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The Station: Canoo hits the road, Coup shutters and Samsung shifts

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Welcome back to The Station, the go-to newsletter for keeping up to date on what the heck is going on in the world of transportation. I’m your host, Kirsten Korosec, senior transportation reporter at TechCrunch.

Portions of the newsletter are published as an article on the main site after it has been emailed to subscribers (that’s what you’re reading now). The Station is emailed every Saturday morning. To get everything, you have to sign up. And it’s free. To subscribe, go to our newsletters page and click on The Station.

We love tips and feedback. Please reach out anytime and tell us what you love and don’t love so much. Email me at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share thoughts, opinions or tips or send a direct message to @kirstenkorosec.

Micromobbin’

the

Shared mopeds might be popular, but that doesn’t mean companies operating these services are guaranteed to succeed. This week, TechCrunch reporter Romain Dillet reported that Coup, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bosch that operates an electric moped scooter-sharing service in Berlin, Paris and Madrid, is shutting down.

The closure might surprise some, considering Coup has brand recognition and, according to the company, a loyal customer base that uses its services. That’s not enough to be a profitable enterprise. Coup said that operating the service is “economically unsustainable” in the long term.

Meanwhile, TechCrunch reporter Manish Singh learned from two sources familiar with the deal that Bangalore-based startup Bounce has raised about $150 million as part of an ongoing financing round led by existing investors Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital and Accel Partners India. Bounce, formerly known as Metro Bikes, operates more than 17,000 electric and gasoline scooters in three dozen cities in India.

The new round values the startup “well over $500 million,” the people said, requesting anonymity. This is a significant increase since the year-old startup’s Series C financing round, which closed in June, when it was worth a little more than $200 million.

Bounce, which is known for its cheap rental costs, along with competitors Vugo and Yulu, is trying to carve market share away from ride-hailing companies like Uber . The big attraction isn’t necessarily price, either. Traffic congestion is prompting people to turn to two wheels, giving Bounce and others a boost.

Subscriptions are so hot right now

the

Remember Canoo, the Los Angeles startup that revealed a minibus-type electric vehicle a few months back? We have an update. In short, the company’s rapid ramp continues to accelerate despite some legal headwinds.

Canoo is taking an interesting approach to EVs. It aims to offer a “subscription only” electric vehicle in the U.S. and China.

The company began life as Evelozcity in late 2017 after ex-BMW executives Stefan Krause and Ulrich Kranz left Faraday Future amid an internal power struggle. Evelozcity rebranded as Canoo in spring 2019 and unveiled its prototype electric vehicle several months later.

Now, the company is beta testing its EV on public roads. Canoo tells me that its focus is to validate the powertrain, steer-by-wire system, battery, chassis and body structure.

Canoo is building a fleet of more than 30 beta vehicles for various types of testing. The bulk of the beta testing is expected to take place over the next six months in various locations, including near Canoo’s Torrance, Calif. headquarters, Toyota’s Arizona proving grounds and on public roads in Ohio.

Canoo said it’s also conducting hot and cold testing, as well as focusing on the advanced driver assistance system in various locations.

Canoo

A subscription reboot

Automakers including Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen have been testing subscription programs with mixed success. Now, one failed pilot is coming back.

At an event in Los Angeles, GM’s Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl said the subscription service Book by Cadillac will return next year. GM’s luxury brand Cadillac will pilot the next-generation of the subscription service in San Francisco starting in the first quarter of 2020.

“We learned a lot from the first pilot… first, it verified that there is no longer a one-size-fits-all solution to personal transportation,” Wahl said at the event. “Second, we learned that the BOOK model is enormously effective as a conquest mechanism: 70% of BOOK subscribers were new to Cadillac.”

Moving forward, Cadillac plans to integrate the subscription service into the retail dealer network, Wahl said.

A little bird

blinky

We hear a lot. But we’re not selfish. Let’s share.

Samsung appears to be yet another company stepping back from a pursuit of full autonomy and refocusing efforts and investments toward advanced driver assistance technology. At least for now.

Several years ago, Samsung was all in on autonomous vehicle technology. At CES in 2018, the company introduced its new Samsung DRVLINE platform — an “open, modular, and scalable hardware and software-based platform” for the autonomous driving market. But Samsung is changing up its strategy.

