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Today marks the 1972 release date of Neil Young's "Harvest," so he'll play us into the newsletter...
Illustration: Axios Visuals
Electric vehicle infrastructure giant ChargePoint is using some of its recent $240 million fundraising haul to position itself for interlocking changes that await: the electrification of different types of vehicle fleets and the rise of driverless tech.
What's new: CEO Pasquale Romano says in an interview with Axios that despite it being early stages of autonomous vehicle technology, AVs should be included in the infrastructure industry's long-term planning.
“Everything we know about transportation is going to get disrupted ... including charging,” Romano says. “What we have to do is make sure that we are early in supporting that."
How it works: If AVs, EVs, and the electrification of fleets — such as ride-hailing services, commercial delivery vehicles and government vehicles — were a Venn diagram, there would be lots of overlap.
Between the lines: That's a seismic shift over the long-term, Romano notes.
“It changes your architecture for your products. It changes the scope of what your software has to talk to on the fleet side, it changes the scope of what your hardware has to deal with on the fast-charge side,” he says.
Why you’ll hear about this again: Romano, whose California-based company says it has the world's largest commercial charging network, agrees with projections that as AVs rise, so will total vehicle miles traveled (VMT).
Here are a few more takeaways from my interview with Romano, whose decade-old company is expanding in the U.S. and Europe...
1. The red state opportunity: He expects that southern states where automakers are expanding EV production — including Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee — will be a charging growth area.
2. The European market: “My assumption is that there will be continued consolidation. It is not going to 1 player. It is too large a market, right? But it can’t be 20,” he said, noting companies need scale to compete.
3. The future of retail: In addition to electrified bus fleets, which is a focus for the company, Romano sees the growth of online retail presenting a big opportunity.
Amazon: Morgan Stanley analysts have some more perspective on why the retail behemoth might be investing in the startup EV truck maker Rivian Automotive, a move Reuters first reported and my colleague Joann Muller analyzed here.
Ford and VW: The companies signaled a few weeks ago that their new partnership on commercial vans and trucks could expand into EV efforts as well. But that's looking unlikely now, CNBC reports.
Tesla: Via Mashable, "On Wednesday, the carmaker rolled out 'dog mode' through a software update, a feature which keeps the air-conditioning running and tells passersby that your pet is OK through the centre screen."
California Gov. Gavin Newsom disputed President Trump's claim Wednesday night that the state owes the federal government $3.5 billion after being "forced to cancel the massive bullet train project" estimated to be completed by 2033, Axios' Khorri Atkinson reports.
"Fake news. We’re building high-speed rail, connecting the Central Valley and beyond. This is CA’s money, allocated by Congress for this project. We’re not giving it back. The train is leaving the station — better get on board!"— Gavin Newson, via a tweet
ICYMI: The newly elected governor said Tuesday that the state scaled back plans to build an estimated $77 billion high-speed train from San Francisco to Los Angeles, saying that the project cost too much.
Yes, but: It won't be completely canceled, as Trump claims, and will focus on the Central Valley part of the route, from Merced to Bakersfield.
The intrigue: While Newsom stopped short of declaring the wider project dead, it's clearly on ice.
What they're saying:
Venezuela: Per Reuters, "Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress named new temporary boards of directors to state-oil firm PDVSA on Wednesday, in an effort to wrest the OPEC nation’s oil revenue from increasingly isolated socialist President Nicolas Maduro."
State of the market: "Oil prices neared a three-month high on Thursday on a combination of positive macroeconomic signals and falling output from major crude producers including Saudi Arabia," the Wall Street Journal reports.
Climate change: Bloomberg takes stock of a new report from the nonprofit group Carbon Tracker. The big takeaway: "Oil and gas companies continue to link executive pay to the discovery of energy resources the world can’t safely burn, potentially jeopardizing shareholder value."
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are joining Turnberry Solutions, a lobbying firm founded by former Trump campaign aides, Politico reports.
The big picture: Zinke resigned as Interior secretary amid several investigations into his travel and potential conflicts of interest, including a Justice Department probe into whether he lied to investigators from the Interior's inspector general's office — a potential criminal violation.
Where it stands: Per Politico, Zinke will work with clients in the energy and defense space, and he’ll split his time among Montana, California and Washington.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled yesterday that his plan to bring up the Green New Deal resolution for a vote will unfold sooner than later, though the exact timing is unclear.
Where it stands: McConnell yesterday began the Senate procedural maneuvers to bring up Democratic Sen. Ed Markey's measure — which is co-sponsored by several 2020 White House hopefuls.
Why it matters: McConnell and other Republicans see a political opening to put Democrats in a tricky spot in the wake of the GND rollout last week.
What's next: "The Rule 14 process takes three legislative days, so the GND will be available for consideration soon. Once the Senate attempts to move to the bill, if there are any Democrat objections to voting on their bill, it takes 60 votes (cloture) to proceed to the bill itself," McConnell spokesperson Don Stewart said in a memo to reporters.
Photo: Amy Harder/Axios
As part of her reporting trip in Australia, Axios’ Amy Harder visited a rooftop solar installation at the Sydney Markets, an expansive produce and flower market.
Details: The installations, spread across the market’s rooftops and car parks, add up to just over three megawatts of power.
The big picture: Australia is a microcosm of both the challenges and opportunities that persist in the global transition to cleaner sources of energy as concerns about climate change mount.