Tesla pushes for Elon and Kia takes advantage of the GenAI hype

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Is it me or is it him tesla the board is a little extra these days as he tries to convince shareholders to vote in favor of moving the company to Texas and approve the CEO Elon Musk $56 billion wage deal? Perhaps that’s because the board is worried that none of the measures will pass. Tesla board chair Robyn Denholm He told the Financial Times that the company needs to scale “Mount Everest” to win over shareholders before an annual meeting on June 13.

The result has been a parade of appeals and additional representation materials promoting the controversial pay deal that – reminder! – was overturned in January by a Delaware court.

Do you think shareholders will say yes?

a little bird

Image credits: Bryce Durbin

This week, TC contributor Jagmeet Singh I didn’t hear a single little nugget; He saw it.

During a trip to Dubai, Singh opened the BluSmart ride-hailing app and discovered that the India-based company had quietly launched a service in the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates.

Rumors that BluSmart was planning to set up shop in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been circulating for months. After spotting the new service area, TechCrunch received confirmation from BluSmart co-founder Anmol Jaggi that a pilot began on Tuesday, with 100 Audi E-Tron SUVs and 130 drivers in the city. The formal launch will be in early June, he said.

Do you have a suggestion for us? Email Kirsten Korosec at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com, Sean O’Kane at sean.okane@techcrunch.com, or Rebecca Bellan at rebecca.bellan@techcrunch.com. Or see these instructions to learn how to communicate with us via encrypted messaging apps or SecureDrop.

Offers!

money the station
Image credits: Bryce Durbin

Herald, a startup that builds medium-duty electric commercial vehicle chassis, has piqued my interest since I visited the Southern California-based headquarters earlier this year. The market opportunity to electrify midsize vehicles has always seemed like a no-brainer to me, as the segment covers such a wide swath, from school buses and recreational vehicles to delivery vans and emergency response vehicles.

And it seems that interest (at least in the Harbinger chassis) is high. The company announced this week at the ACT Expo that it has secured $400 million in customer-binding vehicle pre-orders, including a multi-year order from Bimbo Bakeries USA, Grupo Bimbo’s U.S. business. Thor Industries, the RV maker behind the Airstream, Jayco, Tiffin and Thor Motor Coach brands, also placed an order.

Harbinger also shared this week that it closed an additional $13 million in Series A funding from investors that included the Coca-Cola System Sustainability Fund, managed by Greycroft. The additional funding brings its Series A round to $73 million.

Other offers that caught my attention…

South 8, a battery startup focused on improving the performance of electric vehicles in cold climates, recently attracted new funding from Porsche Ventures in the form of a SAFE note, which will be applied to a Series B round the company is beginning to raise. The size of Porsche Ventures’ investment was not disclosed.

Based in Seattle Ground AI and based in New Brunswick, Canada Potential (two startups focused on autonomous off-road vehicle technology) have raised seed rounds. Overland raised a $10 million seed round led by Point72 Ventures, and Potential raised a CA$2 million (~$1.5 million) extension to its seed round led by Brightspark Ventures, a Canadian early-stage venture capital.

I breathean African-based electric two-wheeler company, secured a $50 million loan from the African Export-Import Bank.

Notable readings and other tidbits

autonomous vehicles

Aurora Innovation revealed a new autonomous truck, loaded with its autonomous vehicle technology and manufactured by volvowhich could be on public roads as early as this summer.

He uk government has enacted the Automated Vehicle Act, a law that regulates autonomous vehicles and is expected to bring the technology to public roads within two years.

Electric vehicles, charging and batteries.

Airbnb and Charging point have partnered to “make it easy” for hosts to install EV chargers in their listings by offering discounts on chargers and complementary installation services.

Audi plans to jointly develop a new electric vehicle platform designed for China with partner SAIC.

He Chevrolet Equinox EV, which has an estimated range of 319 miles in the front-wheel drive model, is arriving in dealerships. The Equinox EV starts at $43,295. However, GM says a cheaper $34,995 version will be available later this year.

kia revealed the EV3, the next electric vehicle in its range. One item that caught my attention: It used OpenAI’s Large Language Models (LLM) to create a highly customized version of ChatGPT for its in-car assistant.

influence map I posted an analysis last week that I missed. The report, which examined the climate lobbying activities of 15 of the largest automakers, found that all but Tesla have actively advocated against at least one policy promoting electric vehicles.

McLaren Automotive is entering the “hyperbike” business. The company introduced four limited edition electric bike models: Extreme 600, Extreme 250, Sport 600 and Sport 250. No word on pricing!

He US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a formal investigation into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF 8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family of four.

Yoshi Mobility, a mobile car care startup that raised $26 million in April, is launching a mobile charging service for electric vehicles that will debut on General Motors’ BrightDrop Zevo 600 vehicles. The company aims to commercialize the service early next year.

Shared ride

Uber and Lyft reached a deal with Minnesota that will result in higher wages and protections for drivers, while imposing limits on state government. CT reporter Rebeca Bellan goes deeper into who wins, who loses and who pays.

This week’s wheels

What is “This Week’s Wheels”? It’s an opportunity to learn about the different transportation products we’re testing, whether it’s an electric or hybrid car, an electric bike, or even a ride in an autonomous vehicle. Stay tuned for my time behind the wheel of the 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, plus two EV surprises I can’t mention yet! At the end of this summer I plan to enter the Fiat 500etry some electric bikes and more.

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