Hyundai to open $6.5B EV factory in Georgia

Hyundai is the latest automaker to announce plans to open an EV factory in Georgia, the same state where Rivian is preparing to break ground on its controversial plant.

Hyundai’s $6.5 billion EV and battery manufacturing facility outside of Savannah will further the state’s goal of becoming a major regional hub for the EV industry. As sales of electric vehicles start to surge, the Peach State aims to establish a statewide, closed-loop battery-electric ecosystem that includes rare earth mining, battery and chip production, and auto parts manufacturing, according to state officials.

Hyundai’s capital investment, which includes $1 billion from non-affiliated suppliers, represents the largest economic development deal recruited by Georgia, officials said Friday. Hyundai expects to create 8,100 jobs at the 2,293-acre site.

Georgia has become aggressive in its efforts to attract manufacturers, awarding Rivian the state’s largest-ever incentives package of $1.5 billion to build a plant on 2,000 acres east of Atlanta. In return, Rivian has pledged to hire 7,500 workers at an average annual salary of $56,000 by the end of 2028. However, the project has stirred up local controversy; residents have rallied around concerns ranging from land preservation to the use of tax dollars.

The issue became political, as opponents of the Rivian plant mobilize against Gov. Brian Kemp ahead of his race for re-election in November.

Rivian plans to break ground this summer and open by early 2024.

Hyundai’s site represents a collaboration among four Georgia counties that used proceeds from selling property to Amazon to help fund the $61 million land purchase. The partnership which calls itself the Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority (JDA), pooled the plots to create a “shovel-ready mega-site” for a large manufacturer.

Hyundai said the plant will begin production in 2025 with the capacity to build 300,000 vehicles per year.

Officials hope to replicate the model to attract more mega-site manufacturing projects to the state.

SK On, a South Korean EV lithium-ion battery maker, is building a $2.6 billion EV battery complex nearby. The company, which said its plant will be able to power 310,000 electric vehicles annually, has contracts with Ford and Volkswagen.

Salty, subterranean water could relieve world’s lithium shortage

The next bottleneck in lithium-ion battery supplies isn’t cobalt, even though China has a stranglehold on the market, and it’s not nickel, either, despite nickel prices nearly doubling in the past five months. Cobalt can be partially replaced with nickel, nickel can be partially replaced with manganese, and both can be completely replaced with iron phosphate, which is cheap and plentiful. 

But there’s no substitute for one crucial component of these batteries: Lithium.

Today’s lithium mines can’t hope to meet the skyrocketing demand for the next decade and beyond. Spotting an opportunity, startups like Lilac Solutions and Vulcan Energy Resources have leaped into action with new lithium extraction processes that are more efficient and potentially better for the planet.

The crunch

As automakers have fleshed out their electrification plans, they’ve caused an unprecedented rush for lithium. Over the last six months, lithium prices have gone on an epic bull run.

It started in January, when prices jumped to $37,000 per metric ton from $10,000 a month earlier, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. Then it got worse in February, with spot prices rising to $52,000 per metric ton before rising again to $62,000 in March. Things have stabilized since then, but prices are still five times above the average price from 2016 to 2020.

Large companies of all stripes have been racing to secure supplies. Automakers like Ford and Tesla have signed huge contracts, and battery manufacturers and miners are rushing to secure supplies. Last year, for example, a three-way bidding war broke out for Canadian miner Millennial Lithium, which has large reserves in Argentina, and the winning bid ended up more than 40% higher than the initial offer.

Yet, those deals probably won’t be enough to fulfill the predicted demand for lithium, based on automakers’ current plans. Benchmark Mineral Intelligence is expecting demand to grow to 2.4 million metric tons in 2030 from less than 700,000 metric tons today.

Supply won’t be able to keep up given the current pace of new lithium projects.

“By the end of the decade, where we’re at now with the pipeline, we’re going to see significant deficits starting to grow,” said Daisy Jennings-Gray, a senior price analyst at Benchmark.

