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EVs: Ford, BMW Co-Invest In An EV Battery Startup

It's currently of no doubt that electric vehicles represent the future for the automobile market, and many automakers have taken heed to that. Tens of billions of dollars in spending have been earmarked for the R&D and production of electric vehicles by global automakers, with efforts spanning battery development, building new factories, charging stations et al. Now, two of the world's biggest automakers, BMW and Ford, have jointly invested in a startup working on battery technology for electric vehicles. That startup is Solid Power, a Colorado-based startup developing solid-state batteries for EVs. Details: Solid Power has raised a $130 million Series B round  co-led by Ford and BMW. The two automakers were joined by green-focused venture fund Volta Energy Technologies in the round. As part of the strategic round, Ford and BMW have expanded their joint agreements with Solid Power to develop solid-state batteries for their use. In a way, the two automakers are funding and o

Earnings: Tesla Reports Record Revenue, Profit In Q1' 21

Electric carmaker Tesla has released its earnings results for the first quarter of this year 2021, showing record sales and profits. It reported $10.4 billion in revenue, up 74% year-over-year, and a net income of $438 million which's over 26 times its net income in the same quarter last year. The revenue and profit stats disclosed by Tesla marks the highest-ever in the company's existence. It's a testament to a growing market for electric vehicles that Tesla has gotten a stronghold on. In Q1 2021, Tesla produced just over 180,000 vehicles and delivered just slightly under 185,000 vehicles to customers. Out of the number delivered to customers, Model 3 and Model Y vehicles accounted for the vast majority with 182,870 deliveries while Model S and Model X, the more premium ones, made up a much smaller 2,020 deliveries. Tesla's sales for the quarter were boosted by the market in China in which it's established a large factory capable of producing up to 450,000 cars an

Like Uber, Rival Lyft Sells Off Self-Driving Business

The main rival of ridesharing heavyweight Uber in the US, Lyft, has followed Uber's footsteps with the sell-off of its self-driving business to an outsider. It's sealed a deal to sell its self-driving business to a subsidiary of Japanese automaker Toyota. Woven Planet Holdings, a subsidiary of Toyota, will pay $550 million in cash to takeover Lyft's self-driving division. Out of that amount, $200 million will be paid upfront while the remaining $350 million gets split into payments over a five-year period. Lyft's deal with Toyota mimics that of its main rival Uber which agreed to a deal to sell off its self-driving business to a well-funded startup named Aurora. Unlike Uber, however, Lyft's sell-off is structured as one where it'll receive a cash payment for the sale and hand off the unit rather than taking an equity stake in the acquiring company as Uber did. When Uber sold its self-driving business to Aurora, it came out with a 26% ownership stake in the com

Autonomous Delivery Startup Nuro Adds Toyota, Chipotle As Investors

Nuro, a well-funded self-driving startup launched by ex-Google veterans, has said that it's raised new funding from investors including restaurant chain Chipotle and Woven Capital, a growth-stage fund launched by a subsidiary of Japanese automaker Toyota. The new investments in Nuro came as part of a $500 million Series C  that the company embarked on last year. It adds Chipotle as a strategic investor in Nuro and means we could see food from Chipotle getting delivered by Nuro's self-driving robots sometime in the future. With backing from an offshoot of Toyota, Nuro also has a new strategic investor in the Japanese automaker.  Nuro's new investments came on the heels of the company securing a commercial deployment permit for its autonomous delivery robots in the state of California. The permit has allowed Nuro to operate commercially in two countries near its headquarters in the California Bay Area and the company says it'll soon start delivering there with a yet-unn

Newly-Public Lidar Company Luminar Heads For China's Auto Market

Luminar Technologies, a company making lidar sensors for autonomous vehicles that went public through a much-talked-about SPAC merger a few months ago, has added another major lidar supply deal to its package of contracts, this time with a Chinese automaker that's known to be the biggest in the country by the name SAIC Motor. Luminar has entered into a strategic partnership with SAIC Motor that'll see it supply lidar hardware and the accompanying autonomous driving software for a new line of SAIC electric vehicles dubbed R . The contract will kick off next year, 2022, and it's noted that targets exist for Luminar to supply lidars for SAIC's entire vehicle lineup needing it. With its partnership with SAIC, Luminar will open its first office in China in Shanghai, the same city where SAIC is based. From there, the Chinese automaker will provide local support for Luminar as it gets into a foreign market it hasn't been into before. For the new R brand electric car unveil

