Mishaps at Cruise, Transitions at Vroom, and Tesla’s Dojo Supercomputer Headquarters

What went wrong at Cruise, a pivot at Vroom and a home for Tesla’s Dojo supercomputerTechCrunch Mobility is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation Sign up here — just click TechCrunch Mobility — to receive the newsletter every weekend in your inbox. Autonomous vehicle and EV startups — even those that have since gone public — are trying to cut costs in hopes of extending their capital runway. Now, a few little birds are telling us that Canoo and Faraday Future — both EV startups that went public via mergers with special purpose acquisition companies — are either reducing salaries or furloughing employees. So what went wrong at Cruise? Cruise also revealed that the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have also opened investigations into the company.

Welcome to TechCrunch Mobility, a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. If you’re a fan, be sure to sign up here for our new name – just click ‘TechCrunch Mobility’ – and get the newsletter delivered to your inbox every weekend for free.

At TechCrunch Mobility, we’re still your go-to source for the latest news and insights on the future of transportation. However, we’re bringing a fresh perspective in a new format. So buckle up and join us on this ride.

This week, we’ll dive into the recent developments at Cruise, Vroom, and Tesla. But first, a word on the state of the industry.

As the economic winds shift, it’s no secret that companies are feeling the squeeze. In the world of autonomous vehicles and electric cars, even those that have gone public are looking to streamline operations and cut costs to make their capital last longer. For instance, Aurora Innovation recently laid off 3% of its workforce, while electric vehicle company Polestar and logistics firm Flexport have also made significant cuts.

More recently, we’ve heard rumors of salary reductions and furloughs among two electric vehicle startups that have gone public through mergers with special purpose acquisition companies, namely Canoo and Faraday Future. This is a tough time for the industry, and we’ll continue to keep an eye on these developing stories.

Now, onto the latest in transportation news.

The Deal of the Week

At the TC climate desk, our reporter Harri Weber spoke to Murray McCaig, the Managing Partner at ArcTern, about their recent $335 million fund. This capital will be used to invest in startups focused on climate change, with a focus on those using existing technology in new and innovative ways. McCaig believes that decarbonizing mobility is the way forward, and remains optimistic despite recent dips in electric vehicle sales. Stay tuned for more on this developing story.

Another notable investment this week is Toyota’s growth fund investing in Corvus Energy, an energy storage company based in the U.S. with a focus on maritime and offshore applications.

Meanwhile, Danish EV charging software startup Monta raised $86.9 million in Series B funding, with an impressive 125% growth in energy storage deployments. And speaking of electrification, Sion Power, a lithium-metal battery developer based in Arizona, received $75 million in funding to further develop their technology.

And in other news…

Autonomous Vehicles

The long-awaited review into the events of October 2 that led to GM subsidiary Cruise losing their permits to operate autonomous vehicles in California has finally been released. According to the Quinn Emanuel report, Cruise did not purposely mislead regulators. However, there were a number of contributing factors that led to the incident. These include a lack of judgement, leadership missteps, and a strained relationship with regulators. This recent event has also caught the attention of the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, among other agencies.

Electric Vehicles, Batteries & Charging

German automaker Porsche has unveiled two new electric versions of their Macan model, with a price tag of over $78,000.

In EV titan Tesla’s most recent earnings call, they announced record sales of 1.8 million vehicles in 2023. However, profits are down due to decreased margins and increased expenses in research and development, as well as production of their latest model, the Cybertruck.

Tesla was also in the news this week as they plan to invest $500 million in their so-called “Dojo” supercomputer. This news comes shortly after CEO Elon Musk publicly referred to the project as a “long shot.”

Software and Other In-Car Tech

The news broke this week that Mercedes-Benz had accidentally exposed sensitive internal data due to an online key, leading to unrestricted access to their source code.

Finally, our very own TC editor Devin Coldewey weighed in with their experience using the Ride1up 700 Series e-bike. Although it may be heavy and can’t fit panniers as promised, it offers a secure ride and is perfect for navigating hilly cities like Seattle.

Thank you for joining us on this week’s journey into the world of mobility. Remember to email us with your tips and insights at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com or sean.okane@techcrunch.com, or to contact us anonymously here.

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Max Chen

Max Chen is an AI expert and journalist with a focus on the ethical and societal implications of emerging technologies. He has a background in computer science and is known for his clear and concise writing on complex technical topics. He has also written extensively on the potential risks and benefits of AI, and is a frequent speaker on the subject at industry conferences and events.

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