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Rivian is planning a second US factory

By Kirsten Korosec

Rivian, the Amazon-backed electric automaker that aims to be the first to bring an EV pickup truck to market, plans to open a second U.S. manufacturing factory, sources told TechCrunch, confirming an earlier report from Reuters.

Rivian wouldn’t elaborate on when it planned to build the factory, but did confirm it was in the process of identifying a site for a second plant. Reuters reported that the factory, dubbed Project Tera, would also include battery cell production, a detail that would drive up the cost and size of the factory.

“While it’s early in an evolving process, Rivian is exploring locations for a second U.S. manufacturing facility,” spokesperson Amy Mast said in an emailed statement. “We look forward to working with a supportive, technology-forward community in order to create a partnership as strong as the one we have with Normal, Illinois.”

The news comes a week after Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe sent a letter to customers that the company was pushing back deliveries of its long-awaited R1T electric pickup truck and R1S SUV several more months due to delays in production caused by “cascading impacts of the pandemic,” particularly the ongoing global shortage of semiconductor chips. The R1T deliveries will begin in September with the R1S to follow “shortly,” Scaringe wrote in the message.

Rivian plans to assemble its consumer products — the R1T, R1S — as well as the commercial delivery vans slated for Amazon at its factory in Normal, Illinois. That factory, which once produced the Mitsubishi Eclipse through a joint venture between Mitsubishi and Chrysler Corporation, has been completely updated and expanded.

The Normal factory has two separate production lines producing vehicles. One is dedicated for the R1 vehicles and other line is for its commercial vans. Amazon ordered 100,000 of these vans, with deliveries starting in 2021.

The automaker has raised more than $8 billion from a diverse set of backers that includes Ford, Cox Automotive, T. Rowe Price Associates Inc., Fidelity Management and Research Company, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Coatue and D1 Capital Partners. That capital will be needed to keep its 7,000-person workforce running and while building an assembly factory, a project that will cost at least $1 billion if it follows industry estimates.

Rivian plans to install EV chargers in Tennessee’s 56 state parks

By Aria Alamalhodaei

Rivian electric vehicle charging stations are coming to yet another state park system. The EV startup said it would install its so-called “waypoint” chargers at all of Tennessee’s 56 state parks, just four months after announcing a similar agreement with the state of Colorado.

It’s the next step in Rivian’s plans to build out its network of more than 10,000 Level 2 AC chargers by the end of 2023. Installing chargers at state parks and other far-flung locales is a key facet of Rivian’s brand strategy: to position itself as an eco-friendly automaker for the outdoorsy type regardless of whether they own a Rivian vehicle. The waypoint chargers will be open to the public and accessible to all electric vehicle brands with a J1772 plug.

As part of the agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Rivian will design and install the chargers at no cost, and cover all servicing, maintenance, and upgrades for 10 years. The automaker said it will also cover any needed utility upgrades associated with the charger installations – for example, improvements to electrical service panels or transformers.

Rivian could start installing chargers as early as this fall. The Level 2 chargers can provide up to 11.5 kilowatts of power. That roughly translates to adding up to 25 miles of range every hour for both the R1T pickup truck and the R1S SUV. While waiting hours for a battery refill isn’t ideal for chargers located along highways and busy thoroughfares, Rivian says these sites will allow drivers “to top up on miles while enjoying a day trip or an overnight campout.”

Charging will initially be provided at no cost, though the automaker noted that future costs could be dependent on how the state decides to recover electricity costs.

Rivian Waypoints are separate from the company’s so-called Adventure Network, its plan to build more than 3,500 DC fast chargers exclusively for Rivian customers. Those chargers will be able to provide up to 140 miles of range in around 20 minutes.

Rivian founder RJ Scaringe has been open about his desire to develop a charging network inclusive of hard-to-reach places – a notable difference from a company like Tesla, whose proprietary network of Superchargers is located in more conventional and even high-end places.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to create Rivian charging locations that aren’t on the interstate, that help draw you or enable you to go to places that normally are not the kinds of places that invite or welcome electric vehicles because of charging infrastructure,” he said in a wide-ranging interview with TechCrunch’s Kirsten Korosec. “We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how you can essentially create these curated drives where, depending on your point of interest, you can pick different paths. If you want to stop midway through the trip for a one-mile, two-mile or five-mile hike, you know, here’s a route that you want to take and here’s a charging location right next to it.”