Last year, lithium supply fell short of demand by more than 60,000 metric tons. Jennings-Gray’s firm predicts that the deficit will be over 150,000 metric tons by 2030. To meet demand, Benchmark says that $42 billion will need to be invested in the space by the end of this decade.

Without new lithium projects coming online, it’ll likely get worse throughout the 2030s. By 2040, the International Energy Agency expects lithium demand to be 42 times higher than it is today.

“It’s an insane number,” said Jordy M. Lee, a program manager at the Payne Institute for Public Policy at the Colorado School of Mines. What’s more, it might even be too low.

“We’ve consistently underestimated how much demand for lithium-ion batteries we’re going to have in the coming years,” he said.

As the rise in demand shows no signs of abating, startups have surged into the space, pitching novel techniques to coax the volatile metal out of the earth.

Look what’s happening online today at TC Sessions: Mobility 2022

Welcome to Online Day at TC Sessions: Mobility 2022! Opportunity knocks just as loud online as it does IRL, but this knock can be heard around the world. You’ll find everything listed in the event agenda, but here’s a quick rundown of what’s in store. Plan your day to reap optimal opportunities!

But first: If you attended the live show in San Mateo, your pass includes access to our online day. Need a ticket? Buy a $65 online-only pass here.

VW’s Path to Become a Global EV and Tech Powerhouse: VW Group CEO Herbert Diess is in a race to transform the automaker into a global leader in software, EV sales and autonomous vehicles. Hear from Diess about the challenges that remain and how VW plans to take the EV crown from Tesla and keep legacy automakers in the rearview mirror.

TechCrunch Mobility Desk Analysis: Get the lowdown on what went down at TC Mobility on days one and two. Hear TC editors offer fresh analysis and see clips from the in-person interviews and presentations.

Speed Networking: Pretty much what it sounds like. A series of random, rapid connections and 3-minute conversations with other attendees based on specific topics. It takes place on CrunchMatch, our AI-powered networking platform. 

Startup Pitch Feedback Sessions 1 and 2: Don’t miss 18 innovative early stage startups as they pitch to TC’s own Jeff Taylor and receive invaluable feedback on ways they can improve.

These intrepid startups all exhibited live for 2 days on the TC Sessions: Mobility expo floor, and we recorded the pitch sessions so you’d have a chance to check ’em out. Watch and learn how you can improve your own pitch. Take a gander at the afternoon’s pitch lineup.

Startup Pitch Feedback Session 1:

Startup Pitch Feedback Session 2:

Opportunity’s knocking today, May 20, online at TC Sessions: Mobility 2022. Don’t have a ticket? Get a move on — buy a pass for $65 right now and get ready to connect with the global mobility community!

Swyft Cities is the winner of the TechCrunch Sessions: Mobility 2022 pitch-off!

TechCrunch is excited to announce Swyft Cities won the TechCrunch Sessions: Mobility 2022 pitch-off and is fast-tracked into the Battlefield 200 at TechCrunch Disrupt in October. Beyond Aero is runner-up.

The Mountain View-based company is committed to improving transportation through the use of autonomous, lightweight, fixed-cable vehicles. The company says that its solution offers a lower cost per mile with fewer carbon emissions than conventional transportation alternatives.


Swyft sees this as a new form of urban mobility that can solve transportation problems in densely developed areas, including corporate campuses, airports, universities and tourism districts. The platform is novel in that the vehicles move on a stationary cable, allowing for new connections that can be added when needed. This adds capacity into an area, allowing higher density and more profitable developments. It also reduces costs on parking and traffic mitigation. In some areas, providing connections within the site can drive high value.

Beyond Aero, based out of Paris/Toulouse, France, is building long-range aircraft powered by hydrogen-electric propulsion. The first aircraft is a zero emission private aircraft (6-9 seat), designed for hydrogen propulsion, flying 1,000 miles in range.

