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Toyota acquires Lyft’s self-driving unit for more than half a billion dollars

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Toyota Motor Corporation will acquire Lyft’s self-driving unit, an announcement confirmed yesterday. The cost of the deal is $550 million, and Toyota’s new Woven Planet division that will handle the Japanese company’s automation ambitions.

Lyft will receive $200 million in cash from Toyota upfront, and the remaining $350 million of the deal will be paid over the next five years. “The transaction is also expected to remove $100 million of annualized non-GAAP operating expenses on a net basis – primarily from reduced R&D spend – which will accelerate Lyft’s path to Adjusted EBITDA profitability,” Lyft said in a press release.

Toyota will not only acquire the self-driving unit, but the deal will also provide the automaker with Lyft’s 300 employees.

“Not only will this transaction allow Lyft to focus on advancing our leading Autonomous platform and transportation network, this partnership will help pull in our profitability timeline,” John Zimmer, Co-Founder and President of Lyft said. “Assuming the transaction closes within the expected timeframe and the COVID recovery continues, we are confident that we can achieve Adjusted EBITDA profitability in the third quarter of this year.”

Woven Planet Chief Executive James Kuffner told reporters on Tuesday, “This is the first step of establishing and bringing together the people. Obviously, building technology and product requires people, and that’s much what this acquisition is about.” Kuffner is likely referencing to the presence in Silicon Valley and London that Woven Planet will now have because of the acquisition. The partnership and could alleviate the issues that come with the acquisition of a new company.

Lyft’s advantages in the acquisition allow it to take a profit away from the development of self-driving technologies. Lyft hasn’t released its self-driving tech, which is aimed toward complete automation, known as Level 5 autonomy, but it can give the rest of the tasks to Toyota while walking away with a hefty profit.

Meanwhile, Toyota gains more experience and expertise in the self-driving sector through the acquisition. Toyota has Level 2 automation with advanced driver assistance tech. Level 2 describes “Partial Driving Automation” through Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. “The vehicle can perform steering and acceleration. The human still monitors all tasks and can take control at any time,” according to Synopsys‘ breakdown of automation levels.

Kuffner says that Woven Planet will continue investing and growing its team but did not give any further details about acquisition plans or a timeline that would describe possible moves in the future. According to Reuters‘ coverage of the acquisition, Toyota will “likely make more deals, even if they do not ultimately lead to self-driving vehicles to ‘actively gather software and people who have knowledge.’” This is according to Seiji Sugiura, a Senior Analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute.

The transaction is expected to close in Q3 2021 and will be subjected to required regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.

Toyota acquires Lyft’s self-driving unit for more than half a billion dollars

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Source: https://www.teslarati.com/toyota-lyft-self-driving-acquisition/

Automotive

New Tesla Model S Plaid photos reveal small update to the yoke steering wheel

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A Tesla Model S Plaid was spotted sporting a new version of the now infamous yoke steering wheel, along with a few other modifications to the car. 

Car enthusiast @AaronS5_ shared a picture of a pre-production Tesla Model S Plaid sedan in the wild. He noticed that there was a slight addition to the Model S Plaid’s yoke steering wheel. Unlike in previous vehicles, there were ridges next to the scroll wheels, and the scroll wheels were matte.

The car enthusiast referred to the changes Tesla was making to the Model S Plaid while refining its production, which Elon Musk mentioned in the Q1 earnings call. During the call, Musk stated that there was “quite a bit of development” to ensure that the batteries of the new Model S/X were safe. Musk also shared that Tesla was making refinements to the cars that they already built. 

The latest Model S Plaid spotted out in the streets shows one of the refinements Tesla seems to have made. Tesla enthusiast The Kilowatts believes the ridges work like the ridges on the “F” and “J” keys on a qwerty keyboard. The bumps on the “F” and “J” keys help users correctly position their fingers on the keyboard, enabling them to type without looking down. The ridges on the Model S Plaid’s yoke steering wheel might then help drivers find the capacitive buttons that would be placed on both sides of the yoke. 