The Station: Aurora SPACs, a spin on the VanMoof X3 and a chat with Outdoorsy founders

By Kirsten Korosec

The Station is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. Sign up here — just click The Station — to receive it every weekend in your inbox.

Hello and welcome to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of moving people and packages from Point A to Point B.

Before we jump into the deals, policy moves and micromobbin’ news, I wanted to share the latest founders interview, a new series we launched this spring over at Extra Crunch.

Here’s the opener to the interview:

Jen Young and Jeff Cavins were sitting in a beige conference room at a downtown Vancouver hotel, wasting away under fluorescent lights, an endless PowerPoint and a pair of sad Styrofoam cups of coffee between them. Young was there on a marketing contract. Cavins was a board member. They shared one of those looks that only couples can understand. It said: There’s got to be something better than this.

The “something better than this” ended up becoming Outdoorsy, peer-to-peer RV and camper rental startup.

The interview with Cavins and Young covers why they started Outdoorsy, how they have evolved and improved their business model and what is coming next. Our series has a tiny twist: We will check in with these founders a year from the date that the interview was published.

Enjoy!

As always, you can email me at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share thoughts, criticisms, opinions or tips. You also can send a direct message to me at Twitter — @kirstenkorosec.

Micromobbin’

the station scooter1a

You know how those memes keep going around about why it makes total sense the Roaring 20s happened after the Spanish Flu a century ago? They bring up an important point. A very drunken, boisterous summer is already underway in places that are opening up (sorry, Melbourne), and these shenanigans are flying parallel to the rise of electric micromobility vehicles. The end result? People will — and already are — trying to ride these things drunk.

Bird announced this week it is launching Safe Start, a new in-app checkpoint designed to discourage people, but ultimately not stop them, from riding under the influence. It kicks off between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., when trouble is usually afoot, asking riders attempting to unlock a Bird if they can safely handle the vehicle by correctly entering a keyword into the app. The hope is that within the time it takes a would-be rider to stop swaying, close one eye, squint with the other and punch in those letters, they’ll have realized that they’re in no position to operate machinery and call a cab or hail a ride via an app instead.

Lime has had a similar feature for the past couple of years, also activating after 10 p.m. in most markets. It asks riders to type in “Y-E-S” in response to the question, “Do you affirm you are not drunk and fit to ride?” I think it should be a simple, “Are you drunk?” but I have a thing against negative sentence structures.

A spokesperson from Lime told me the company is working on a more robust cognitive test as well as something else he can’t share yet, but if I were a betting woman, I’d say it has something to do with sensing whether someone is driving in a straight line or wobbling, an idea the company talked to The Verge about two years ago.

Spin also has a similar feature it’s working on that hasn’t yet been launched. However, it’s a bit more involved than what Bird and Lime have launched.

Spin will soon feature a quiz that will test reaction times of the rider. The logic follows that people with higher blood alcohol content have slower reaction times. A Spin spokesperson told me the company would work with the city to determine which hours are of most concern and only implement the test during those hours. Slowpokes will have to source another means of transport home, probably with a stop off at the pizza place.

Other cool stuff you can do with an e-scooter

Fenix, the shared e-scooter operator out of Abu Dhabi, is launching a 10-minute fresh grocery delivery service on Reem Island, some boujie, high-tech, super dense mixed-use development off the city’s coast. The company figures it’s already paying for the vehicles themselves, the space to charge batteries and the employees to swap batteries and service the scooters, why not put those to use with another business line?

It might be a logistical stroke of genius, especially if the software managing the fleets, deliveries and rides are integrated well. The company will have an undisclosed number of “dark stores” or private convenience stores (which will also house the batteries for charging) around the island so that those fresh avocados or packs of diapers are never too far from a millionaire’s penthouse. Fenix’s full-time employees will be stationed within the dark stores, accepting orders and putting together the delivery in two minutes before relaying it to a, no doubt, anxious co-worker who will have eight minutes to drop off the goods.

