Shifting Gears: No one has figured out scooter economics yet

FILE PHOTO: People ride Electric scooters near the White House in Washington, U.S., March 29, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Happy Friday and welcome to another edition of Shifting Gears, Business Insider's rundown of everything that happened in transportation during the week.

The team had no shortage of captivating scoops, interviews, and other stories this week. In South Texas, there's a fight set between longtime homeowners and Elon Musk's plan for a Mars exploration base. And in California, more than 100 truckers lost their jobs as yet another freight company went belly up.

In mobility land, we chatted with the founder of Spin - a scooter startup owned by Ford - about his employees' unionization vote, missed targets, and elusive profits that have yet to materialize for anyone in the industry.

As always, let me know what we missed at grapier@businessinsider.com. If you're not already subscribed to this email roundup, you can do so here.

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Last Town Before Mars: A series on SpaceX's journey to our neighboring planet, and its effects on a small Texas community

Last Town Before Mars: A series on SpaceX's journey to our neighboring planet, and its effects on a small Texas community

Dave Mosher's second dispatch from Boca Chica, Texas, is one you won't want to miss. Dave Finlay, a SpaceX executive, has been traveling door to door in the quiet retirement enclave near the beach. His mission: convince homeowners to sell and make way for Mars missions.

Read the full story here.

Scooter startups' growing pains

Scooter startups' growing pains

I interviewed Euwyn Poon, the founder and president of Spin, about how the scooter startup is faring just over a year after its sale to Ford for $100 million.

The company hoped to be in 100 markets by the end of 2019, but it's only in 70 now. That was a conscious decision by executives, Poon said, as the entire industry struggles to figure out tricky economics and turn a profit.

He also discussed his employees' bid to unionize, which would make them an outlier in an industry with an addiction to independent contract work.

Trucking struggles continue

Trucking struggles continue

As the $800 billion trucking industry grapples with the 21st century, another company announced its impending closure this week, my colleague Rachel Premack reports. When the closure happens, more than 100 jobs will go with it.

She also had a juicy scoop about Amazon's outsourcing of some technical-support roles, angering many drivers.

Lastly in her trifecta is the cohesive list of logistics startups set to soar this year, according to venture capitalists.

Electric trucks are all the rage

Electric trucks are all the rage

I chatted with Carl-Magnus Norden about his electric-truck startup Volta this week. The company's identified a very specific niche — inner-city deliveries — and has designed a truck that looks nothing like current models in its bid to cut emissions from the heavily polluting sector.

You can read the full write-up here.

Elsewhere in electric-truck land, a company called Nikola (see what they did there?) revealed its "Badger" pickup slated to compete with vehicles like Tesla's Cybertruck, Rivian's R1T, and Ford's electric F-150.

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