Arrival unveils prototype of dedicated ride-hail vehicle at TC Sessions: Mobility

Arrival, the U.K.-based commercial electric vehicle company, unveiled the first prototype of its purpose-built electric vehicle for ride-hailing on the TechCrunch Sessions: Mobility stage on Thursday. The company, which is perhaps best known for its potentially revolutionary goal of building multiple automated microfactories to produce vehicles regionally and locally rather than one big production line, is building the vehicles in partnership with Uber in the U.K.

Arrival president Avinash Rugoobur, who joined TechCrunch’s Kirsten Korosec onstage on Wednesday, also shared that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Breathe, a U.K. car subscription company, to make the its ride-hail cars available to drivers. In addition to selling vehicles through Breathe, Arrival will also sell the vehicle through its own channels, said Rugoobur, noting that the vehicle isn’t limited to ride-hail.

The partnership with Uber was first announced a year ago, and Arrival revealed the final design of the boxy-yet-sleek electric vehicle, which looks like something between a small van and a hatchback, at the end of 2021, although Rugoobur said the design has changed somewhat since then. Arrival has previously said it hopes to begin production in the third quarter of 2023 at its Charlotte, North Carolina facility.

“We’ve partnered with Uber, and we have the Uber drivers coming in and giving us feedback on the type of vehicles that they want to use and really going through the aches and pains,” said Rugoobur on Thursday. “Right now what happens is you have to buy a vehicle that’s not designed for ride-sharing at all, right? So you buy a regular retail vehicle and then use it as your earner. It’s an asset to you as an Uber driver, but it’s not really built around, it’s not easy to clean, not easy to maintain. The way you think about adding new experiences to that, it’s actually quite limited.”

ArrivalCar_TopDownView

Rendering of Arrival’s ride-hail car. Image Credits: Arrival

The vehicle, which Arrival says has over 200 miles of range, was built with feedback from over a hundred Uber drivers, said Rugoobur, and it shows in the design — huge windows and a massive windshield optimize visibility for the driver, as does a short front overhang and angled nose. The materials Arrival used on the interior, as well as the shapes of the interior components, are all designed around being easy to clean as quickly as possible, according to Rugoobur.

In addition, while there is a touchscreen near the steering wheel that plugs into Uber’s back end (or that of any other ride-hail organization), Arrival’s design is all about simplifying the “sheer amount of digital equipment” that drivers said is “distracting and confusing … and wastes a lot of their time,” said Rugoobur.

The passenger experience is also taken highly into account here, with space for luggage, plenty of legroom and a high-ceilinged moonroof that provides a feeling of airiness.

[gallery ids="2322074,2322075,2322070"]

“Why the shape and size of the vehicle? So the footprint is almost of a Golf but it’s got the seating room of a Maybach,” said Rugoobur. “The reason for that was mobility inside cities where a lot of rides are occurring so having a vehicle that’s a little bit smaller footprint with the right amount of space for the driver and the passenger was critical.”

Rugoobur pointed to the fact that form follows function with the Arrival car. For example, Arrival optimizes for space with design choices like allowing the front passenger seat to fold down and putting all of the components, like the drivetrain, in the center under the fully flat floor of the vehicle.

“We use new composite materials. So we use polypropylene glass fiber instead of metal,” said Rugoobur. “No metal stamping, no paint shops, 100% recyclable material … and then we write all the software, so we get all the data and the code even from the components level.”

Rendering of interior of Arrival's ride-hail car showing steering wheel and touchscreen display for drivers.

Rendering of interior of Arrival’s ride-hail car showing steering wheel and touchscreen display for drivers. Image Credits: Arrival

Being able to collect data from the back end of the vehicle is one of Arrival’s biggest selling points, says Rugoobur, who noted that all information about every component of the vehicle can go to the driver so they can operate their vehicle better and learn how their driver behavior affects things like battery life and total cost of ownership. The data will also be shared with Uber so the ride-hailing company can better optimize its fleet and, of course, back to Arrival so the company can get insights into the performance of things like its battery management system.

