Cruise Robotaxis Make a Comeback while Ford’s BlueCruise Faces Scrutiny in TechCrunch Mobility

Cruise robotaxis, Ford's BlueCruise, scrutiny, TechCrunch Mobility

Welcome back to our comprehensive coverage of the future of transportation. This week has been eventful in the world of transportation, particularly in the areas of electric vehicle (EV) startups and automated driving. In addition to the exciting news about Cruise, there are several other noteworthy developments to explore. These include Ola’s exit from the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, a New York-based startup’s innovative approach to curbside EV charging, Uber Eats’ new video feature, and Magna’s pilot of humanoid robots. So, let’s dive into these fascinating topics!

Ola’s Exit from the UK, Australia, and New Zealand

Indian ride-hailing giant Ola has announced its exit from the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. This move comes as a surprise to many, as Ola had entered these markets with much enthusiasm and promise. However, the company cited challenges in these regions, including regulatory hurdles and competitive pressures, as reasons for its decision to withdraw. Ola plans to focus on its core market in India and expand its services there.

New York Startup’s Curbside EV Charging Innovation

One of the most exciting developments in the EV charging space comes from a New York-based startup. This company aims to bring curbside EV charging to lampposts in urban areas. By leveraging the existing infrastructure of lampposts, this startup plans to provide convenient and accessible charging options for EV owners. This innovative solution has the potential to greatly enhance EV charging infrastructure, especially in densely populated cities where parking space is limited.

Uber Eats’ TikTok-Like Video Feature

Uber Eats, the popular food delivery service, has introduced a new video feature that resembles TikTok. This feature allows users to upload short videos showcasing their favorite dishes or food experiences. It is an interesting addition to the platform, as it enhances user engagement and provides a new way for food enthusiasts to connect and share their culinary adventures.

Magna’s Pilot of Humanoid Robots

Contract manufacturer Magna has partnered with Sanctuary AI to pilot humanoid robots in its operations. These robots are designed to assist with various tasks, including repetitive or physically demanding work on assembly lines. The integration of humanoid robots into manufacturing processes has the potential to improve efficiency, productivity, and worker safety.

Rebecca Bellan’s Return

In exciting news for TechCrunch readers, reporter Rebecca Bellan has made a welcome return. Her insights and coverage have been greatly missed, and readers are encouraged to send her tips and suggestions. This development is a testament to the dedication and talent of the TechCrunch team in delivering high-quality content to its readers.

Now, let’s shift our focus to the deals that have been making waves in the transportation industry.

Deals of the Week

In a series of notable deals, several companies in the transportation sector have secured substantial investments. These include:

1. Basemark: The Finnish company that developed AR and computer vision software used by automakers raised €22 million ($23.6 million) in a Series B round. The funding was led by ETF Partners, with participation from other investors.

2. Bumper: This automotive fintech startup raised £2 million in a Series B extension round, with backing from Suzuki Global Ventures and Marubeni Ventures. Bumper specializes in providing financing solutions for both consumers and businesses in the automotive industry.

3. Carrar: The Israeli startup that provides battery modules and thermal management systems for EVs raised $5.3 million in a Series A round. The investment came from new investors Salida B.V., OurCrowd, and NextGear, as well as existing backers Gentherm, NextLeap Ventures, Dive Digital, and others.

4. Exoes: This French-based startup, which developed battery cooling technology for EVs, raised €35 million ($37.5 million) from BpiFrance and Meridiam Green Impact Growth Fund. The funding will be used to accelerate the development and deployment of its innovative cooling solutions.

5. HysetCo SAS: The startup that rents hydrogen-powered EVs to taxi drivers in Paris raised nearly €200 million ($218 million) in a round led by Hy24. Raise Impact and Eiffel Investment Group also participated in the funding. This investment will help expand the company’s fleet and infrastructure to meet the growing demand for eco-friendly transportation options.