BMW Unveils First All-Electric Sedan, i4

In a move signaling its increasing commitment towards electrification, German luxury carmaker BMW has unveiled what's its first all-electric sedan, the BMW i4 , that's scheduled to hit the roads by the end of this very year. BMW first teased the all-electric i4 concept at the digital-only Geneva Motor Show last year and has now unveiled a production version that closely matches that concept. The i4 is an electric car that'll come in different versions with the highest having a range of around 300 miles and power of around 390kW (roughly 530 horsepower), BMW says. For now, though, BMW hasn't dished out many details on the all-electric i4 but says it'll do so 'over the next weeks.' However, the car's range and power output have been revealed as disclosed above, being two important pieces of information to note. Notably, BMW has said that it'll offer an M Performance model of the i4. Another notable piece of information is that the i4 will use the late

Swedish EV Battery Startup Northvolt Gets $14B Order From VW

It's definitely a good day for Northvolt, a Swedish startup making batteries for electric vehicles and a highly-funded one at that with some $3.3 billion in equity and debt financing.  Northvolt has sealed a big contract with German automaker Volkswagen to supply $14 billion worth of lithium-ion batteries for the automaker's electrification efforts over the next 10 years, with Northvolt becoming the strategic lead battery supplier to the Volkswagen Group in Europe. The $14 billion battery deal is a landmark one for Northvolt and brings the total value of supply contracts under its belt to $27 billion, quite unprecedented for a five-year-old startup in its early stages. As part of its supply deal with Northvolt, Volkswagen which was already an investor in Northvolt before now has increased its stake in the company to 20%. As an anchor investor, it'll also be Northvolt's biggest customer marking a significant tie-up between both companies. Northvolt is currently building

Electric Carmaker Canoo Unveils New Pickup Truck

Fresh off a public listing through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), electric car startup Canoo has unveiled what's its third vehicle, this time a bubbly-looking electric pickup truck. Canoo's newly-unveiled electric pickup truck sets the company as a contender in the American electric truck market which is one that's predicted for huge growth over time . Now, Canoo will be getting head-on with the likes of Tesla, Rivian, Ford, and Lordstown Motors to capture market share in the American pickup truck market as it's set to transition towards all-electric models over time. Canoo's new electric pickup truck is pictured above. It measures six feet and can extend to a fully enclosed eight feet to give way for more space, thanks to a pull-out bed extension that's demonstrated in the image below. At its front, Canoo's pickup truck features a cargo storage area that can hold tools or gear and also includes a fold-down worktable with electri

Porsche Raises Stake In Electric Supercar Maker Rimac

Porsche, the popular maker of high-performance cars, definitely has its eyes set on transitioning to an electric future as it's already released its first all-electric vehicle, the Porsche Taycan , which sold over 20,000 units in its first year of mass production being 2020.  Along with producing its own all-electric vehicles, Porsche has also signaled its major interest in the electric car market by investing in Rimac, a Croatian maker of high-performance electric cars. The German carmaker had previously invested a sum in Rimac that gave it a 15% stake in the Croatian electric car startup and now has announced  that it's investing another 70 million Euros ($83 million) to boost its stake to 24%. Porsche's investment in Rimac indicates major confidence in the Croatian electric car startup's operations, as it's made itself Rimac's biggest outside shareholder. Porsche and Rimac are strategic partners in a not-surprising way given that Rimac specializes in making h

Carmaker Volvo To Go Fully Electric By 2030

The latest global automaker to commit to transitioning to a fully-electric production output in the future is Swedish carmaker Volvo, which has announced plans to become a fully electric car company by 2030. By then, the company says it intends to have phased out any car in its portfolio with an internal combustion engine, including hybrids, and transition to producing fully electric cars. The announcement of Volvo's grand plan comes a year after the company launched its first fully electric car, the XC40 Recharge , around the globe, and with just one fully electric car in its product portfolio now, it's apparent that the automaker would need to put in hard work to achieve a fully-electric portfolio in nine years time. To work towards its goal, Volvo has announced that it'll roll out 'several' additional electric car models in the coming years, the word several making the number indistinct. The Swedish automaker is aiming for fully electric cars to make up half of