I have my doubts about that 10-minute success rate, many of which reside in my concern for the workers, but we’ll see how it goes, I guess. It’s a cool business model.

What else is new?

Irish micromobility company Zipp Mobility is making its first expansion off the island, launching its e-scooter operations in Katowice, Poland. It’s a small city in the southern part of the country, but Zipp appears to be putting a stake hold in the region, with plans to launch in the surrounding cities of Sosnowiec and Dabrowa Gornicza by the end of August.

Meanwhile, Veo is on its own expansion plans. The company raised $16 million in a Series A, which it’ll use to fund the expansion of its fleet to new cities like Santa Monica, San Diego and New York, while also focusing on developing new form factors for untapped use cases.

Speaking of New York, Revel has announced a partnership with GridRewards, an app that develops “virtual power plant” software. Essentially, Revel wants to save money while also not messing up NYC’s power grid, so it’s going to try its best to only charge its e-moped fleet when peak demand is low, and less expensive.

Revel is also doing a thing with FlixBus, an intercity bus operator. If you book with one, you get discounts with the others. FlixBus passengers travelling between DC and New York City will be eligible for a $5 one-time credit when booking electric mopeds in Revel’s app.

Finally, Santa Cruz-based electric bike startup Blix has some new updates to their rides that provide better performance, increased power and range, better brakes, fatter tires and a range of new colors.

— Rebecca Bellan

Deal of the week

money the station

The big AV and deal news of the week is Aurora Innovation’s move to become a publicly traded company through a merger with Reinvent Technology Partners Y, the special purpose acquisition company launched by LinkedIn co-founder and investor Reid Hoffman, Zynga founder Mark Pincus and managing partner Michael Thompson.

The announcement confirmed my reporting in June that the companies were close to finalizing a deal.

Once the transaction closes, the combined company will be listed on Nasdaq with the ticker symbol AUR and have an implied valuation of $13 billion. Aurora was last valued at $10 billion following its acquisition of Uber’s self-driving unit.

Through the deal, Aurora is capturing $1 billion from private investors, including Baillie Gifford, funds and accounts managed by Counterpoint Global (Morgan Stanley), funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., PRIMECAP Management Company, Reinvent Capital, XN, Fidelity Management and Research LLC, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Index Ventures and Sequoia Capital, as well as strategic investments from Uber, PACCAR and Volvo Group.

One other note; Aurora also laid out some financial and deployment projections. Aurora plans to begin to generate revenue from trucks without vehicle operators in late 2023 and from cars without vehicle operators in late 2024, according to regulatory filings. Aurora expects to own and operate the trucks Aurora deploys through 2024, and cars that Aurora deploys through 2025 and will transition to a “Driver as a Service” (I guess, DaaS is going to be a thing?) business model.

Other deals that got my attention this week …

Bookaway, the travel tech startup, raised $46 million in funding from investors Aleph, Corner Ventures and Entrée Capital.

Carmera, an HD mapping startup based in New York, has been acquired by Woven Planet Holdings. The announcement comes less than two months since Woven Planet Holdings — an entity created by Toyota to invest in, develop and eventually bring future of transportation technologies like automated driving to market — acquired Lyft’s autonomous vehicle unit known as Level 5 for $550 million. The financial terms were not disclosed.

Under terms of the deal, Carmera will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Woven Planet. Carmera will essentially become the U.S. outpost of Woven Planet’s automated mapping platform (AMP) team, which is headquartered in Tokyo. Ro Gupta, co-founder and CEO of Carmera, will report to Mandali Khalesi, who heads up AMP.

The startup’s 50-person team will maintain its offices in New York and Seattle and will eventually be integrated into Woven Planet’s 1,000-person-and-growing enterprise, according to Woven Planet CEO James Kuffner.

Colis Privé, the French parcel delivery company, has postponed its initial public offering initially planned for early July, citing unfavorable market conditions, Reuters reported.

