🚕 Rise of the robotaxi
Thursday, October 7, 2021 by Snacks
Robotaxi drivers tell great jokes [Igor Alecsander/E+ via Getty Images]
Yesterday’s Market Moves
The perfect opportunity to put your Khaleesi costume back on again has come: HBO just teased a fiery new “Game of Thrones” prequel series, set to release next year.
Stocks posted a comeback yesterday, with all three major indices turning positive following news that Congress might reach a deal to raise its borrowing limit and prevent a default.
Putting the EV in rEVolution… General Motors kicked off a two-day investor event yesterday by outlining bold plans to double annual revenue to $280B by 2030. GM says all its cars will be electric by 2035, and its eHummer goes on sale this fall. But EVs are only the start: GM says growth will come from services, like its fleet of Chevy Bolt autonomous EV taxis.
Your robotaxi has arrived… And it’s powered by GM. Cruise — an AV startup majority-owned by GM that counts Honda, Walmart, Microsoft, and Softbank as investors — is key to GM’s software-centric strategy. Here’s why:
- Cruising past Waymo: Cruise became the first robotaxi biz permitted to collect fares with no safety driver last month, beating Google-owned robotaxi rival Waymo.
- Robo-revenue: GM, which already signed a deal to sell a robotaxi fleet to Dubai, says robotaxi revenue will soon hit $50B — more than 30% of GM’s 2020 sales. Cruise was last valued at $19B in 2019, and Waymo at $30B in 2020.
- Connected everything: Robotaxis are just one application of GM’s auto tech. Walmart already uses Cruise self-driving tech to deliver groceries, and GM plans to launch in-car subscriptions through its Ultifi operating system in 2023.
Tech-enabled mobility platforms > car companies... even EV car companies. Tesla is worth 10X GM — even though it delivered 10X fewer cars last year — because investors value Tesla like a tech company, not like a carmaker. Now GM’s gunning for its own sky-high tech valuation by investing big bucks to take Tesla’s crown as America’s EV giant. But since that could take years, GM is also tapping revenue streams Tesla hasn’t touched, like robotaxis and driverless delivery services.
Greener nav bar… Google unveiled several new eco-friendly features to help its 1B+ users make more sustainable lifestyle choices. They launch first in the US but will expand to Europe next year. The suite:
- Shop: When searching for a new dishwasher, you might see water-saving models pop up alongside regular results in the Shopping tab.
- Drive: Google Maps will offer an alternative “green leaf” route that shows how much gas you could save with minimal extra time.
- Fly: See how much carbon is emitted in every Google Flights route before booking your next getaway.
- Nest: Google’s thermostat can automatically heat or cool your home based on when renewable energy is available.
Big user base = big responsibility… Google reaches more than 10% of the Earth’s population through its enormous range of hardware products (Pixel phones, robotaxis) and digital tools (Chrome, Android, Google TV). But its wide reach comes at a jolting cost:
- 12.4 terawatts: How much electricity Google uses to keep its network afloat. That’s nearly as much as the Dominican Republic uses, and it’s growing.
- Other tech giants like Facebook and Apple have committed to zero-carbon or carbon-neutral initiatives, but have yet to roll out similar features for users.
- Criticism is mounting against big corporations accused of putting climate responsibility in the hands of individuals instead of their own.
A “nudge” in the sustainable direction… may be a key strategy for consumer companies facing pressure to go green. The gist of the “nudge theory” in behavioral research is that encouraging individuals to take an action is more effective than eliminating all other options. It’s why Google is suggesting sustainable options instead of picking them for you. Now that most people are seeking more eco-friendly lifestyle options, nudges could be the way that companies get their customers to go green.
What else we’re Snackin’
- Forgive: The Biden administration overhauled the US student loan forgiveness program, making it easier for teachers, nurses, and service members to get relief.
- Rebut: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg publicly disputed recent media reports and whistleblower testimony, which claimed that FB prioritized profits over user safety.
- Game: A data breach revealed that 80+ of the highest-earning gamers on Amazon-owned video-game streaming platform Twitch have earned $1M since 2019.
- Plant: Packaged-food giant Hormel teamed up with the alt-protein company The Better Meat Co. to launch a line of plant-based products.
- Army: Shares of Palantir spiked 10% after the data-analytics giant announced an indefinite contract to provide its Gotham Platform software to the US Army.
- Tip: California passed a law requiring food-delivery giants like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub to pay out 100% of tips to gig workers.
- Weekly jobless claims
- Earnings expected from Helen of Troy, Conagra, Lamb Weston, and Tilray
Authors of this Snacks own shares of: Google and Apple