American Drone Maker Skydio Raises $170M, Valued At $1B+

Skydio, an American startup that makes autonomous drones, has closed a new funding round of $170 million that values it above $1 billion. The round was led by the famous venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from existing backers Next47, IVP, and Linse Capital, plus a new investor UP.Partners. Andreessen Horowitz led the new Series D round for Skydio from its Growth Fund, and with it, Skydio has now raised a total of over $340 million in external funding and then with a $1 billion+ valuation that makes it the highest-valued drone startup in the US. It seems that Skydio has drawn wide investor attraction after the US government placed China's DJI on a blacklist last year. DJI made its mark as the biggest drone maker globally and the largest in the US market but got placed on a government Entity List last year that barred American companies from supplying it with components. The blacklist was instituted by the former Trump administration due to alleged ties to

Velodyne Lidar's Founder Ousted, Fights Back

Velodyne Lidar, the leading maker of lidars for autonomous vehicles in the US, is in the midst of a leadership tussle that's seen its founder and biggest shareholder David Hall pushed out from his position of Chairman at the company along with his wife Marta Hall who held the position of Chief Marketing Officer at Velodyne. David and Marta Hall were pushed out from Velodyne after a board investigation that brought accusations of the couple behaving "inappropriately" and acting without "respect, honesty, integrity and candor” when interacting with other officers and directors at Velodyne as claimed by the company's board. As they were pushed out, Velodyne named a new Chairman and another new board director. In response to his ouster, Velodyne founder David Hall put out a press statement  accusing his company of staging a "boardroom ambush" to reprimand him and his wife "based on an opaque, secret investigation into baseless, unfounded claims".

Taiwan's Foxconn To Build Cars For EV Company Fisker

After becoming a public company last year through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), electric carmaker Fisker has taken a bold and crucial step towards its planned manufacturing of electric cars with a partnership with Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturing powerhouse famously known for assembling Apple's iPhones. Fisker has announced a partnership with Foxconn that'll see the Taiwanese manufacturing giant build electric cars bearing Fisker's name with projected annual production volumes of 250,000+ units. The vehicle to be manufactured by Foxconn will be Fisker's second electric vehicle and hasn't yet been unveiled. Fisker says that the new electric vehicle to be built by Foxconn is planned to go into production by Q4 2023, roughly a year after the scheduled launch of Fisker's first vehicle, the Ocean SUV . Already, over 12,000 reservations have been booked for the Ocean SUV, wherein Fisker has grand plans to get into a competitive elect

New SPAC Merger: Air Taxi Startup Joby Aviation

Every new day or so brings new SPAC mergers and today's new merger happens to be Joby Aviation , a maker of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) passenger aircraft, a.k.a air taxis. Joby has announced an agreement to merge with Reinvent Technology Partners (NYSE:RTP), a SPAC formed by a group including LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and Zynga founder Mark Pincus. With its merger, Joby will become a public company trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Joby's merger deal values the company at $6.6 billion. Through the merger, the company will get roughly $1.6 billion in cash proceeds consisting of $690 million held in trust by the SPAC it's merging with, an extra $835 million from a private placement, and then a $75 million convertible note purchase from the ride-hailing company Uber that's being made under the terms of a  recent deal of Uber selling its flying taxi business to Joby . Joby's $835 million private placement will come from investors inc

Next SPAC Deal: EV Metals Company DeepGreen Metals?

