Fast-fuelling hydrogen system game-changer for air taxi operations

Fast-fuelling hydrogen system game-changer for air taxi operations

California based hydrogen fuel cell innovator HyPoint has teamed up with US vertical flight pioneer Piasecki Aircraft to build the world’s first manned hydrogen helicopter. A hydrogen powertrain potentially offers a huge increase in range and payload compared to current battery electric eVTOL aircraft.

The aim is to develop a fully US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified hydrogen system that would allow electric aircraft to carry several times more energy on board, vastly boosting flight endurance and reducing refuelling time.

HyPoint claims its turbo air-cooled hydrogen fuel cell system will be able to achieve more than three times the power-to-weight ratio of traditional hydrogen fuel cells systems. It will also offer an energy density around five times existing commercially available lithium battery packs.

HyPoint says the system has been validated in laboratory prototypes, proving it can produce sufficient power to handle the demands of vertical takeoff and landing without the need for a buffer battery.

The initial plan is to develop a 650-kW hydrogen fuel cell system and to integrate this into Piasecki’s PA-890 compound electric helicopter.

The PA-890 is designed to meet existing FAA Part 27 standards for commercial certification. While the FAA has granted experimental certification to several fuel cell aircraft it is yet to do so for commercial uses.

A long-range, fast-fueling hydrogen system would be a game-changer and a solution to a problem that many of the companies vying to set up air taxi operations are currently not fully addressing. With existing eVTOL powertrains, the planes will need to spend large chunks of their service periods recharging and the planned vertiports, often located in dense inner cities, are unlikely to have enough space to allow the planes to recharge and support a viable level of service

“We are laser-focused on the development and qualification of a 650-kW system for our PA-890 eVTOL Compound Helicopter, which would be the world’s first manned hydrogen-powered helicopter,” says John Piasecki, President and CEO of Piasecki Aircraft. “Success will pave the way for collaboration with other eVTOL OEMs with different platform sizes to ensure broad application of this technology.”

“Initial lab testing funded has demonstrated the technical viability of HyPoint’s hydrogen fuel cell system,” he continues. “While we are benchmarking HyPoint’s technology against alternatives and continue to rigorously test and validate findings, we are very optimistic.

“Our objective is to develop full-scale systems within two years to support on-aircraft certification testing in 2024 and fulfil existing customer orders for up to 325 units starting in 2025.”

Berlin e-bike riders dancing to a different tune

Berlin e-bike riders dancing to a different tune

Dance, the e-bike subscription start-up led by SoundCloud founders, has launched its full services in its home city of Berlin.

The company, which is backed by singers Maisie Williams and Chance the Rapper, is based around a monthly subscription model. It is not a bike share, it’s your own e-bike that you keep, but members save on the upfront cost of buying the bike and don’t have to worry about maintenance.

This, according to the company, strikes a middle ground between full ownership – where high end e-bikes can average around $4,000 – and the sharing models seen in many cities.

“Coming from a subscription background with SoundCloud, we have a lot of experience with subscription services, and we think that’s really a big part of how people will use products like e-bikes in the future,” chief executive Eric Quidenus-Wahlforss said.

Dance’s initial roll-out in Berlin is priced at €79 per month. This will be a test for the subscription model and if it can be applied to bikes on a large scale.

Quidenus-Wahlforss said the aim is to secure long-term customers rather than those looking to try out an e-bike before ultimately buying one for themselves.

“I think people that come from the bike world tend to underestimate just how much you can do with subscription. A subscription is not just monthly billing. From my previous life at SoundCloud, you can go infinitely deep with the subscription model in terms of pricing, plans, partnerships and layering in value-add products.”

Coinciding the launch of its subscription service, Dance has also revealed details of its first-generation e-bike. The Dance One has a custom aluminium diamond frame and offers a maximum speed of 25 km/h. It has a removable battery with a range of 55 km on a full charge, and features a Bluetooth lock that can be opened with the subscription member’s mobile phone.

Renault and Jiangling launch model designed for ride hailing

Renault and Jiangling launch model designed for ride hailing

The joint venture between Renault Group and Jiangling Motors is to launch the new all-electric Mobilize Limo.

Designed primarily for taxis, private hire, and ride-hailing, the car will be offered on a subscription basis and won’t be available to buy.

“The first Mobilize model, Limo, is the new brand’s response to the evolution of the ride-hailing market,” says Clotilde Delbos, the company’s CEO. “This offer, which combines a vehicle and flexible services, illustrates Mobilize’s ability to the changing needs of vehicle users.”

