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Tesla rolls into a pressure cooker, Paris mulls its scooter future, and the double SPAC arrives

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Tesla rolls into a pressure cooker, Paris mulls its scooter future, and the double SPAC arrives

The Station is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. Sign up here — just click The Station — to receive the full edition of the newsletter every weekend in your inbox. Subscribe for free. 

Welcome back to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of moving people and packages from Point A to Point B. 

Let’s get right to it, shall we?

Top of mind for me this week is Tesla. I know, weird.

But really, it seems that pressure is coming from all sides these days. The company’s decision to slash prices has angered recent buyers (one only need to turn to Twitter to view the ire), shareholders are becoming more vocal about the lagging stock price (it fell more than 64% in the past year) and its facing mounting regulatory pressure over Autopilot and its so-called FSD software beta product that promises full self-driving. To be clear, Tesla vehicles are not self driving. The system is an advanced driver assistance product.

At any rate, these problems keep piling up. How much can the company take?

In the past, Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk have managed to wriggle free of criticism or concerns it was stagnating, often by showcasing a potential future product or hitting ambitious production and delivery goals.

But Tesla narrowly missed its own production and delivery guidance for the year, and Wall Street’s Q4 expectations. And shareholders, consumers and regulators seem to be tiring of this cycle. To me, this is just another indication that Tesla is starting to be viewed (and treated) more as a legacy automaker and not a whiz-bang upstart that can do no wrong.

You can drop us a note at tips@techcrunch.com. If you prefer to remain anonymous, click here to contact us, which includes SecureDrop (instructions here) and various encrypted messaging apps.

Micromobbin’

the station scooter1a

Rebecca Bellan was out this past week, but I still wanted to share a couple of interesting micromobbin’ stories reported by yours truly and Romain Dillet, who hails from France.

First up is Romain’s article that takes a look at Paris and its looming scooter decision that could upend the micromobility industry there. I recommend you read the entire article. Here’s a small taste.

On March 23rd, the fate of the 15,000 colorful electric scooters that currently spill across the streets of Paris could drastically change as the French capital weighs up whether or not to renew licenses for the three scooter companies currently operating in the city.

Romain gets right to the implications, which stretch far beyond Paris.

And this isn’t just going to impact Dott, Tier and Uber-affiliated Lime — the three companies that have held those licenses since 2020. The decision will set a precedent for the many cities around the world that have also let scooters onto their streets. If things don’t go their way, a negative decision in Paris could have a chilling effect on micromobility startups globally.


Next up is a more luxurious, high-performance scooter story. I’m talking about Bugatti, yes Bugatti, and its new electric scooter.

Bugatti, through a partnership with tech accessory company Bytech, launched a $1,200 electric scooter in 2022. The two companies paired up again for a second-generation scooter that is beefier, equipped with new features and colors, and has larger “self-repairing” tires.

The 2023 scooter is 10% larger than its predecessor and is equipped with a 36-volt/15.6Ah battery and an electric motor with a maximum output of 1,000 watts, according to the companies.

That battery and motor combo allows the scooter to handle up to an 18-degree incline, max speed of 22 miles per hour and can cover 35 miles on a single charge, according to the company. (That’s up from the 22-mile range in the previous model.)

No word yet on the pricing for this bigger second-generation model. Perhaps this is one of those “if you have to ask” moments. ;D

See ya next week!

Deal of the week

money the station

We’ve seen lots of SPACs the past two years. but what about a double SPAC? Yes, it has happened.

I’m talking about Wejo, the British automotive data exchange platform that went public in November 2021 after merging with special purpose acquisition company via Virtuoso Acquisition Corp at an implied $800 million valuation.

But what’s this? The company announced January 10 it has now agreed to merge with a SPAC created by private equity firm TKB Capital, in a deal that could raise up $100 million. And that’s money Wejo needs.

It seems that this latest SPAC is the buoy Wejo is using to keep it afloat. It’s not just that Wejo’s share price fell below $1 a share; the company is also burning through cash.

Wejo warned in November it had a $15 million cash balance, which would sustain the company for a “very short period of time.”

Wejo is about two years away from generating life-sustaining-nope-we’re-not-going-to-file-for-bankruptcy revenue. To add a little extra financial drama to the scenario, Wejo also owes Palantir millions of dollars, per an op-ed piece by Chris Bryant in Bloomberg.