Delhivery gained FedEx Express, a subsidiary of delivery services giant FedEx, as a backer via $100 million investment. The investment comes less than two months after the Indian startup, which is valued at $3 billion, secured $277 million ahead of an initial public offering in the coming quarters.

Heart Aerospace, the Swedish electric aviation startup, raised a $35 million Series A funding round. Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, United Airlines’s venture arm and its regional airline partner Mesa Air Group led the round. Seed investors EQT Ventures and Lowercarbon Capital also participated. The company also received an order from United and Mesa for 200 of its inaugural ES-19 electric aircraft.

LG Chem earmarked $5.2 billion over the next four years to build out its battery materials business. The investment comes as automakers and state regulators set targets to transition away from internal combustion engine vehicles, in a shift that will likely be the most transformative to the mobility industry since the invention of the car.

Lineage Logistics, a temperature-controlled industrial REIT and logistics provider, has agreed to a strategic alliance with venture capital firm 8VC to invest in and “revolutionize” the transportation and logistics technology sector. The two companies have already co-invested in several  companies over 8VC’s past three funds, including Project44, Trackonomy and Baton.

Netradyne, a startup that uses cameras and edge computing to improve commercial driver safety, raised $150 million in Series C funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. Existing investors Point72 Ventures and M12 also participated in the round, bringing Netradyne’s total funding to more than $197 million.

Shopmonkey, a startup that offers a cloud-based shop management software designed for the auto repair industry, raised $75 million in a Series C round led by previous investors Bessemer Venture Partners and Index Ventures, as well as additional participation from returning investors Headline and I2BF, and new investor ICONIQ Growth. The funding comes less than a year after announcing a $25 million Series B.

NoTraffic, an Israeli-based startup that has built an AI-based traffic management platform, raised $17.5 million in a Series A that it will use to support its “rapid scale” of deployments. The company says it will be expanding into dozens of U.S. cities during the second half of this year, and hopes to move into European and Asian markets, as well.

The $17.5 million Series A was led by Nielsen Ventures, a fund founded by former Uber and Dropbox executive and Balderton Capital GP Lars Fjeldsoe-Nielsen and VEKTOR Partners. Leading early-stage venture capital investment firm Grove Ventures, insurance leader Menora Mivtachim Group and Meitav Dash, as well as existing investors like lool ventures, Next Gear Ventures and North First Ventures also participated. Lior Handelsman, one of the founders of Solar Edge, an energy manager system, will join the company’s board.

Bike review: VanMoof X3

Taylor Hatmaker spent quite a bit of time with the VanMoof X3 and published her review this week. As she writes, “some of the best consumer tech from the last decade, I didn’t know I needed an e-bike until I was on one, breezing down the bike lane contemplating my newfound freedom.”

Hatmaker provides a deep dive into the tech, appearance, value, rideability and other features in the bike. Check it out.

(We hope and plan to be doing more bike reviews in the future; stay tuned!)

Policy corner

the-station-delivery

Welcome back to Policy Corner! It’s finally here: The European Commission released its ambitious plan to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and as everyone expected, a proposed ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine cars by 2035 is included.

I mentioned in last week’s Policy Corner that I was curious if it would include any mandates for EV chargers or other infrastructure to support transportation electrification, and I was pleased to see that it does. While not quite a mandate, the proposal says it wants EU countries to install public charging stations every 60 kilometers (37.3 miles) on major roads by 2025, and every 150 kilometers (93.2 miles) for hydrogen refueling stations. The ultimate goal is to build 3.5 million new EV charging stations by 2030 and 16.3 million by 2050. Measures like these will hopefully help dissipate range anxiety, a common reason people cite for not choosing an EV today.

But hold onto your hats: The proposal still needs to be approved by all 27-member states before it can take effect. And France — where automaking is a cornerstone of the economy, thanks to OEMs like Stellantis and Renault — is reportedly pushing back against the terms. It could mean a longer battle over the specific deadlines and emissions reductions targets.

It’s an interesting question, whether a technology ban is the best path forward to achieve some end goal (in this case, lowering carbon emissions). That seems like the stick. I’ll be looking out for the honey — how legislators are going to sweeten the deal for consumers and automakers alike, so there can be as few jobs lost as possible and as many new EVs purchased.