Similar in size to the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, Mobilize says the Limo offers drivers “the most ergonomically and acoustically comfortable seat possible”. It also has a small fridge between the front seats to keep the driver supplied with chilled beverages through their shift.

For rear passengers the Limo offers a good amount of room with USB charging ports, adjustable air vents and reading lights.

The Limo has a tight turning circle and is powered by a 110 kW electric motor that offers modest but appropriate performance of 60 mph in 9.6 seconds and a top speed of 140km/h

It has a range of “more than 450km” which, says Mobilize, is enough for “one or even two full days of work without recharging.”

Funding deal supports start-up’s plan to disrupt vehicle financing in Africa

Funding deal supports start-up’s plan to disrupt vehicle financing in Africa

Series A funding secured by mobility fintech Moove will enable the Lagos-based start-up to accelerate its products and service designed to make vehicle ownership accessible to Africa’s billion-plus population.

Moove says that in 2019 the continent saw fewer than 900,000 total vehicle sales compared to 17 million in the US alone.

Moove embeds its alternative credit-scoring technology onto ride-hailing and e-logistics platforms, which provides driver performance and revenue analytics as evidence to underwrite loans allowing drivers to secure their ride hailing vehicles.

Moove provides loans to customers by selling them new vehicles and financing up to 95 per cent of the purchase within five days of sign up. Moove customers can choose to pay back their loans over 24, 36, or 48 months, using a percentage of their weekly revenue. All Moove customers sign up to the Moove app to manage all transactions and access other financial products on the platform.

“In a continent full of opportunity, mobility is key to moving economies forward and this funding contributes to our ability to provide revenue-based financing, as Moove empowers Africans to safely become mobility entrepreneurs,” says Ladi Delano, co-founder of Moove. “We help people buy new cars who otherwise couldn’t afford them. And then, using the vehicle as a mobility entrepreneur, they’re able to earn money, which allows them to pay off the vehicle over time.”

While Moove is the first investment in Africa for many of its US venture capital backers, it already serves as Uber’s exclusive vehicle financing and vehicle supply partner in sub-Saharan Africa. Moove says it has financed cars that have already completed more than 850,000 Uber trips covering over 13 million kilometres across the continent to date.

“Moove has quickly established itself as one of the most exciting tech companies in Africa,” says Stefan Klestil, General Partner at Speedinvest, which led the funding round. “The company’s expansion to three cities in under 12 months demonstrates the huge demand for vehicle financing in Africa, where just five per cent of new cars are purchased with financing, compared to 92 per cent in Europe.”

Moove says that it is committed to giving 100 per cent of mobility entrepreneurs access to affordable credit and ensuring that 50 per cent of its customers are women.

It also aims to ensure that at least 60 per cent of the vehicles it finances are electric or hybrid vehicles as part of its commitment to improving road safety and vehicle emissions on Africa’s roads.

Starship Technologies expands US college autonomous takeaway delivery services

Starship Technologies expands US college autonomous takeaway delivery services

Starship Technologies, a provider of autonomous delivery services at US college campuses, is to provide deliveries from on-campus restaurants including Starbucks, Panda Express and Subway at four additional locations.

The University of Illinois Chicago, University of Kentucky, University of Nevada, Reno and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach, Florida campus join the list of college campuses where Starship robots provides deliveries with its fleet of over 1,000 robots.

Starship’s delivery robots began its autonomous delivery services at George Mason University in Virginia in January 2019. The service is now available across nearly 20 different campuses in 15 states.

Starship Technologies’ zero-emission robots have made more than 1.5 million autonomous deliveries, travelled millions of miles and make more than 80,000 road crossings every day.

Alastair Westgarth, CEO of Starship Technologies, says, “We’ve worked hard to become a trusted and integrated partner on our campus communities and that hard work has paid off. We are continuing to add new schools every semester, with more to be announced this fall. The students love the robots and the schools appreciate the ability to offer this service. We can’t wait to meet the students at each of these schools and look forward to hiring students on all of the campuses to give them real world experience working with robots and AI.”

Dean Kennedy, executive director of Residential Life, Housing and Food Services at University of Nevada, Reno, adds, “Everyone wants to resume in-person classes and be back on campus so we’re doing everything we can to make sure it’s done responsibly. The robots offer several advantages – they make social distancing easier, they are convenient, the students we have spoken with love this idea and they continue our heritage of being an innovative campus.”

