The Month in Transportation – May

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:

The White House Jumpstarts Battery Production

With an ambitious goal to make U.S. vehicle sales at least 50% electric by 2030, President Biden & Co. announced their plans to make $3 billion of the $555 billion (bipartisan – woo!) infrastructure law – which already includes steep investments in EV charging stations and buses – available to those focusing on battery production for electric vehicles.

This move aims to shift U.S. reliance on foreign and oversea supply chains (particularly in China and in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine) for the materials needed in the production of EV batteries.

According to NBC, the money will be made available via cost-sharing grants to “companies involved in all parts of the battery supply chain,” including processing, production and recycling, with up to 30 companies receiving grants of $50+ million each.

Electric F-150 Reviews Come Pouring In

What do you get when you take the most popular (and highest selling) vehicle ever sold and make an electric version? 10s, 10s, 10s across the board.

Called “a watershed moment” by Axios, “monumental” by MotorTrend and a “true game-changer” by CNET, the reinvention of the classic pickup – the F-150 Lightining – is fairing well with media and consumers alike. Praised for its best-in-class handling, low maintenance and purpose-built design for towing and hauling, reviewers are finding new ways to push the vehicle’s limits to the extreme – and are being pleasantly surprised by its capabilities along the way.

And some high-quality trolling from Ford (despite their statements claiming otherwise)? The vehicle comes with an adapter to charge stranded Teslas.

As Gas Prices Continue to Soar, EVs Go Mainstream

Via USA Today, registrations for new EVs have skyrocketed 60% in the first three months of 2022, despite new car registrations declining 18% on the whole. Public perception and acceptance of EVs continues to rise alongside (and in response to) gas prices – hitting a record $4.59 a gallon, according to AAA, a 51% increase from one year ago. Now, EVs represent 4.6% of all passenger vehicles being sold in the U.S. (still a far stretch from that 2030 goal, Joe).

The top three winners in this race to electrify? Tesla, Kia and Ford – with 113,882 (Tesla), 8,450 (Kia, due to strong sales of its Niro subcompact) and 7,407 (Ford, including the Mustang Mach-E, its electric commercial Transit van and F-150 Lightning) registrations, respectively. Though pent-up demand created by the pandemic could mean you’re still waiting months for delivery of your shiny new EV.

With sales of EVs expected to double every couple of years, 40 million EVs could be on the road by the end of 2030, according to experts – which could pose an array of issues with the current electrical grid.

Miami and Austin Test Driverless Deliveries

Argo AI, the autonomous startup backed by Ford and Volkswagen, made a big step in its path to commercialization – announcing the initiatition of driverless testing operations in both Miami and Austin, via TechCrunch.

Away from the restrictive regulatory environment of San Francisco (which competitors Cruise and Waymo are playing in), Argo is working with Ford to launch commercial pilots in both cities. This will include integrations with both Lyft ride-hailing services and Walmart grocery delivery, and initially operate during “daytime business hours” via company employees only via an internal app.

Still, though competitors have begun fully driverless operations in other regions (Arizona,  California), they are only operating under their own services, whereas Argo’s main goal is to become “a one-stop autonomous driving shop for businesses,” selling their self-driving tech to other looking to automate business operations. This opens limitless applications for companies looking to electrify, and we’re excited to see their progress in the space.

Quick news bites:

  • Uber is adding options for electric vehicles (including Tesla, Polestar or a Ford Mustang Mach-E) and stadium food deliveries to its suite of app-based services, via Axios
  • The maker of iPhone, Foxconn, has finalized the acquisition of Lordstown Motors’ plant in Ohio, signaling their entry + investment in EV race, via InsideEvs
  • Tires are the dirty little secret of EV maintenance, via Forbes
  • Rivian had a rollercoaster month, via NYT, citing supply chain woes and delivery headaches, yet affirming production goals for 2022
  • OEMs are increasing prices to accommodate rising material costs, via CNBC

And headline of the month: “DeLorean is back (to the future) with an electric car, and some caveats,” via NPR.

And on a final note – don’t forget to check out our recap of the 2022 Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo that took place in Long Beach this month, with commercial electrification and zero-emissions technology taking a front seat.

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