6. Yoshi Mobility: The Nashville-based startup that developed an app for preventative maintenance, virtual vehicle inspections, and electric vehicle charging raised $26 million in a Series C round. General Motors Ventures led the investment, with participation from Bridgestone Americas, Universal Motors Agencies, and Shikra Limited. This funding will support the expansion of Yoshi Mobility’s services and technological advancements.

These deals demonstrate the significant interest and financial support that the transportation industry continues to attract. The advancements and innovations driven by these companies will shape the future of mobility.

Now, let’s explore some notable stories and industry updates from the past week.


The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) disclosed that the driver of a Ford Mustang Mach-E involved in a fatal crash in Texas in February was using the hands-free driver-assistance system known as BlueCruise. This marks the first known fatality resulting from a crash involving the use of BlueCruise. The NTSB is also investigating a second fatal crash near Philadelphia where Ford’s driver-assistance system may have been active.

Autonomous Vehicles

GM’s self-driving car subsidiary, Cruise, has made a comeback, albeit not in its hometown of San Francisco. Cruise is redeploying its robotaxis in Phoenix, where all autonomous vehicles will be driven manually by Cruise employees. Interestingly, Cruise has stated that it will be remapping the roads in Phoenix, despite having previously mapped these roads in 2020. This move has raised questions about Cruise’s underlying technology and motives for restarting its mapping process.

Waymo, another prominent player in the autonomous vehicle space, has officially launched its paid ride service in Los Angeles. Following regulatory approval, Waymo is now offering its robotaxi service in the city. The company plans to gradually expand its operations based on demand and performance metrics.

Electric Vehicles, Charging & Batteries

Elon Musk’s decision to prioritize the development of a robotaxi over an affordable EV may have consequences for Tesla’s market position. While the robotaxi concept is undoubtedly exciting, focusing on affordable EVs would allow Tesla to cater to a broader customer base and accelerate the transition to sustainable transportation.

Exponent Energy, an Indian battery-tech company, has partnered with auto manufacturer Omega Seiki Mobility to introduce a passenger three-wheel EV with 15-minute rapid-charging capabilities. This collaboration could revolutionize EV charging infrastructure and significantly reduce charging times, making EVs more convenient and accessible.

Faraday Future, the troubled EV company, is facing scrutiny from two internal whistleblowers. Former employees have filed lawsuits alleging that the company has misled the public about its sales figures and that founder Jia Yueting has retaliated against those who expose these alleged misrepresentations.

Lucid Motors, on the other hand, has achieved a new milestone by delivering more EVs in the first quarter of 2024 than in any other quarter to date. While the margin may be slim, it reflects the company’s steady growth and increasing market presence.

Tesla has reduced the monthly subscription price of its “Supervised FSD” (formerly known as “FSD Beta”) to $99, down from $199. This move aims to encourage more drivers to participate in the program, providing Tesla with valuable data and further refining its autonomous driving technology.


Lyft and Uber have decided to postpone their planned exit from Minneapolis. This decision follows the city’s delay in implementing a driver pay raise. Both ride-hailing companies have agreed to extend their operations for a couple of months while waiting for the pay raise to take effect.


Neural Concept, a company that leverages AI to optimize vehicle designs for the racing, automotive, and aerospace industries, is making waves with its innovative approach. By using AI algorithms, Neural Concept helps engineers create more aerodynamic vehicles, resulting in improved performance and efficiency. This deep dive into their technology provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of design and engineering.

Finally, let’s take a closer look at the impressive 2024 Mercedes EQE 350 4MATIC. Retailing at $77,900, this EV offers a range of upgrades compared to the previous model year. These include a new braking system, a heat pump for improved efficiency in winter conditions, a 20-mile increase in battery range, and a better user interface on the central infotainment system. Notably, the advanced driver-assistance system, with its automatic lane change feature, works seamlessly and provides a glimpse into the future of autonomous driving.

In conclusion, the world of transportation continues to evolve at a rapid pace. From the latest deals and investments to innovative technologies and industry updates, there is much to be excited about. As we explore the future of mobility, it is vital to stay informed and engaged with the developments shaping this transformative industry.

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