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EV bus and truck maker The Lion Electric to take SPAC route to public markets

Canadian electric truck and bus manufacturer The Lion Electric Company said Monday it plans to become a publicly traded company via a merger with special purpose acquisition company Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp.
The combined company, which will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange, will have a valuation of $1.9 billion. The companies raised $200 million in private investment in public equity, or PIPE, and hold about $320 million in cash proceeds.
The deal is the latest example of an electric automaker opting to go public via a SPAC merger in an aim to access the level of capital needed to become …

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The EPA says the Ford Mustang Mach-E’s electric range is a lackluster 211-300 miles

The EPA just released its findings on the Mustang Mach-E, and it’s a mixture of good news and bad news. Depending on the model, the EPA says the Mach-E is good for just 211 miles to 300 miles on a charge. On the one hand, the Mach-E matched Ford’s range target, with the EPA agreeing with Ford’s range. On the other hand, the range is well under that found in competing vehicles, which puts the Mach-E on its backfoot as it enters the competitive electric vehicle market. Ford dropped the price of the Mach-E in September.

The Mach-E will come in two powertrain variants: standard-range and extended-range, with both options available in a dual-motor, AWD setup. The extended-range option nets buyers an additional 60-70 miles of range, with this option delivering 270 miles for the AWD version and 300 for the RWD version. The standard range Mach-E comes in at 211 miles for AWD and 230 miles for RWD.

Those figures are nearly identical to what Ford targeted with the Mach-E, signaling the automaker’s improving engineering quality.

With a max range of 400 miles on a two-wheel-drive model, the Mach-E range falls well short of the Tesla Model 3 or Polestar 2, available in 400 mile-range variants for similar prices as the Mustang Mach-E.

The Mustang Mach-E is Ford’s first major electric vehicle. Customers will start taking delivery of pre-orders this December. The vehicle is launching in a space that’s increasingly becoming more competitive. Along with Tesla, the Mustang Mach-E must sell against the fantastic Polestar 2, Audi’s growing line of electric vehicles, and Kia/Hyundai’s affordable electric crossovers. Some have longer range, and others are less expensive than Ford’s first EV.

The Mustang Mach-E is just the start of Ford’s electric offering, and the automaker likely understood the range would fall short of the market leaders. The goal is seemingly to kick off Ford’s EV stable with an exciting, affordable vehicle, and the Mach-E seems to fit that role despite the short range.

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Rivian is making its hands-free driver assistance system standard in ‘every vehicle’ it builds

Electric automaker Rivian will makes its hands-free driver assistance system standard in every vehicle it builds, including its first two vehicles — the RT1 pickup truck and R1S SUV — that are coming to market in 2021.

Details about the system, which is branded as Driver+, was just one of numerous new bits of information released Wednesday on its website, including prices and specs on its R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV.

Rivian said the driver assistance system will automatically steer, adjust speed and change lanes on command. The capabilities of the system that Rivian describes suggests it is a Level 2 system as designated by SAE International. Level 2 means the system can perform two or more parts of the driving task under supervision of the driver. To support this level of driving, the system will be powered by two redundant compute platforms, 12 ultrasonic sensors, 10 exterior cameras, five radars and high-precision GPS. This essentially gives the vehicle 360-camera and radar visibility. It’s a robust suite of hardware that exceeds what Tesla uses for its driver assistance system. The hardware suite is similar to GM’s hands-free Super Cruise system, with the exception that Rivian appears to have more cameras.

Rivian is also placing a driver-monitoring system that includes a cabin-facing camera in its vehicles to ensure that drivers keep their eyes on the road when the system is engaged. Initially, the hands-free system will only be available on select highways and will then expand over time — improvements achieved via over-the-air software updates — to include a broader geographic area and more road types. This is similar to GM’s approach with its hands-free Super Cruise system, which was initially limited to certain divided highways and eventually expanded.

While there are a number of automakers with Level 2 systems, they vary in capability. GM’s hands-free Super Cruise and Tesla’s Autopilot systems are considered some of the most capable and easy to use, per a recent Consumer Reports evaluation of driver assistance systems. However, Tesla’s system scored lower overall because it lacks a driver monitoring system that makes sure the driver is alert and paying attention to the road.