This double SPAC is an odd one. I have this nagging feeling that some other failing SPACs will try this same tactic.

Other deals that got my attention this week …

Apollo Future Mobility Group agreed to buy Chinese electric vehicle maker WM Motor Holdings for $2.02 billion. The acquisition must still meet regulatory approvals.

Hystar, a green hydrogen startup based in Norway, raised $26 million in a Series B round co-led AP Ventures and Mitsubishi Corp. Other investors included Nippon Steel Trading, Belgium-based investment company Finindus, Hillhouse Investment, Trustbridge Partners, SINTEF Ventures and Firda.

Ottopia, an Israeli teleoperations company focused on the agriculture, construction, last-mile delivery, logistics and mobility industries, raised $14.5 million in its Series A funding round that attracted public transport giant ComfortDelGro as an investor. Other participants included AI Alliance Fund, MizMaa Ventures, IN Venture and Next Gear Ventures. T

Oxbotica, a startup out of England that develops software to power autonomous vehicles, raised $140 million in a Series C round that included investment from Japan’s Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Co. and corporate VC ENEOS Innovation Partners. Existing investors BGF, safety equipment group Halma, hospitality and recreation investor Hostplus, Kiko Ventures, the online shopping company Ocado Group, Tencent, Venture Science and automotive component maker ZF also participated.

Tianqi Lithium Corp. agreed to buy Australian lithium explorer Essential Metals Ltd in a A$136 million ($94 million) deal that is estimated to provide enough supply for around 10 million electric vehicles.

Notable reads and other tidbits

Autonomous vehicles

Aurora gives a progress report to FreightWaves.

What next for Pittsburgh’s autonomous vehicle scene?

ADAS

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is apparently “working really fast” on the Tesla Autopilot investigation it opened in August 2021. Speaking of pressure on Tesla, there may be even more coming after The Intercept published videos and photos of an eight-car pile-up on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge caused by a Tesla Model S. The driver claimed “Full Self-Driving” was active at the time of the crash.

Electric vehicles, batteries and charging

Lucid Group produced 7,180 of its luxury Air sedans in 2022, exceeding its previously lowered guidance for the year. Lucid adjusted its guidance last fall, stating it would produce 6,000 to 7,000 vehicles in 2022.

Nikola is officially moving its battery manufacturing from Cypress, California to its Coolidge, Arizona manufacturing facility. The move is expected to be completed early in the third quarter. Manufacturing will continue in Cypress through the second quarter.

Proterra produced its first commercial EV battery at its new factory in Greer, South Carolina. The company is calling the factory “Powered 1,” and believes it will be the largest battery manufacturing facility in the United States dedicated to electric commercial vehicles. 

Tesla plans to invest about $770 million into an expansion of its factory near Austin that includes a die shop, a facility for battery cell testing and another to manufacture cathode and drive units. Tesla indicated it wants to build the new facilities this year.

Zeekr, the premium brand under Geely Holding Co., started serial production of its second model, an electric van called Zeekr 009.

People

Carvana, the online used car dealer, continues to struggle and it’s cutting workers as sales slow and it attempts to manage its $7 billion debt load.

Cruise has Nilka Thomas as its new chief human resources officer. Thomas, who most recently served in a similar position at Lyft, succeeds Arden Hoffman at Cruise. Thomas also spent 13 years at Google leading efforts focused on recruitment, D&I, employee engagement, HR governance and employee relations.

Hyzon Motors, the heavy-duty fuel cell electric vehicle supplier, appointed John Edgley as president of international operations.

Scale AI, the San Francisco–based company that uses software and people to label image, text, voice and video data for companies building machine learning algorithms, laid off 20% of its workforce. The company did not say how many people work at Scale AI. However, back in February 2022, the company told TechCrunch it employed about 450 people.

source:https://techcrunch.com/2023/01/16/tesla-rolls-into-a-pressure-cooker-paris-mulls-its-scooter-future-and-the-double-spac-arrives/

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EverGrow Coin: Next Shiba Inu of 2022 Distributes More than 27 Million in BUSD Rewards

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EverGrow Coin: Next Shiba Inu of 2022 Distributes More than 27 Million in BUSD Rewards

Much like waiting for a bus, EverGrow Coin, arguably the most innovative and fastest-growing project of this fall, EverGrow Coin has already surpassed many well-established cryptocurrencies and has achieved a $1 billion market cap and 105K+ Token holders. Aiming to be the next Shiba Inu, EverGrow Coin has already distributed $27 million BUSD in rewards to its holder. The revolutionary smart contracts of EverGrow Coin distribute 8% of every Buy/Sell transaction among its token holders in Binance Pegged stable Coin.