“I never thought I’d be sharing sidewalks with a robot when I thought about going to college but they feel right at home with the coming age of innovation and technology,” says Johan Restrepo, a student at Embry-Riddle. “It seems really futuristic yet completely normal at the same time. It’s always fun to see them travelling around campus and having the option to get food delivered is a huge bonus that my friends and I can’t get enough of!”

Latest ChargePoint acquisition strengthens electric bus and fleet management capabilities

Latest ChargePoint acquisition strengthens electric bus and fleet management capabilities

US electric vehicle charging network operator ChargePoint has acquired Dutch eBus and commercial vehicle management provider ViriCiti for approximately €75 million. The deal is ChargePoint’s second major European acquisition within the last month; in July it announced a €250 million intended takeover of has-to-be, the Austrian e-mobility provider and charging software platform developer.

ViriCiti will enhance the ChargePoint fleet solution portfolio of hardware, software and services by integrating information sources to optimise electric fleet operations, including battery management, charging station monitoring, OEM-agnostic telematics, vehicle maintenance and vehicle operations data.

The combined solution will enable fleet operators to identify which of routes could be most effectively electrified, monitor and report on uptime, optimise fuelling to ensure operational readiness at low cost, and integrate vehicle and charging station management.

Pasquale Romano, President and CEO of ChargePoint, said, “The future of fleets is electric, and integrating charging solutions with the many business systems already in place in today’s depots is essential to successful electrification.

“Adding ViriCiti’s vehicle management capabilities to our fleet portfolio allows ChargePoint to deliver more functionality to eBus and commercial fleet operators, while remaining open to integration with existing telematics systems. The combined solution underscores the importance of software to EV charging and will ensure operational readiness at low cost as fleets of all types across North America and Europe continue to electrify.”

Founded in 2012, ViriCiti today has more than 50 employees in the Netherlands and United States, and established market share in North America and Europe with approximately 150 fleet operators, 3,500 connected vehicles and 2,500 networked ports under management.

ViriCiti customers include prominent fleet operators and OEMs, such as Arriva, Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe, Chicago Transit Authority, GILLIG, Keolis, King County Metro, Metropolitan Transit Authority (New York), PicNic, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority and Toronto Transit Commission.

Freek Dielissen, CEO of ViriCiti, said, “Our mission over the last nine years has been to help fleet operators manage their electric operations. Today, zero-emission transportation is at a tipping point, and we are excited to join EV charging leader ChargePoint, integrate our complementary offerings and tap into the resources that will enable the electrification of fleets at a faster pace across North America and Europe.”

Dr Jose Serras-Pereira, Director – Advisory, Mobility Group, Frost & Sullivan, confirmed, “The need for efficient software tools to gather, analyse and recommend vehicle types, charging hardware, site energy requirements and other operational strategies has never been greater. Software, analytics and advisory are expected to be key portfolio components for any industry actor wishing to provide a holistic suite of electrification services in a B2B setting and help accelerate fleet electrification over the next decade. ChargePoint is now well positioned to offer fleet managers large and small a full range of tools required to start planning and executing their electrification journeys.”

Iteris and Wejo collaboration to enhance connected vehicle data content

Iteris and Wejo collaboration to enhance connected vehicle data content

California based Iteris, a global leader in smart mobility infrastructure management, and UK’s Wejo, a global leader in connected vehicle data, have entered into an agreement to deliver enhanced connected vehicle data content to Iteris’ public-sector and commercial customers throughout North America.

Under the terms of the agreement, Iteris will join Wejo’s partner program to provide new and existing customers with real-time movement data from more than 11 million connected vehicles in North America. In addition, Wejo will become one of Iteris’ ecosystem of mobility intelligence providers.

The combination will enable a new level of insights in areas such as commuter information, traffic mitigation, road network management and studying road utilisation.

“We are excited to announce this partnership, which will make Wejo’s near real-time connected car data available to Iteris’ public-sector and commercial enterprise customers nationwide for the first time,” said Richard Barlow, CEO at Wejo. “Our value-added insights will enhance and improve Iteris’ product offerings, and ultimately contribute to improved safety and reduced congestion on roadways throughout North America, while helping to shorten journey times and providing car owners with a materially better driving experience.”

Joe Reed, chief technology officer, and senior vice president and general manager, Applications and Cloud Solutions at Iteris added, “Wejo is a leader and pioneer in connected vehicle data, and combined with valuable traffic and weather information, and artificial-intelligence driven capabilities from our ClearMobility Platform, Iteris will enable safer and more efficient mobility for public transportation agencies and commercial enterprises throughout North America.”