The DRVLINE/Smart Machines team based out of its Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center has been shuttered, a source with direct knowledge of the events told me. This move also includes closing offices in Germany.

Let’s get wonky

the

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is keen to change how the 5.9 GHz band is used, and that matters for connected car technology and the eventual deployment of autonomous vehicles.

For the unfamiliar, the 5.9 GHz band has been reserved for the past two decades to be used by the Dedicated Short Range Communications, a service in the Intelligent Transportation System that was designed to enable vehicle communication. (ITS is a joint operation that overlaps five offices under the Department of Transportation.)

In the FCC’s view, the DSRC service has evolved slowly and has not been widely deployed. The commission issued this month a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to take, what it calls “a fresh and comprehensive look” at the 5.9 GHz band rules and propose changes to how the spectrum is used.

The upshot: The FCC wants to carve up the band. The commission proposed dedicating the upper 30 megahertz of the 5.9 GHz band to meet current and future needs for transportation and vehicle safety-related communications, while repurposing the lower 45 megahertz of the band for unlicensed operations, like Wi-Fi.

Perhaps the most interesting piece of this proposed change is the FCC’s views on DSRC and what sounds like a strong endorsement for Cellular Vehicle to Everything (C-V2X). The FCC wants to revise the rules and give C-V2X the upper 20 megahertz of the band reserved for vehicle communications. The commission plans to seek comment on whether this segment of the spectrum should be reserved for DSRC or C-V2X systems.

C-V2X, which the 5G Automotive Association supports, would use standard cellular protocols to provide direct communications between vehicles, as well as infrastructure like traffic signals. But here’s the thing: C-V2X is incompatible with DSRC-based operations.

It’s pretty clear which way the FCC is leaning. In a speech November 20, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he believes the government “should encourage the expansion and evolution of this new vehicle-safety technology.” Pai insists that the FCC is not “closing the door” on DSRC, but instead allowing for both.

“So moving forward, let’s resist the notion that we have to choose between automotive safety and Wi-Fi,” Pai said in his speech. “My proposal would do far more for both automotive safety and Wi-Fi than the status quo.”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/02/the-station-canoo-hits-the-road-coup-shutters-and-samsung-shifts/

Automotive

Man who drove $75 pickup for 44 years sells it to original owner’s grandson for $75

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MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota man sold the 1957 Chevy pickup he drove for 44 years for $75, the same price he paid decades ago.

Bob Sportal of Prinsburg handed over the key last month to the grandson of the man he bought the truck from, KARE-TV reported.

Sportal was in his early 20s when he bought the rusty pickup from a retiring farmer. He drove the truck to work every day at a local grain elevator until he retired five years ago.

Sportal kept driving the truck but decided to sell it to Tom Leenstra, grandson of the late John VanDerVeen, who originally sold the truck to Sportal.

“It’s like riding with my grandpa again,” Leenstra said.

The truck is an antique but pretty rusted through. And considering the buyer, Sportal decided to sell it for what he paid for it.

“It’s going in the family, so that’s the most important thing,” Sportal said.

Source: https://www.autoblog.com/2020/08/06/minnesota-man-sells-75-pickup-after-44-years/

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Cadillac Lyriq EV unveiled as brand’s first electric vehicle

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Your author has already seen it, back in March, and has had to wait until today to show you the new Cadillac Lyriq electric luxury crossover. We were excited about it then, we’re still excited about it now, but we’ll see if we can maintain that excitement for another two years. After some fanfare, a delay, a name explanation and a bit of teasing, Cadillac has finally taken the wraps off the Lyriq, and we like what we see.

The bad news — we’ll get it out of the way right now — is that the Cadillac Lyriq won’t go on sale until late 2022.

Moving on, let’s bask in the photos and video we’ve long awaited, and dig into what we know about the first all-electric Cadillac. First, it will come in two drivetrain configurations: rear-wheel drive and performance all-wheel drive. It’ll use GM’s new Ultium modular battery technology, giving it a driving range targeting north of 300 miles, plus a center of gravity about 3.9 inches lower than that of the similarly sized Cadillac XT5. It will be capable of “over” 150-kilowatt DC fast charging, with a Level 2 charging rate of up to 19 kW.

