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Welcome back to TechCrunch Mobility — your central hub for news and insights on the future of transportation.

Before we jump into the startup and tech fray, I wanted to touch on some activity over on the hill — Capitol Hill, that is. The Biden Administration has released two new (and separate) proposed standards — via the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency — that will affect U.S. automakers and, ultimately, you. While both regulations have been softened to assuage the automotive industry, car dealers and unions, they also put in place far stricter standards than existed before.

The DOE issued a gentler “petroleum equivalency factor,” which gives EVs a score, of sorts, under the government’s corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. The original proposal would have made it difficult for automakers to meet the CAFE standards, which would have meant billions of dollars in fines. (E&E has a nice explainer.)

Meanwhile, the EPA released its tailpipe standards for 2027 to 2032 model year cars and light-duty trucks that will put stiffer requirements on automakers but gives them more flexibility to meet the proposed rules via a variety of powertrains. In other words, the standards are technology agnostic and can be met without shifting an entire fleet to battery electric. It’s also far less stringent than the original proposal that would have required EV sales to make up 67% of the total U.S. passenger vehicle market by 2032.

What does this mean for EV startups? Not much since battery electric vehicles, like those made by Rivian, Tesla and Lucid, meet the clean car standard of a CO2 limit of 85 grams per mile by model year 2032 (a 50% reduction from model year 2026 standards). There are real implications to the legacy automakers, which are plowing billions into developing, building and selling EVs, but making a profit from internal combustion engine vehicles. If there’s one clear winner here, it might be plug-in hybrids.

This week’s news also includes articles about Rivian’s partnership with Tesla, electric boat startup Candela, continued financial fallout at Fisker, a startup trying to tackle the precarious world of extended warranties, and more!

Let’s go!

A little bird

blinky cat bird green

Last month, a little bird told us Clevon, a company that started developing autonomous delivery technology in 2018, was struggling to find new investment and was on the brink of shutting down. The company’s co-founder said at the time (in an email viewed by TechCrunch) that it was looking for buyers for its hardware and software IP and AV assets and was even taking on its workforce.

Clevon is still plugging along, according to co-founder and CEO Sander Sebastian Agur. He wouldn’t provide a lot of detail but said the company was funded and has “entered into an exclusivity agreement for its merger by an American electric vehicle company.” The agreement is expected to be completed by the first half of June.

The company is having to make some cost reductions in the meantime and about 17 employees are being laid off.

Got a tip for us? Email Kirsten Korosec at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com or Sean O’Kane sean.okane@techcrunch.com. If you prefer to remain anonymousclick here to contact us, which includes SecureDrop (instructions here) and various encrypted messaging apps.

Deal of the week

money the station

Uber seems to be everywhere, so it might surprise you that the company just made its first investment in an Africa-founded startup. And it’s a biggie.

Moove, an African mobility fintech that offers vehicle financing to ride-hailing and delivery app drivers, raised $100 million in a Series B funding round led by Uber. Sovereign wealth fund Mubadala, Dubai-based The Latest Ventures, AfricInvest, Palm Drive Capital, Triatlum Advisors, and Future Africa also participated in the funding round. Moove is now valued at $750 million.

Why would Uber be interested in Moove? Uber is Moove’s largest car financing and vehicle supply partner. And Moove, which has made EVs a big part of its business strategy, aligns with Uber’s commitment to a fully zero-emission fleet by 2040.

Other deals that got my attention this week …

Amber, a Bay Area startup founded in early 2023 that just launched an aftermarket Tesla extended warranty product, raised $3.18 million in a seed round co-led by Era and Primer Sazze, with Alcove Fund, Virta Ventures, Global Millennial Capital and Root & Shoot Ventures joining.

Candela, the electric boat maker, raised $25 million in a round led Groupe Beneteau, with participation from EQT Ventures, Ocean Zero LLC, and Kan Dela AB.

Pelikan Mobility, a French startup developing fleet management software for commercial EVs, raised €4 million ($4.4 million) in a seed round from Pale Blue Dot, Frst, Seedcamp and others.

Stellantis invested an undisclosed amount into SteerLight, a French startup developing low-cost lidar designed for advanced driver assistance systems. In a separate non–car related deal, the automaker purchased 8.3 million shares of Archer Aviation stock. Stellantis said this signals its confidence in Archer’s plans to bring electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to market beginning in 2025.