Compared to a Plaid Model S recently spotted in San Francisco, the one seen in Florida does reveal some differences. The more recent photos also revealed new defrost lines around the front cameras of the Plaid Model S as well. Tesla may be making more subtle changes to its top-tier sedan before Model S Plaid deliveries kick off.

Watch the video below to learn more about the potential function on the ridges in the Model S Plaid’s yoke steering wheel!

The Teslarati team would appreciate hearing from you. If you have any tips, email us at [email protected] or reach out to me at [email protected].

New Tesla Model S Plaid photos reveal small update to the yoke steering wheel

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Source: https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-model-s-plaid-new-yoke-steering-wheel-pictures/

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Lucid Motors CEO predicts “significant growth” in 2022, but won’t commit to 20,000 EV target

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Lucid Motors CEO Peter Rawlinson appeared on CNBC recently and talked about the EV company’s goals for 2021 leading up to next year. Rawlinson shared some details about Lucid Air production and the company’s target for this year. 

Rawlinson seemed confident that Lucid Motors would start producing the company’s luxury sedan, the Air, in late 2021. 

“Well, we’re on track to put Lucid Air—the car behind me—into production in the second half of this year. And we’re really making great progress here on three fronts,” Rawlinson told CNBC.

“The factory is ready and up and running. The car is getting higher quality, getting closer to start of production on a daily basis. And we’re rolling out our sales and service network. We’ve got six stores open across the country with four more to come in the very near future,” he elaborated.

He reiterated that Lucid Motors was “very much on track” to start production this year and shared that the company aims to produce over 577 vehicles in 2021. When asked if Lucid Motors could make 20,000 electric vehicles in 2022, Rawlinson did not seem to readily commit to the goal. He stated that Lucid Motors plans to see “significant growth” next year.

Production can be a difficult stage for most automakers. Even Tesla faced production issues with its first vehicle, the Roadster, then with volume production of the Model X, and again with the Model 3. 

Tesla still continues to experience production hurdles to this day. During the Q1 2021 earnings call, Elon Musk talked about how the global chip shortage affected Tesla’s production plans for the Plaid Model S and Model X. Lucid Motors may be experiencing similar issues.

Lucid Motors is preparing to produce the Air Dream Edition in the second half of 2021. In March, the EV company showed the Air Dream Edition’s production process, revealing how meticulous it is during the building stage. Lucid seems to be working really hard to make an excellent first impression by aiming to deliver a pristinely built vehicle.

Check out Lucid Motors’ SNL commercial below!

The Teslarati team would appreciate hearing from you. If you have any tips, email us at [email protected] or reach out to me at [email protected]. 

Lucid Motors CEO predicts “significant growth” in 2022, but won’t commit to 20,000 EV target

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Source: https://www.teslarati.com/lucid-motors-air-production/

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SpaceX’s first flight-proven Starship heads back to launch pad for round two

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Defying most expectations, SpaceX has moved the first full-size flight-proven Starship back to the launch pad less than a week after the prototype survived a high-altitude launch and landing.

Two days after that spectacular launch and four days ago, CEO Elon Musk revealed that SpaceX “might try to refly [Starship] SN15 soon,” indicating that the rocket landed in spectacularly good condition. While Starship SN15’s ~10 km launch was far less stressful than those experienced by orbital-class Falcon boosters, reusing the first successfully recovered Starship prototype mere weeks after that first landing would be an extraordinary achievement given that SpaceX took more than 15 months to reuse a Falcon booster after the rocket’s first landing.

Early on Tuesday, May 11th, Starship prototype SN15 began to move for the second time since its May 5th launch and landing. Carried by a custom transporter designed to secure landed Starships without the need for a crane, SN15 was carefully rolled a few hundred feet from the landing zone to “Suborbital Mount B” – one of two identical launch mounts. Used by Starship SN15 throughout its test and launch campaign, Mount A is in the process of being refurbished.

