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Virgin Hyperloop at a Crossroads, After Massive Layoffs Due to Global Supply Chain Issues

The infamous hyperloop concept was applauded by many and contested by some. The idea of traveling with zero emissions and zero noise, at a mind-blowing speed of 670 mph (1,078 kph), is certainly appealing, but it seems that it’s harder to bring it to life than what was initially believed. The company that seemed to have the highest chances of making it happen is now facing a serious identity crisis.
Virgin Hyperloop Ditches plans for passenger transportation, says it will focus on cargo 7 photos
Virgin Hyperloop's Innovative Transportation PodVirgin Hyperloop's Innovative Transportation PodVirgin Hyperloop's Innovative Transportation PodVirgin Hyperloop's Innovative Transportation PodVirgin Hyperloop's Innovative Transportation PodVirgin Hyperloop's Innovative Transportation Pod
Things aren’t looking good at Virgin Hyperloop – the company laid off hundreds of people, almost half of its staff, Financial Times reports. The official explanation was a major strategy shift, switching from passenger transportation to cargo only, as a direct result of the ongoing global supply chain crisis and the pandemic, which have brought cargo transportation to the forefront.

At first glance, it might seem like a beneficial response to the current and foreseen changes in the global logistics market. But the U.S. company’s issues go deeper than that. The same source reports that things deteriorated after Virgin Hyperloop’s co-founder, Josh Giegel, left the company in 2021. Former employees were cited saying that “there is no confidence in the new direction” and that the magnitude of the recent layoffs was unexpected.

At this point, it’s unclear whether the company will succeed in switching gears or suffer a massive failure. Last year, the Los Angeles-based startup showcased its innovative commercial cargo pod for the first time at the EXPO 2020 Dubai. Together with DP World, the government-owned logistics company that has a 75% stake in Virgin Hyperloop, it unveiled a 30-foot (10 meters) replica of the future cargo pod. Previously, it was also the first hyperloop technology company to conduct successful passenger tests.

According to DP World, the plans of bringing hyperloop cargo transportation to the Gulf region are still going strong, and this initial success could be then used to tackle passenger transportation once again. But the cargo version of the pod won’t be ready earlier than 2026. Right now, it’s uncertain whether Virgin Hyperloop will be able to hold its ground until then.

 
 
 
 
 

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