week’s news!

A small bird

EV startup Fisker The dealership has spent the past few months trying to move away from a Tesla-style direct sales model after struggling to sell half of the cars it made in 2023.

The company seemed to have made some progress on that front. However, one little birdie told us that one of the dozen dealerships he signed up with has already dropped him. Fisker Ourisman, which was supposed to be the latest expansion of the Ourisman Automotive Group, has ditched the startup and cleaned up the website it set up to promote Fisker’s Ocean SUV just a month after the deal was announced.

The loss of the dealership came after the Wall Street Journal reported that Fisker had hired outside help to consider a possible bankruptcy filing.

It’s not immediately clear if any other dealers have followed suit. Classic of Atlanta owner-operator Mike Domenicone said he has given more than 150 test drives and sold the first shipment of Ocean SUVs at his new “Classic of Fisker” offshoot.

Have a tip for us? E-mail Kristen Korosek at or Sean O’Kane If you prefer to remain anonymous., Click here to contact us.including SecureDrop (Instructions here) and various encrypted messaging apps.

Deal of the week

If you’re looking for another example of investor enthusiasm for AI, just take a look at the autonomous vehicle software company’s latest fundraise. Applied intuition.

The company raised $250 million in a round that sent its valuation to $6 billion and a who’s who of high-profile investors. The Series E round was led by Lux Capital’s Bilal Zuberi, investor Elad Gul, and Porsche Investment Management, the sports car maker’s independent business. Others who joined the round included Andreessen Horowitz, Mary Maker’s Growth Fund Bond and even Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg.

Applied Intuition says it is pushing to bring more artificial intelligence to the automotive, defense, construction and agriculture sectors. As a reporter Sean O’Kane That said, the company seems to have carved out a special sweet spot for VCs looking for startups with AI products that enter big industries with big budgets — defense being a hot area — with seemingly endless opportunities. With.

Other deals that caught my attention…

AnaphyteA battery technology startup has raised £1.6 million ($2 million) in government-backed grant investment led by Elbow Beach Capital.

inDriveA mobility app that offers ride-hailing and other urban services has increased its financing arrangement with General Catalyst to $300 million, up from the initial $150 million it secured in 2023.

JoyrideA micromobility software provider has raised $5.2 million in a Series A funding round led by Yamaha Motors and includes return investment from Urban Innovation Fund, Proza Ventures, Two Small Fish Ventures and Export Development Canada (EDC). Is.

MotionAutonomous vehicle technology startup Motional secured a bridge loan that provides a temporary financial boost as the company looks for a long-term source of funding, TechCrunch has learned exclusively.

Tello, an electric vehicle startup aiming to develop a pint-sized pickup truck, raised $5.4 million in a round from Neo and Spero Ventures. Mark Tarpening, a Spiro Venture partner and co-founder of Tesla, will join the board.

Volvo car Invested an undisclosed amount in UK startup Breath Battery Technologies. Volvo plans to integrate the startup’s battery management software into its next-generation electric vehicles to improve charging times by up to 30 percent.

Notable reading and other things

Autonomous vehicles

Uptronic, an Austin-based robotics startup has partnered with Mercedes-Benz. The two companies will collaborate to identify and then test applications for cutting-edge robotics in Mercedes-Benz manufacturing.

Aurora showcased its autonomous vehicle system during an analyst and investor day at its headquarters in Pittsburgh. The company demonstrated how Peterbilt 579 semi-trucks equipped with the state-of-the-art Aurora Driver System (and no humans behind the wheel) handled real-world driving conditions on a closed course.

Phantom Auto, a remote-driving startup that launched seven years ago amid buzz about autonomous vehicle technology, shut down after failing to secure new funding. The startup had raised $95 million since its inception and had customers. And we’re told they were close to raising more funds earlier. We’ll be watching to see what happens to Phantom Auto’s IP.

Zooks Expanded driverless testing — depending on operational hours, conditions and geography — near its Foster City, California headquarters and in Las Vegas. Driverless Zoos, which is not yet open to the public, now operates five miles down the road from the south end of the Las Vegas strip. Zoox is expected to open to the public in late 2024 in Las Vegas.

Electric vehicles, batteries and charging

CourchellA battery materials startup has revealed a breakthrough that could lower the cost of lithium-ion batteries.

Lucid Motors is embroiled in a trademark battle over its Gravity SUV name. Google Ventures-backed EV charging company Gravity Inc. filed a “Revocation Petition” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) in December asking for cancellation of Lucid’s Gravity trademark.

India It will reduce import taxes on certain electric vehicles for companies that invest at least $500 million and set up a local manufacturing facility within three years, a policy change that will bolster Tesla’s plans to enter the South Asian market. can

Lordstown Motors Emerging from bankruptcy with a new name — Nu Ride Inc. — and almost sole focus: continuing his lawsuit against iPhone maker Foxconn for allegedly “destroying the business of an American startup.” The restructured version of Lordstown Motors will also pursue “potential business combinations,” though it did not say what kind of merger it is seeking.


Uber And Lieut Leaving Minneapolis over minimum wage law.

This week’s wheels

Image credit: Kristen Korosek

While I was in Austin, I took a demo ride on public roads Self-driving VW ID Buzz prototype. It wasn’t a true driverless ride because a human safety operator was still behind the wheel. However, it did give me some insight into how VW ADMT – the autonomous driving, mobility and transportation subsidiary at the German automaker – is developing. The final and commercial version of Driverless ID. The Buzz AD, which will be designed for riding, is expected to launch in 2026.

You may recall that VW’s autonomous vehicle ambitions were wrapped up in Argo AI, a startup fully backed by the automaker and partner Ford. Both companies pulled funding for Argo AI, leading to its closure. VW then turned to Mobileye and has since taken a different path towards autonomous driving, unlike Waymo, Cruise, Zoox and Motional.

VW and Mobileye believe in a progressive approach in which the technology found in advanced driver assistance systems used in modern cars can progress to driverless systems used in robotaxis. This is similar to Tesla’s argument.

My ride wasn’t entirely smooth, though I didn’t expect it to be. However, the vehicle suddenly appeared and stopped when the manned vehicle unexpectedly pulled out of the street. There was a hiccup as we approached a double parked emergency vehicle. I.D. Buzz sat for a while before the safety operator took control and drove him around.

WhatsApp Group Join Now
Telegram Group Join Now
Instagram Group Join Now

Leave a Comment