Because there’s “two-way communication” between Arrival and the vehicles, the EV startup can use information about how different components are performing and, if necessary, swap in and out damaged hardware or simply upgrade it to keep up with the innovations of tomorrow.

“For the drivers, that reduces the total cost of ownership but also improves the residual value at end of life because you’re refreshing the vehicle,” said Rugoobur. 

“It’s very hard for the traditional players to custom build a vehicle like this, whereas for us, because we’ve essentially created this toolkit of technologies and our factory can produce at different volumes, when typically you would have to produce to 300,000 just for it to make sense from a business perspective, we can do it at a totally different scale and then scale it up as we need,” added the executive.

Arrival’s ride-hail van will be priced somewhere between an internal combustion engine and a competitive electric vehicle, according to Rugoobur. When reminded that most EVs are branded as luxury vehicles and have a steep upfront price, Rugoobur said the target is to make the car “affordable, affordable, not affordable through [total cost of ownership].”

For comparison, General Motors and Honda recently partnered to build an affordable EV, which Honda has said would go for around $30,000.

Earlier this month, Arrival said its planned electric Bus model has achieved certification in the European Union and is conducting closed course trials, with customer models expected to be produced by the second half of this year. The startup also said its Van model is almost through its own certification process and expected to enter production in Q3 of this year.

Arrival expects to produce 400 to 600 Vans plus low-volume production of Buses in the second half of 2022, according to the company’s Q1 2022 earnings report. The report also notes that Arrival has collected a total of 143,000 non-binding letters of intent and orders for its vehicles as of May, including the commitment from UPS to buy up to 10,000 vehicles from the startup in the U.S. and Europe.

Tune in tomorrow for Online Day at TC Sessions: Mobility

The two in-person days of TC Sessions: Mobility may almost be in the rearview mirror, but we’re not done yet. We still have plenty of Mobility action and opportunity waiting for you at our online event tomorrow, May 20. Here’s a quick look at what’s on tap.

All ticket holders have access to our online day. Don’t have a ticket? Buy a $65 online-only pass here.

Whether you attended the event in San Mateo, or you’re tuning in from a remote location, you can catch up on what you missed at the live show with videos on demand and with fresh commentary by TechCrunch Mobility Desk Analysis. TC editors will offer up fresh analysis and show clips from the in-person talks. Then you can watch the full sessions on demand to get the entire perspective and form your own analysis.

Transforming a traditional automotive company into one that leads the world in EVs, autonomous vehicles and the software that drives them is an order of epic proportion. Herbert Diess, the CEO of Volkswagen Group, is the man with a plan to eclipse Tesla. Tune in to hear him discuss the remaining challenges on VW’s Path to Become a Global EV and Tech Powerhouse.

One of the great aspects of an online event such as this is that you can network with anyone, anywhere in the world. We’re going to help make those connections even easier with our Speed Networking session. Through the magic of CrunchMatch, our AI-powered networking platform, you’ll be randomly matched with other attendees (based on mutual interest in specific topics) for a 3-minute conversation. Lather, rinse, repeat and grow your network. 

You will receive an email with details on how to access CrunchMatch when you purchase your event pass. Simply answer a few quick questions about your role, business and areas of interest and you’ll be ready to make quick connections and mine for opportunity.

You’ll also get to watch 18 early stage Mobility startups — all of whom exhibited on the expo floor during the in-person show — bring the heat during our two Startup Pitch Feedback Sessions. Not only will you get to know some amazing startups, but you’ll also walk away with solid tips and advice to help you hone your own pitch.

Don’t miss out on plenty of action and opportunities when TC Sessions: Mobility goes online tomorrow, May 20. Wait, you don’t have a ticket? No worries — buy a pass for $65 today and join us online tomorrow!

Top three takeaways from Nuro’s session at TC Sessions: Mobility

Jiajun Zhu, co-founder and CEO of autonomous robot company Nuro, joined TechCrunch onstage during TC Sessions: Mobility on Wednesday to discuss how the startup aims to revolutionize commercial autonomous delivery.

