Auto IQ weekly news, including Tesla, Cruise, Volvo and WaymoAdd bookmark
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We also have our latest Top Five – this time taking a look at some of the electric vehicles we’re looking forward to seeing hit the road later this year.
Here’s some other stories that caught our eye this week:
Tesla’s million-mile battery
Later this month, Tesla will hold a 'Battery Day' event where it's expected to detail its new, low-cost EV battery. Nicknamed the million-mile battery, the cells have been co-developed with CATL, reports Reuters, and are designed for a million miles of use.
The new cells will be used first in Tesla's Chinese market Model 3s, before going global. The batteries are part of a wider strategy to bring EVs down to price parity with equivalent gas-powered cars.
As a result, the process of making the cells is more highly automated, reducing complexity, and the cells themselves use fewer rare materials, which helps cut costs. Tesla is also working on recycling and second-life initiatives for batteries, via its Redwood Materials brand.
Cruise cuts around 160 staff
GM’s autonomous vehicle offshoot Cruise has announced that it is refocusing the mission of its near-2,000-strong staff, trimming eight per cent of the workforce.
Bloomberg reports that the cuts come as Cruise has postponed plans to a launch a robotaxi service by the end of the year, partly as a result of coronavirus. The job losses are mostly outside of Cruise’s core engineering business, and the firm adds that it will continue to hire engineers.
Cruise spokesman Ray Wert told Bloomberg “In this time of great change, we’re fortunate to have a crystal-clear mission and billions of dollars in the bank. The actions we took today reflect us doubling down on engineering work and engineering talent.”
Volvo loves Luminar LiDAR
Volvo Cars has announced a partnership with Silicon Valley-based LiDAR firm Luminar. The tech firm will provide LiDAR and perception technology for Volvo’s next generation cars that will be built on its SPA 2 platform.
The LiDAR system will be neatly integrated into the roof of cars based on SPA 2, as above, giving Level 3 Highway Pilot functionality. This will be unlocked via OTA updates as different regions legalise the use of this technology.
Volvo already holds a minority stake in Luminar, but has a clause that allows this to increase if the partnership is successful. It’s an interesting move as carmakers rarely reveal suppliers in this manner – could this be the sign of a new, more transparent way of working?
Waymo cashes in
Waymo has closed its first external funding round at an impressive $3bn. Various funds and accounts managed by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., Perry Creek Capital, Fidelity Management & Research Company, plus other external investors including supplier Magna contributed to the figure.
The funding round is the first to allow external investors to take shares in Waymo. The fund initially closed on $2.25bn in March, but was extended, netting an extra $750m of cash to invest in developing its ‘World’s Most Experienced Driver’ autonomous tech.
In a statement from Waymo CEO John Krafcik posted to the company’s blog, he noted that “COVID-19 has underscored how fully self-driving technology can provide safe and hygienic personal mobility and delivery services.”