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Autonomous trucking startup Ike raises $52 million

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Ike said its funding round will help the company expand beyond its 30-person team as it drives forward with its mission to build a commercial product at scale. (Courtesy: IKE)

SAN FRANCISCO — Autonomous trucking startup Ike said Tuesday it had completed a series A round of $52 million, led by Bain Capital Ventures. Redpoint Ventures, Fontinalis Partners, Basis Set Ventures, and Neo also invested in the round.

Ike was founded by veterans of Apple, Google and Uber Advanced Technologies Group’s self-driving truck program.

Bain’s website says the company partners with B2B founders to accelerate the bringing of the founders’ ideas to market. Its investments range from $1 million of seed capital through $100 million of growth equity.

An Ike spokesperson said the company is building “cutting edge” automation technology for the trucking industry.”

“And despite their importance, truck drivers are often overlooked, overworked, and put in harm’s way. Ike believes self-driving technology for long-haul trucking can be part of the solution,” the spokesperson said.

Ike said its funding round will help the company expand beyond its 30-person team as it drives forward with its mission to build a commercial product at scale.

“Trucks are the secret backbone of our economy. They are a part of all of our lives  —  delivering groceries to the local market, transporting lumber and steel to build our homes, bringing us supplies in a disaster,” said a blog signed by Nancy Sun, Jur van den Berg, Alden Woodrow, and the entire Ike team. “Yet trucks are hidden in plain sight, often around back at the loading dock or out on rural highways moving through the night.”

The Ike team said trucking had never been at a more critical moment.

“A shortage of drivers, new regulations, growing accident rates, the rise of ecommerce  —  these issues are rapidly changing an industry at the core of American society,” the blog said. “We think self-driving trucks can help solve these issues. We’ve spent our careers building new technologies, from electric motorcycles to wind turbines to self-driving cars. We came together over a passion for trucking, and created Ike with a mission to make trucks safer, truckers more valuable, and trucking more efficient.”

Ike is named after President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the U.S. interstate system he helped create when he signed the Federal Aid Highway Act June 29, 1956.

The Ike spokesperson said the prototype would be produced within the next few months.

“However, it’s important to keep in mind that Ike is making progress without needing to have trucks on the road and will be going through a very rigorous testing process including private track operation before they put an activated vehicle on the road,” the spokesperson said.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Nation

Diesel heads up 4 cents a gallon to $3.006

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Diesel prices jumped 4 cents a gallon to ring up Tuesday at $3.006. (The Trucker file photo)

For the past several months, including the end of 2018, all the “experts” said oil (and consequently diesel) was going nowhere but up. It had to, they reasoned, after prices had almost literally scraped the bottom of the barrel.

Then oil and diesel both went down for weeks. After that it stayed the same.

Now diesel prices are finally up — 4 cents a gallon — to $3.006 a gallon Tuesday from $2.966 a gallon last week.

Normally, diesel prices would have been announced Monday, but since it was President’s Day, diesel prices were released Tuesday.

And it may be a testament to how long prices had been going down or stayed flat that none of the U.S. Information Administration’s 10 reporting regions were clocking $4-a-gallon diesel, not even California, where diesel was ringing up at $3.739.

Also, four regions were still below $3 a gallon as of Tuesday.

And although 4 cents a gallon for the on-highway national average was a significant jump from the week before, the Lower Atlantic and Midwest regions each jumped 5.5 cents a gallon. Diesel in the Lower Atlantic sector went from $2.872 last week to $2.927 Tuesday while in the Midwest, diesel prices went from $2.849 last week to $2.904 today.

The Gulf Coast had the lowest prices at $2.809 a gallon, up 3.3 cents from the week prior.

Is this the start of an upward trend? It’s hard to know what oil prices will do in a global economy that is teetering since what seems like a bandwagon jump out of the European Union.

Meanwhile, oil was trading up:

U.S. crude added 48 cents to $56.07 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after gaining $1.19 on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 16 cents to $66.34 per barrel, The Associated Press reported.

For diesel prices by sector, click here.

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The Nation

Ohio governor to reveal gas tax hike plan Thursday

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Ohio's tp Transportation Department executive says the state is facing an "impending crisis" unless more road funding is provided. (The Trucker file photo)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine says he’ll announce Thursday his proposed recommendation for increasing the state’s gas tax to deal with a chronic shortfall in spending on road construction.

DeWine, a Republican, says there are no other solutions outside a gas tax increase, while warning that any increase simply keeps Ohio from falling behind.

He wouldn’t provide details or say what the proposed increase will be. He spoke at an annual forum sponsored by The Associated Press.

DeWine says the increase is “just to keep us where we are today.”

The head of the Ohio Department of Transportation director said earlier this month that Ohio’s road maintenance and infrastructure are facing an “impending crisis” unless more funding is provided.

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OOIDA Foundation issues information it says debunks driver shortage ‘myth’

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Most carriers with high turnover do so by design, says OOIDA President Todd Spencer. “They could deal with driver turnover by offering better wages and benefits and improved working conditions,” he said.

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s research foundation published two new documents it says debunks the driver shortage “myth.”

A fact sheet explains how the industry isn’t afflicted with a shortage of drivers, but is actually plagued with overcapacity and driver retention, the foundation reported.

A second, accompanying document talks about how wages have decreased for truck drivers at large carriers and many have moved toward smaller fleets.

Last year, the association also created a short video that explains why there is high turnover as opposed to a shortage.

“We are concerned about the perpetuation of a myth of driver shortage,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA President. “This misinformation is used to push agendas that are harmful to the industry and highway safety.”

To address the supposed driver “shortage,” some organizations have suggested that the age requirement to obtain a commercial driver’s license should be lowered from 21 to 18.

“If safety is the top priority when considering a change to a regulation, when it comes to age, the number should be raised, not lowered.” Spencer said.

OOIDA also contends that any issue with retention could be mitigated with other solutions that would be safer for all highway users.

For example, compensation has been shown to be tied directly to highway safety, as revealed in studies that suggest there is a strong correlation between driver pay and highway safety, Spencer said.

“Most carriers with high turnover do so by design,” he said. “They could deal with driver turnover by offering better wages and benefits and improved working conditions. But putting younger drivers behind the wheel of a truck isn’t the solution because it does nothing to address the underlying issues that push drivers out of the industry. It merely exacerbates the churn.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the largest national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The association currently has more than 160,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Missouri, area.

 

 

 

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