2022 was the kind of year that made us think, “What a time to be alive and reporting on transportation.” This year has been absolutely dominated by conversations about the realities of bringing self-driving cars to market, the potential upheaval of the gig worker economy, the dramas of micromobility and, of course, all things Tesla. .
We’ve taken a look at our top-performing transportation stories to figure out what stood out to you, dear readers.
Autonomous vehicle startup Argo AI hit the scene in 2017 with a $1 billion investment. Today, the company is no more after Ford and Volkswagen withdrew their investments.
This one shocked the AV world, particularly because Argo was running a robotaxi pilot with Lyft in Austin and testing fully driverless technology in Miami. The company shutdown signaled two things: (1) another wave of consolidation is coming for self-driving tech companies and (2) the large-scale deployment of Level 4 self-driving technology is still a long way off. .
Ford and VW have decided to direct their investments towards shorter-term paths of profitability, in particular Level 2 and Level 3 autonomy, or advanced driver assistance systems. Ford CEO Jim Farley also said he doesn’t think the automaker would need to develop the L4 technology itself, but instead could outsource it down the line.
It’s the transportation mystery of the year. What happened to Bolt Mobility, the Miami-based micromobility startup co-founded by Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt? In August, we reported that the company disappeared from several of its US markets, leaving cities with abandoned equipment, unanswered calls and emails, and many questions. It also left at least one city, Portland, with unpaid fees.
No one — not TechCrunch or many city officials — was able to get in touch with the company to ask what happened and what it planned to do with all the hardware the company left behind. in the field.
The business appears to have shut down – it hasn’t been active on social media since July – although it enjoyed a period of growth in the previous year. Bolt started 2021 by acquiring the assets of Last Mile Holdings, which opened up 48 new markets to the startup. It just goes to show that micromobility is a tough game to win, even if it seems like the odds are in your favor.
If anyone has any information on Bolt Mobility, I’m dying to know what happened there.
Because who doesn’t love a roundup? In April at the New York Auto Show, the automaker legacy and the startup came together to showcase their electric vehicle offerings. Here are the ones that caught our attention this year:
- Alfa Romeo’s first compact crossover, the 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale.
- The Chrysler Airflow Graphite Concept, a sleek crossover with Level 3 capabilities.
- The Jeep Grand Cherokee High Altitude 4xe, a full-size hybrid SUV.
- The curvaceous roadster from Deus Automobiles, the Vayanne EV hypercar.
- Indi EV’s Indi One, the “lifestyle-focused” crossover with a built-in gaming computer.
- Kia’s subcompact SUV, the 2023 Niro, available in hybrid, PHEV or EV powertrain.
- Kia also showed off its EV9 concept, a square SUV that is expected to hit the US market by 2023.
- The Genesis X Speedium Concept, a coupe with a bold design.
- Vinfast’s two SUVs, the VF8 and VF9.
A day before Tesla opens its Berlin gigafactory in March, CEO Elon Musk teased the release of Tesla’s “Master Plan Part 3,” which draws heavily on the themes of artificial intelligence and at the scale of operations at “extreme size”.
“Tesla’s main subjects will scale to extreme size, which is necessary to move humanity away from fossil fuels and AI,” Musk said. tweeted at the time. “But I will also include sections on SpaceX, Tesla and The Boring Company.”
Part 3 of Tesla’s master plan is the first to mention Musk’s other companies. Note: This was posted before Musk bought Twitter.
A quick refresher on parts one and two. The first part was published in a 2006 blog post that described Tesla’s proof of concept and involved building a sports car and using the funds to build more affordable cars, while simultaneously providing production. zero-emission electrical energy. Part two, which came out a decade later, discussed plans to expand battery storage and launch new models, including a pickup truck and SUV.
Later that year, Musk revealed more details about part three of his master plan. In a company-wide meeting, the rationale for the plan is, “How do we achieve sufficient scale to actually displace Earth’s entire energy infrastructure?”
Russia’s war in Ukraine sent global gas prices skyrocketing earlier this year. In March, at the start of the war, Uber and Lyft responded by adding temporary fuel surcharges to passenger fares to help drivers cover rising fuel costs.
The Rideshare Guy, a blog and podcast dedicated to helping rideshare drivers make more money and stay up to date with industry news, surveyed its community of Uber and Lyft drivers in the United States and found that 43% quit or drive less due to high gas prices. Before the announcement of fuel surcharges, this figure was 53%.
Many drivers said the surcharge was not enough and they would have liked to see a per mile surcharge to account for increased fuel expenses on long trips rather than a flat rate.
A Lyft driver told TechCrunch the surcharge was “an insult to drivers.”
This article is important today because it summarizes many themes – our ability as a species to panic as commodity prices rise; the continued aggravation of gig workers; the subtle dance that Uber and Lyft play as they try to appease drivers, but seemingly never in a truly meaningful way.
Another big story this year was the Department of Labor’s proposed gig worker status ruling, and the subsequent drop in stock prices of app-based companies. The rule, if passed, will make it easier for gig workers to claim employment status if they can prove they are financially dependent on a company. Drivers who feel they have not only been systematically victimized by macroeconomic events, but also barely protected by Uber and Lyft could pray for real change at the federal level.