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Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving arm, raises $2.5B in second external investment round

Waymo, Google’s former self-driving project that is now a business unit under Alphabet, said Wednesday it raised $2.5 billion in its second outside funding round. The company said in a blog post it will use the funds to continue growing Waymo Driver, its autonomous driving platform, and growing its team.

The round saw participation from existing investors Alphabet, Andreessen Horowitz, AutoNation, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Magna International, Mubadala Investment Company, Perry Creek Capital, Silver Lake, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., Temasek, and additional investor Tiger Global.

The news comes only a few months after former CEO John Krafcik announced in April that he was stepping down from leading the company after five years in the position. The CEO position is now being held jointly by Tekedra Mawakana, former COO, and Dmitri Dolgov, who joined the original self-driving project at Google and was CTO.

Krafcik led the company through its first external $2.25 billion investment round in March 2020. That round was later expanded by $700 million a few months later. But Krafcik could be a polarizing figure in the company, as TechCrunch’s Kirsten Korosec noted.

In addition to its Waymo One commercial ride-hailing service, which operates in the Metro Phoenix, Arizona area, the company has continued to build out its Waymo Via trucking and cargo transportation service. Earlier this month Waymo announced it was entering a “test run” with J.B. Hunt for transportation services between Houston and Fort Worth.

Polestar to build its first all-electric SUV in the United States

Polestar, Volvo Car Group’s standalone electric performance brand, will manufacture its first all-electric SUV in the United States.

The automaker said Wednesday that the Polestar 3 will be assembled at a plant shared with Volvo Cars at a factory in Ridgeville, South Carolina. The Polestar 3 follows the all-electric Polestar 2 sedan and the hybrid grand tourer Polestar 1. Production of Polestar 3 is expected to begin globally in 2022.

Polestar COO Dennis Nobelius said production in the U.S. will reduce delivery times, the environmental impact associated with shipping vehicles around the world and the price of the Polestar 3.

“All of this makes the brand even more competitive in the critical American sales market,” Nobelius said.

Polestar also plans to open around 25 retail spaces in the United States this year, where customers can take test drives, free pick-up and delivery servicing and mobile service.

The Polestar 3 is being built for U.S. customers, making this the first vehicle from the brand to be manufactured in the country. The announcement comes two months since Polestar raised $550 million in its first external round led by Chongqing Chengxing Equity Investment Fund Partnership, Zibo Financial Holding and Zibo Hightech Industrial Investment. SK Inc., the South Korean global conglomerate, and a range of other investors also participated.

Polestar was once a high-performance brand under Volvo Cars. In 2017, the company was recast as an electric performance brand aimed at producing exciting and fun-to-drive electric vehicles — a niche that Tesla was the first to fill and has dominated ever since. Polestar is jointly owned by Volvo Car Group and Zhejiang Geely Holding of China. Volvo was acquired by Geely in 2010.

Since its launch, Polestar has opened a manufacturing facility in China, built a global sales and distribution operation, and launched two vehicles, the Polestar 1 and the all-electric Polestar 2.

Polestar (sort of) reveals new SUV, its first U.S.-made electric vehicle

Polestar (sort of) reveals new SUV, its first U.S.-made electric vehicle

Polestar, an electric spinoff brand from Volvo and China-based Geely, is making its third EV next year. It’ll be called, predictably, the Polestar 3. But unlike its first two cars, this will be Polestar’s first SUV. 

On Wednesday, the EV company released the first official photo of the third electric car, giving a very obscured glimpse to the size and shape of the compact SUV. The Polestar 1 is a sleek hybrid sports car, while the Polestar 2 is a small sedan with more than 250-mile range that starts just under $60,000.

The Polestar 3 will also be the first car the company will manufacture in the U.S. Its first two cars were made in China. The 3 will be made at the Volvo Cars production center in Ridgeville, South Carolina.  Read more…

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