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Over the past year, the dockless bike-sharing craze that took off in China has swept out into the rest of Asia, Europe, and now the US.
Unlike government-operated or public-private docked systems, private startups have led the dockless charge, with US players extending the model to new form factors like e-scooters.
As we’ve poked fun at before, these models have also wreaked havoc on urban streets, spurring regulatory backlash. Concerns about oversupply, lost bikes, and long-term economic viability of the model also loom large.
But if the model gains traction in the US and elsewhere, it would add to the ballooning array of urban transportation options, both competing with and augmenting existing automotive-centric services.
Check out our brief for an overview of the emerging trends, players, and outstanding challenges in the dockless sharing space.
Waymo gears up
Big news from the former Google Self-Driving Car project, which unveiled a new partnership with Jaguar on the eve of the New York Auto Show.
The deal with Jaguar Land Rover involves the purchase and deployment of up to 20,000 of the OEM’s recently unveiled I-Pace SUVs for Waymo’s robotaxi service, becoming Waymo’s first pure EVs.
It’s a logical pairing: Jaguar has a production-ready, long-range EV with proven manufacturing capacity. The full scope of the Waymo deal would move the needle for Jaguar’s overall output moreso than other OEMs (Jaguar sales came in around 180k in 2017, with corporate sibling Land Rover representing the majority of JLR’s volume).
Most other manufacturers with readily available long-range EVs (such as GM and Tesla) have invested heavily in either organic or inorganic AV projects that now compete with Waymo. By comparison, JLR’s efforts to date are in their very early stages.
On the vehicle itself, Waymo’s proprietary vision suite is more neatly integrated than in its current Pacifica minivans, particularly the wing-mounted and front/rear sensors. The I-Pace’s sleek lines and fastback roofline certainly don’t hurt compared to the Pacifica’s utilitarian design, albeit at the expense of interior volume.