In terms of styling, the Lyriq is a substantial move forward both inside and out — and a lot of it has to do with lighting. On the outside, it gets vertical headlights, plus a bunch of little light-up elements in the grille, include a logo that is animated on startup. In fact, the face will light up as you approach, not unlike a dog seeing its best friend ready to play. We see some more nifty lighting signatures in back that carry on a similar theme with more vertical lights. Inside, the lighting situation gets even more interesting, with another light-up crest on the steering wheel, plus wood veneer over aluminum door panels, all backlit.

As for its stance, the Lyriq has a long wheelbase, and rides on 22-inch wheels. At the back, we see a slick vented spoiler hanging over the raked rear glass. The side doors of the Lyriq automatically open with the touch of a button in door handle outlines that are flush with the body. Similarly, they close automatically, slowing down at the end to pull the doors fully shut. We wouldn’t be surprised if this doesn’t make it to production.

Moving around the interior, the curved, 33-inch combination digital driver display and infotainment screen sprawls across the dash. It uses advanced LED technology, and is capable of displaying over a billion colors, according to Cadillac. Complimenting that technology is a dual-plane augmented reality head-up display that can put info like speed in the near plane, while the navigation directions on the far plane help you sort out your next move on road ahead. Other internal design touches we see here are a cantilevered armrest that doesn’t quite extend to the center stack, enabled by the omission of a transmission tunnel. In front of that, on the dash, is a slick little drawer that pops out below some of the controls, a special little place to stash, say, a pouch of gems (hey, Cadillac did liken it to a jewelry box). 

Of course, the Lyriq will offer the new generation of Super Cruise advanced driver assistance system, which, in addition to allowing you to take your hands off the wheel on the highway, can perform automated lane changes. Cadillac also plans to include supervised remote parking, which will allow the Lyriq to perpendicular or parallel park itself with or without a driver in vehicle (we don’t envision a Boston accent being used in the marketing, however). Another included tech feature: over-the-air updates. “The car will continually get better [throughout] the ownership experience,” said GM President Mark Reuss.

There are a few other things of note that Cadillac is proud of, and can be attributed in part to the electric powertrain. We’re told that in addition to the low center of gravity, the Lyriq will have a near 50/50 weight distribution in the AWD version, with the RWD Lyriq being within a couple percent of that, so expect good handling from this EV. This also allows for the smooth ride customers expect, with minimal body roll and Cadillac levels of comfort. The Lyriq’s electric powertrain offers nearly instantaneous torque, though exact figures aren’t yet available. We’re told this show car represents 80-85% of production intent, so there’s still room for changes and plenty of information yet to make its way public.

With the launch still two years away, there’s ample time for that. In the meantime, there are other exciting EVs — from GM and others — to keep our attention.

Related Video:

Source: https://www.autoblog.com/2020/08/06/cadillac-lyriq-electric-crossover-unveiled-photos-range-details/

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Stank dank in the tank: 350 pounds of pot seized from septic truck

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You’ve heard the phrase “sticking your nose in other people’s business,” and that’s exactly what a Fayette County, Texas, deputy did during a traffic stop when he opened the hatch of a septic-service tank truck and discovered 350 pounds of marijuana inside. 

Drug investigator David Smith stopped the truck Tuesday near Flatonia, Texas, which is midway between San Antonio and Houston on Interstate 10, a busy drug smuggling corridor where traffickers typically use commercial vehicles. Smith said the driver appeared nervous and had no license. Her male passenger was also on edge. 

The deputy said the two gave consent to search the truck, but they may not have counted on him so thoroughly discharging his duty. He opened the tank and found “multiple bundles which were wrapped in plastic cellophane, axle grease and tape consistent with illegal narcotics,” said Sheriff Keith Korenek in the Austin American-Statesman. We sincerely hope the bundles were expertly wrapped to be waterproof and everything-proof, because they contained 350 pounds of pot that was bound for a bong near you.

We’ve seen pot smuggled lots of ways over the years, from inside Ford Fusions and Lincoln MKZs again and again, to a senior Santa and Mrs. Claus thoughtfully delivering 60 pounds of Christmas “presents.” But we haven’t seen a pipeline quite this potent.

We leave you with a commenter’s contribution on the sheriff’s Facebook page: “Wow! That’s some good sh*t …”

Related Video:

Source: https://www.autoblog.com/2020/08/06/pot-smuggled-in-septic-tank-truck/

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