According to McKinsey, by 2030, around 95% of new vehicles sold globally will be connected, up from around 50% today, and the global market opportunity of the resulting data is estimated at between $250 billion and $400 billion.

Connected vehicles are fitted with hundreds of sensors, each telling the story of the vehicle’s current state and how it is used. Advanced communication systems then exchange individual vehicle, journey and geospatial information with personal smart devices, other vehicles, IoT devices and transportation infrastructure, such as roadside traffic cabinets.

As connected vehicles and smart mobility infrastructure expand, along with the seamless flow of data between them, drivers will benefit from improved safety and efficiency in the road network.

British bank installs 600 EV chargers for staff and customers

British bank installs 600 EV chargers for staff and customers

British bank NatWest is to install 600 electric vehicle charging points across its UK locations by 2023. Charging infrastructure is to be supplied by EQUANS, the new brand for renewable power generator Engie’s services-led activities.

The charging points support the bank’s pledge to convert its fleet to electric vehicles but will also be available to its customers.

“At NatWest we are helping our staff decarbonise transport and achieve Net Zero commuting. Working in partnership with EQUANS to provide EV chargepoints at key strategic office locations supports our staff in making that transition to electric vehicles and help reduce our carbon footprint,” said Michael Lynch, Climate Solutions Lead at NatWest.

NatWest has strategically selected locations where demand is high and power is readily available. The five-year partnership with EQUANS will benefit both employees and customers of the bank, while the chargers will also support the company’s transition to an electric fleet.

The first NatWest chargers are to go into operation before the end of August at Donegall Square East in Belfast.

“This partnership demonstrates a clear and strong commitment from NatWest on where they stand on the net zero transition,” said Jerry Moloney, Managing Director for EQUANS’ Futures business in the UK & Ireland. “The only way we will convince a greater proportion of the population to consider electric vehicles is by giving them greater options and better access to chargers.”

Arrival and Microsoft to develop open data platform for vehicles and fleets

Arrival and Microsoft to develop open data platform for vehicles and fleets

Electric vehicle technology developer Arrival has announced a tie up with Microsoft to develop an open data platform for vehicles and fleets to improve the utility of vehicle generated shared data.

Arrival says an ever-increasing amount of data is produced and stored in the cloud by individual vehicles and fleets globally, but there is currently no standardised way of managing and using the data.

Arrival plans to develop models with Microsoft that simplify the sharing of data within the mobility and freight ecosystem. “Multi-tenant” data ownership models, says Arrival, will increase the utility of shared data and serve as a foundation for multiple different stakeholders – including OEMs, suppliers, cities, and freight and logistics companies – to securely and responsibly analyse the huge swathes of data generated and apply valuable insights to their business.

The approach, adds Arrival, will provide stakeholders full transparency and control over what data is shared and with whom – enabling them to benefit from their data in ways “never before possible”.

For example, it says, this approach could allow easier access for an insurance company to process claims or set premiums to better understand and manage risk while remaining competitive in the market, or for cities to benefit from understanding more about traffic flows and how to collectively optimise the performance of transportation and freight providers.

The resulting open data platform will use Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service and machine learning to extract insights from the data, and edge computing to minimise vehicle-to-cloud data flow. By implementing a unified data standard and transparent data sharing policy, the insights drawn will enable improved vehicle designs, advanced fleet logistics and help spur advancements in mobility ecosystems and business models.

“Arrival is bringing zero-emission mobility solutions to communities globally. Data management and analysis is crucial to bringing customised, affordable and equitable solutions to the world. With the rapid advances in technology across all areas, we need a standardised way of collecting, assimilating and sharing that data so all can share in the full benefits of what connected vehicles can bring,” said Avinash Rugoobur, President of Arrival.

“Working closely with Microsoft to develop and then demonstrate the huge advantages of having an open data platform for vehicles and fleets will be truly ground-breaking for companies and cities around the world,” he adds

Moovit journey planning app to simplify access to Spin scooters

Moovit journey planning app to simplify access to Spin scooters

Spin, Ford’s micromobility subsidiary, and Moovit, the Intel owned urban mobility app have announced a partnership in three European countries. This partnership enables Moovit users to find Spin e-scooters in the free Moovit app for “more sustainable and fun” mobility alternatives to cars to get around efficiently. It is already available in 23 cities in the UK, Spain and Germany. The agreement is similar to a collaboration between Moovit and Lime, announced in July.