For what it’s worth, I read an interesting post from Christian Brand, associate professor in the Transport Studies Unit at Oxford University, who argues that the focus on EVs is slowly down the path to zero emissions. He points out that as many as 50% of car trips are less than five kms (3.11 miles), so he suggests cities should invest in making areas more micromobility friendly to encourage more people to take up these forms of transport. Food for thought.

Speaking of carbon emissions, there’s a new partnership between eVTOL developer Joby Aviation, aircraft carrier JetBlue Airways and Signature Flight Support to help develop a new system for carbon credits in the aviation industry. Right now, there’s no current pathway for companies like JetBlue to purchase carbon credits from green aviation companies, probably because they’re just so new.

The three companies will “define the framework for the creation, validation and eventual use of these new credits on aviation carbon markets, including identifying a third party to oversee and validate transactions,” a news release said. The companies anticipate releasing more details later this year.

This could be a very profitable development for Joby. Tesla, for example, made $518 million in revenue from the first quarter of 2021 alone from selling regulatory credits to other automakers.

— Aria Alamalhodaei

Notable news and other tidbits

Let’s get right to it. Here’s what else happened this week.

Autonomous vehicles

Audi, BMW, Denso and chipmaker NXP have partnered on an international working group aimed at defining a safe automated driving system architecture for self-driving vehicles. The inaugural group, which was actually created last month but that I’m just sharing with you now, is being spearheaded by The Autonomous. Companies from the industry are invited to learn more about this cross-industry collaboration at The Autonomous Main Event on September 29, 2021.

Volkswagen laid out a plan to ramp up its software, mobility as a service and battery tech to stay competitive in the coming decades. CEO Herbert Diess said the strategy will cover everything from manufacturing to revenue streams.

Electric vehicles

Electrify America, the entity set up by Volkswagen as part of its settlement with U.S. regulators over its diesel emissions cheating scandal said it will double the number of its electric vehicle fast charging stations in the United States and Canada by the end of 2025. The commitment, if successful, means 1,800 fast charging stations — or 10,000 individual chargers — will be installed and operational by that time.

GM and its new EV business unit BrightDrop are launching a fleet-charging service as the automaker aims to ramp up its bet on connected and electric commercial vehicles. The service, branded Ultium Charge 360 fleet charging service offers many of the tools that a commercial delivery, sales or motor pool business might need. It also includes an effort to add home charging for drivers.

Rivian pushed back deliveries of its long-awaited R1T electric pickup truck and R1S SUV several more months due to delays in production caused by “cascading impacts of the pandemic,” particularly the ongoing global shortage of semiconductor chips, according to a letter sent to customers from CEO RJ Scaringe. The R1T deliveries will begin in September with the R1S to follow “shortly,” Scaringe wrote in the message.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration issued an alert recommending owners of Chevrolet Bolt Model Year 2017-2019 park their vehicles away from homes due to the risk of fire. Those are the same vehicles that were recalled in November 2020, due to the possibility of fire from the battery pack underneath the backseat’s cushion. The recall affected 50,932 2017-2019 Chevy Bolt vehicles.

Evtols

Mark Moore, who was most recently director of engineering at Uber Elevate until its acquisition by Joby Aviation, launched his own company called Whisper Aero. The startup is aiming to design an electric thruster it says will blend noise emitted from delivery drones and eVTOLs alike into background levels, making them nearly imperceptible to the human ear.

In-car tech

Tesla launched a monthly subscription for its Full Self-Driving subscription package for $199 per month or a cheaper $99 for those who already purchased the since discontinued Enhanced Autopilot package, according to its website.

Rivian delays deliveries of R1T, R1S electric vehicles again

By Kirsten Korosec

Rivian is pushing back deliveries of its long-awaited R1T electric pickup truck and R1S SUV several more months due to delays in production caused by “cascading impacts of the pandemic,” particularly the ongoing global shortage of semiconductor chips, according to a letter sent to customers from CEO RJ Scaringe. The R1T deliveries will begin in September with the R1S to follow “shortly,” Scaringe wrote in the message.

