Electric vehicles are taking their sweet time to catch on but we're seeing a lot of action in the electric, automated truck space. Today's newsletter focuses on these recent developments.
Today's newsletter is 1,292 words, a 5-minute read.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
A massive GM investment and the sudden emergence of a U.K. startup are flip sides of the same huge story: The auto industry is beginning a major shift toward electrification, but taking different paths to get there.
The big picture: Carmakers are compelled to introduce EVs to meet rising emissions standards.
Driving the news: GM just committed billions of dollars to mass-produce electric pickups, SUVs and a shared robo-taxi at a plant in Detroit that it had planned to mothball.
It's the same upfront risk faced by other carmakers, who have committed $225 billion to electrification between 2019 and 2023, creating a near-term "profit desert" until the EV tipping point occurs, according to consulting firm AlixPartners.
The intrigue: There's another potentially faster and cheaper path to EV adoption.
Between the lines: Arrival is putting much less capital at risk to produce small batches of purpose-built EVs for customers like UPS, says Mike Ableson, the former GM executive who is now Arrival's North American chief.
My thought bubble: Both GM and Arrival are placing big bets on electrification, albeit at a different scale.
Grille of the upcoming GMC Hummer EV (left) and prototype of Tesla Cybertruck. Photos: Courtesy of GM and Tesla
Automakers are competing to make the buzziest, strongest, fastest electric truck that would fare well in a dystopian future — albeit one with a reliable grid and eco-conscious drivers, Axios' Ben Geman writes.
Driving the news: GM is reviving the gas-guzzling Hummer as a fully electric and powerful "super truck" with seriously gaudy specs — 1,000 horsepower, 0–60 miles per hour in 3 seconds, and 11,500 lb.-ft. of torque.
Where it stands: The announcement comes just two months after Tesla unveiled its powerful Cybertruck that's explicitly designed to look like something out of a science fiction movie.
My thought bubble: There could be a market for electric pickups, especially if they make work easier by acting as a generator, too. But it seems a number of automakers hope people will pay a premium for plug-in pickups that do something more than just help the environment.
Photo: Courtesy of Waymo
Waymo, whose driverless minivans are already shuttling a limited number of passengers in suburban Phoenix, will soon begin delivering packages for UPS as part of a new strategic partnership announced this week.
Why it matters: Waymo's ambition is to use the same self-driving technology in its minivans to automate big rigs and delivery trucks like the ones UPS uses every day. This is an important step toward that goal.
Details: In the first phase of their partnership, Waymo's self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans (with a trained operator on board) will shuttle packages from UPS Stores in the Phoenix area to the UPS sorting facility in Tempe.
Background: Last year, Waymo started using minivans to deliver car parts for AutoNation, a business partner that helps manage the fleet of Pacificas.
What they're saying: Waymo sees four potential markets for its self-driving technology: ride-hailing, long-haul trucking, package delivery and eventually, personally owned vehicles.
Scoop: Techstars Detroit accelerator is shutting down (Kirsten Korosec —Techcrunch)
Meteoric: Tesla is "Bitcoin on wheels" (Jonathan Garber — FoxBusiness)
Turn signal: The new Cadillacs are getting automatic lane-changing, thanks to updated Super Cruise (Andrew J. Hawkins — The Verge)
2020 Hyundai Santa Fe. Photo: Courtesy of Hyundai
This week I'm driving the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe, an underrated mid-size crossover SUV.
The big picture: There are so many crossovers on the market these days, it's hard to tell them apart. But I like the styling of the Santa Fe, whose athletic lines help distinguish it from the rest.
Details: The Santa Fe features two engines — the standard 185 hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder, or the optional 235-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine.
The bottom line: The Santa Fe offers a comfortable ride and a lot of standard features, making it a great value.