Sixt to buy 100,000 electric vehicles from China’s BYD

Car rental company Sixt said Tuesday it intends to purchase over 100,000 electric vehicles from Chinese automaker BYD for its European fleet between now and 2028. Sixt has initially only committed to buying “several thousand” EVs, the first of which will be delivered this year, the company said in a statement.

Sixt said it will first deploy its new BYDs to Germany, France, the Netherlands and the U.K. in the fourth quarter of 2022.

The agreement comes a couple of weeks after competitor Hertz announced plans to order up to 175,000 General Motors EVs over the next five years. Hertz has also signed deals to buy thousands of Polestar and Tesla vehicles in order to reach its goal of a 25% EV fleet by the end of 2024.

blue BYD Atto 3 electric vehicle SUV on city street

BYD’s Atto 3 electric SUV. Image Credit: BYD

Sixt’s deal with BYD is in service of its own sustainability goal — the German car rental giant hopes to electrify 70% to 90% of its fleet in Europe by 2030. By the end of 2022, Sixt has promised to offer 20 new electric and plug-in models, “including a range of Audi, Opel, Renault, BMW, Peugeot, Tesla and now BYD,” according to a Sixt spokesperson.

On BYD’s end, the partnership with Sixt is the company’s first with a car rental firm in Europe. The Chinese automaker has, over the past couple of years, made a concerted push into Europe, beginning with the launch of the Tang electric SUV in Norway in 2020. Last week, BYD shared presale pricing for three EV models it will sell in Europe: the Han sedan and the Tang, each for €72,000, and the Atto 3 SUV for €38,000. It’s the last one, the Atto, that Sixt will initially be buying, according to both companies.

Sixt to buy 100,000 electric vehicles from China’s BYD by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

Daily Crunch: European startup studio eFounders unveils its next-generation CRM tool

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Happy Star Wars Day. These are not the 4th of Mays you’re looking for. But it is a pretty awesome newsletter we’ve got for you today, so there’s that.

Extra special good news if you’re a student: Our events team put together a deal for you, with a chance to get a free ticket to Disrupt! Yeeeeeessssssss — if you’re a current student or recent graduate, book any TC Sessions student pass and you’ll automatically be eligible to participate in our student pitch competition for a chance to win a free Disrupt 2022 ticket. If you’re into clean air and water and surviving and stuff, come check out our TC Sessions: Climate Tech, for example. – Christine and Haje

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Here’s a customizable CRM. No, really, it is: eFounders went live with its Folk customer relationship management platform today. Its strategy of making it easy to customize the product for your needs aims to make you forget the name of that other really big CRM company. Its waitlist is 10,000 deep, but Romain speeds you to the head of the line with an inside look.
  • Did Stripe just launch a Plaid competitor?: While that’s being debated on Twitter for now, the news is that Stripe launched Financial Connections, a product that enables its customers to connect to their customers’ bank accounts. That will, in turn, provide access to financial data to speed up or run certain kinds of transactions, essentially a faster way to get this information. However, to the point where customers have to input their bank account information when prompted, Ingrid notes “it will be interesting to see whether U.S. consumers will be happy with sharing that information in situations where it hasn’t been previously.”
  • Wordle turned out to be a good buy for The New York Times: The newspaper giant reported “tens of millions” of people to the NYT site in the first quarter. Hopefully, they stuck around for some news, but we think it was just for the game.

Startups and VC

Eric Ries has contributed a lot to the startup world, being a pioneer in the Lean Startup movement, but he’s got a couple of things to answer for as well. Not least, the term minimum viable product. In his piece, Haje raves about how MVPs ain’t viable, aren’t products, and aren’t necessarily all that minimal neither. We really like this story, and Haje (who is writing this section) is a little weirded out by tooting his own vuvuzela (that’s a real instrument, not a sex joke), talking about himself in the third person singular and the first person plural in the same paragraph. Here we are, wrestling with language, doing our best.

It seems like everyone wants to crawl further upstream and invest in earlier and earlier stage companies. We’re pretty excited to see Afore capital raising a $150 million fund to start nibbling at Y Combinator’s lunch, with a brand new “standard deal” model for pre-seed investments.

Over on our subscription site TC+, Alex dug into the severity of the startup valuation nosedive in Q1.

Moar Newz:

Psychedelics startups are on a long journey to consumer markets, but these 5 VCs are taking the ride

Psilocybin mushroom ground up in capsule background

Image Credits: Leslie Lauren (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

For years, consumers have used substances like cannabis and microdoses of LSD and psilocybin mushrooms to elevate their mood and sharpen mental focus. Now that regulators and clinicians are reevaluating these drugs, investors are exploring what this mind-expanding market has to offer.

In the U.S, more than 400 clinics offer ketamine therapy, and MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, is on track for FDA approval in 2023. In Oakland and Denver, “magic mushrooms” have already been decriminalized for adult use.

To learn more about the applications attracting VCs to psychedelics, reporter Anna Heim interviewed five who are active in the sector:

  • Tim Schlidt, co-founder and partner, Palo Santo
  • Ryan Zurrer, founder, Vine Ventures
  • Dina Burkitbayeva, founder, PsyMed Ventures
  • Clara Burtenshaw, partner, Neo Kuma Ventures
  • Sa’ad Shah, managing partner, Noetic Fund

(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

Amazon is doubling down in India, saying today it will export locally produced Indian goods worth $20 billion by 2025, up from the $10 billion in goods it previously pledged to export.

