Notable reads and other tidbits
Alibaba said its autonomous vehicle lab, which is under its Damo Academy, will merge into Cainiao, the company’s global logistics network. The lab will no longer operate under the basic research institute.
Cruise and Waymo are on the cusp of securing final approval to charge fares for fully autonomous robotaxi rides throughout the city of San Francisco at all hours of the day or night. The California Public Utilities Commission published two draft resolutions late last week that would grant the companies the ability to extend the hours of operation and service areas of their now-limited robotaxi services.
Ouster will supply May Mobility with lidar to power May’s autonomous vehicles.
TuSimple, the once high-flying autonomous trucks company that went public in 2021, is restructuring and laying off about 30% of its global workforce as it works to preserve cash and stay in business. One of the more interesting pieces of this restructuring (the second in six months) was the decision to keep its China subsidiary. The company was also at risk of being delisted from Nasdaq, but received a temporary reprieve from the exchange.
Electric vehicles, batteries and charging
BMW is working with Pacific Gas and Electric to test vehicle-to-grid technology to offset growing grid demand.
Mercedes-Benz Vans revealed more details on a new fully scalable electric vehicle architecture, called Van.EA. The new platform will be able to support a range of sizes, including midsize luxury vans and full-size cargo and camper vans. The first vans built on this platform will come to market in 2026.
QuantumScape, the solid-state battery company, is pivoting. The company is planning to focus on the consumer-electronics sector to bring in the capital it needs to commercialize automotive-grade cells.
Volvo said its upcoming all-electric EX30 small SUV will have a slew of safety features, including a driver monitoring system that detects eye and face movements around 13 times per second and an alert to help prevent drivers or passengers from opening their car door in front of bicyclists.
BMW also worked with Meta’s Reality Labs to explore how AR and VR can work inside a fast-moving vehicle.
Hyundai and Kia settled a class action lawsuit brought by owners of vehicles prone to theft for around $200 million. The trend of stealing Kias came from a viral TikTok “Kia Challenge” that provided demos for how to easily steal affected models in less than 90 seconds using a USB charging cord.
The U.S. International Trade Commission voted to institute an investigation into the unfair trade practices of Hesai Group based in Shanghai, China, following a patent infringement complaint from Ouster.
Austin Russell, the billionaire founder of lidar company Luminar, is getting into the media business. Yup, you read that correctly. Russell, through a consortium of foreign investors, is buying Forbes.
Autonomy, an EV subscription company, hired Leopold Visser as senior vice president of strategy and operations.
Flexport hired Bill Driegert, a former Amazon executive who previously headed Uber Freight, to develop the company’s trucking product.
Lyft has hired Erin Brewer, formerly of Charles Schwab & Co., as its next CFO. Elaine Paul is left the top financial position May 19. Lisa Blackwood-Kapral, the Lyft’s Chief Accounting Officer, will serve as interim CFO and principal financial officer until Brewer takes over July 10.
Mercedes-Benz USA appointed Melody Lee as chief marketing officer, Heike Scheuble as managing director of Mercedes-Benz Vans and Jee-Seop Kim as head of customer services.
Ride-hailing and other gig economy stuff
Lyft shareholders sent out a letter rallying other shareholders to vote against co-founder Logan Green’s position on the board. They argue he failed to address and rectify dangerous rideshare driver conditions.
Uber and Lyft drivers in Washington State officially have a right to paid family and medical leave, now that Governor Jay Inslee has signed HB 1570.
Uber held its annual Go-Get product event in New York City this week and the bevy of announcements showed a company hoping to grow through products and expanded consumer groups that reach every member of a family. In short: Uber wants its app to be sticky. Its plan includes opening the app up to teens, adding a group grocery feature and providing a 1(800) number for customers who don’t want to use the app at all to hail a ride.