Under the latest deal, Moovit users can use Spin e-scooters for the first and last mile leg of their journeys offering a covid-safe alternative to private cars. Spin’s recent rider survey showed that 82% of its riders in the UK choose to use e-scooters for short journeys instead of driving alone at least once since the launch of the scheme, reducing the number of cars and decreasing carbon emissions.

The tie-up enables Moovit users to find in real-time where a Spin e-scooter is available nearby, including how long it will take to walk there, as well as battery range. Users will then be directed to the Spin app to hire the e-scooter and pay for it.

Commenting on the partnership, Steve Pyer, Spin Country Manager for UK & Ireland said, “We want more people to integrate Spin e-scooters into their daily journeys, be it commuting, running errands or for leisure because we know that this socially-distanced means of transport has the potential to replace solo car rides on short journeys and consequently to reduce congestion and improve air quality. By showing availability in the Moovit app it makes it easier for new users to discover public hire e-scooters and for existing users to become truly multi-modal travellers.”

Yovav Meydad, Moovit’s Chief Growth and Marketing Officer added, “Whether using Spin e-scooters for short trips or combining them with public transport, this partnership furthers our mission of making it easier to rely less on private cars and moving more freely through some of the most congested cities.”

Geely and Renault to sign MOU on Chinese and South Korean joint venture

Geely and Renault to sign MOU on Chinese and South Korean joint venture

France’s Renault is looking to revive its business in China by forming a hybrid vehicle joint venture with Geely Holding Group, a year after it ended its previous operation in the world’s largest car market.

The two companies have signed a framework agreement to set up the joint venture, which would make and sell Renault-branded petrol-electric hybrid cars in China using Geely’s technologies, supply chains and manufacturing facilities while Renault would focus on sales and marketing.

As part of the partnership, the two car makers also agreed to explore a joint localisation of Geely’s Lynk & Co-brand hybrid vehicles in South Korea where Renault has been manufacturing and selling cars for more than two decades.

The venture would focus on China and South Korea initially but would likely to be expanded to cover fast-growing Asian markets.

Geely and Renault are also looking at co-developing fully electric battery cars.

The new venture is modeled on an EV-focused venture Geely set up in 2019 with Daimler, which plans to manufacture in China and sell Smart-brand EVs based on Geely technology using Daimler’s global sales network.

For Geely, China’s biggest local automaker by sales, the new joint venture would strengthen its strategy to use partnerships with other automakers to share technologies, supply chains and manufacturing, which reduces development costs of EV and other future mobility technology.

For Renault, the partnership would help the French carmaker rebuild its presence in China after it ended a joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Group in 2020.

The proposed Renault-Geely joint venture will be controlled by Geely, with manufacturing in Geely’s existing factories.

VW to acquire Europcar anticipating mobility services complementing car ownership

VW to acquire Europcar anticipating mobility services complementing car ownership

Volkswagen (VW) has confirmed it is to buy French car rental company Europcar. VW is interested in gaining access to Europcar’s infrastructure and technology as the basis for developing future mobility services such as ride-hailing and car-sharing.

In a news release, VW said, “The Volkswagen Group is taking a major step forward in its new auto strategy to become a leading provider of individual mobility in the electric and fully connected age. In a consortium with London-based asset manager Attestor Limited and Dutch mobility provider Pon Holdings BV, Volkswagen agreed to launch a recommended takeover offer for Europcar Mobility Group…”

Volkswagen Chief Executive Herbert Diess said, “The mobility market is changing rapidly as customers increasingly demand new and innovative on-demand mobility solutions, such as subscription and sharing models to complement car ownership.”

“Europcar provides advanced fleet management capabilities as well as a broad network of stations at major airports, railway stations and city locations and will help accelerate Volkswagen’s delivery of its ambitious mobility services targets.”

Europcar has more than 3,500 rental stations across more than 140 countries and a fleet of over 350,000 vehicles in 2019, serving over 5 million customers per year.

The announcement also said that the minimum acceptance threshold for the takeover offer is 67%, and existing shareholders holding 68% in Europcar have committed to accept the takeover offer. The offer price represents a 27% premium to the closing price as of June 22 — the last day before the consortium’s approach became public and implies an enterprise value of 2.9 billion euros.

VW says the transaction provides a compelling opportunity to create a leading mobility platform and deliver new solutions to meet growing customer demand for services complementing car ownership.

Volkswagen has previously owned Europcar, and in June said it was considering buying a majority stake in the company to tap into the trend for consumers to rent rather than own a vehicle, according to a Reuters report. Volkswagen sold the company in 2006.

