Ford gears up for its next big battle, Waymo pulls back its self-driving car software and layoffs head to another AV startup


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welcome back TechCrunch Mobility – Your central hub for news and insight on the future of transport. This week’s news includes a BMW Security lapse that exposed sensitive information draws blowback from a federal agency at Tesla opponents super bowl commercials And a new federal investigation fiskar,

But first, a few words about my recent trip to Detroit, where I met some ford Officials need to figure out what they’re focusing on for 2024 and beyond.

it’s safe to say Chinese EV Vehicle Manufacturers And Tesla are at the top of the mind; And in the opinion of Ford executives, low-cost EVs and cutting-edge software are the best way to thwart those threats. The company’s EV Skunkworks project, which was recently revealed, is responsible for that task.

Ford CFO john lawler There was no mincing words during an interview at the company’s headquarters.

“We have to assume that eventually they’ll be here,” Lawler said. “China has been looking for its global champion for decades. They couldn’t get there by conventional gas vehicle; “They saw the writing on the wall as early as 2010 that electricity was the way to go and since then they have subsidized and focused on that.”

Lawler said Chinese automakers are now competitive. Now armed with production capacity and “brilliant” designs, China is pressing into other areas.

“This is not a small stakes game; It’s long,” Lawler said. “So everyone’s thinking about the next few years, they’re thinking about the next 25, 30 years. They’re not going to care about what’s happening right now. Keep building your footprint and building your brand, keep building your technology and innovatively developing your vehicles, and ultimately, there will be no stopping it.

China and Tesla aren’t the only ones of concern raising their collective gray matter. Ford CEO jim farley The company also intends to bring $2 billion in cost savings back into its industrial system. A big part of that is improving the quality of new vehicles – which is directly tied to warranty costs – and that was the point he made in a recent interview at Wolfe Research’s Global Auto and Auto Tech conference in New York. Emphasized during.

let’s go!

a little bird

shimmering cat bird green

A little bird pointed us to a recent filing faraday future Which caught our attention. For those unfamiliar, Faraday Future is an EV startup that went public in 2021 through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company. At one time, Faraday Future was as much a hustle as a startup. But years of internal drama, a revolving door of executives and federal investigations have left the company hanging at the end of its financial thread.

Now it appears the company is in danger of losing its LA headquarters. The company’s landlord filed a lawsuit seeking to take possession of the commercial space after Faraday Future failed to pay rent. The current bill is close to $1 million.

Got a tip for us? E-mail Kirsten Korosec at or sean o’keane If you prefer to remain anonymous, Click here to contact usIncluding SecureDrop (instructions here) and various encrypted messaging apps.

deal of the week

give money to the station

No deal of the week! Instead, here’s a list of the deals that caught my attention.

celadinea hydrogen fuel cell startup, raised $4.5 million in a seed round co-led by Maniv and Dynamo Ventures, with lead participation from EPS Ventures.

RevelThe Brooklyn-based startup, initially known for its fleet of rentable blue electric mopeds, is reportedly trying to raise $200 million in equity, Bloomberg reports. The company spun off its shared moped business in November and is now trying to build an electric ride-hailing and EV fast-charging business.

wander throughThe Kenyan EV startup has raised $24 million in a Series A round, which also includes a loan commitment of up to $10 million from the US International Development Finance Corporation. Africa-focused climate tech VC fund, Equator led the round, with At One Ventures, TES Ventures, Renew Capital, The World We Want, and One Small Planet also participating.

Skylo TechnologiesThe provider of direct-to-device satellite connectivity services, raised $37 million co-led by Intel Capital and Innovation Endeavors and joined by BMW i Ventures, Samsung Catalyst Fund, Seraphim Space and Next47.

velosisA startup developing sustainable aviation fuels has raised $40 million from Carbon Direct Capital, LightRock, GenZero and Kibo Investments.