Deliveries of the R1T Launch Edition vehicles, the limited edition release of its first series of “electric adventure vehicles,” were supposed to begin in July after being delayed by a month.

Rivian is hardly the only automaker grappling with the global chip shortage. GM, Ford, Toyota and virtually every other automaker has either slowed production or built its vehicles without certain features supported by chips. For instance, GM is now building certain mid- and full-sized SUVs without a wireless phone charging feature due to the global shortage of semiconductor chips.

Unlike the established players with plenty of inbound revenue, Rivian is a newcomer that is trying to be the first automaker to bring an electric pickup truck to market. Ford plans to bring the electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck to market in spring 2022. Production of a GMC Hummer EV pickup is expected to begin later this year.

Here’s a segment of the letter, which was viewed by TechCrunch:

We know you can’t wait to get behind the wheel of your vehicle. Earlier this summer, we announced that deliveries would begin in July; however, the timing for the first deliveries of the R1T has shifted to September, with the R1S shortly thereafter in the fall. I wanted to be sure you heard this from me directly.

There are many reasons why our production ramp is taking longer than expected. The cascading impacts of the pandemic have had a compounding effect greater than anyone anticipated. Everything from facility construction, to equipment installation, to vehicle component supply (especially semiconductors) has been impacted by the pandemic. Beyond these unforeseen challenges, launching three new vehicles while setting up a multi-vehicle manufacturing plant is a complex orchestra of coordinated and interlinked activities where small issues can translate into ramp delays.

Scaringe provided a few more details about the company’s progress, including it now employs more than 7,000 people. The Rivian factory in Normal, Illinois, has two separate production lines producing vehicles, according to Scaringe. One is dedicated for the R1 vehicles and other line is for its commercial vans.

In 2019, Rivian announced it was developing an electric delivery van for Amazon using its skateboard platform. Amazon ordered 100,000 of these vans, with deliveries starting in 2021. Earlier this year, Amazon began testing the electric delivery van in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Scaringe said Rivian has “built hundreds of vehicles as part of our validation process, with many of those spotted out in the wild covered in unique vinyl wraps.” He also addressed why those vehicles haven’t been delivered to customers, noting that the company believes “it is critical to both our long-term success and your ultimate satisfaction that the quality and robustness of our launch products truly sets the tone for what to expect from us as a brand.”

The founder and CEO also acknowledged that the company needed to improve how it communicates specifics around deliveries.

Lincoln’s first EV will arrive in 2022 with three more to follow

By Rebecca Bellan

Lincoln Motor will launch its first all-electric vehicle in 2022 followed by three other EVs as part of the luxury brand’s goal to electrify its entire portfolio by the end of the decade.

The first EV will come to market just in time for Lincoln’s 100th birthday celebration — and nearly four years since initial reports emerged that the brand was aiming to electrify its lineup. Like GM’s luxury brand Cadillac, Lincoln doesn’t have an all-electric vehicle in its lineup. But Lincoln is keen to catch up and has set a lofty target for half of its global sales to be zero-emissions vehicles by 2025. These new vehicles fall under Ford’s commitment to invest $30 billion into electric vehicles through 2025.

The announcement by Lincoln follows a string of EV-related news from Ford and its competitors. On Wednesday, rival GM said it planned to invest $35 billion in EVs and autonomous vehicles — an $8 billion increase from its financial commitment made back in November 2020.

The Lincoln EV was originally going to be built on Rivian’s skateboard platform. However, those plans were scrapped in April 2020. The companies said at the time that they still plan to co-develop a vehicle in the future. A Lincoln spokesperson confirmed those co-development plans were still intact, but did not reveal any more information.

For now, Lincoln’s electric vehicles will be based on a new, dedicated EV architecture developed by Ford. The automaker announced in May during its Capital Markets Day for investors that it was developing two flexible platforms, one for smaller SUVs and sedans and another for larger pickups. This is a different architecture used in the current Ford Mustang Mach-E and upcoming Ford F-150 Lightning.

The new flexible platform, which allows for rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive vehicles, is expected to underpin EV versions of the Lincoln Aviator and Ford Explorer.

