July 14, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA
Technology

VW joins Rivian in $5 billion EV deal and fight for Fisker assets

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Am I the only one whose head is spinning with all the transportation news this week? Reminder, it's only Thursday morning. Let's jump!

Oh, wait, before I do that, a point of order: we won't have a newsletter next week due to the July 4th holiday. See you on July 11th!

a little bird

blinking cat green bird
Image credits: Bryce Durbin

A little bird came to let us know that Cruise Cruise recently laid off 35 employees. Cruise confirmed the cuts and added some important context. They were described as routine eliminations of roles and not layoffs (the latter are generally carried out for financial reasons). And yes, we know this is a small cut (just 1% of your workforce) compared to the 24% round of layoffs late last year. Still, we're keeping an eye on all the developments at Cruise.

Separately, Cruise announced an employee reorganization that will put the company's security functions under Chief Security Officer Steve Kenner and integrate two teams (customer success and remote support). This reorganization is part of the company's continued investment in security, according to the company.

Do you have any advice for us? Email Kirsten Korosec at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.comSean O'Kane in sean.okane@techcrunch.com or Rebecca Bellan in rebecca.bellan@techcrunch.com. Or take a look These instructions to learn how to contact us through encrypted messaging apps or SecureDrop.

Offers!

money the station
Image credits: Bryce Durbin

I'm going to put the RivianVolkswagen Group link in the category of things I didn't expect in 2024. It's a A bargain and a curious one at that.

This is what we know so far. The deal is supposed to give VW access to Rivian's existing electrical architecture and software platform. Meanwhile, Rivian will get some of that sweet cash and manufacturing experience from VW that would presumably help the EV company reduce its costs.

This deal has the potential to bring $5 billion into Rivian’s coffers. But initially, VW Group will invest $1 billion in Rivian through an unsecured convertible note that will convert into Rivian common stock once certain regulatory approvals are received. That’s expected to happen in the fourth quarter of this year. VW Group will then purchase another $1 billion of Rivian common stock in 2025 and 2026. The remaining $2 billion will go into the joint venture, split between an initial investment and a loan in 2026.

The joint venture will be a 50-50 partnership with co-CEOs reporting to both Rivian and the Volkswagen Group. Rivian will share its expertise in electric architecture with VW and is expected to cede existing intellectual property rights to the joint venture.

There's a lot more to learn here, so stay tuned as we report this story.

Other offers that caught my attention…

Ether fuelsan e-fuels startup working on fuel production for aviation and maritime transport, raised $30.4 million of a $34.3 million round, according to a public document.

Bit detectiona South Korea-based startup developing 4D imaging radar, raised $25 million in a round of Serie B.

look for, a startup founded in 2019 that provides infrastructure for dynamic pricing systems used by airlines, raised $90 million in a Series B funding round led by Battery Ventures.

GetirThe food delivery startup will undergo a restructuring that includes Abu Dhabi wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company invest 250 million dollars in the company and acquiring majority control of its Turkish food operations, the Financial Times reported.

sky cella Swiss startup that developed hardware and software to transport pharmaceutical products, raised $116 million in a Series D round. SkyCell is now valued at $635 million, the company told TechCrunch.

Wisk Aeroa subsidiary of Boeing, acquired Verocel, a software verification and validation company serving the aerospace industry for 25 years. The terms were not disclosed.

Notable readings and other tidbits

Autonomous vehicles

If I were a betting woman, I could bet that Cruise It will be back on the streets of San Francisco in late 2024. Why? Some developments are beginning to point in that direction.

On the one hand, Cruise agreed pay a fine of $112,500 to California regulators for failing to provide complete information about an accident involving one of its robotaxis last year. And he also named Marc Whittena gaming veteran who most recently served as CTO at Unity, as its CEO.

Project 3 Mobilitythe Croatia-based autonomous vehicle startup that emerged from Rimac Groupannounced a new name, verne —like Jules Verne—and some details about the company. Verne was founded by Mate Rimac and two close friends of Rimac Group, Marko Pejković, who is now Verne’s CEO, and Adriano Mudri, the designer of Nevera and Verne’s design director. The plan is to launch a two-seater autonomous electric vehicle designed for urban environments and equipped with Mobileye technology by 2026, starting in Zagreb, Croatia, where Rimac Group is headquartered.

Uber charging and Aurora Innovation announced a multi-year collaboration that will allow Aurora's self-driving technology to be offered on the Uber Freight network through 2030. Read more to know the ins and outs of this agreement.

Waymo has eliminated the waiting list for your robotaxi service in San Francisco, giving anyone the ability to download the app and then immediately call one of your robotaxis in San Francisco. Nearly 300,000 people have signed up for the waiting list since last year.

Electric vehicles, charging and batteries.

Bankruptcy proceedings for fisherman They're shaping up to be just as eventful as the electric vehicle startup's last year. One of the most surprising confessions: it seems that fisker was in the face of “possible financial difficulties” Already last August. To put it in context, that same month Fisker held an event called “Product Vision Day” to promote several new models in development, including a low-cost electric vehicle and an electric pickup truck.

Meanwhile, a fight over Fisker assets It's already been charged, with one lawyer claiming the startup has been liquidating assets “outside of court oversight.” At stake is the relationship between Fisker and its largest secured lender, Heights Capital Managementa subsidiary of financial services company Susquehanna International Group.

Automotive software, applications and technology

CD Development Kitwhich makes customer management software for car dealers and auto shops to manage their customer and vehicle records, is We are still fixing the damage The problem is wreaking havoc on the 15,000 auto dealerships and shops across the United States that rely on the company's software. The company says it will take “several days” to fix.

From Stellantis AI chief Berta Rodríguez-Hervas has left the automaker. Automotive News Reported.

This week's wheels

Bugatti Tourbillon main
Image credits: Kirsten Korosec

I didn't get a chance to drive this particular vehicle, but boy, I have to share what I saw up close. I'm talking about the Bugatti tourbillonthe successor to the Bugatti Chiron and the first vehicle to come out since the merger with Rimac.

The Bugatti Tourbillon is special for several reasons, and not just because of its base price of €3.8 million or because only 250 units will be built. I would say that this Bugatti sums up what luxury will look like in a future digital age.

There are no giant screens inside, a modern detail that seems to be a requirement in every new car these days. Instead, the cornerstone of the luxurious interior is the instrument cluster, which was designed and built with the help of Swiss watchmakers. The instrument cluster, which contains more than 600 parts and includes precious stones such as sapphire and ruby, is fixed in place while the steering wheel rotates around it.

Image credits: Kirsten Korosec

Then there is the transmission. Bugatti ditched its famous 8.0 W16 quad-turbo and instead created a naturally aspirated V16 engine and an electric powertrain with three electric motors. The vehicle contains a 25 kilowatt-hour battery that provides between 60 and 70 kilometers of range (37 to 43 miles). Rimac Group founder and CEO Mate Rimac said it's “decent all-electric range if you need it, especially to make the car future-proof, in case, in some areas, it can't run on a combustion engine at all.

So forget about screens and apps. You won't find them here. Instead, innovation and technology are more like art.

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