The Month in Transportation – July

By Jeremy Ertl

Welcome to the latest and greatest from the world of transportation, aggregated by our team at broadhead | HMH. Every month, we aim to share interesting links, thoughts on trending stories and more about the future (and even more pressing – present) of transportation. This month: 

Pod Save Autonomy  

 Einride, the Swedish startup developing autonomous tech, has received approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to drive its Einride Pod vehicles (seriously, check this thing out) on American roads, according to Autoweek.  

Though an increasing number of companies are continuing to get approval for testing vehicles between warehouses, this will be the first case of a commercial, public route for an autonomous, driverless truck (and for GE Appliances, no less).  

So are we getting closer to a future with fewer (or even without) truck drivers?  

The electric Einride Pod is an SAE Level 4 autonomous vehicle (which means it will be confined to a predetermined route) and will still be monitored by a remote operator. Einride (and others exploring the space) are seeing this as an opportunity to create jobs in other areas including fleet coordinators and tech service (think re-charging) of the electric vehicles once they return to dock. 

Gotta love Swedish design, huh? 

e-Scout’s Honor 

The head of VW’s American operations is leaving, but not far. The company is set to revive Scout, a classic “true American” off-road brand from the 1960s, to amplify the its electric SUV and pickup truck offerings and double its 5% current market share in EVs, according to Axios

Scott Keogh will serve as CEO of the spinoff, which was acquired by VW through a 2020 merger of its Traton commercial trucking brand with Navistar. They plan to put $1 billion into the new Scout brand, with a lofty goal of selling a quarter million EVs annually starting in 2026. 

Scout is a storied American brand (not unlike its Indian Motorcycle model of the same name) that built an off-road SUV to compete with Jeep in the 60s. Now, as a brand separate from VW, the company aims to make electric SUVs and trucks that can rival the Ford F-150 Lightning and Rivian R1T electric pickups of today. 

Can I get a silent vroom vroom (get it, because they’re electric)? 

Canoo Headed Upstream with Walmart 

Canoo, the EV fledgling with low cash, low stock and even lower expectations that this thing would ever make it to production, managed to score a big win with Walmart, who put in an order for 4,500 of its electric delivery vans, according to Bloomberg.  

The retail giant will be the first to take delivery of Canoo’s Lifestyle Delivery Vehicle (or LDV, see here), expected to begin production in Q4 2022 with a tentative road date of next year. The LDV has a last-mile delivery optimized cabin and customized cargo space that will help support Walmart’s growing e-commerce business in 2023. 

Other features? The LDV will boast 120 cubic feet of fully customizable cargo volume, a 1,543 lb. payload capacity and 200+ miles of range with DC fast charging 20-80% in 28 minutes. 

This isn’t Walmart’s first move to modernize its delivery fleet with electric and autonomous vehicles. Previous announcements include 5,000 electric delivery vans from GM’s BrightDrop and autonomous deliveries with Gatik

Save money. Paddle electric. 

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a New Amazon Delivery Van! 

And speaking of retail giants and electric deliveries, you may spot a new type of Amazon vehicle pulling into your driveway this week, as the first Rivian delivery vans have hit U.S. roads, according to CNBC

The EVs rolled out in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Nashville, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle and St. Louis, with that number expected to reach more than 100 cities by end of year and 100,000 by 2030. 

This move comes as part of Amazon’s commitment to decarbonize its last-mile delivery fleet, an effort which began in 2019 when founder Jeff Bezos co-founded and became the first signatory of The Climate Pledge, which calls for net-zero carbon across the company’s operations by 2040.  

And if this doesn’t seem like news to you, Amazon has been testing Rivian preproduction vehicles since 2021, delivering more than 400,000 packages across 90,000 miles. The company has also added thousands of charging stations at its facilities across the country and plans to continue investments in building out EV infrastructure. 

Who knew so much energy went behind Prime Day? 

Quick news bites: 

  • Mid-century modern is modernizing, with Wayfair being added to J.B. Hunt and Waymo’s autonomous trucking program, via Transport Topics 
  • China’s BYD has officially surpassed Tesla as the world’s top seller of electric vehicles, via Fortune 
  • Autonomy isn’t always the answer – ask the people of San Francisco, who were blocked by self-driving Cruise taxis for hours, via The Drive 
  • Vacationing in Hawaii? Try an all-electric “seaglider” to hop between islands, via Axios 
  • In model news: 
    • Porsche announced plans for a flagship EV crossover following the success of the Taycan, via Automotive News 
    • GM announced a battery-electric Chevrolet Blazer for next year, to compete with Tesla’s Model Y, via Bloomberg 

Oh, and one more thing. If the growing list of upcoming models is overwhelming, Automotive News has put together a “definitive guide to upcoming vehicles” that details every brand’s new and refreshed models for the next five years. Bookmark this

Need help or advice on marketing your product that’s transforming transportation? Get in touch here.