Autonomous Vehicle Roundup

Chinese consumers hotter for AVs than Americans

More than half of Chinese consumers can’t wait to get out from behind the wheel and into an autonomous car.

That makes China more positive than most about driverless vehicles, with western consumers cooler on the technology, according to a survey of more than 5,000 people by the Capgemini Research Institute. In contrast to China, respondents from the U.S. and the U.K. are the least excited about the prospect of giving up the driver’s seat, with just over a third feeling positive about automated cars.

“In China, but also in other Asian countries, we are seeing more excitement about ‘the new’ generally,” Markus Winkler, global head of automotive at consultancy Capgemini SE, said in an interview. “The acceleration in the last few years comes from the government as well.”

Read whole story here from Bloomberg

AV start-up Cruise gets $1.15b

FOR AN INDUSTRY that has yet to scale a commercial product, the folks building self-driving cars sure have raised a lot of money. The latest eye-popping investment comes via Cruise, the San Francisco-based autonomous vehicle unit that is mostly owned by General Motors. The company announced Tuesday that it had raised $1.15 billion, at a valuation of $19 billion—roughly one-third of the valuation of GM, despite not having sold a single car. The infusion comes from one new investor, the global asset management firm T. Rowe Price Associates, plus existing partners GM, Honda, and the Softbank Vision Fund, which poured $2.25 billion into the self-driving unit a year ago. Cruise says it has raised $7.25 billion in the past year, which places it in the top tier of AV fund-raisers.

Read story here from Wired

Elon Musk’s Robo Taxi Plan

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is banking on a risky new strategy for the electric automaker: a robotaxi service that he argues will transform Tesla into a $500 billion company.

The big picture: Like other AV companies, Musk is fixated on a potential $3 trillion market opportunity for autonomous mobility as a service.

But while most say fully self-driving cars are still a decade away, Musk is telling investors they’ll be here by next year and that Tesla will have first mover advantage with a million robotaxis on the road.

Between the lines: Investors are eager to fund his plans — witness last week’s fresh $2.7 billion equity and bond deal.

Read the take from Axios.

Uber CEO Says Musk’s RoboTaxi Vision Off

Driverless or self-driving taxis are well and truly here. With the likes of Waymo launching a self-driving taxi fleet in the US, it’s only a matter of time before more such services are operational.  Recently, Tesla founder Elon Musk had promised one million robotaxis by 2020, as part of the company’s upcoming taxi service, but not everyone is so certain that it’s going to happen by next year.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, for one, is skeptical of this plan. Khosrowshahi agrees that the future of mobility is electric, but he is doubtful that truly autonomous “robotaxis” will come next year. The Uber CEO, who is taking the company public with an expected market cap of $80 Bn, thinks that the future of mobility is in electric cars and shared rides.

Read whole story here

AV Companies Gathering Regulator Execs

Driverless car companies are racing to scoop up top federal safety officials to fill out their ranks of advisers and lobbyists — creating worries that the fledgling industry will use its newly acquired influence to shape the coming wave of government regulations.

Companies like Uber, Lyft, General Motors and Google’s sibling Waymo have hired a phalanx of current and former Washington officials, including Obama administration Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, several DOT highway regulators and two former chairs of the National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency that investigates deadly crashes.

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David Kiley
David Kiley

David Kiley is Chief of Content for The BRAKE Report. Kiley is an award-winning business journalist and author, having covered the auto industry for USA Today, Businessweek, AOL/Huffington Post, as well as written articles for Automobile and Popular Mechanics.