The Month in Transportation – June

By Jeremy Ertl

Welcome to the latest & greatest from the world of transportation, aggregated by our team at 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:

Big Yikes: Gas Prices

It’s been one hell of a month at the pump, no?

With gas prices soaring to $5 per gallon nationwide, Biden urged Congress to suspend the federal 18-cent per gallon gas tax until the end of September, hoping to provide the average consumer even the slightest relief, according to Transport Dive.

This would also include suspending the 24-cent tax per gallon of diesel, which reached a record $5.70 per gallon, via FreightWaves.

In addition to urging oil refining companies to increase capacity, the White House is also encouraging states to remove their own taxes on gas and diesel.

With all efforts combined, Biden’s team is hoping to reduce overall price per gallon by $1.

Biking to work until then.

Electric Last Mile Solutions Runs Last Mile

Only one year after going public via SPAC (the first in a long lineup of EV startups to do so), Electric Last Mile Solutions (ELMS) is calling it quits.

Via CNBC, the company says it plans to liquidate through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy process by end of year. This comes just four months after both its chief executive officer and chairman resigned.

Could others who followed suit reach a similar fate? With market troubles bubbling for Canoo, Rivian and other fledgling EV makers, Axios theorized that “Tesla may be the only true EV native well-capitalized enough to withstand market turbulence.”

Sony & Honda Sitting in a Tree

K-I-S-S-I… EV?

Sony and Honda have confirmed their joint venture, leveraging their collective expertise to create electric vehicles. Please welcome to the stage, Sony Honda Mobility Inc. And the first collab (ie vehicle) is apparently dropping in 2025.

The two will each own 50%, with Sony focusing on tech and entertainment. Aside from what we hope are PS5-standard vehicles, the joint venture also has plans to offer some form of ride sharing or hailing services, according to InsideEVs.

We’re excited to see how this unfolds. With Sony’s two EV concepts having input from Magna Steyr, not Honda – and Honda working with GM on its own EV platform via Ultium platform and battery technology, are we starting to see the beginning signs of an auto industry cinematic universe? Avengers: EV Wars, anyone?

Redwood Materials Helps Toyota Close the Loop

As the world continues its shift to EVs despite surging battery prices and material shortages, Toyota and Redwood Materials have a plan. The world’s biggest automaker has teamed up with the biggest lithium-ion battery recycler in the US (created by Tesla co-founder J.B. Straubel) to collect and repurpose cells from battery-powered EVs that have already been put out to pasture.

Toyota says this will create a “closed-loop” supply chain for EV batteries that involves collecting end-of-life cells for continued reuse (initially from early-generation Prius models).

According to Bloomberg, Redwood aims to produce enough anode and cathode components for more than 1 million EVs a year by 2025.

Also in Toyota news, the all-electric bZ4X SUV is out.

Revolving Doors at Tesla

Elon Musk, richest human and CEO of everything these days, said the company will cut 10% of its salaried staff over the next three months, citing gloom & doom from an impending recession, according to Reuters.

Speaking at the Qatar Economic Forum organized by Bloomberg, Musk said the cuts would apply only to salaried workers, totaling 3.5% reduction in total headcount, as he reaffirmed the company will need to increase the number of hourly workers (despite an Electrek report).

Amidst these statements, two former Tesla employees are suing the company for allegedly violating U.S. federal laws regarding “mass layoffs.” Musk has dismissed the suit as having “no standing.”

Meanwhile, those who pre-ordered Tesla’s Cybertruck are watching the Rivian R1T, Ford F-150 Lightning and GMC Hummer deliveries roll out to early adopters, via Automotive News.

Quick news bites:

  • Ford’s plans to add more than 6,000 union manufacturing jobs as it builds out plants in Michigan, Ohio and Missouri, via WSJ
  • Multi-megawatt charging is coming to heavy duty trucks & commercial vehicles in 2024, via Transport Topics
  • The CEOs of GM, Ford, Stellantis and Toyota are urging Congress to lift a sales cap on the federal government’s $7.5k EV tax credit, via CNBC
  • The world’s first production-ready solar car has launched, via Lightyear Newsroom
  • Uber is resuming shared rides with the introduction of UberX Share, via Uber Newsroom (and R.I.P. Uber Pool)
  • Say hi to Ziggy, a mobile robot that can reserve your parking spot and then charge your EV, via CNN
  • Pelican’s fully autonomous crop spraying aircraft is close to commercial approval in the US, via Future Farming
  • GM has delivered its first BrightDrop battery-electric vans to FedEx, via WardsAuto
  • The first autonomous long-haul cargo ship has crossed the Pacific, via The Drive

And for further reading as we close the month, BloombergNEF folks released their Electric Vehicle Outlook 2022 findings, with valuable insight into near- and long-term outlooks for everything from policy implications to charging infrastructure.

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