Though Volkswagen will have a majority shareholding in the joint holding company, it will neither control the consortium nor Europcar, the release added.

Ottopia to provide remote vehicle assistance tech for Motional’s robotaxi fleet

Ottopia to provide remote vehicle assistance tech for Motional’s robotaxi fleet

Driverless technology developer Motional has selected Ottopia, the Israeli developer of technologies to control vehicles remotely, to support the deployment of its robotaxi fleets. Motional, a joint venture of Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv, will use Ottopia’s teleoperation technology to provide remote vehicle assistance for its planned driverless Level 4 autonomous vehicle ride-hail service.

Remote vehicle assistance refers to a human operator providing remote assistance to autonomous vehicles when they’re navigating unusual scenarios or edge cases. The operator has the ability to direct the vehicle to a new path or provide other assistance to the vehicle, all while located remotely in a fleet control centre. Edge cases include hazards such as road works and unexpected road user behaviour.

Motional is one of the first companies in the world to operate fully driverless vehicles on public roads and its public robotaxi service has already conducted over 100,000 rides. Starting in 2023, Motional will be launching a fully driverless ride-hail service with Lyft in multiple US markets. That service has the potential to introduce driverless technology to millions of Lyft riders.

“While there are rapid advances in autonomous technology, there are always going to be certain edge cases that can benefit from remote support.” said Amit Rosenzweig, founder and CEO, Ottopia. “This requires the ability to offer robust, real-time human intervention – at any time, anywhere. Ottopia is leading the teleoperation industry and we’re proud to work with Motional as it begins scaling its technology.”

“As we prepare for mass deployments of Motional robotaxis, an RVA solution provides an added layer of support for when our vehicles encounter unique and challenging road scenarios. Effective remote vehicle assistance is an important part of our commitment to delivering a seamless end-to-end passenger experience,” said Guillaume Binet, Vice President of Software Infrastructure, Motional.

Real-time data underpins future mobility services insurance model

Real-time data underpins future mobility services insurance model

Connected vehicle and drone insurance tech startup Flock has received $17 million in its series A funding round.

Flock provides exposure-based insurance for fleets of commercial vehicles, including drones, cars, and vans. Its proprietary “risk engine” uses real-time data such as vehicle sensor and location data, local weather, traffic conditions, and accident data, to accurately quantify risks on a per-second basis. The policies can be bought and adjusted for price in minutes.

Ed Leon Klinger, CEO of Flock said, “Transportation is changing faster than ever, but the traditional insurance industry can’t keep up! The proliferation of electric cars, new business models such as ridesharing, and the emergence of autonomous vehicles pose huge challenges that traditional insurers just aren’t equipped for.”

He added, “Modern fleets need an equally modern insurance company that moves as fast as they do. Commercial motor insurance is a $160Bn market, crying out for disruption. The opportunity ahead of us is enormous.”

The funding round was led by Social Capital, the investment vehicle run by Chamath Palihapitiya, a SPAC investor and Chairman of Virgin Galactic.

In a statement Palihapitiya said, “Flock is bridging the gap between today’s insurance industry and tomorrow’s transportation realities. By using real-time data to truly understand vehicle risk, Flock is meeting the demands of our rapidly evolving, hyper-connected world. Flock has the potential to help unlock and enable a truly autonomous world, and even save lives. We’re excited to be a part of their journey.”

Ford, Argo AI, Lyft to launch US autonomous ride service this year

Ford, Argo AI, Lyft to launch US autonomous ride service this year

Argo AI, Lyft and Ford have announced they are working together to commercialise autonomous ride hailing at scale in the US. Ford’s self-driving cars, with safety drivers, will be rolled-out on the Lyft network, as part of a network access agreement, with passenger rides beginning in Miami in 2021 and in Austin, Texas, starting in 2022.

This initial phase will lay the groundwork for scaling operations, as the parties are now working to finalise agreements aiming to deploy at least 1,000 autonomous vehicles on the Lyft network, across multiple markets over the next five years.

In order to support self-driving vehicle at scale, Ford has established a robust presence in Miami, Austin and Washington, DC. This includes operations to support commercial fleets, including fuelling, servicing and cleaning.

Lyft will receive 2.5% of the common equity of Argo AI as part of the licensing and data access agreements to collaborate on the safe commercialisation of autonomous vehicles.

Lyft co-founder and CEO, Logan Green, says, “This collaboration marks the first time all the pieces of the autonomous vehicle puzzle have come together this way. Each company brings the scale, knowledge and capability in their area of expertise that is necessary to make autonomous ride-hailing a business reality.”

