“Firestorm: Fisker’s Explosive Entry into the Mobility Market and Tesla’s Pursuit of FSD Profit”

Welcome back to TechCrunch Mobility — your central hub for news and insights on the future of transportation. Remember in the last edition of TechCrunch Mobility, when I wrote that the wheels were starting to come off the Fisker bus? Deal of the weekIt ain’t easy being an executive at an EV startup these days. Amid all of the EV startup bankruptcies and other bleak goings-on, there was a bit of positive news. It seems that Tesla is turning to FSD as another financial lever to pull as profits on automotive sales shrink.

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Welcome back to TechCrunch Mobility – your central hub for the latest news and insights on the ever-evolving world of transportation. In our previous edition, we discussed the bumpy road ahead for Fisker, and boy, did things take a turn for the worse.

Just to bring you up to speed: on March 18th, Fisker issued a warning that they would be halting production for six weeks, with only a measly $121 million in available cash and assets, $32 million of which was tied up or not immediately usable. The company was banking on a massive $150 million influx from convertible notes and a potential partnership with another major automaker. However, those hopes were quickly dashed when negotiations with the undisclosed automaker – rumored to be Nissan – fell through, putting the convertible note deal in major jeopardy.

The result? A 28% plummet in shares, trading was immediately halted, and just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, the New York Stock Exchange announced that it was taking steps to completely delist Fisker from the exchange.

All of these are just symptoms of a much larger issue within the company, with one particularly embarrassing detail that our very own TC reporter Sean O’Kane uncovered. In short, Fisker had temporarily lost track of millions of dollars in customer payments as they ramped up their deliveries, leading to a lengthy internal audit that began back in December and only concluded after several months.

Now that we’ve caught up, let’s dig into the rest of the news, including the fate of bankrupt EV startup Arrival’s assets, an introduction to startup Ionobell and their efforts to boost EV range through recycled silicon battery materials, and Lucid’s fresh $1 billion cash injection.

A Little Bird Told Us

We’ve heard from a wide array of sources – founders, investors, engineers, policy experts, and more – and we’re ecstatic to share the valuable information that these insiders have entrusted us with.

Do you have a tip for us? Feel free to drop a line to Kirsten Korosec at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com or Sean O’Kane at sean.okane@techcrunch.com. If anonymity is critical to you, click here for our contact form, which includes instructions on how to reach us via SecureDrop or encrypted messaging apps.

Deal of the Week

Being an executive at an EV startup is no walk in the park nowadays. Fisker is a perfect example. (Sorry, too soon?)

Amongst all of the EV startup bankruptcies and other doom-and-gloom that seems to be the norm these days, some positive news surfaced. Lucid, who has faced its own set of challenges, managed to raise an additional $1 billion from their biggest financial backer, Saudi Arabia. Ayar Third Investment, an affiliate of the country’s Public Investment Fund, committed to purchasing $1 billion of Lucid’s stock, increasing the Kingdom’s current ownership stake to a whopping 60%.

While $1 billion may seem like an impressive sum, it won’t last long when you factor in the cost of designing, manufacturing, selling, and servicing vehicles. Nevertheless, this cash infusion serves as an important financial buffer for Lucid, although it by no means solves their numerous existential problems. The company still needs to successfully launch their upcoming vehicle, the Gravity SUV, and work on expanding their existing Air sedan if they hope to not only survive but ultimately thrive.

A few other deals that caught our eye include:

  • Cyvl.ai (a Boston-based startup that provides infrastructure tracking services for municipalities and civil engineering firms) raised $6 million in a recent round led by Companyon Ventures, with additional investments from Argon Ventures, Aero X Ventures, and Alumni Ventures. MassVentures, Launch Capital, and RiverPark Ventures, all existing investors in the company, also participated in the round.
  • Ember (a Scottish startup working to build one of the UK’s first all-electric intercity bus networks) completed a $14 million Series A round, with Inven Capital taking the lead. Other investors include 2150 and AENU.
  • Ionobell (a seed-stage startup that claims their silicon material is not only cheaper than that of their competitors but also helps increase the range of EV batteries) wrapped up an unpriced seed extension worth a cool $3.9 million. This exclusive scoop was discovered by TechCrunch, and the round was led by Dynamo Ventures and Trucks VC.

Iron Sheepdog, a startup with a trucking software platform designed for brokers and contractors, raised $10 million through a Series B round – all thanks to a lead investment from SJF Ventures. Other investors include Grand Ventures, Supply Chain Ventures, and other strategic partners from the construction industry.

Notable Reads and Other Bits of Info


Tesla announced that they’ll be giving every new customer in the US a free one-month trial of their Full Self-Driving Beta driver-assistance system – assuming that said customers have a vehicle with the compatible hardware. CEO Elon Musk also reportedly mandated that all prospective buyers be shown a demo of the software before committing to purchasing a new Tesla. It seems that Tesla is looking to FSD as another lever to pull in attempting to boost their profits as revenue from automotive sales begin to dwindle.

Electric Vehicles, Charging, and Batteries

Among Arrival’s recent asset sales is their advanced manufacturing equipment, which was quickly scooped up by Canoo, another struggling startup looking to build and sell EVs. Clearly, the situation is stranger than fiction.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has officially established new emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles that will be sold in the U.S. from 2027 through 2032. This regulation marks yet another step towards limiting the amount of pollution emitted by new heavy trucks. The rule doesn’t necessarily require that manufacturers produce zero-emission heavy trucks; instead, companies have been given the freedom to choose alternative fuels or more efficient engines to reach the stricter standards. However, the general consensus is that this will lead to more battery-electric heavy-duty trucks hitting the market. To put that into perspective: the heavy truck category encompasses over 100 different vehicle types, including buses, commercial trucks, delivery vans, and more.

In-Car Tech

The loss of prominent executives is continuing at GM. Mike Abbott, a former Apple executive who served as executive vice president of GM’s software and services, stepped down earlier this month due to health reasons. More recently, the company also bid farewell to Edward Kummer – a former president of Nordstrom Rack’s online business who joined the automaker’s new digital business team in 2021. According to reports, Kummer may have struggled to get on board with GM’s continually-shifting software strategy.

Wheels of the Week

I rarely get the chance to test out traditional petrol vehicles, but this week, I was able to take a few hundred miles under my belt while driving a 2024 Land Rover Defender 110 X-Dynamic SE. Technically speaking, this one has a six-cylinder Mild-Hybrid Electric Vehicle powertrain, so it still counts, right?

My experience with the Land Rover Defender has typically been limited to body-on-frame models that are well over a decade old. Suffice it to say, I was excited to get behind the wheel of the latest iteration of the vehicle that Land Rover reintroduced back in 2020. The specific model I had the pleasure of driving, which was priced at just under $88,000 and included a few fancy upgrades as well as 22-inch wheels, is probably more suited for city-dwellers with deep pockets. All that to say, if you swap out for more durable tires, this Defender could easily handle off-road conditions. Although I must admit, I only tested it on dirt roads – no boulder climbing – but it held up just fine, with no squeaks, rattles, or any other loud or alarming noises, even when driving over rough terrain that made your teeth chatter. Black diamond washboard, anyone?

My only dislike with the advanced driver-assistance system is how you engage the adaptive cruise control. On the other hand, there were plenty of features that I did enjoy – the adaptive air suspension, flat door handle, fan-phasized paint-on-black gloss detailing, lunch box-sized cooled cubby, and a rear door that’s not only functional but also includes an easy-to-reach spare tire. The interior design melds utilitarian pragmatism with high-quality materials, built to last from the highest quality of stuff I’ve seen, and

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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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