Special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) have been on a tear as of late, with 2020 and just two months into 2021 collectively drawing hundreds of SPAC listings that have raised tens of billions of dollars. With a SPAC boom, it's such that investors are betting on the use of SPACs to buy into promising companies and looking to make profits from them, and one of the industries to have drawn high positive interest from investors has been electric vehicles. Many companies in the electric vehicle industry, most recently the electric carmaker Lucid Motors , have sealed big SPAC deals and drawn a lot of attention with them. The whole industry is being propped up with electric carmakers taking the lead and complementary businesses such as battery makers and charging network companies following suit. Now, it seems that the latest company in the EV industry to be targeting a SPAC deal is DeepGreen Metals , a company that plans to produce metals with a minimal environmental impact that&#

Official: Lucid Motors To Go Public Via SPAC Route

After months of rumors of electric car startup Lucid Motors looking to go public via the route of a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), it's now officially announced an agreement to merge with Churchill Capital Corp IV (NYSE: CCIV) in a deal that'll hand it over $4.4 billion in cash for its operations and value it at $24 billion Pro-forma. A $4.4 billion cash and $24 billion-value deal isn't in the normal ranges for most SPAC mergers as it's on the high end of the deals sealed by SPACs by valuation. It should be expected in this case, though, as Lucid Motors is an electric carmaker, and investors have been very positive towards publicly-traded electric carmakers as of late. Lucid Motors is one of the most-watched electric carmakers as it looks to ramp up production and begin delivering its first vehicles this year. Led by a former top Tesla engineering executive, the company is looking to establish a foothold in the American electric vehicle marke

Lidar Startup AEye to Go Public Via SPAC Deal

As it looks, lidar startups have been major merger targets for special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) over the past year, with a handful of them having sealed deals to go public through SPAC mergers (e.g. Ouster , Luminar , Velodyne, and Aeva ). Now, the latest lidar startup to join that cohort is AEye , a venture-backed lidar maker based in Dublin, California. AEye has sealed a deal to merge with CF Finance Acquisition Corp. III (Nasdaq: CFAC), a SPAC sponsored by the financial services giant Cantor Fitzgerald. The merger is expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year. Under the terms of its merger, AEye will be handed over $230 million in cash held in trust by  CF Finance Acquisition Corp. III, and has also secured a $225 million private-investment-in-public-equity (PIPE) funding round that'll bring its total cash haul to $455 million,  a round that'll see participation from investors including GM Ventures, Intel Capital, and Hella Ventures. Following

Luxury Car Brand Jaguar To Go All-Electric By 2025

In what's the latest sign of legacy automakers preparing for a future where electric cars are the norm, the premium and luxury car brand Jaguar has announced that it'll become an all-electric brand by 2025, precisely four years from now. The all-electric push is part of Jaguar's parent company Jaguar Land Rover's plan to become a net-zero carbon business by 2039. Already, Jaguar has a fully-electric car on the market, the  Jaguar I-Pace SUV , and has sold over 40,000 units of the vehicle. However, its sister brand Land Rover currently has no fully-electric vehicle on the market but has now said that it'll produce its first in 2024. Although the Jaguar I-Pace SUV has sold over 40,000 units, it appears to have struggled to thrive in a market with hefty competition from other automakers. Also, the Jaguar I-Pace SUV is actually manufactured by an external contractor and not Jaguar itself, meaning that the luxury brand's just-announced plan to become all-electric soo

GM Unveils New Chevy Bolt EVs

The American automaker General Motors (GM) is surely stepping up its electric vehicle game on the backs of its plan to spend $27 billion on electric and autonomous vehicle development from 2020 through 2025. It's just unveiled two new additions to its growing electric car lineup, a usual hatchback and a new compact SUV from its popular Chevy Bolt brand. The new electric vehicles from GM are 2022 models, meaning they'll go into production later this year. With the lineup, GM dropped a surprise with a new Chevy Bolt electric utility vehicle (EUV), essentially a compact SUV. It's the first compact SUV to come from the Chevy Bolt brand and represents GM's bigger rush into the electric vehicle market, with plans to launch 30 new EVs by 2025. GM 2022 redesigned Bolt EV (left) and Bolt EUV (right). Chevy Bolt EUV The 2022 Chevy Bolt EUV is notably the first vehicle from the Chevrolet brand to feature GM's 'Super Cruise' driver assistance system. It's similar

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Cashing Out: Jeff Bezos Sells $2.5B Of Amazon Stock