The company is most well-known for its cute self-driving delivery vehicles, which operate on roads, not sidewalks, and are purpose-built to carry pizzas and packages rather than people. Nuro recently unveiled its third generation electric delivery robot, the Nuro, which it’s building at a new $40 million manufacturing facility and closed-course test track in southern Nevada.

Nuro, which has raised more than $2.13 billion since its founding in 2016, has locked down a range of commercial partners, like Domino’s, Kroger, FedEx and 7 Eleven, and is operating and testing in multiple states.

TechCrunch managing editor Matt Burns sat down with Zhu to talk about Nuro’s path to commercialization, the opportunities and challenges of AV delivery and where the industry, and Nuro, is headed.

Here are three key takeaways from their discussion.

Zhu hints that LA might be Nuro’s next market

Nuro is currently operating and testing in California, Arizona and Texas, with a focus on Houston and the San Francisco Bay Area as the company’s initial markets, according to Zhu. When asked which markets the startup is targeting next, Zhu said Nuro might make an announcement about that soon, but something tells us Los Angeles might be the nearest target.

“We recently announced that we are also doing data collection and mapping in LA,” said Zhu on Wednesday. “Our focus right now is just trying to make the service really, really good and make our customer happy and super excited in our existing markets.”

Nuro announced that it had begun mapping in LA in April, saying in a Medium post that the company would soon begin autonomous vehicle testing in the region using its fleet of Toyota Prius vehicles.

“Over the next few months, Angelenos can expect to see Nuro’s vehicles on public roads, and later this year, we’ll begin testing autonomous driving in specific neighborhoods throughout LA County,” the company said in the post. “While we are not fully deployed in LA, the Nuro vehicles residents may see are laying the foundation for our autonomous delivery service.”

Don’t get attached to the idea of Nuro as a delivery company

“Nuro is really a robotics company,” said Zhu. “We don’t see Nuro as a delivery company or a self-driving car company. Our mission is to better everyday lives through robotics.”

When Dave Ferguson, Nuro’s president and co-founder, and Zhu founded Nuro, it was with the conviction that within 20 years, robots will be everywhere, helping people to have a better life. Choosing to focus on delivery was less about the feeling that delivery was the most important avenue, and more that it would simply be one of the first.

“We looked at all these different verticals and asked ourselves, which one is going to have the biggest impact on a lot of people?” said Zhu. “We have this unique expertise and competence that we can build something that is better than other companies, potentially. Which product can have that impact in a reasonable timeline, not 10 years from now, but something that we can see and a use for in a reasonable timeline?”

For the time being, the market opportunity for transporting goods across various retail verticals allows for Nuro to be an actual business, not just a science experiment. Zhu said Americans take up to 100 billion trips every year for shopping and running errands. Automating that can potentially be a huge time saver for a lot of people. But Nuro hasn’t ruled out other ways to save people time — Zhu said he’s particularly interested in home robots.

“I really want a robot that can fold my laundry in the future,” he said.

The benefits of partnering with auto OEMs on robots

Nuro has partnered with BYD North America on its newest generation delivery robot, and Zhu said it’s designed for manufacturing.

“It is, we believe, the first vehicle that is automotive quality, that will be mass manufactured,” said Zhu. “It has much bigger cargo space based on all the feedback and input that we learned [from previous iterations].”

As Nuro works on getting its self-driving tech up to speed, being able to manufacture vehicles with the backing of a major automaker is critical to scaling and becoming profitable.

Another benefit is being able to include automotive-grade speed and safety features. The Nuro can drive up to 45 miles per hour, which gives it plenty of geographic coverage but eliminates the need to drive on the freeway. It also has safety features like an airbag in the front of the vehicle, rather than on the inside, so it can protect vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists. The Nuro also has active heating and cooling so it can deliver a hot pizza and a cold beer at the same time, said Zhu.