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Polestar recalls its newest EV for the second time this month

Polestar, the electric vehicle brand that was spun out of Volvo Car Group, has issued another recall for its newest electric vehicle.

The company is voluntarily recalling nearly 4,600 vehicles over what has been described as faulty inverters, Reuters reported. Polestar said in a statement that all affected customers will be notified, beginning November 2.

“The recall involves the replacement of faulty inverters on most delivered customer vehicles,” Polestar said in its statement, adding that the inverters transform the stored energy in the battery into the power required by the electric motors. 

The required hardware can be done in a single service visit, according to the company. Vehicles in North America were not affected by the recall, a spokesperson told TechCrunch. Vehicles in Switzerland were also not affected.

The company also said the vehicles require service for its High Voltage Coolant Heater (HVCH). The HVCH is responsible for both cabin and high voltage battery heating. Faulty parts fitted to early production cars need to be replaced, the company said. The total number of affected vehicles delivered to customers is 3,150.

“As part of the actions required by the recall and service campaign, all vehicles will also be upgraded to be compatible with forthcoming Over-The-Air (OTA) updates,” the company said. “This will allow Polestar to push new software directly to Polestar 2 vehicles when OTA updates are available.”

Polestar, which in 2017 was recast as an electric performance brand aimed at producing exciting and fun-to-drive electric vehicles, started production this spring of its all-electric Polestar 2 vehicle at a plant in China. The production start was a milestone for the company that is jointly owned by Volvo Car Group and Zhejiang Geely Holding of China.

However, the company has faced some early headwinds. Polestar made its last recall on October 2 after several cars had abruptly stopped while driving. “This happened in very, very rare cases,” Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said during an interview at TC Sessions: Mobility 2020, which was held in October. Ingenlath said at the time that none of the reported cases happened in the United States, nor were any of the affected vehicles involved in an accident. That issue was fixed with a software update.

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Polestar CEO defends the Polestar 2’s recall and 233-mile EPA rating

Polestar is a young automaker spun out of Volvo and Geely. Now, just four years old, it has two cars on the market with more launching soon. Like many startups, the company is weathering early storms coming from government regulators and early recalls.

Earlier this week, the EPA released its findings on the Polestar 2’s electric range, certifying it as capable of traveling 233 miles on a charge. That’s about 90 miles less on a charge than the competing Tesla Model 3. Read our early impressions here.

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Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath spoke at TechCrunch Sessions: Mobility shortly after the EPA released its range guidance. In short, he said Polestar knows drivers see real-world results that exceed the EPA’s range.

“We know what the car does in reality,” Ingenlath said. “We know in reality, what might look like a very big difference, is not that much of a difference in real life. We think it’s definitely sufficient for day-to-day life as an EV. It’s one of our versions, and we will be adding different variants to the Polestar 2 that will have a higher EPA [rating]. I think [the range] is absolutely in the ballpark of competing EVs that is really good for you 365 days a year.”

Ingenlath concedes his company is not beating Tesla in range, but encourages side-by-side comparisons in the real world. What looks like a large difference on paper is much less in practice. And he says a longer-range version is on the way.

“Next year, in 2021, we have in our plans to come out with a single motor version,” Ingenlath said. “This will, of course, provide a better range with the same battery. And, of course, along the way, we’ll have software improvements that will give more efficiency with the same kilowatt-hours battery.

“We are on a journey,” he said. “That is where we start, and it will get better from month to month.”

Ingenlath also addressed the Polestar 2’s recent full recall over vehicles that abruptly stopped while driving. “This happened in very, very rare cases,” he said, adding there are only 2,200 Polestar 2’s on the market, and none of the reported cases happened in the United States. None of the affected vehicles were involved in an accident.

The issue is being fixed with a software update.

“We have many things to learn, and as a company, improve,” Ingenlath said. “We are a startup that’s fresh out. And of course, you cannot expect everything to go smoothly. We have to improve, and our customers have to be with us on the way. And I think it’s a really great standard that the car industry, actually, does very early recalls to make sure no one gets into a problem.”

He says he doesn’t see a big issue with the early recall. Instead, he says, he’s now focusing on ensuring the company excels at customer service when interacting with a Polestar 2 owner around the recall.

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