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Elon stands up, Akio Toyoda turns over the CEO keys, and Waymo faces layoffs

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It seems like we can’t go a week without talking about something Tesla-related. The business shared Q4 earnings and disclosed a new investment in its Nevada gigafactory (more on that later). However, the class-action securities fraud trial that began earlier this month in San Francisco received the majority of the attention. Elon Musk is being sued for billions of dollars in damages by Tesla shareholders who traded the company’s stock in the days following his infamous tweet from 2018 in which he claimed funding was “secured” to take Tesla private at a potential value of $420 per share.

This week, attorneys from both sides of the aisle engaged in a verbal tug-of-war over the meaning behind Musk’s tweet that read “funding secured”; they attempted to provide an answer during his deposition by examining his emails, phone calls, and boardroom exchanges. The arguments over whether Musk knew he was being careless brought to mind the words “drudgery” and “mind numbing” more than once.

Some interesting information was gleaned from the whole mess. According to Musk’s testimony, his $420 per share allusion was not a joke or a dig at marijuana culture rather it represented a 20% premium over the stock price at the time. Sure enough…

Musk also revealed that he believed funding had been secured from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, and that even if he hadn’t, he would have sold SpaceX shares to finance the acquisition, similar to how he had done with Tesla shares to finance Twitter. I wonder why he kept that to himself five years ago.

Akio Toyoda’s unexpected announcement that he is stepping down as CEO of Toyota and handing the keys to Koji Sato, who most recently oversaw the automaker’s luxury brand Lexus, was arguably the biggest automotive story of the week.

Akio Toyoda won’t be leaving Toyota entirely. He will now take over as board chairman, succeeding Takeshi Uchiyamada, who served in that capacity since 2013. Uchiyamada’s resignation, according to the company, was what led to the management change.

During a Toyota event that was live streamed, Toyoda and Sato made some remarks, and a few key points stood out to me.

One of them involved Toyoda discussing his 13 years as CEO, a period during which the company suffered as a result of the global financial crisis, the earthquake, and a widespread recall.

I believe that in times of crisis, two paths appear before us. One is a path toward short-term success or a quick victory. The other is a path that leads back to the essential qualities and philosophies that gave us strength.

I chose the latter.

And Sato on the future:

I love making cars. For that reason, I want to be a president who continues to make cars. I would like to show what kind of company Toyota should be through our cars. That’s what I want to do.

Cars that are fun to drive and cars that support mobility. And cars in the future will evolve into the concept of mobility itself. Amid such, I hope to preserve the essential value of the car and propose new forms of mobility.


Although this week in the world of micromobility was relatively quiet, there are a few tidbits that are worth sharing.

A non-profit organization called Bike New York lends bicycles to immigrants and people seeking asylum.

California will soon become the most recent state to provide e-bike rebates. The state is preparing to launch funding of up to $13 million.

In Jersey City and Hoboken, Citibike has increased the cost of membership and single trips. Will additional markets adopt?

Helbiz wants to address the issue of stock shorting. To prevent any unauthorized short selling, the company entered into a contract with Shareholder Intelligence Services.

In 2024, Honda Motorcycle will introduce sit-down electric scooters for the Indian market.

Lime, Dott, and Tier have been chosen by Madrid for scooter licenses. The three-year validity of the permits is an improvement over many other permits, which are only valid for a year or two.

More layoffs have been announced by Tier for both its own brand and Spin. This comes after earlier rounds of layoffs at both businesses. As it switches from growth at all costs to sustainable growth, Tier announced that it would lay off 80 employees from Tier and another 20 from Spin.

A Bronx school received 36 abandoned bikes from Veo.

Deal of the week

This week, there wasn’t a single significant event that caught our attention, so here are a few less significant ones that you should be aware of.

In order to expand into North America, Ampeco, a Bulgarian EV charging management platform, raised a $13 million Series A led by BMW iVentures.

LLoyds Banking Group Plc contributed £4 million ($5 million) to Caura, an administrative app for drivers. Additionally supported by Jaguar Land Rover’s venture arm, the four-year-old business.

To transform London’s iconic black taxis into a high-volume, all-electric brand with a variety of commercial and passenger vehicles, Geely is preparing a significant investment.

Amara Raja Batteries and Petronas Ventures co-led a $40 million Series B round of equity and debt financing for the battery technology startup Log9 Materials in India. Western Capital Advisors, Oxyzo Financial Services, Incred Financial Services, and Unity Small Finance Bank also took part.

To keep adding the newest electric car models to its UK fleet, Onto raised a £100 million line of credit from CDPQ.

With additional funding from Poppe + Potthoff Capital GmbH and Pegasus Tech Ventures, Sheeva.AI, a company that created in-car payments and commerce platforms based on a vehicle’s location, raised $9.25 million in a Series A funding round. The round was led by strategic Reynolds and Reynolds Company.

Wa’ed Ventures, the venture capital division of Saudi Aramco, the country’s publicly traded oil and gas company, invested $14 million in Terra Drone’s Series C round.

For a planned IPO in 2023, Virgin Australia is anticipated to start interviewing lead underwriters.

Notable reads and other tidbits


In a ranking of 12 important systems by Consumer Reports, Tesla’s Autopilot came in last. The Cadillac Super Cruise and Mercedes-Benz Driver Assistance from General Motors and Ford respectively received the top three rankings. In seventh place was Autopilot.

autonomous automobiles
In order to test its remotely driven cars on German public roads, Vay was granted an exemption permit.

Alphabet, the parent company of Waymo, quietly laid off 12,000 employees.

This one was also missed last week. The official autonomous vehicle technology partner for this year’s Super Bowl LVII, which will take place in Phoenix, is Waymo. In a statement, Waymo’s chief product officer Saswat Panigrahi said, “There is no bigger stage for our 24/7 ride-hailing service than transporting people to and from the airport and around downtown for the many exciting activities surrounding the Big Game.”

Electric automobiles
A startup called Bluedot provides EV drivers with a debit card that offers rewards and discounts on EV charging and other auto-related services.

In order to develop electric vehicles and other electrical goods like storage and generation, Honda will create a division.

Lightyear’s €250,000 flagship solar-powered EV, the Lightyear 0, has stopped production. Instead, it will focus on the Lightyear 2, its second production model, which will cost a modest €40,000.

This week, Tesla released its Q4 and annual earnings report. With $24.3 billion, the company outperformed Wall Street predictions in the fourth quarter. Tesla’s energy products also saw record deployments. Separately, Tesla invested $3.6 billion in the construction of two new facilities in Nevada: a factory that will produce 100 GWh of battery cells and the first high-volume factory for Semi trucks.

Toyota and Enel X Way have partnered to provide Toyota and Lexus drivers with access to the latter’s domestic and street charging services. Over 300 electric vehicles (EVs) have been ordered for first-run production, along with over €85 million in related revenue, according to Volta Trucks.


For speaking out and protesting about unfair working conditions, ride-hailing gig workers in India on platforms like Uber, Ola, and Swiggy are facing blocked accounts and other backlash.

Wait-time fees, or costs incurred if a Lyft driver must wait for a passenger upon pickup, have been introduced by Lyft. They’ve been with Uber since 2016. For standard rides, Lyft’s new fees begin to accrue two minutes after the scheduled arrival time and five minutes after Black and Black XL.

According to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, the company has no plans to make significant job cuts. Here’s making sure he keeps his word.

Ken Manget was appointed CFO of Canoo. Former interim CFO Ramesh Murthy will remain senior vice president of finance and chief accounting officer.

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