While SpaceX has yet to actually install Starship SN15 on Mount B, the prototype has been attached to a crane and said installation is imminent – possibly just waiting for winds to die down. As of publishing, SpaceX has removed SN15’s six ‘used’ landing legs but hasn’t replaced them – a necessary step before the Starship can fly again.

It’s unclear if legs can be installed after a Starship is affixed to a launch mount, meaning that SpaceX might also be waiting for winds to die down so it can lift SN15 off its transporter and replace its legs – an understandably sensitive process given the need for workers to clamber under and around a 100+ metric ton rocket hanging in the breeze.

Starship SN15 deploys its six stubby legs shortly before touchdown. (SpaceX)

It’s worth noting that even after SpaceX reinstalls Starship SN15 on a launch mount, there’s no guarantee that the prototype will fly again. Before any reflight, SpaceX will almost certainly put the rocket through at least one additional tank proof test and static fire its Raptor engines. Issues or damage that escaped initial post-flight inspections could easily arise during that process and it’s more likely than not that one or more of SN15’s three Raptors will be removed for detailed inspection or replaced outright.

For now, stay tuned as SpaceX prepares to install Starship SN15 on a launch mount for the second time and the company’s next steps hopefully come into focus.

SpaceX’s first flight-proven Starship heads back to launch pad for round two

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Source: https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-first-starship-reuse-next-steps/

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Tesla Giga Texas ‘Bobcat Project’: What we know so far

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Tesla recently purchased another plot of land to the East of the Giga Texas facility that the company is currently working on constructing. Documents from the Austin, Texas Public Database show that Tesla purchased another slice of land, but what are the company’s plans for it? Here is what we know so far.

According to documents from the Austin, Texas Public Database, Tesla has purchased another plot of land that is 150.21 acres in size and measures to be 6,543,147.6 square feet. It was purchased by the Colorado River Project, Tesla’s subsidiary in Texas that also purchased the land under the same name for what eventually became known as the Giga Texas facility. Sources in Texas told Teslarati that the property sits directly to the East of the main Giga Texas property, so it’s almost directly connected to Tesla’s main vehicle production operation.

Tesla’s Elon Musk gives production update for Giga Texas, but it’s not for the Cybertruck

According to the filings, Tesla has submitted Site Plans and an Environmental Review, but several other documents are waiting for submittal.

Currently, there are no plans in place, nor is there any confirmation from Tesla regarding what the facility could be used for. However, there is plenty of speculation regarding what could be going on.

Rumors circulating through the Tesla community seem to point toward a battery cell production facility. It makes sense considering the automaker is set on producing its own 4680 cells in-house. Currently being produced at Tesla’s Kato Road facility in Northern California, the 4680 cells were unveiled by Tesla last year at the company’s Battery Day event in September. Interestingly, Tesla has had battery projects in the past that have used code names of cats, as Project Tiger was used for the Gigafactory Nevada plant in Sparks, Nevada. The facility, known as the Tesla Gigafactory, produces electric motors for the Model 3, along with battery packs. Tesla’s Powerwall and Powerpack energy products are also produced at the site.

The idea to use a cat in Tesla’s plans could ultimately derive from Li-ion, a common abbreviation for Lithium-Ion battery cells, which are used in electric vehicles. Li-ion, or Lion, may have been the inspiration for Tesla’s Project Tiger, which ultimately culminated in the Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada. Now, if consistency means anything, the Bobcat Project could point toward the same use, just in Texas where Musk, along with other Tesla executives, have moved to after vacating California.

Terafactory Texas posted a breakdown of the current progress of the Bobcat Project on YouTube on May 5th.

Tesla Giga Texas ‘Bobcat Project’: What we know so far

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Source: https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-gigafactory-texas-bobcat-project-details/

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