toyota e-palette mobility

Amazon Restaurants Closes for Good, Uber Eats Drone Service Almost Ready to Begin Deliveries, Self-Driving Car Service Investments on the Rise

This Week in Mobility – June 14, 2019

This week, Amazon Restaurants closes because it couldn’t compete with Uber Eats and Grubhub, rumors fly that Uber is in the final stages of its drone delivery service program, and 400,000 new bikes are coming to the Chinese province of Canton.

Amazon Restaurants Shuts Down Delivery Service

Amazon announced this week that it is shutting down its food delivery service Amazon Restaurants on June 24. Experts speculate that fierce competition among major players like Uber Eats, Grubhub, and Postmates made it impossible for Amazon to gain any market share.

While it’s unusual for Amazon to back down from a fight, we believe that this is a smart move for the retail giant. By only allowing Prime members to participate in the service, they limited their ability to compete. Amazon Restaurants began in Seattle and expanded to over 20 cities. They closed down their London operation back in 2018.

Uber Eats Drone Service May Begin Deliveries This Summer

Just weeks after Amazon announced its Prime Air package delivery service would begin this summer, Uber had an announcement of its own.

The company is seeking FAA approval for a drone food delivery service in San Diego. If all goes well, deliveries would begin this summer in San Diego. The drones would not deliver food directly to customers but would deliver food to a landing spot. Uber Eats drivers would pick up the orders and take it directly to the customers.

Uber Eats is already a leader in the food delivery market. If all goes well with the drone delivery service, this could be the break they need to beat out Grubhub for the number one spot. It will be interesting to see how this develops and if any other food delivery services begin copying their idea.

Toyota and Softbank Invest in New Self-Driving Service

Toyota and Softbank announced they are investing in a new self-driving service called Monet that’s slated to open in 2020.

Monet will begin operating in Southeast Asia. The company plans to begin by rolling out on demand bus and car services in Japan next year, with an expansion into electric vehicles by 2023. Toyota and Honda already own a 10% stake in the company.

Will Monet become enough of a major player to compete with other Softbank-funded companies like Uber and Didi? Only time will tell. Softbank executives noted they are not worried about the competition, since Monet is funded by Softbank Corp., and their potential competitors are funded by the Softbank Vision Fund.

It will be interesting to see how much ground Monet gains over the next five years. With investors like Honda, Toyota, and Softbank, they are likely to gain a significant amount of market share once they begin operations.


Self-Driving Car Startup Aurora Gains Significant Investments

Hyundai announced it is investing in the self-driving car service startup Aurora. The investment is part of a Series B round of funding that includes over $600 million in investments from other companies, including Amazon and T. Rowe Price Associates.

Aurora creates sensors, data services, and software for manufacturers to integrate into their vehicles. The details of the deal with Hyundai are scarce, but Techcrunch reports Aurora is working with both Hyundai and Kia to integrate Aurora’s “Driver” package into Hyundai’s flagship fuel cell vehicle NEXO.

Aurora has worked with a variety of manufacturers including Volkswagen and Chrysler Fiat. Though they ended their partnership with Volkswagen, they are still working with Chrysler to integrate their software into commercial vehicles.

As the race for a Level 5 autonomous vehicle continues, it is clear that Aurora will become a major player in the space. By partnering with manufacturers like Hyundai, they are likely to help fuel the innovation needed to take autonomous vehicles to the next level.

Chinese Government Grants Permission for More Bike Rentals in Canton

Three of China’s largest bike rental services ― Mobike, Hellobike, and Qingju ― obtained permission from the Chinese government in the city of Guangzhou.

This is great news after a ban on new rental bikes stifled the growth of bicycle rental services in the city. One rental service was left out in the cold ― Ofo, which defaulted on its debts in 2018 is no longer allowed to operate. The bikes are still scattered along city streets and angry customers are waiting for their deposits to be returned.

The three operators that received permission to increase their fleets are only allowed to operate in six districts of the city and have quotas for the number of bikes they are allowed to add.

While bike rental is exploding in the US, other countries are starting to see the downside of micro-mobility services. We’ve reported before on the problems with legislation, scooter-related crashes, and data collection associated with these types of trips.

Though China is starting to loosen their grip on the number of vehicles these services can add, other major cities around the world will hopefully follow their example.


Lyft IPO S1

Lyft Files For IPO, Lime Undefines, & Uber Looking For A Bird (Or Lime)?