Notable reads and other tidbits

Apps

Apple was sued this week by the U.S. Department of Justice for alleged monopolistic practices. Here’s an explainer and all of our coverage to date. Tucked inside the lawsuit is a section on automotive, namely the smartphone projection feature known as Apple CarPlay. The U.S. government claims in the lawsuit that “Apple has told automakers that the next generation of Apple CarPlay will take over all of the screens, sensors, and gauges in a car, forcing users to experience driving as an iPhone-centric experience if they want to use any of the features provided by CarPlay.” Some have even speculated that this explains why General Motors ditched Apple CarPlay altogether.

We’re a bit skeptical over here. For one, automakers can choose what screen Apple CarPlay is projected to, just like it does with competitor Android Auto. And automakers still have their own underlying native software, which, by the way, is increasingly coming from Google.

Electric vehicles, charging & batteries

Cowboy has launched an all-road electric bike to attract riders beyond European city centers.

Fisker’s financial health is fading — and fast. The company said it had just $121 million in cash and cash equivalents as of March 15, $32 million of which is restricted or not immediately accessible. The company has paused production of its electric Ocean SUV for six weeks as it scrambles for a cash infusion.

India has an eye-popping stat. The number of startups in India’s electric two-wheeler market has surged to more than 150, up from 54 in 2021, driven by government incentives to promote clean vehicles and cut oil imports, TechCruncher Manish Singh reports.

Rivian customers can now request an adapter to tap into Tesla’s vast North American network of Superchargers, making it the second automaker to do so behind Ford.

Steve Burns, the ousted founder, chairman and CEO of bankrupt EV startup Lordstown Motors, has settled with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over misleading investors about demand for the company’s flagship all-electric Endurance pickup truck.

TechCrunch contributor Emme Hall took the 2025 Honda CR-V e:FCEV — a hydrogen fuel cell–powered version of the popular crossover — out for a first drive and explores why the heck this automaker would launch a car where there is hardly any infrastructure. Oh, and she discovered this vehicle has a bit of a plug-in hybrid twist.

Flight

DoorDash expanded its partnership with Alphabet’s Wing to bring its autonomous drone delivery pilot to the United States. It’s fairly limited for now; select users in Christiansburg, Virginia, will be able to order eligible menu items from their local Wendy’s.

Joby Aviation, the startup developing electric air taxis, said it will deliver two aircraft to MacDill Air Force Base in 2025 as part of the eVTOL company’s AFWERX Agility Prime contract with the U.S. Air Force.

The U.S. Department of Transportation plans to conduct its first industry-wide review of data security and privacy policies across the largest U.S. airlines. The agency says it will examine whether U.S. airline giants are properly protecting their customers’ personal information and whether airlines are “unfairly or deceptively monetizing or sharing that data with third parties.”

In-car tech

Nvidia held its annual GTC developer conference this past week. You can catch up on all of our GTC coverage here, including some surprises in co-founder and CEO Jensen Huang’s keynote. Automotive News homed in on how Nvidia’s computing architecture is being used by companies like Cerence, SoundHound and Wayve to design user interfaces that incorporate generative AI into the car.

This week’s wheels

Subaru Solterra EV 2024

Image Credits: Kirsten Korosec

I spent some time in the 2024 Subaru Solterra, a battery electric crossover built as part of a joint project with Toyota, to experience what has changed or improved since the vehicle launched the year before. And there have been changes!

The most obvious is the steering wheel, which is no longer a circle and now more of a squarical shape, a change made after feedback from consumers. You’ll notice the instrument cluster actually sits above the steering wheel, which takes some getting used to. The new shape helps improve visibility.

Two other items of note, once I got the Subaru Solterra app linked up with the vehicle: The infotainment experience was OK. There were some buggy moments and there isn’t an intuitive and easy one swipe or click way to move between Apple CarPlay and the native software system. It wasn’t my best in-car software experience, but certainly not the worst, either.

On the advanced driver assistance front, Subaru has added a traffic jam assist feature that provides hands-free steering in low-speed traffic jams up to 25 miles per hour. That is a super specific use case that many drivers might never need due to the speed limitations. Thanks to Phoenix traffic, I was able to test it. The lane change assist — another new feature that will automatically change lanes if the driver hits the indicator — I found a bit wonky to understand exactly when I could use it. (This feature only works between 55 and 85 miles per hour.)

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