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The future of electric cars could be recycled bottles and reclaimed fishing nets

The future of electric cars could be recycled bottles and reclaimed fishing nets

Volvo’s sub-brand Polestar announced a new concept car on Tuesday: the Precept. Instead of focusing on crazy performance numbers, Polestar  instead chose to show off its vision for sustainability. 

The Polestar Precept is a four-door, electric sedan with a distinctively sporty look, but the company did not share any figures with regards to its power, acceleration, range, or battery capacity. 

The future of electric cars could be recycled bottles and reclaimed fishing nets

Image: polestar

We did learn a lot about how Volvo tried to reduce the car’s environmental impact. That includes seat surfaces 3D-knitted from recycled PET bottles, bolsters and headrests made from recycled cork vinyl, and carpets made from reclaimed fishing nets.  Read more…

More about Volvo, Sustainability, Polestar, Polestar Precept, and Tech

Tradeshift cuts headcount by three figures in effort to turn towards profitability

Last month Tradeshift, a platform for supply chain payments which has achieved unicorn startups in recent years, had some good news and some bad news. It announced a Series F funding round of $240 million in equity and debt, raised from a combination of existing and new investors. It’s now raised a total of $661M since it started in 2008 and investors include Goldman Sachs, Principal Strategic Investments and Wipro Ventures among others.

The new funding came, despite talk of a possible IPO last year. In effect, this new funding round was an admission by the company that it was delaying any IPO and setting the company “on a direct path to profitability in the near future,” which is exactly the kinds of noises many larger tech firms have made in the wake of the WeWork and Peleton issues with the public markets.

During that announcement CEO and co-founder Christian Lanng also admitted that the drive toward profitability would mean a cost-cutting exercise ahead of any possible IPO.

Lanng said this would likely mean reducing headcount in its expensive San Francisco offices, but reallocating resources and talent to locations where that is more affordable.

The company has many no formal announcement about the detail on that, but yesterday we got confirmation from the European tech press that the cuts were indeed starting to bite.

The Danish version of ComputerWorld reported that the staffing cuts have now run into 3 figures and were conducted in mid-January.

The cuts came from headcount at the company’s offices in Copenhagen, San Francisco and other offices.

Mikkel Hippe Brun, a co-founder of Tradeshift and head of the company’s Asian business, confirmed the information to Computerworld, but indicated that “there are still some consultations around the world, where we are subject to different rules about notifications and opportunities to raise objections.”

However, he said that the company still has more than 1,000 employees worldwide, which is “significantly more employees” than two years ago.

At the same time, the company has also brought in new executives from SAP, Oracle and Microsoft, among others, as the company tightens its belt, according to ComputerWorld.

Tradeshift has an impressive array of investors such as Goldman Sachs, although it’s notable that this doesn’t include any of the usual round of typical SaaS-oriented Valley VCs.

Tradeshift customers have included Air France KLM, Kuehne + Nagel International AG, DHL, Fujitsu, HSBC, Siemens, Société Générale, Unilever, and Volvo.

Amazon-backed Rivian will integrate Alexa into its electric pickup and SUV

Rivian will integrate Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa into the R1T pickup and R1S SUV, the company’s first electric vehicles that are set to debut at the end of the year.

Rivian said Monday it plans to also extend the Alexa integration to 100,000 electric delivery trucks that Amazon has ordered from the automaker. The electric vans are expected to start delivering packages to customers in 2021.

The integration into the R1T and R1S will give owners access to standard Alexa features such as playing music, placing calls and navigations as well as the ability to control the climate, open and closing the trunk and other vehicle features using their voice.

Rivian said it plans to give Alexa other capabilities designed for its vehicles. For instance, owners will be able to remotely tap into the camera embedded in Rivian pickup truck from Amazon screen-based services like Echo Show and Fire TV to check on whatever gear is stashed there.  The integration will also allow access to certain Alexa features when the vehicle is offline, a decision meant to match up with how these vehicles might be used.

Rivian’s vision is to enable exploration without compromises and provide our owners the best digital experience, no matter where their adventure takes them,” said Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe. “We want this to be the most comprehensive, most seamless Alexa integration in the market.”

The Rivian announcement made ahead of CES 2020 is the latest to illustrate Amazon’s continued push into the automotive world. Lamborghini also announced Monday plans to bring Alexa to its Huracán EVO sports car.

Amazon has been moving into the car for a few years now through the integration of Alexa and car-focused delivery services, as well as its direct investment  Rivian. The e-commerce company also launched its Amazon Key service to let customers give delivery drivers access to their house with the help of a compatible keypad on their door and a smart security camera. But in 2018, that service expanded to the car with its Key by Amazon In-Car delivery service.

GM and Volvo were the first participants in the Key by Amazon In-Car delivery service. Ford joined the in-car delivery service in April 2019.