According to Lincoln, the automaker’s first fully electric car will join the likes of plug-in hybrid SUVs Aviator and Corsair. Lincoln has not yet revealed what model the new EV will take, but it hinted the design might be similar to the Lincoln Zephyr Reflection concept sedan revealed at Auto Shanghai this year, made specifically for the Chinese market. Lincoln’s electric car will be available for sale in both the United States and China.

Lincoln also shared information on the interior of its new EV, attempting to make it a minimalistic and expansive space with a panoramic roof vista to create a more airy feel, one that befits a “sanctuary,” as the automaker is referring to its vehicle. Perhaps most notable is the upcoming EVs will have a digital platform built off the Android operating system, which will allow the company to offer third-party apps and services and update the software remotely.

The vehicle will also be equipped with advanced driver-assist features, including hands-free driving on certain highways.

TezLab CEO Ben Schippers to discuss the Tesla effect and the next wave of EV startups at TC Sessions: Mobility 2021

By Kirsten Korosec

As Tesla sales have risen, interest in the company has exploded, prompting investment and interest in the automotive industry, as well as the startup world.

TezLab, a free app that’s like a Fitbit for a Tesla vehicle, is just one example of the numerous startups that have sprung up in the past few years as electric vehicles have started to make the tiniest of dents in global sales. Now, as Ford, GM, Volvo, Hyundai along with newcomers Rivian, Fisker and others launch electric vehicles into the marketplace, more startups are sure to follow.

Ben Schippers, the co-founder and CEO of TezLab, is one of two early-stage founders who will join us at TC Sessions: Mobility 2021 to talk about their startups and the opportunities cropping up in this emerging age of EVs. The six-person team behind TezLab was born out of HappyFunCorp, a software engineering shop that builds apps for mobile, web, wearables and Internet of Things devices for clients that include Amazon, Facebook and Twitter, as well as an array of startups.

HFC’s engineers, including Schippers, who also co-founded HFC, were attracted to Tesla  because of its techcentric approach and one important detail: the Tesla API endpoints are accessible to outsiders. The Tesla API is technically private. But it exists allowing the Tesla’s app to communicate with the cars to do things like read battery charge status and lock doors. When reverse-engineered, it’s possible for a third-party app to communicate directly with the API.

Schippers’ experience extends beyond scaling up TezLab. Schippers consults and works with companies focused on technology and human interaction, with a sub-focus in EV.

The list of speakers at our 2021 event is growing by the day and includes Motional’s president and CEO Karl Iagnemma and Aurora co-founder and CEO Chris Urmson, who will discuss the past, present and future of AVs. On the electric front is Mate Rimac, the founder of Rimac Automobili, who will talk about scaling his startup from a one-man enterprise in a garage to more than 1,000 people and contracts with major automakers.

We also recently announced a panel dedicated to China’s robotaxi industry, featuring three female leaders from Chinese AV startups: AutoX’s COO Jewel Li, Huan Sun, general manager of Momenta Europe with Momenta, and WeRide’s VP of Finance Jennifer Li.

Other guests include, GM’s VP of Global Innovation Pam Fletcher, Scale AI CEO Alexandr Wang, Joby Aviation founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt, investor and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman (whose special purpose acquisition company just merged with Joby), investors Clara Brenner of Urban Innovation Fund, Quin Garcia of Autotech Ventures and Rachel Holt of Construct Capital, and Zoox co-founder and CTO Jesse Levinson.

And we may even have one more surprise — a classic TechCrunch stealth company reveal to close the show.

Don’t wait to book your tickets to TC Sessions: Mobility as prices go up at our virtual door.

Rivian delays deliveries of the R1T Launch Edition by one month

By Aria Alamalhodaei

Rivian said that deliveries of the R1T Launch Edition, the limited edition release of its first series of “electric adventure vehicles,” will be delayed by a month, according to an update on its website.

Customers who preordered can now expect to start receiving their pickup trucks in July instead of June, with Launch Edition deliveries to be completed by Spring 2022. The change was first spotted by the Rivian Forum.