Soon you will be able to get an NFT with your tall decaf cappuccino (if you know, you know). Starbucks is entering the world of web3 with a collection of NFTs, and we report that the idea behind it is not only to “help Starbucks better connect with younger people,” but also to “provide a way to create incremental traffic and revenue, not only in terms of retail, but also incremental revenue as a result of its own business.”

Google is rolling out some more Workspace controls for its users in Europe by the end of the year in an effort to “control, limit, and monitor transfers of data to and from the EU,” we report. It seems this is a continued effort by Google to be in better compliance with regulatory privacy laws.

Here are some other stories we think you’ll like:

Intel’s Mobileye, rental giant Sixt to launch a robotaxi service in Germany next year

Intel subsidiary Mobileye and rental car giant Sixt SE plan to launch a robotaxi service in Munich next year, the CEOs of the two companies announced Tuesday during the IAA Mobility show in Germany.

The robotaxi service is leveraging all of Intel’s, and more specifically Mobileye’s, assets that have been in development or purchased in recent years, including the $900 million acquisition in 2020 of Moovit, an Israeli startup that analyzes urban traffic patterns and provides transportation recommendations with a focus on public transit.

Through the partnership, riders will be able to access the robotaxi service via the Moovit app. The service will also be offered through Sixt’s mobility ONE app, which gives customers the ability hail a ride, rent, share or subscribe to vehicles.

This will not be a large-scale commercial service in the beginning. The Mobileye robotaxis are expected to begin with an early-rider test program on Munich streets in 2022. If that mimics other early rider programs, the service will likely invite and then approve small groups of riders and then scale from there. The fleet will then move from test to commercial operations upon regulatory approval, the companies said.

Intel and Mobileye plan to scale the service across Germany and into other European countries later this decade. The companies chose Germany, a country where Mobileye is already testing its autonomous vehicle technology, because of a recently enacted law that permits driverless vehicles on public roads,.

“Germany has shown global leadership toward a future of autonomous mobility by expediting crucial AV legislation,” Intel CEO Gelsinger said Tuesday at IAA.  “Our ability to begin robotaxi operations in Munich next year would not be possible without this new law.”

During the IAA keynote, Mobileye also unveiled the vehicles branded with MoovitAV and SIXT. These vehicles, which are equipped with Mobileye’s self-driving system, will be produced in volume and used for the robotaxi service in Germany, the companies said.

While Mobileye is perhaps best known for supplying automakers with computer vision technology that powers advanced driver assistance systems — a business that generated nearly $967 million in sales last year — the company has also been developing automated vehicle technology.

The self-driving system, now branded as Mobileye Drive, is made up of a system-on-chip based compute, redundant sensing subsystems based on camera, radar and lidar technology, its REM mapping system and a rules-based Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS) driving policy. Mobileye’s REM mapping system essentially crowdsources data by tapping into more than 1 million vehicles equipped with its tech to build high-definition maps that can be used to support in ADAS and autonomous driving systems.

That data is not video or images but compressed text that collects about 10 kilobits per kilometer. Mobileye has agreements with six OEMs, including BMW, Nissan and Volkswagen, to collect that data on vehicles equipped with the EyeQ4 chip, which is used to power the advanced driver assistance system. On fleet vehicles, Mobileye collects data from an after-market product it sells to commercial operators.

Lyft expands its rental business with Sixt partnership

Lyft continues to expand beyond its core ride-hailing business into bikes, scooters, transit and now rental cars. The company said Thursday that it’s taking Lyft Rentals, a pilot program that launched in December, and expanding it through a partnership with Sixt.

Lyft Rentals initially gave folks in Los Angeles and San Francisco the ability to rent vehicles through its app, which might be traditionally used to hail a ride or grab a shared scooter. The pilot was successful enough to warrant an expansion, but with one notable change. Lyft owns and operates the rental fleet in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The new partnership will shift that responsibility to Sixt, a global rental car company with more than 70 locations in the United States. Lyft said it will continue to own and operate the rental fleet in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The car rental option via the Sixt partnership will initially expand to Las Vegas, Miami and Seattle. Lyft said it plans to expand to all cities within the Sixt rental network in the U.S. in the coming months.

Customers can open the Lyft app to find a selection of cars that can be rented directly from the “Rentals” tab. From here, users can select their vehicle class, reservation dates, location and an option to add insurance coverage. Customers also have the option to select the exact make and model of their vehicle. Lyft said it will provide a $10 credit to be used to hail a ride after dropping the car back at the Sixt lot.


Image Credits: Lyft

Lyft Rentals shouldn’t be confused with the company’s Express Drive program, which gives people who want to drive on the Lyft ride-hailing app a way to gain access to a vehicle. Express Drive, which is in partnership with Hertz, is aimed at drivers. Lyft Rentals is a consumer product.

Lyft is betting that the partnership with Sixt will allow it to scale quickly without taking on the high capital costs of buying, owning and maintaining the actual vehicles, not to mention the burden of managing the various permits required to operate a rental car company in cities and at airports.

Lyft will receive a commission from each rental made through the app, according to the company.