This Week In On Demand — Dec. 7, 2018

From Uber to Instacart, the big players in the on demand industries refuse to rest this holiday season.

Luckily, we’re bringing all the top headlines to one convenient spot. Grab a seat — here’s what has been happening this week in on demand.

Lyft Files To Go Public

Yesterday, Lyft announced that it had filed a draft S-1 Form with the Securities and Exchange Commission relating to its proposed initial public offering. While the number of shares and offering price has not been determined, the IPO is expected to take place in Q1 of 2019.

Lyft was valued at $15.1 Billion in its latest funding round, and will likely go public at a valuation between $18 and $30 billion. Uber is expected to go public next year as well, but Lyft will likely beat them to market by several months.

NYC Passes Minimum Wage Law For Rideshare Drivers

On Wednesday, The New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission set a minimum wage of $17.22 per hour (after expenses) for rideshare drivers in the city. The new wage will go into effect in mid-January of next year.

Over 90% of rideshare drivers are expected to benefit from the increase. Uber & Lyft were opposed to the move, arguing it will increase fares for consumers, and increase traffic congestion.

Lime Faces Struggles Over PR Firm Connection

While Lime isn’t discussing a potential Uber buyout, they are struggling to keep the story straight on their connection with Definers Public Affairs.

Last month, it came to light that the scooter company had hired Definers Public Affairs for a three-month contract. The PR firm specializes in opposition research, but their tactics have caused controversy across multiple industries.

Lime Scooter

Since the news of their contract hit, Lime has repeatedly changed their stance.

First, the VP of Global expansion Caen Contee stated the scooter company cut ties with the firm after learning about the use of smear tactics. That claim was followed the next day with two separate official company statements — both of which served to counteract Contee’s statement. No further information was provided, leaving the true relationship between the two businesses unclear.

Instacart Faces Boycott After Cutting Customer Fees

While it’s smooth sailing for Amazon, their biggest competitor in the grocery delivery sector has hit rough waters. Instacart is facing a boycott from their independent contractors following a slash in customer pricing.

The on demand grocery service announced earlier this month that it is cutting their annual Express membership fee down to $99 and eliminating the per-delivery service fee.

The move was made in an effort to become more affordable than Amazon Prime’s Whole Foods delivery. However, Instacart shoppers claim the new pay structure, which will affect all U.S. markets by the end of December, has resulted in substantial earning losses.

Considering Instacart relies on its shoppers for operation, the contractor backlash has the potential to cause serious problems if the company doesn’t rectify the issue.

Amazon Go Is Ready for Bigger Stores

Amazon is bringing their cashierless shopping experience to a bigger venue. Reportedly, the company is testing their grab-and-go grocery method in Seattle. The city, along with a handful of others, has already been a testing site for their cashierless system. However, all previous instances of Amazon Go were in small settings.


Amazon is at the forefront of the quickly evolving grocery industry. It’s well known the company hopes to expand its on demand grocery delivery offerings, which inspired its purchase of Whole Foods.

With the addition of check-out-free in-store shopping offerings, Amazon is in prime position to give both delivery services, like Instacart, and retailers, like Walmart and Target, a run for their money.

Uber Teams Up With Starbucks, Hires NHTSA Veteran, and Considers Big-Name Scooter Acquisition

It’s been a busy week for Uber. Last week the rideshare company announced a seasonal collaboration with Starbucks. Known as the “Week of Cheers,” riders receive a buy one, get one drink coupon for every trip taken between December 3rd and December 9th.

Uber drivers are also included in the holiday promotion by earning Starbucks gift cards — the amounts of which are based on the number of tips received. Such a big name collaboration would normally turn heads, but the headline was only the beginning for Uber announcements this week.

On Monday, news broke that the company hired Nat Beuse to join their autonomous vehicle sector. The newest team member previously worked at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, focusing on on-the-road safety and research.

The move serves as a powerful effort to reinvigorate Uber’s self-driving program, which suffered a major setback after a pedestrian in Arizona was killed during on-the-road testing in March.

The week also opened with news of a potential scooter acquisition. Reportedly, Uber is looking to expand their e-scooter offerings with a purchase of either Bird or Lime. While they already own JUMP, an on demand scooter and bike rental company, the service is only available in two cities. Information regarding the potential purchase is currently limited with all three parties remaining tight-lipped.

Well, you’re caught up for this week. Check back next week for the latest news affecting your favorite side hustles.