Notable news and other tidbits
SAIC Mobility and its partner Momenta shared results from its 100-day robotaxi trial in Shanghai and Suzhou with TechCrunch. The study found, unsurprisingly, that people love the robotaxis, but what I thought was most interesting was the popularity of the robotaxi’s intelligent voice assistant, Xiao Ke, which was summoned 10,300 times, according to SAIC.
The assistant can do things like search for and play songs, adjust the air conditioning and open and close car windows. The song reservation function was used 5,234 times, with riders selecting to have music already playing when they get in the car. That’s an average of about 52 song reservations per day. The findings showed that Jay Chou, king of Mandopop, and his moody, pop-y beats were the unanimous first choice among users.
BMW’s prototype for its flagship EV, the iX, will run on the unique dual-chemistry battery pack created by battery startup Our Next Energy by the end of the year. The two companies say ONE’s battery will double the vehicle’s range to around 600 miles.
Honda and Sony are officially starting a joint venture to produce EVs. The new company will be called “Sony Honda Mobility Inc.”
Hyundai is developing a small EV for the Indian market.
Ferrari is joining the EV revolution with a goal to produce its first electric car by 2025.
Ford is having a time. The automaker is recalling nearly 50,000 Mustang Mach-Es and stopping deliveries due to a malfunction that could cause the vehicle to stop mid-drive. Ford’s CFO also said its costs for producing the Mach-E have risen to the tune of $25,000 due to battery material supply issues and other setbacks. Ford isn’t expecting to make a profit at all on the EVs, but it hasn’t yet said it would up its prices.
General Motors is throwing $81 million at its Global Technical Center in Michigan to hand-build the Cadillac Celestiq. The automaker also revealed the first looks at the Chevy Blazer EV.
Polestar plans to debut the Polestar 5 prototype and its new high-performance, limited edition Polestar 2 BST edition 270 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on June 23.
Rivian is delaying delivery of its R1S SUV again, to the ire of future owners. Separately, the EV startup is also integrating TuneIn into its vehicles, an app that’s like if Spotify and old-school radio had a baby.
Tesla, on the other hand, has just raised its prices without explaining why. The Model X is up $6,000.
In a huge win for labor activists, a Massachusetts court has rejected a bid by app-based gig companies to put forward a ballot proposal that would allow them to define gig workers as independent contractors, not employees.
Lyft has reached a $25 million settlement to resolve shareholder claims that it hid safety concerns, like sexual assault by drivers, before its 2019 IPO.
Uber is expanding its Reserve at Airports feature in time for summer travel. Now at 55 airports around the world, including 39 in the U.S., users can book rides to the airport 30 days in advance, trust the algorithm to track their flight and adjust pickup times accordingly, have their car wait up to 60 minutes and get 10% Uber Cash back for reserving in advance.
Amazon will be starting drone deliveries in a small town in California before branching out to other U.S. locations.
Grubhub and Cartken have teamed up to bring sidewalk delivery robots to college campuses, starting with Ohio State University.
Waymap has built a free app that helps visually impaired people navigate their surroundings. The startup recently finished a successful trial with Washington, D.C.’s metro and will expand throughout the city this year.
Don’t forget to sign up for TechCrunch Live on June 22 at 11:30 a.m. PDT, when Walker Drewett, founder of NuBrakes, tells us about how he raised capital and built his on-demand automotive maintenance and repair startup.