Here’s what’s happening on Day Two of TC Sessions: Mobility 2022

How was your first day at TC Sessions: Mobility 2022? We hope you’re fully caffeinated and ready to roll because day two is packed with groundbreaking tech, opportunities galore and more top-notch programming. Finish your coffee, peruse the event agenda and plan your day.

We took the liberty of highlighting just some of the presentations you won’t want to miss. Enjoy the adventure!

Ready for a road trip? Audi spin-off Holoride’s got your entertainment needs covered — and you don’t have to wait for full autonomy, either. Its in-car VR system turns every vehicle into a moving theme park — and it rolls out in Audi cars as early as this summer. Nils Wollny, Holoride’s co-founder and CEO, will talk about where technologies — like VR, blockchain, NFTs and cryptocurrency — fit in the automotive space.

Buckle up for a fascinating look at automotive cybersecurity. In 2015, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek famously hacked and took control of a Jeep Cherokee. Today the duo — undisputed leaders in the cybersecurity industry — hold top security roles at Cruise, the self-driving company backed by GM. They join us onstage to discuss the ever-changing security risks associated with today’s connected cars — and tomorrow’s robotaxis. 

Don’t miss the moment when Arrival’s prototype finally, well, arrives. Last year the company announced a partnership with Uber in the U.K. The plan? Design and build an affordable, electric vehicle purpose-built for ride-hailing. This is the first public debut of the prototype before the vehicle (here’s hoping) enters production. Arrival president Avinash Rugoobur will talk about the prototype’s design process and other projects either in the pipeline or right around the corner.

A solid pitch is essential if you want to fund your startup dream. Grab your preferred note-taking device and head over to the TechCrunch Mobility pitch-off. Dozens of the industry’s brightest mobility entrepreneurs will bring the heat and pitch to a live audience — and a panel of expert VCs who will then offer invaluable feedback. Watch. Listen. Learn. 

Forget about knights — they’re so sixth century. We’ve got Entrepreneurs of the Roundtable. Well, roundtables. Check out the three we have on tap today.

  • The future of fleets: While vehicle fleets represent a significant opportunity to achieve scale quickly in green mobility, the customer is different from other commercial and industrial customers. Join Doug Davenport, the founder and executive director of ProspectSV, for a discussion about the needs of institutional customers and how to win in this unique market.
  • Sustainable mobility in emerging markets: Optimizing people, planet and profit through technology: Join Damilola Olokesusi, the CEO and co-founder of Shuttlers — a tech-driven transportation startup in the highly congested Lagos and Abuja metropolis — for a discussion on long-term transportation sustainability. The focus? How technology can optimize three key pillars — people, planet and profit — to help raise awareness of, and offer solutions to, the shortcomings of transportation technology in emerging markets.
  • Why you can’t build a new EV in corporate America: Gas-powered cars and motorcycles have been around for more than a hundred years. During that time, auto brands and major corporations have gained a wealth of capital and experience. Talk about an entrenched legacy. But with the major push for electrification, that legacy is a bit of a crutch. Join Richard Meaux, COO of Exro Technologies, to learn and discuss why electrification requires a huge shift in mindset. And that shift has corporate America learning from nimble tech startups working with the latest electrification tech and thinking way beyond “how things have been done.”

That’s day two of TC Sessions: Mobility 2022 in a nutshell. Wait, you don’t have a ticket? No worries — you can still buy a pass for as little as $65. See you there!

 

ChargeLab’s software layer to power ABB’s EV chargers in North America

ChargeLab, a Toronto-based startup that builds software to operate and optimize electric vehicle charging equipment for fleets and commercial customers, has raised a $15 million Series A round. The round was led by King River Capital and notably includes participation from strategic investor ABB E-Mobility, a spinoff of technology company ABB that focuses on electric mobility and building charging stations.