The Amazon-backed EV startup told preorder holders in July 2020 to expect deliveries of the truck in June 2021, with R1S electric SUV deliveries starting two months later in August. The delivery timeline has already been extended once, after Rivian suspended construction work on its factory due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It also appears that the R1S SUV has been delayed by several months, according to the website, which states that all R1T and R1S Launch Edition preorder holders will hear from their designation Rivian customer rep “by the end of November with their expected delivery timing.”

Rivian did not immediately respond with a request for comment. TechCrunch update the article, if they do.

Despite the delay, it looks like Rivian will still be first to bring an electric truck to market among both new EV entrants and legacy automakers. Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns said in an investor call last week that deliveries for the company’s “Endurance” truck are still on track for September (despite slashing production numbers in half). Ford’s F-150 Lighting, the electric version of its nameplate pickup, is expected in 2022. And Tesla recently confirmed that its Cybertruck will start production late this year.

Rivian also said it will be starting its drive program in August, which will let customers schedule at-home drives or attend a tour event. The company will be releasing details on launch dates and reservations for the tour events in the coming weeks. Rivian selected Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Detroit and Seattle as the first batch of cities on the tour.

In addition, it released a few product updates. Customers now have the option to add an Off-Road Upgrade to their vehicle configuration for an additional $2,000. Every Rivian will now also come with an onboard air compressor, previously available only with the Off-Road Upgrade.

Customers can also add Rivian Adventure Gear to their configuration. These include a rooftop tent, cargo bars, and camp kitchen (that now comes with a 30-piece kitchen set).

Canoo’s electric microbus will start under $35,000 when it comes to market next year

By Aria Alamalhodaei

Los Angeles-based electric vehicle startup Canoo is bringing its first vehicle to market next year. The company said Monday its electric microbus-slash-van will be available to buy in 2022 at a base price of $34,750 before tax incentives or add-ons. It’s now taking preorders in the United States for the “lifestyle” vehicle, as well as for its round-top pickup truck and multi-purpose delivery van.

While Canoo did not release pricing for the other two vehicles, it did said that deliveries for the pickup and production for the delivery van are slated to start as early as 2023. Customers can reserve a model by placing a $100 deposit per vehicle with the company.

The lifestyle van will come in four trims, including base, premium, adventure and so-called Lifestyle Vehicle Delivery The adventure variant, which is the top trim and comes with more ground clearance and beefier profile, does not yet have a price. The base, delivery (not to be confused with the bigger multipurpose delivery van) and premium models will be priced up to $49,950, the company said. The company said the lifestyle van is expected to be able to produce 300 hp and 332 pound-feet of torque with 250 miles of battery range.

Canoo is taking a different route than many other electric vehicle manufacturers. The company’s trio of vehicles all have the same proprietary “skateboard” platform architecture that houses the batteries and electric drivetrain in a chassis that sits under the vehicle’s cabin. This contributes to a similar design language between the vehicles, which all have the same wide front windshield and relatively low profile.

The company is especially deviating from competitors with its electric pickup, which is scheduled to go into production in early 2023. As opposed to rivals Ford and Rivian, which are emphasizing size and power in their respective F-150 Lighting and R1T pickup trucks, Canoo’s is smaller and more playful-looking. The Rivian R1T clocks in at 218 inches long, while the Canoo truck will be 184 inches. Canoo is also claiming a battery range of 200+ miles, far less than the 300+ boasted by other EV truck manufacturers. None of these companies have posted what the range will be when towing.

Canoo has undergone many transformations since its founding as Evelozcity in 2017. It was rebranded as Canoo in 2019 and merged with special purpose acquisition company Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp. last December with a market valuation of $2.4 billion.

This year has been a bit bumpier for the company. The news on Monday comes less than a month after the company announced the resignations of its co-founder and CEO Ulrich Kranz and its general counsel Andrew Wolstan. Earlier this year, the company also lost its chief financial officer Paul Balciunas and its head of powertrain development.

Canoo’s skateboard architecture caught the eye of automaker Hyundai Motor Group, which last February said it would jointly develop an EV with Canoo based on the skateboard design. But during an investor call in March, Tony Aquila, who took over as company CEO following Kranz’s departure, said the deal was all but dead.

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