EverGrow Coin recently surprised the cryptoverse by dropping on three major exchanges. Taking only six weeks to launch on their first major exchange, Bitmart, EverGrow Coin Plans to list all major centralised exchanges. This week EverGrow Coin went live on Bibox, LBank & ZT Global Exchanges moving one step closer to mainstream adoption.

Unlike other meme coins, from the beginning, the team behind EverGrow Coin plans to build a Huge Ecosystem around the project consisting of an NFT Lending Platform, NFT Marketplace, Play-to-Earn, Content Subscription Platform & Staking pools. After launching its Swap exchange, by the next week, EverGrow Coin will also be launching its content subscription platform Crator.com. Crater will allow Creators to sell Premium content to their Fans like Patreon and Onlyfans. EverGrow coin team strictly follows the planned roadmap and will soon be launching their NFT Marketplace and Play to Earn game with the launch of NFT Mystery Boxes. All the revenue generated from Evergrow’s ecosystem will be used to buy EverGrow from exchanges and remove them permanently from the circulating supply.

Apart from manual burns, 2% from every transaction is transferred to EverGrow contract for Auto Buybacks. When Autobuyback is enabled, the funds stored in the contract will be used to burn Evergrow tokens. After the initial burn of 50% of supply on launch, the contract has already burned more than 2% through Auto buybacks. EverGrow Coin is eventually going to be scarcer in the future.

EverGrow Coin is also developing the first decentralized NFT lending platform. Built on the Binance Smart chain, The platform will allow NFT owners to readily borrow against their NFTs as collateral at fair interest rates without selling them. Leveraging BSC cheaper and faster transaction speed, EverGrow will also be adding BSC-based NFT Marketplace to its ecosystem. The platform will provide creators, celebrities, and influencers with the opportunity to mint, sell, showcase, and even drop mystery boxes of their collections. There are almost no examples in the cryptoverse of this level of critical thinking. EverGrow Coin is genuinely raising the bar in DeFi and set on the path of becoming a top 20 global crypto or Next Shiba Inu.

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Marketsi Brings Quant Investing to Retail Investors

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Marketsi Brings Quant Investing to Retail Investors

Marketsi marks a step-change in retail investing, introducing investors to quantitative investing technology with the Investment Strategy Builder. This enables investors to create and manage their own dynamic stock portfolios using the kind of data and algorithms harnessed by hedge funds and banks.

Users can access alpha-generating quant strategies and create their own unique strategies with an easy-to-use interface that lets them filter stocks based on dozens of different fundamental, technical and sentiment signals. And they can continuously backtest and optimize to find the perfect alpha-generating approach.

With Marketsi we are also offering clients a direct market access Share Dealing platform, so they can manage all their investments in one place.

And our multi-asset trading platform, Marketsx, just got a whole lot better with lower spreads, more ways to trade the most popular products and an ever-expanding universe of assets. Best of all, our tools continue to set the pace in the industry with the most impressive suite of Technical, Fundamental and Sentiment based analytical tools.

For UK clients we are now adding Spread Betting to the existing CFD trading products, giving traders the option to benefit from tax-free trading.

Markets.com CEO Joe Rundle says: “We’ve made a big leap into the investing space and are keen to make a splash with a product that is going to change things up for retail investors. Our quantitative-based portfolio builder lets retail investors tap into the kind of technology and data that’s used by the biggest banks and hedge funds to maximise returns.

“We are super excited about launching investing products so that our clients take more control of their money. And with Spread Betting we hope to be able to meet the needs of all our UK traders.

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Securing Your Future – The Benefits of Investing in a 401k

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Securing Your Future - The Benefits of Investing in a 401k

If you are looking for a way to secure your future, investing in a 401k may be the solution. But there are a few things you need to know before you begin.

Rebalancing portfolio to protect from crashes

When investing in a 401k, portfolio rebalancing can help protect against crashes. It is significant for investors nearing retirement.

