Notable reads and other tidbits
Cruise self-driving vehicles arrived in Nashville this week for testing; a robotaxi service is expected to follow. Cruise will also begin testing in multiple, new cities as part of its aggressive commercial ramp, according to the company. If the company’s careers page provides any hints, it seems Atlanta is one of them.
Want evidence that Cruise is accelerating? One year ago, Cruise only operated in San Francisco. Cruise has since expanded to Austin, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and most recently Miami.
Rafaela Vasquez, the safety driver who was behind the wheel of an Uber ATG self-driving vehicle when it struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe in 2018, pleaded guilty to endangerment. Vasquez was sentenced to three years of supervised probation.
Waymo is tapping the brakes on self-driving trucks and shifting most of its capital, resources and talent to one commercial bet: ride-hailing. I won’t call it a complete shutdown as limited testing will continue. But the program as it once stood is over. It seems most people on the team have kept their jobs at Waymo, per sources. (However, it’s still early; we’ll see how it all shakes out once the program is wound down.)
Ford and GM both posted earnings this week and there were some general themes; namely that business is good if you’re selling gas and hybrid trucks and SUVs. The EV business? Well that’s a bit of a money loser. Both companies raised profit guidance for the year and GM said it would cut costs another $1 billion as it focuses on earning more money.
Ford, which now breaks out earnings for three business units, is tweaking its EV plans. The big line item is that Ford expects its EV business to lose $4.5 billion in 2023 — double what it previously forecast. And the company seems to be more bullish than ever on hybrids, which reminds me of Bill Ford’s comments way back in 2016 about viewing hybrids as a transitional, or bridge technology. At the time, the sentiment was about consumer adoption. These days Ford is learning that hybrid technology applied to trucks is particularly attractive to buyers.
Electric vehicles, batteries & charging
Ample, a San Francisco-based startup, is bringing its modular EV battery swapping technology to Mitsubishi Fuso’s electric trucks this winter.
GM isn’t going to kill off the Chevy Bolt EV after all. This is going to be a next-gen Bolt EV based on the new Ultium platform and battery design. I’m fascinated by this reversal because it happened so quickly (3 months!). Will it still be assembled at the Orion plant? Reminder: Orion was supposed to be retooled for electric truck production once the Bolt went out of production at the end of 2023.
Tesla exaggerated the range estimates for its EVs for years, prompting owners to flood its service center over concerns that their vehicles needed service, according to a new detailed Reuters report. As I note in my own story, one of the nagging problems with range estimates is their variability, which allows some automakers to push the boundaries of the system. While the EPA does review and approve those estimates, it allows automakers to use one of two methods to reach those figures: use a standard formula that converts fuel economy results, or conduct additional tests to come up with their own range estimate. Tesla has always done the latter, which gives far better numbers.
Lacuna Technologies, a startup that sold software services to cities to help create and enforce transportation policies, has shut down, per a LinkedIn post from product lead Samuel Jackson. (h/t to the source who pointed me to the post).