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has continued his routine selling of Amazon shares to fund his other escapades. For a few years now, he's had an arranged trading plan that sees him regularly sell Amazon stock worth billions of dollars. Jeff Bezos' latest sell-off is of 739,000 Amazon shares worth around $2.5bn, SEC filings show. Another separate filing indicated that he plans to sell as many as 2 million shares that could net him nearly $7bn at current prices. This latest share sell-off from Bezos is noteworthy as one of his last in his position as Amazon's CEO which he's handing off soon to a top lieutenant named Andy Jassy. Jassy is currently CEO of AWS, Amazon's very profitable cloud computing division. Usually, a CEO offloading large amounts of stock in a company he leads draws some displeasure from investors, but as Jeff Bezos would soon no longer be Amazon's CEO, it opens up opportunities to sell larger amounts of shares than usual if the desires. Amazon's

EVs: Ford, BMW Co-Invest In An EV Battery Startup

It's currently of no doubt that electric vehicles represent the future for the automobile market, and many automakers have taken heed to that. Tens of billions of dollars in spending have been earmarked for the R&D and production of electric vehicles by global automakers, with efforts spanning battery development, building new factories, charging stations et al. Now, two of the world's biggest automakers, BMW and Ford, have jointly invested in a startup working on battery technology for electric vehicles. That startup is Solid Power, a Colorado-based startup developing solid-state batteries for EVs. Details: Solid Power has raised a $130 million Series B round  co-led by Ford and BMW. The two automakers were joined by green-focused venture fund Volta Energy Technologies in the round. As part of the strategic round, Ford and BMW have expanded their joint agreements with Solid Power to develop solid-state batteries for their use. In a way, the two automakers are funding and o

Is Apple Brewing A Major Digital Health Play?

That Apple has high ambitions in the digital health space isn't foreign news to anyone following the moves of the company. In fact, its CEO Tim Cook once referred to health as Apple's “greatest contribution to mankind.” Apple's main health product is the Apple Watch for which health represents a major use case and a selling point. The latest Apple Watch series has key health features including the ability to measure ECG (electrocardiogram) and oxygen saturation level in the blood. With all its grand ambitions, the reality is that Apple is progressing very well in the digital health space but yet hasn't gotten a big foothold in it like it's done in other markets. There still exists a large gap for Apple to conquer to make waves in the digital health market and the company seems much hell-bent on covering that gap. Details: A certain revelation has come out that details Apple's grand plans in the health sector, and it's that of a UK startup working on next-ge

Big Pay: AT&T Shareholders Vote Against Execs Pay

To bring back one of our most favorite sayings, "America is the land of many things, including very enormous executive pay". Executives of publicly-traded companies in the US are familiar with very large compensation packages on a scale not seen in other countries, take recent examples including Palantir CEO Alex Karp landing a $1.1 billion payday  and former T-Mobile CEO John Legere getting a $137 million severance pay . But with all the large executive pay packages flying around, it appears that the shareholders of one public company are not okay with it and that company is telecoms giant AT&T.  Details: AT&T in a statement  revealed that the majority of its shareholders voted not in favor of the compensation of its executive officers in 2020. Just under 49% of votes were cast in favor of the compensation, leaving the remaining majority 51%, not in favor.  Last year, AT&T had large pay packages for its top brass including $21 million for CEO John Stankey and $52

Deal: Verizon Sells Yahoo And AOL To PE Firm For $5B

Telecoms giant Verizon has found a buyer for its Verizon Media Unit which includes veteran internet properties like Yahoo and AOL, and that buyer is a major private equity firm. To note, though Yahoo and AOL have long faded from their glory days, they aren't exactly dead properties but ones still with a great deal of users bringing in a few billion in revenue annually. Details: Verizon has struck a deal to sell 90% of Verizon Media to private equity firm Apollo which will pay $5 billion for it, while Verizon retains a  10%  minority stake in the business. The deal takes off many internet properties off Verizon's hands, including bigger ones like Yahoo and smaller ones like technology news site TechCrunch operating under the AOL umbrella. Though it's selling for a seemingly huge price of $5 billion, Verizon paid a combined $9 billion to buy the web properties making up its Verizon Media unit so it doesn't come out on top financially from the sale.  Verizon paid $4.4bn t

