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EV/AV Report: August 31, 2020

Toronto, Ontario — In this week’s EV/AV Report, we see two new collaborations in the EV landscape, and General Motors forms an EV-dedicated engineering team. 

 EV ENGINEERING TEAM

General Motors is switching the engineers who created the mid engine Chevrolet Corvette to its electric vehicle team in a bid to add to its upcoming EVs some of the sports car’s high-performance panache.

Effective Sept. 1, the Corvette’s engineering team is moving from GM’s global product programs umbrella to its autonomous and electric vehicles program, led by Morris, according to an internal memo from Doug Parks, executive vice president of global product development and purchasing and supply chain.

GM has pledged $20 billion for EVs and autonomous vehicles through 2025 and plans to launch 20 EVs globally by 2023. As GM aims to electrify its portfolio, it has few reference points. Technology continues to evolve, and EV production is still relatively low across the industry. Corvette engineers and designers faced a similar issue when they developed the first mid engine version of the sports car and worked through several concurrent proposals over more than a year to get it right.

Tadge Juechter will remain executive chief engineer for global Corvette on the new team, while Ed Piatek, the Corvette’s chief engineer, will become chief engineer of future product, reporting to Juechter. Josh Holder, Corvette program engineering manager, will replace Piatek as chief engineer for global Corvette. InsideEVs reported the moves earlier Thursday.

There has been some speculation that Chevy will launch an electric Corvette, especially after Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said in a campaign video this month that GM would build an electric Corvette that goes 200 mph, but Chevy hasn’t yet confirmed those plans. 

COLLABORATION STATION

Self-driving startup Pony.ai announced an agreement with Bosch, a leading global supplier of technology and services, today to explore the future of automotive maintenance and repair for autonomous fleets.

One of many opportunities in the autonomous driving space is the continuous operation of a fleet, and the reduction of downtime. Pony.ai and Bosch’s Automotive Aftermarket division in North America plan to develop and pilot innovative fleet maintenance solutions to enable the efficient and scalable operation of future commercial autonomous fleets. Bosch has a long-standing reputation in vehicle maintenance and operates the Bosch Car Service network which will turn one hundred years in 2021. The Bosch Car Service network is the oldest and largest automotive repair and maintenance network with over 20,000 locations across the world. 

“High operational efficiency and fleet uptime is crucial to unlock the full economic potential of large-scale robotaxi fleets,” said Matthias Tan, director of product and partnerships at Pony.ai. “Autonomous vehicles are incredibly complex and continuously evolving systems which need to be maintained to the highest standards possible. We needed a partner who was capable of delivering high quality fleet maintenance services, and wanted to seize the opportunity for joint innovation in fleet management solutions for autonomous vehicles.” 

With over one thousand locations in North America, the Bosch Car Service network provides a unique footprint for national and local fleet operators. Famous for its quality and sophistication, the network of independent operators acts on the highest industry standards and is well known for having members that lead and set industry maintenance benchmarks on luxury, high performance and new technology vehicles across the whole U.S. 

An industry dominated by a fragmented software landscape and high labor shortage, the automotive maintenance market has a strong compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.36 percent outgrowing the overall aftermarket industry CAGR of 4 percent.

Tan adds, “As a fleet operator, Pony.ai needs partners that not only provide quality and service excellence, but also the drive to adapt to our needs as we scale our fleet operations. Starting here in the Bay Area, Pony.ai and Bosch aim to test the readiness and operational efficiency to steer a fully autonomous multi-platform fleet with the highest uptime in the industry. We know the best way to scale and keep our fleet on the highest service standard is by utilizing an alliance with a network that has global reach and a strong technology backbone.”

SPAC AND CANOO

Canoo, an electric vehicle startup, has announced a deal to merge with Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company. 

This is the fourth time this summer an electric vehicle company has skipped the traditional IPO path and instead opted for a merger agreement with a SPAC. Nikola, Fisker and Lordstown Motors have all also opted for this option. 

Canoo started as Evelozcity in 2017, until they rebranded as Canoo in 2019 and debuted its first vehicle last September. The first Canoo vehicles will be offered as subscription and are planned to appear on the road by 2022.  

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