Scott Griffith, CEO, Ford Autonomous Vehicles & Mobility Businesses, says, “These three companies share a belief that autonomous vehicles will be a key enabler for a cleaner, safer and more efficient urban mobility landscape. This is the beginning of an important relationship between three dynamic companies ultimately aiming to deliver a trusted, high-quality experience for riders in a multi-city large scale operation over time.”   

Bryan Salesky, founder and CEO, Argo AI, adds, “This collaboration is special because we’re executing on a shared vision for improving the safety, access to and affordability of transportation in our cities. Beyond the link that Lyft provides to the customer, we’ll be able to work together to define where an autonomous service will benefit communities the most and ensure we’re deploying the technology safely.”

Commercialisation of SiFAB battery technology could overcome critical EV barrier

Commercialisation of SiFAB battery technology could overcome critical EV barrier

BCG Digital Ventures, the corporate innovation and business building arm of Boston Consulting Group, and Unifrax, a provider of high-performance specialty materials backed by Clearlake Capital Group, have announced a collaboration on a new battery technology for improving energy density, accelerating charges, and lengthening battery life.

The team is focusing on commercialisation of Unifrax’s patented silicon fibre anode battery technology (SiFAB) by early 2022.

“SiFAB is a major breakthrough for the battery industry and will accelerate transition to renewable energy,” said John Dandolph, CEO of Unifrax. “Our collaboration with BCG Digital Ventures combines our success in manufacturing and fibre-based technology with the firm’s expertise in accelerating innovative and sustainable ventures. Working together, we can create a significant impact for customers, stakeholders, and advanced industries worldwide.”

SiFAB, which can be added to existing battery production processes, addresses a critical barrier to mass adoption of electric vehicles and the broader transition to clean renewable energy. The technology also has wide-ranging implications across a range of sectors that would benefit from the superior performance, longer battery life, and reduced size and weight that SiFAB delivers.

“Today’s climate and environmental challenges are an existential threat that can be addressed only through decisive action by the world’s most ambitious corporations, entrepreneurs, institutions, and investors,” said Raju Sarma, managing director and partner and Social Impact global practice area lead for BCG Digital Ventures. “BCG believes that SiFAB is uniquely positioned to lead the evolution of lithium ion battery technology, in part due to the significant energy density gains enabled by its drop-in technology, as well as to Unifrax’s large-scale manufacturing capabilities and facilities around the world. Our team is excited to continue our collaboration with Unifrax to bring this technology to market at a rapid pace and help advance the global transition to a zero-carbon economy.”

TotalEnergies wins Amsterdam EV public charging network concession

TotalEnergies wins Amsterdam EV public charging network concession

The municipality of Amsterdam has awarded the concession for the expansion of its electric vehicle public charging network to TotalEnergies. As part of this new concession, TotalEnergies will expand Amsterdam’s network with 2,200 new EV charging points, to be installed by Autumn 2022.

The installation of 1,100 chargers, each equipped with two charging points, will give a boost to Amsterdam’s Clean Air Action Plan, which aims to achieve completely emission-free transport by 2030. Providing sufficient charging points to support strong growth of electric vehicles is core to the clean air plan.

TotalEnergies says it will offer a “hassle-free and transparent” customer experience, while guaranteeing both the availability and the quality of the charging service.

Total Energies says it is taking a data-driven approach in which chargers are proactively added to meet demand. For the first time in Amsterdam, Total Energies will make large-scale use of clustering of chargers and the expansion of the charging network will be partly based on requests from drivers of electric vehicles.

Egbert de Vries, Amsterdam’s Deputy Mayor for Traffic, Transport, Water and Air Quality said, “With the installation of 2,200 new charging points in the city, we are taking the next important step towards cleaner air for all Amsterdam residents. Together with TotalEnergies, we will continue to work on the roll-out of a reliable charging network, which is essential for the transition to electric transport. I look forward to a great collaboration.

“This policy is a striking example of joint efforts towards more sustainable and emission-free mobility, delivering affordable energy that is increasingly reliable and accessible to as many people as possible.”

With over 6.500 charging points in operation, TotalEnergies is already the largest EV charging operator in the Metropolitan Region of Amsterdam which includes the three provinces of Noord-Holland, Flevoland and Utrecht.

TotalEnergies says this new concession reinforces its position as a key player in electric mobility across Europe, supporting its plan to operate more than 150,000 charging points by 2025.