Germany's SAP Fined $8M For Violating Iran Sanctions

SAP, the German software giant, has agreed to pay a fine in the US for violating sanctions imposed by the country on conducting business in Iran. It'll pay over $8 million in fines after admitting to handling thousands of exports of its software to Iran violating US law. Details: SAP admitted to exporting US-origin software to Iran beginning in 2010 up until 2017. The exports including delivering software upgrades and patches more than 20,000 times to Iranian users and offering Iranian users access to US-based cloud services. As charged, executives at SAP were aware that the company didn't have geolocation protections to block downloads of its US-origin software in Iran and turned a blind eye to the situation.  SAP was also charged with neglecting to put in place adequate export control for cloud services made by some US-based companies that it acquired and integrated into its software suite. For the charges, SAP admitted guilt and reached a  Non-Prosecution Agreement with the

IPO: Cybersecurity Startup Darktrace Debuts On UK Markets

A major cybersecurity startup from the UK has held an initial public offering (IPO) and debuted to positive investor fanfare on the domestic public markets. That startup is Darktrace, a fast-growing cybersecurity startup founded by a team of mathematicians in collaboration with British intelligence agencies in 2013. Darktrace sells cyber-defense software that's claimed to harness artificial intelligence in spotting and managing cyber threats. It listed on the London Stock Exchange under the symbol "DARK". By the numbers: Darktrace debuted to positive investor fanfare that saw its shares soar by 40% on its first day of trading. It raised £143 million ($198m) from the public float at a valuation of £1.7 billion ($2.3bn) which soared to almost £2.4 billion ($3.3bn) on its debut trading day. Darktrace's IPO prospectus reports $199 million in revenue in its most recent fiscal year ending June 30, 2020. This was up from $137 million in the previous year, 2019, and $79 mill

Earnings: Pfizer Rakes In Cash From COVID Vaccine

Pfizer, one of the few pharmaceutical companies worldwide to produce an approved Covid-19 vaccine, has unveiled its earnings report for the first quarter of this year. As usual, the report provides a solid peek into the company's financials and with very noteworthy nuggets this time around. One key nugget from Pfizer's earnings report is that the company brought in $3.5bn in revenue from its Covid-19 vaccine in Q1' 21. It made up nearly a fourth of the company's total $14.6bn revenue for the period. The Covid vaccine was the biggest single source of revenue for Pfizer in the quarter. It's definitely a good time for the company in that regard, as it elected to keep the profit from the sale of its vaccines unlike some of its competitors which volunteered to waive off any profit-seeking from their vaccines. Unlike some of its competitors also, Pfizer didn't take money from the US government to fund the development of its vaccine under the Trump administration'

Court Docs: Fortnite Maker Epic Made $15B In 2018-2020

Fortnite maker Epic Games is having a court battle with Apple over the latter's App Store practices and that battle has led to several documents coming out of the shadows with valuable information about Epic Games not publicly known before.  Among the information revealed in court proceedings between Epic and Apple is the sheer scale of Epic's revenue largely gotten from its hit game Fortnite . Official documents indicate that Epic Games made respective annual sales of $5.6bn, $4.2bn, and $5.1bn in 2018, 2019, and 2020, summing up to just shy of $15bn. Epic's revenue in 2018 and 2019 was revealed in financial documents made public as part of its court battle with Apple while its revenue for 2020 was separately revealed in a court testimony by Epic CEO Tim Sweeney. The vast majority of Epic's revenue comes from Fortnite while its other products like the Unreal Engine and the Epic Games Store bring in a minority of revenues. Specifically, Fortnite brought in $5.5bn a

Earnings: Covid Vaccines Deliver Big Sales, Profit For Moderna

Moderna was among the few biotech companies that saved the day with the development of an emergency-authorized vaccine to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. It was a breakthrough for the company, which was before then a cancer-fighting moonshot with minimal revenues and no working product. Being a publicly-traded company, Moderna is mandated to release quarterly earnings reports to the public and it has done so this time around, releasing its financial results for the first quarter of this year 2021. Moderna's latest earnings report shows that of a company that saw big success from its Covid vaccines, as it reported record revenue and its first-ever net profit as a public company. By the numbers: Moderna made $1.9bn in revenue in Q1' 21, compared to a paltry $8mn for the same quarter in 2020. The revenue came wholly from Covid vaccine sales in the US and foreign markets. Moderna reported a huge net income of $1.2bn in the quarter, compared to a net loss of $124mn for the same perio