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Welcome back to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of moving people and packages from Point A to Point B.
Another week, another reminder about a discount for Disrupt. I’ll keep it short.
If you want to attend TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco (and please reach out if you do) go to this link and type in the code STATION to get 15% off passes, excluding online and expo tickets.
Moving on to the Detroit Auto Show. Wow, it was small this year. Like really small. Matt Burns, a veteran TechCrunch reporter and editor, was on the ground and had an interesting silver lining observation — at least for startups. The lack of OEM presence was actually great news for startups, he reports.
The startups used to be relegated to the literal basement. Now they are taking center stage — or at least are stage adjacent. Of course, the lack of high-profile reveals from the traditional OEMs could mean less attention for everyone, including startups.
Oh, one other notable person showed up at the show. President Joe Biden was there and announced the approval of the first $900 million in funding to build electric vehicle charging stations in 35 states as part of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill.
This week our homies over at Micromobility Industries hosted yet another micromobility-focused event in San Francisco, and TC’s very own Haje Jan Kamps rolled up to check out the goods.
Some standouts from the event:
Apollo presented the Apollo Pro, a $3,500 sturdy beast that is claiming to be the ‘Cybertruck of scooters.’
Brooklyn-based Beyond launched its ‘Cargo One’ e-scooter for delivery workers.
Escend launched its electric rollerblades, which seem equal parts fun and equal parts terrifying.
Faction displayed its latest mini driverless fleet vehicle.
Hunter Boards presented its lightweight electric skateboard.
Tortoise was rocking around with its vending machine on wheels.
Micromobility Industries launched RideReview.io to create a one-stop-shop for micromobility vehicle reviews, commentary and test rides.
Unagi had some good and bad news to share. Let’s start with the bad. The much-hyped Unagi Eleven, which was designed with some insanely smart features, is being sunsetted as it was just too expensive to make it work as a subscription service.
However, Unagi debuted its new Model One Voyager, which will be available in December, and appears to be a jumped up version of its original Model One scooter. The company is also expanding its subscription geographically.
Veo revealed the Apollo Class II e-bike which is designed to handle two passengers and will launch in select markets in 2023.
Wau Bike showed off its e-bike with 100 miles of range.
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— Rebecca Bellan
Deal of the week
When I think of Porsche and the 911, I no longer just think of that sweet and iconic sports car. Nope.
The highly anticipated (maybe anxiety inducing) Porsche IPO will reportedly offer 911 million shares. ;D
The IPO is predicted to garner a market valuation of between an admittedly wide-ranging €60-85 billion ($60-85 billion). That puts VW Group in an interesting position, considering that the entire company — which today includes Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Porsche, Skoda, Seat and Volkswagen passenger vehicles — has a market cap of about 87 billion euros (as of this writing). Prediction time: Porsche’s IPO will not reach those heights (call me conservative).
As for the deal itself, it’s worth knowing the background of Porsche, the family behind it, and its relationship to VW Group. Reuters has a nice little story outlining the history and drama behind Porsche. To understand the past, is to understand the stakes.
Tl;dr: Porsche Automobil Holding SE, which was controlled by the Piëch family, tried to buy out Volkswagen, but instead gave up power and ended up merging with the company.
Want more deals? A whole list of them, including info on Aptiv, TerraWatt and TruckSmarter were in the subscription version this week. Subscribe for free here.
Notable reads and other tidbits
Argo AI revealed an ecosystem of products and services designed to support commercial delivery and robotaxi operations. Why do I care? Because after years of demos and videos, companies are starting to show how they plan to make money.
Cruise said it will launch commercial robotaxi services in Austin, Texas and Phoenix — two hot spots for autonomous vehicle development in the next 90 days. The services will initially be small scale, but from the outset the robotaxi services will be driverless. Company execs emphasized that 90-day timeframe repeatedly; it seems they want to showcase that they can scale quickly. We shall see!
Einride, the autonomous and electric truck maker, is expanding into Germany, representing its first new market in Europe outside its native Sweden.
Philip Koopman, an autonomous vehicle safety consultant, breaks down a crash involving a Zoox autonomous test vehicle.
You probably saw coverage of the robot pushing its way into and through a crime scene. Here is a bit more to the story. The robot’s error, at least in this case, was caused by humans. I think this story sheds some light on the state of autonomous vehicle technology and the lessons that can be learned.
Want to read more of the notable reads plus other bits of news from the week? The Station’s weekly emailed newsletter has a lot more on EVs and AVs, future of flight, insider info and more. Click here and then check “The Station” to receive the full edition of the newsletter every weekend in your inbox.