Hydrogen pod system offers claimed emission free flight range of nearly 750km

Hydrogen pod system offers claimed emission free flight range of nearly 750km

US clean fuel company Universal Hydrogen has signed letters of intent with three airlines to convert at least 15 regional airliners to run on green hydrogen. The company is developing conversion kits that accept interchangeable hydrogen modules that the company’s press release suggests works like coffee pods.

Founded by former Airbus technology chief Paul Eremenko, Universal Hydrogen aims to speed up the introduction of hydrogen for smaller regional airplanes to 2025 by using fuel cells fed by modular hydrogen capsules to replace their turboprop systems.

Universal Hydrogen has been working on a conversion kit for the De Havilland Canada DHC-8, commonly known as the Dash 8, replacing the standard plane’s Pratt & Whitney turboprops and jet fuel tanks with a pair of two-megawatt Magnix electric motors, a hefty fuel cell and the modular hydrogen fuel system incorporating 2m pop in and out fuel capsules

The hydrogen conversion takes up some space – the Dash 8’s cabin capacity reduces from 56 seats to 40 – but the planes will offer a claimed emissions-free range of 740 km. That, according to a report by Reuters, covers about 75 percent of current routes flown by Dash 8s and could be extended to 95 percent when anticipated developments in liquid hydrogen mature.

The company has signed letters of intent with Spain’s Air Nostrum for 11 aircraft, Ravn Alaska for five, and Icelandair Group for an unspecified “fleet” of planes.

Mercedes-Benz sets out plan to be electric-only by end of the decade

Mercedes-Benz sets out plan to be electric-only by end of the decade

Mercedes-Benz has pledged to go all electric by the end of the decade, where market conditions allow. Shifting from electric-first to electric-only, the luxury car company says it is accelerating toward an emissions-free and software-driven future.

By 2022, Mercedes-Benz will have battery electric vehicles (BEV) in all segments the company serves. From 2025 onwards, all newly launched vehicle architectures will be electric-only and customers will be able to choose an all-electric alternative for every model the company makes.

“The EV shift is picking up speed – especially in the luxury segment, where Mercedes-Benz belongs. The tipping point is getting closer and we will be ready as markets switch to electric-only by the end of this decade,” said Ola Källenius, CEO of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG.

And in what Källenius decribes as “a profound reallocation of capital”, Mercedes-Benz has unveiled a comprehensive plan which includes significantly accelerating R&D. In total, investments into battery electric vehicles between 2022 and 2030 will amount to over €40 billion.

Plans include eight battery Gigafactories and the company says it intends to team up with new European partners to develop and efficiently produce future cells and modules. including solid-state technology which offers higher energy density and safety.

“Our main duty in this transformation is to convince customers to make the switch with compelling products. For Mercedes-Benz, the trailblazing EQS flagship is only the beginning of this new era,” Källenius said.

Moovit integrates Lime e-scooters, mopeds and bikes into journey planning app

Moovit integrates Lime e-scooters, mopeds and bikes into journey planning app

Moovit and Lime have announced a global partnership that will integrate Lime’s scooters, mopeds, and cycles into the Moovit app across more than 100 cities in 20 countries.

The partnership will see Lime’s vehicles added to the Moovit app in cities across the US, Europe, South Africa, and Australia. Moovit says a 40 further cities will be added imminently.

When a user opens the Moovit app on the “Directions” screen, they can plan their journey. However, if they switch to the “Stations” screen, they can see nearby Lime vehicles. From there, they will be able to select Lime as a journey option before being directed to the Lime app from where they can unlock the bike, scooter, or moped.

“This partnership signifies that mobility companies recognize the need to collaborate together to offer riders more convenient modes of public and shared transportation as they return,” says Nir Erez, Moovit Co-founder and CEO.

“Offering more alternative options that can easily get people to their destinations is a critical component of a MaaS platform, especially in some of the most congested cities in the world. From Buenos Aires to Berlin, we are excited to partner with Lime and offer riders more ways of getting around town that can easily combine with public transit.”

This new partnership is the largest micromobility integration to date, according to Moovit, based on the number of cities involved.

“In addition to being the largest micromobility integration to date, our partnership with Moovit is a major step towards our goal of expanding access to shared, affordable and carbon-free transportation to more users around the world,” says Wayne Ting, Lime CEO.

“As cities begin to reopen and commuters head back to offices, we want to make it as easy as possible for riders to locate a Lime electric bike, scooter or moped, and with the Moovit app, they’ll be able to use them seamlessly in tandem with public transit.”