As part of ChargeLab’s commercial agreement with ABB, the two companies will launch a bundled hardware and software solution for fleets, multifamily buildings and other commercial EV charging use cases, according to Zak Lefevre, founder and CEO of ChargeLab. While the partnership with ABB will certainly give ChargeLab the resources it needs to build out and scale its enterprise software, Lefevre noted that ABB’s interest in ChargeLab stems from the company’s need for a better out-of-the-box software in North America.

“The reality is that ABB has a device with the capability to connect to the internet, but they haven’t built those back-end services for connecting it, managing it, doing billing and payments, scheduling and power management and all those things,” Lefevre told TechCrunch. “So we are very much in that transition phase where everybody’s making their devices ready to connect to the cloud, but these big hardware companies haven’t necessarily thought through what all the second order consequences are and all the other systems that chargers are going to need to plug out to, whether it’s a parking management system or demand response system to the grid.”

ChargeLab’s core product is its cloud-based charging station management system, which provides apps for EV drivers, dashboards for fleet managers and open APIs for third-party system integration. The hardware-agnostic software, which runs on the edge and in the cloud, also includes capabilities like automated monitoring of chargers, management of pricing and access rules, payment processing and electrical load balancing, according to the company.

The startup’s latest funding round, which also included existing investors like Construct Capital, Root Ventures, Highline Beta, Third Sphere and Maple VC, will help the company go from its seed stage-level solution of connecting chargers and controlling them in the cloud to more advanced milestones. 

“Is that going to be SOC 2 compliant? Is it going to be scalable across hundreds of thousands of devices?” Lefevre said.  “ABB is selling to the biggest fleets and the biggest enterprises in the world. Are we going to be able to bundle with ABB and meet those needs?”

(SOC 2 is a voluntary compliance standard developed by the American Institute of CPAs which specifies how organizations should manage customer data.)

ChargeLab’s software is embedded onto chargers, which helps ensure those chargers are not only secure but also efficient and working flawlessly on the back end, co-founder and chief technology officer Ehsan Mokhtari told TechCrunch.

“And that ties into the security side of things. EV chargers will be a target of cybersecurity attacks as they are connected, so we are very active and in front of it,” said Mokhtari. “We already formed the InfoSec team within the ChargeLab company, as well as advanced techniques to handle offline behavior and self healing for these chargers. So that is really top of mind for us to build products and take them to market with our partners.”

Aside from ABB, ChargeLab works with EV charger manufacturers like Phihong, United Chargers, Siemens and Tritium. The startup’s tech is also white-labeled by charging networks like Girardin Energy, TurnOnGreen and EVStart. Lefevre says ChargeLab’s software is currently inside thousands of devices in North America, but has yet to surpass the 10,000 charger mark. That said, Lefevre says the EV charging industry is growing exponentially, which means the market opportunity is massive.

NHTSA probes Tesla Autopilot crash that killed three people

A U.S. federal agency is investigating a crash involving a 2022 Tesla Model S that may have been operating in Autopilot during a crash that killed three people.

Autopilot is Tesla’s advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) that performs automated functions such as steering, accelerating and automatic braking. Bloomberg first reported on the news.

The accident, which happened earlier this month, occurred in Newport Beach, California when the Tesla hit a curb and slammed into construction equipment, leaving the car totaled. This is one of more than 30 crashes being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), all of which potentially have involved Autopilot. Out of the 35 special crash investigations into Tesla since 2016 involving the electric vehicle company’s ADAS, Autopilot has been ruled out only in three.

A total of 14 crash deaths have been reported in those investigations.

This month’s collision is the 42nd included in NHTSA’s special crash investigation of ADAS systems like Autopilot, a probe that began in 2016 after a fatal accident in Florida involving another Tesla Model S that had Autopilot activated.

While Tesla’s website says that “Current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous,” the company’s branding has been accused of misleading drivers of their vehicles’ capabilities. Simply by choosing names like Autopilot and “full self-driving software,” which is Tesla’s newer, more advanced ADAS, the company lulls drivers into a false sense of security despite the fact that its technology is nowhere near full self-driving.