Flexport taps Shopify for cash, behind the wheel of the Kia EV9 and where Amazon wants to invest

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Welcome to TechCrunch Mobility – the same weekly newsletter you've been reading, but with a new name and a few changes.

Don't worry, this is still your central hub for news and insight on the future of transportation. This week, read about AmazonEV Startup fiskarElectric boats, a bunch of new funding deals and my time in driving a brand new Kia EV9,

let's go!

a little bird

shimmering cat bird green

A little bird pointed us to a new website with some electric trucks that definitely look familiar.

Memorization Lordstown MotorsThe EV startup that went public via SPAC and has since filed for bankruptcy protection? steve burnsThe guy who founded Lordstown Motors and then was ousted is back with a new EV startup Landex Motors,

The new LandX Motors website prominently features the same electric Endurance pickup truck that they once promised would overtake Tesla, Ford, and General Motors.

A person familiar with the company's plans told TechCrunch that it's not so much about the Endurance truck itself, but about the underlying platform, software, and engineering behind it. Still, with the former Lordstown trucker playing a prominent role on the company's website and videos, it's unclear how advanced the plan is.

Would you like to get in touch with a tip, comment or complaint? Email Kirsten at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com or sean.okane@techcrunch.com. If you prefer to remain anonymous, Click here to contact usIncluding SecureDrop (instructions here) and various encrypted messaging apps.

deal of the week

give money to the station

supply chain logistics startup flexport 2023 was a tumultuous year, including for the founders Ryan Peterson ousting his chosen successor and taking back the CEO position and then acquiring the assets of the defunct digital freight network Convoy.

The startup is boosting its business with a $260 million “uncapped convertible note” due 2024. ShopifyA deal that was announced by Pietersen in a series of posts on social media site X.

As a reminder, Shopify and Flexport are already engaged. Flexport acquired the logistics arm of Shopify in 2023. The deal gave Shopify a 13% equity stake in Flexport and a seat on the board.

Other deals that caught my attention…

electraThe Paris-based EV charging startup raised $330 million in a Series B round led by Dutch pension fund service provider PGGM and BPFrance's Large Venture Fund. SNCF Group through Eurazeo, RIVE Private Investments, 574 Investments and Serena also participated.

Franziska BossartThe new head of Amazon's Industrial Innovation Fund talked to me about how the $1 billion fund is evolving. DR: She is expanding her geographic focus to Asia and Europe, and focusing on three areas including AI.

International Battery CompanyThe startup developing lithium-ion battery cells for EVs raised $35 million in a Pre-Series A round led by RTP Global.

land motoThe Cleveland-based electric motorcycle startup raised $3 million in a round led by a special purpose venture vehicle called Nanak Koapi Ventures.

lightness, an all-electric RV startup, raised $34 million in a Series B round co-led by Obvious Ventures and Prelude Ventures. Other new investors include Allegis Capital and global RV manufacturer Thor Industries and its investment partner Technexus Venture Collaborative.

northvoltSwedish battery startup secures $5 billion debt deal to help pay for expansion of its first gigafactory. As TC+ reporter Tim De Chant writes: “Northvolt's $5 billion loan won't be enough to guarantee success, but it should be enough to help it expand its production to the targeted 60 gigawatt hours.”

uber Stop Liquor Delivery Service Drizzling Three years later, the cab-hailing company acquired it for $1.1 billion.

Notable readings and other news

autonomous vehicle

TuSimple Nasdaq will withdraw from the stock exchange, moving forward with its plan to exit the US market entirely.

Electric vehicles, charging and batteries

BMW'Future growth depends on EVs, and it's all finally happening, writes TC+ reporter Tim de Chants.

fixer's The electric Ocean SUV is under investigation by federal regulators over braking loss complaints.

GM Recalls 66 electric delivery vans manufactured by it brightdrop subsidiary after at least two of those front-drive units caught fire late last year. It appears that the cause is related to a manufacturing defect.

NavierThe electric boat startup has launched a pilot program for its hydrofoiling watercraft through a partnership strip To bring passengers from the outskirts of San Francisco into the downtown area.

future of flight

wingDrone-powered delivery company operated by AlphabetIntends to offer customers a larger craft capable of delivering heavier packages.

this week's wheels

kia ev9 press drive

Image Credit: Kirsten Korosec

I headed to Napa Valley to try it Kia EV9 – a fully electric SUV with three rows of seats, which many believe will bring a new batch of EV customers to the market.

Before I give some brief thoughts on what I did and didn't like, here are some details. The Kia EV9 comes in five trims, with the cheapest – the rear-wheel drive EV9 Lite – starting at $54,900. I tested the GT-Line trim, an all-wheel drive top-of-the-line version that has a range of 270 miles and a price that starts at $73,900 (for comparison, the Rivian R1S, which is AWD, has 260 miles ) of the range and starts at $78,000. Equipped with the larger battery, the Kia EV9 Lite RWD trim has a best range of 304 miles.

What did I like? It remained planted well even on winding roads, even if I pushed the vehicle a bit. It's also quiet, has the kind of interior detail one might expect in a premium-priced SUV, the seats are comfortable and the advanced driver assistance systems are easy to engage. The third row isn't exactly spacious, but it's certainly better than many three-row SUVs I've sat in.

There were some mistakes. I think Kia missed an opportunity by not giving the EV9 rear-wheel axle steering and I'm not sure the battery range, which ranges between 230 miles and 304 miles depending on trim, is enough for buyers. Finally, the layout of the interior cabin is almost the same, but I'm still not sure I like the location of the start button and gear shifter (it's stock, hidden behind the steering wheel).