Notable readings and other news


GM Access to Super Cruise is being expanded, with plans to let drivers use the hands-free advanced driver-assistance system on approximately 750,000 miles of roads in the United States and Canada. The expansion will nearly double the automaker’s Super Cruise network by 2025 and include rural and smaller highways.

National Transportation Safety Board ordered Dawn Project The organization stopped using its seal after it called on consumers to boycott Tesla in a Super Bowl ad.

autonomous vehicle

cruise Name steve knowerAn autonomous vehicle industry veteran who has held top security roles at Kodiak, Locomation, Aurora, and Uber’s now-defunct self-driving division. First “chief Security Officer.” My Opinion: This is a position Cruz should have gotten years ago. Meanwhile, Cruz lost another key employee. Cruise’s hardware chief Carl Jenkins resigned from the company.

may mobility 40 people, or about 13% of the workforce, were laid off.

san francisco giants The Cruise robotaxi uniform patch is being replaced with a less controversial one that advertises another GM brand, Chevrolet.

waymo The company voluntarily recalled the software that powers its robotaxi fleet after two vehicles involving the same towed pickup truck crashed in Phoenix, Arizona, in December. This is the company’s first recall. As reporter Sean O’Kane points out, this recall comes at a time when self-driving cars are facing intense scrutiny after a series of high-profile accidents and controversies, including this week when A mob of people rioted, vandalized, and set fires in San Francisco. A Waymo robotaxi.

Electric vehicles, charging and batteries

EVS Automotive News reports that 2023 has been extremely hot – but December data shows sales are down. According to data from S&P Global Mobility, new EV registrations in 2023 are expected to increase by 52% compared to last year. EVs now account for 7.7% of the US light vehicle market, up from 5.7% a year ago.

Lucid Motors dropped the price of its luxury Air sedan by thousands of dollars. Lucid also got attention National Highway Traffic Safety Administration This week. Regulators launched an investigation clear meaning The recall of windshield defrosters from January says it is “concerned” that the company’s over-the-air update solution is not enough to fix the problem. Is NHTSA starting to push back against OTAs?

NHTSA Second investigation launched into EV startup fiskarThe Ocean SUV was involved in an injury after the agency received four complaints of the vehicle rolling unexpectedly. The fixer also received a non-compliance notice New York Stock Exchange Because its stock has closed below $1 for the last 30 days, according to regulatory filings.

stellarThe parent company of brands like Jeep and Chrysler announced that it will adopt Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS). Stellantis is the last major Western automaker to announce compatibility with NACS.

ride-hailing and ride sharing

hopskipdriveYoung ride-share startup beats two of California’s major emissions standards by 2023 A feat the company believes will strengthen the case for relying more on shared passenger vehicles to get kids and teens to and from school .

this week’s wheels

ford blue cruze

Image Credit: Kirsten Korosec

During my short trip to Michigan, I used 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E To drive to various meetings in Dearborn and Detroit. (The press car came courtesy of Ford.)

my primary interest was in blue cruise, Hands-free active driver assistance system. I had plenty of time to test it, thanks to several trips of 20 to 30 miles, most of which were on highways. I was testing the Blue Cruise 1.3 version, which accelerates or brakes to maintain a selected distance from the vehicle in front, keeping the vehicle centered in the lane and steering. When the driver presses the turn signal, the vehicle will change lanes. It will also suggest passing when traffic is slow.

what i liked: Engaging Blue Cruise is simple and straightforward when the system is taking over the driving. Passing is crisp and vehicles don’t ping pong within lanes, which is common in other systems. One odd criticism I have is that the word “Ready” in the instrument cluster just below Blue Cruise illuminates in green when it is on (see photo). That “Ready” has nothing to do with Blue Cruise and is intended to tell the EV driver that their vehicle is ready to go. I’m sure drivers will get used to it, but I can also see it causing some confusion.

A feature I liked: I can handle the steering and the blue cruise will stay engaged. I know this is frowned upon in some circles because the driver can become confused. However, I hate how often I accidentally turn off other systems like Tesla’s Autopilot by turning the steering wheel just a little too much.

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