Stack AV Truck - The Road to Autonomy

UAW Strike, Licensing Autonomy, and Stack AV’s Entry into Autonomous Trucking

David Welch, Detroit Bureau Chief, Bloomberg joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy podcast to discuss the UAW strike and the launch of Stack AV.

The conversation begins with David sharing the latest on the UAW (United Auto Workers) strikes against the Big 3 (Ford, GM and Stellantis). UAW President Shawn Fain has taken a different approach to the negotiations from his predecessors as a way to build trust and loyalty with his members.

Shawn Fain has to show that he is not another management crony, he is a real union guy. Hence no handshake.

– David Welch

Another reason why Sean Fain is taking such an aggressive approach towards the negotiations is that he has to build trust with his membership and show union leadership. The tactics that Sean Fain is implementing is right out of the Bernie Sanders playbook. Several members of Senator Sanders presidential campaigns are now advising the UAW on media strategy.

[Sean Fain] wants to reignite a labor movement in America.

– David Welch

One of the main sticking points in the strike is jobs and worker pay. The longer the strike drags on, the more it benefits Tesla. It has even been reported that no matter what happens, Tesla comes out the winner from the strikes as the Big 3 will be forced to raise prices of their electric vehicles.

Tesla forced GM, Ford and Stellantis forced to build electric vehicles after they validated the market and gained signifiant marketshare. Tesla clearly showed that there was a market for electric vehicles. Could Tesla do the same thing with autonomy in the future?

If and when Tesla licenses their FSD (Full Self-Driving) technology, will Cruise and Waymo be compelled to license their self-driving technology to appease investors?

Waymo, definitely because they are not a car company.

– David Welch

For GM, will they make the same mistake they did with OnStar years ago and not license it? Only time will tell. If GM eventually spins out Cruise, the path for licensing the Cruise self-driving technology becomes a lot more visible. On the autonomous trucking side of autonomy, Kodiak is planning to license the Kodiak Driver to fleets.

Investors are watching the sector as the technology evolves and the business models are formalized. Softbank recently invested in Stack AV founded by Bryan Salesky, Peter Rander, and Brett Browning (Argo AI founders). Stack AV is going to focus on long-haul autonomous trucks, but are they entering the market too late?

I do not think it’s too late, but they have to move if they want to catch up.

– David Welch

Could Softbank look to potentially export Stack AV to Japan to capture marketshare in an emerging market that is not yet saturated with competition?

Wrapping up the conversation, David shares his thoughts on what to watch in autonomy for the end of the year.

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Recorded on Thursday, September 21, 2023