A well-diversified, globally diversified portfolio can also reduce risk during market crashes. Rebalancing can help keep your asset allocation in the proper mix, avoiding overweighting in certain asset classes.

Generally, rebalancing is done periodically. Some financial advisers recommend rebalancing as often as once a quarter. Some people can rebalance frequently. If you invest in a 401k, you should rebalance it twice a year.

There are several methods for rebalancing your investment account. Robots-advisors will automatically do this for you. You can also use the same target allocation model as you had for your other investments. Consider your investment objectives, balances, and tax treatment.

During a market crash, you may have a more challenging time selling assets, but getting a return on your investments is still possible. Often, you will need to buy more stocks or bonds at lower prices and rebalance later to recover your original balance.

Compound interest generates earnings.

Compound interest can be magical when it comes to building wealth. It can make it possible for you to save millions of dollars in a tax-advantaged account, allowing you to enjoy a secure retirement in the future. However, you’ll need to learn how to invest with compound interest and how to calculate it.

In general, the power of compounding is related to the frequency of interest earned. Investing in a low-cost index fund, such as the S&P 500, will allow you to take advantage of this powerful investing strategy.

For example, a $100 investment that pays a 10% dividend each year could generate more than $300 in interest by the end of the second year. Alternatively, an investment that returns eight percent per year would have a balance of $1,080 after the first year.

While compounding does not happen overnight, it does have the power to create a snowball effect. Investing in a 401k, for instance, allows you to reap the benefits of compounding interest by reinvesting your interest to increase your earnings.

Stock market corrections are less common than stock market crashes.

Stock market corrections are a regular part of the investment world. They happen for a variety of reasons. For example, an economy may hit its natural peaks, or investors may overvalue a specific stock.

The most common type of market correction is a decline of at least 10%. These are typically short-lived and are usually followed by a bullish period.

It’s best to plan for a market downturn. Buying undervalued stocks during a discipline is a great idea. You can also use stop-limit orders to trigger automatically when a stock price hits a pre-set level.

Long-term investors often adopt a strategy that balances risk and return targets. They also diversify their portfolios and lock in any unrealized losses.

You can consult a financial advisor if you need clarification on the risk of buying stocks during a correction. They can help you make an educated decision.

A correction can take several months to resolve, depending on the index or stock. In most cases, it’s best to ride out the storm. But there’s always the chance of a market downturn leading to a recession.

Roth 401k

Consider a Roth account if you have a 401(k) plan. It can be a vital part of building wealth. It can also be an excellent way to save in a low tax bracket.

The ability to withdraw funds tax-free is the benefits of a 401k plan. Be mindful of the disadvantages, though. It can impact your Social Security benefits and Medicare premiums, depending on your age. On the part of your earnings, you will still need to pay taxes.

To avoid paying a large amount of taxes in retirement, you should invest in both traditional and Roth accounts. It can be a good idea if you expect your tax rate to rise or decline in your lifetime.

For example, consider investing at least 15% of your paycheck into a retirement savings account. It is a good idea regardless of the market conditions.

Investing consistently is also important. It can be a rational move for younger workers. Those with more years before retirement will see the most significant gains from a Roth 401(k).

In addition to saving consistently, you should diversify your accounts. A diversified portfolio of traditional and Roth accounts can help you save more money in the long run.

Variable annuities work similarly to a 401k

If you’re looking for a long-term investment for your retirement, variable annuities may be a good option. These products offer tax-deferred growth, a guaranteed lifetime income, and a wide variety of investment options. But before you buy, ensure you understand the product’s fees and features.

Variable annuities have two phases: an accumulation phase and a distribution phase. In the accumulation phase, you invest the annuity’s funds in sub-accounts. Those sub-accounts may include stocks, bonds, or money market funds. Each investment performs differently. When the investment portfolios perform well, the annuity’s value goes up. However, the annuity’s value declines when the assets don’t act.

Some variable annuity contracts offer optional riders that ensure you’ll receive a particular minimum income stream. Living benefit riders can also help you generate a steady income from your annuity.

If you’re married, consider fixed annuities. These investments are often based on a basket of equities. The underlying assets are similar to Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs). You pay a fixed amount of interest for a specified period. Once the period ends, you can take the annuity as a lump sum.

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