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Robotaxis Head to LA, Garcetti Decries Infrastructure Costs, itselectric Wins Big
News and Announcements from AutoMobility, CoMotion LA & More
Today you readers are likely hungrier for mashed potatoes than for industry news, so we’ll keep things as short and sweet (like a good pumpkin pie) as we can, given all the announcements at last week’s great curb-centric events.
While much of AutoMobility’s news was reveals of yet more electrified SUVs, there were some developments that particularly interest the curb community. Lyft and Hyundai’s Motional shared plans to bring driverless taxis to Los Angeles in early 2023. This follows their testing in Vegas since last summer, as well as similar LA launch plans from competitor Waymo.
Also interesting was Toyota reinvigorating the PHEV space, with its newly beautified Prius Prime set to go about 40 miles on battery, before switching to hybrid mode - reminiscent of Chevy’s gone but not forgotten Volt. The world will certainly be able to stretch its rare earth battery supply a lot further if we build more of these and fewer behemoth electrified Hummers; not to mention these Priuses (Prii, Priid?) are a whole lot more affordable, with the Prime coming in around $27,000.
On the other side of Downtown, CoMotion LA was also breaking big news. Mayor Garcetti, long a staple at the event, pulled no punches as he celebrates the last few weeks of his time in City Hall. While recapping his many transportation policy achievements, he specifically called out the U.S.’ cost-creep problem, whereby major transportation projects cost a good 10x domestically as they would in Europe or East Asia. In terms of LA-specific improvements, Mayor Garcetti also called for a long-overdue reform of the city’s charter.
Specific to the curb, our friends at the OMF hosted a lively panel on MDS 2.0, building off many of the same great points they shared in our early November webinar. And we were particularly pleased to see our friends (and 2023 Curbivore Partners) at itselectric crowned the winners of this year’s LA New Mobility Challenge. We can’t wait until their elegant curbside chargers replace the bulky tangle of wires that are all too common on certain city streets these days.
HOT INDUSTRY NEWS & GOSSIP
Thanksgiving, delivered? Rising grocery prices are certainly top of mind for many Americans sitting down for turkey dinner tonight. Add in the newly formed habit of “delivery for everything” and you have an interesting emerging trend: Americans getting their Thanksgiving dinners delivered. New data suggests a whopping 29 to 45% of holiday revelers will get their meals delivered or via take-out, depending on whose data you cite.
Delivery app health roundup: Instacart pushes healthier food and lifestyle options, via new partnership with ChenMed. Grubhub has healthy plans of its own, teaming up with Ride Aid for drugstore delivery. Uber Eats is keeping things more casual, with a plan to onboard thousands of NYC bodegas (which are great places to get NyQuil at a 10x markup…)
Food, fast! O.G. delivery king Domino’s is going electric, with a new fleet of 800+ Chevy Bolts. Meanwhile, hotdog-slinging Wienerschnitzel plans to remodel many of its remaining iconic A-frame restaurants so the drive-through can accommodate today’s girthier vehicles. And store-on-wheels Robomart rebrands to Conjure, as it concentrates its magic on ice cream delivery.
A very good job: Our friends at the LA Cleantech Incubator are looking for a new VP of Transportation Electrification. Anyone excited about getting mobility and delivery down to zero emissions, and with eight plus years of experience, should apply.
A call for more jobs! We’ll be running a round-up of great industry jobs in the new few weeks. Have a listing you want to share? Email it over.
And in less fun news… Layoffs continue to affect the broader technology sector. AV deliverer Nuro is cutting 20% of staff. Carvana is axing a whopping 1,500 jobs, as consumer enthusiasm for car vending machines cools amidst a shifting auto market. And while Argo called it quits a few weeks back, news is now trickling out that they were almost thrown a last-second lifesaver by Amazon, which ultimately opted not to try to turn its Rivians into AVs.
Brighter tidings: Things are looking up for electric vans. GM’s Brightdrop just announced it’s on track to hit $1 billion in revenue in 2023, making it one of the fastest companies to ever achieve that benchmark. We’re sure having General Motors’ existing distribution and manufacturing capabilities may have helped just a wee bit…
“I really don’t like a 5,000-pound electric SUV delivering two pounds of pad thai.” Read up on Seattle DOT’s new chief Greg Spotts, and how he plans to transform mobility in the Emerald City, which seems to include plans for a lot more delivery-bots. SDOT is also opening the books on its new curb management SMART grant application.
Transit in trouble? Chicago’s CTA is struggling to stick to its schedules, as a dire driver shortage keeps trains and busses stuck in their yards. Things are looking even more bleak in the Bay Area, where a laggardly return to office is depressing ridership so badly that agencies are running low on funds. LA Metro walked away from plans to eliminate free transfers, after the community loudly pushed back. But with service levels soon set to rise, we’re curious how it plans to solve the budget woes that precipitated the dramatic fare proposal. In happier news, Boston set an opening date for its new Green Line extension (12/12) and SF began weekend previews of its new train to Chinatown. (Check out SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin’s sweet map-inspired formal wear at the opening ceremonies.)
New York State of Absentmindedness… The Empire State began awarding its first handful of cannabis retailing licenses. But with delivery not yet permitted, the industry (and the state's coffers) remain cut off from one of its largest revenue generators.
State of Santa Monica’s Micromobility: Lyft announced it was exiting the Santa Monica and Los Angeles micromobility markets, leaving SaMo with just three players - Spin, Veo and Wheels - remaining. Wheels, meanwhile, is pulling out of nearby Culver City and West Hollywood. You’ll recall Santa Monica is where the modern micromobility industry got its start, as Bird first rolled out shared scooters near the beach in 2018. (Before that, the city had its own public bikeshare system, whose colorful racks can still occasionally be seen across town.)
Holiday hot links: Better cycling infrastructure shown to improve non-bikers’ quality of life. Railroad strike may be back on? Anchorage, Alaska ices parking minimums. Coffee cart causes commotion in Cobble Hill. New org to study why buildings in America cost so much and look so bad. King County, WA explores e-bike rebates. CPUC pushes for more EV chargers. Revanchist motorists fight back, in Brussels. NYC’s Fifth Ave to go car free (but all too briefly.) NFT-powered dining club opens first permanent location, just in time for everyone to wish this whole NFT thing would just go away forever…. Unboxing a MrBeast Burger. Community comes together to support street vendors after burglary.
Cyber Monday comes early! If you can’t wait until next week, you can score discounted Curbivore tickets right now. We’re taking an extra chunk of change off our already discounted early bird price - join us in March for just $99! And if you haven’t seen it already, check out our amazing Launch Partners.
Enjoy your meal!
- Jonah Bliss & The Curbivore Crew