“Shopify Powers Flexport’s Growth, Kia EV9 Takes the Driver’s Seat, and Amazon’s Strategic Investments”

This week, read about Amazon, EV startup Fisker, electric boats, a bunch of new funding deals and my time driving the all-new Kia EV9. Remember Lordstown Motors, the EV startup that went public via a SPAC and has since filed for bankruptcy protection? Steve Burns, who founded and was then ousted from Lordstown Motors, is back with a new EV startup called LandX Motors. Northvolt, the Swedish battery startup, secured a $5 billion debt deal to help pay for the expansion of its first gigafactory. The Kia EV9 comes in five trims with the cheapest — the rear-wheel drive EV9 Light — starting at $54,900.

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Dear readers,

Welcome to TechCrunch Mobility – formerly known as TechCrunch’s weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. As we embark on this new chapter, rest assured that our mission remains the same: to provide you with the latest updates and insights on the ever-evolving world of transportation.

This week, we have a jam-packed issue for you. We’ll discuss the latest moves by tech giants like Amazon, give you a sneak peek into the highly-anticipated Kia EV9, cover new funding deals, and much more.

Let’s dive in!

Following the Money Trail

This week’s roundup of funding deals in the transportation industry:

  • Flexport, a supply chain logistics startup, secured a staggering $260 million “uncapped convertible note” from Shopify. This deal comes on the heels of Flexport’s acquisition of the defunct Convoy digital freight network.
  • Electra, a Paris-based EV charging startup, raised $330 million in a Series B round led by Dutch pension fund service provider PGGM and Bpifrance’s Large Venture fund.
  • International Battery Company, a startup developing lithium-ion battery cells for EVs, raised $35 million in a pre-Series A round led by RTP Global.

And in other transportation news:

  • Franziska Bossart, the new head of Amazon’s Industrial Innovation Fund, sat down with us to discuss the fund’s $1 billion dollar plan. Bossart shared that the fund is shifting its focus to Asia and Europe and honing in on three key areas, including artificial intelligence.
  • TuSimple, a self-driving truck company, made the decision to delist itself from the Nasdaq stock exchange as it plans to exit the U.S. market completely.

Amazon’s New Venture?

“A little bird pointed us to a new website with some electric trucks that sure do look familiar.”

This week, we caught wind of a familiar-looking website showcasing electric trucks. Remember Lordstown Motors, the EV startup that went public via a SPAC and filed for bankruptcy protection shortly after? Well, founder Steve Burns is back with a new EV startup called LandX Motors — and their website prominently features the same electric Endurance pickup truck that was once promised to beat the likes of Tesla, Ford, and General Motors to the market.

Upon further investigation, it appears that LandX Motors’ focus is more on the underlying platform, software, and engineering behind the Endurance truck, rather than the truck itself. We’ll keep an eye on this development as it unfolds.

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Deal of the Week

Remember when Flexport founder Ryan Petersen shook up the company by taking back the CEO role and acquiring the assets of Convoy? Well, the supply chain logistics startup is starting off 2024 strong with a $260 million “uncapped convertible note” from Shopify. This comes after Shopify’s 13% equity stake in Flexport, secured through a logistics arm acquisition in 2023.

Other News and Tidbits

Here’s a quick roundup of other industry news and noteworthy reads:

  • BMW’s future growth hinges on electric vehicles, and it’s finally committing to them. TC+ reporter Tim de Chants breaks down what this means for the legacy automaker.
  • Fisker’s electric Ocean SUV is facing an investigation from federal regulators over multiple complaints of brake failure.
  • GM issued a recall for 66 electric delivery vans produced by its BrightDrop subsidiary after two caught fire due to a manufacturing defect.
  • Navier, a startup developing electric boats, has launched a pilot program in partnership with Stripe to transport passengers from San Francisco to downtown via hydrofoiling watercrafts.

The Future of Flight

Wing, a drone-powered delivery company owned by Alphabet, is reportedly working on a new larger craft capable of delivering heavier packages to customers.

Behind the Wheel of the Kia EV9

I had the opportunity to test drive the all-new Kia EV9 electric SUV in Napa Valley this week. Here are some highlights:

  • The Kia EV9 stays firmly planted on winding roads, even with a bit of pushing.
  • The interior boasts premium-level details and comfortable seating.
  • The advanced driver assistance system is easy to engage.
  • The third row of seating is surprisingly spacious for a three-row SUV.
  • However, the EV9 is missing out on potential with the lack of rear-wheel axle steering. And the placement of the start button and gear shifter behind the steering wheel feels clunky.

Some specs to note:

  • The EV9 comes in five trims, with prices ranging from $54,900 for the rear-wheel drive EV9 Light to $73,900 for the all-wheel drive top-of-the-line GT-Line trim.
  • The range varies from 270 miles for the GT-Line to 304 miles for the EV9 Light RWD equipped with the larger battery.
  • In comparison, the Rivian R1S (which is also AWD) starts at $78,000 with a range of 260 miles.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading!

Kirsten Korosec & Sean Okane
Editors, TechCrunch Mobility

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Zara Khan

Zara Khan is a seasoned investigative journalist with a focus on social justice issues. She has won numerous awards for her groundbreaking reporting and has a reputation for fearlessly exposing wrongdoing.

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