Expansion Phase for EV Makers Slowly Picking Up Momentum, $15.5B in US Available Grants

Rivian’s R1T is the top seller for the Irvine, Calif.-based electric automaker.

Beyond Tesla, how are electric vehicle makers doing in the US light-duty vehicle market? It’s gone beyond the startup phase, with these companies having spent years — some well over a decade — designing and manufacturing their first models.

Don’t be surprised if you hear an engineer brag about getting a job offer at Rivian Automotive, at least if you’re living in Southern California near the Irvine headquarters. Rivian had 14,122 employees on December 31, 2022. The number of employees increased by 3,700 or 35.50% compared to the previous year, the company reported. Revenue in 2022 came in at $1.66 billion.

So far, Amazon has about 1,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian, out of its order for 100,000 units. While the R1T electric pickup truck is the top seller so far, Amazon is expected to be getting the remaining 99,000 units of its EDV700 order in the near future and will be the major revenue driver for Rivian.

Taking a look at US sales, only four companies were included in the KBB Q2 EV sales report:

Source: Cox Automotive and KBB

Both Rivian and Lucid Motors have modest market valuations — with each of them around $13 billion in value. Rivian has access to a lot more cash, which makes it more attractive for investors to buy shares. But is Lucid overdoing it in executive pay? Automotive News reported that Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson made 11 times more than GM CEO Mary Barra last year.

Rivian says that its dual-motor R1T pickup with the 180-kWh Max battery pack just won an EPA rating to go an estimated 410 miles on a charge. That hasn’t been posted yet by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Fisker Inc. is only just starting to deliver cars; the company has the advantage of working with experienced production partner Magna International. Lucid and Fisher both downgraded their product forecasts recently.

Polestar Automotive also reduced its outlook for 2023 production. Volvo Cars, one of Polestar’s major shareholders, needs more time to write the software for a new production platform that Polestar will use for its new sport-utility vehicle, Polestar said. The Polestar 3 will roll out in 2024, rather than later this year as previously predicted.

Vietnamese automaker VinFast in July said that it would start construction of a $4 billion electric vehicle factory in North Carolina soon, as part of its push to expand in the US market. The automaker is part of Vingroup, Vietnam’s largest conglomerate. VinFast started operations in 2019. It plans to start vehicle production in 2025.

There are a number of other EV maker competitors that are still struggling to get in to the expansion phase and roll out new vehicles to customers:
—Lordstown Motors
—Faraday Future
—Bollinger Motors
—Karma Automotive

And in other news………

$15.5B available: The federal government is making $12 billion available in grants and loans for automakers and suppliers to retrofit their plants to produce electric and other advanced vehicles, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters on Thursday. The White House is also making $3.5 billion in funding for domestic battery manufacturers.

NASA has released the first data maps from time-lapsed videos taken from space. It shows several urban areas in the US, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean as hotspots for air pollution, particularly during certain times of day. The visual reports show high levels of pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide.

Musk influencing foreign affairs: A comprehensive feature in New Yorker revealed several more interesting facts about Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s extremely busy life. One interesting point: SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet terminals have been provided through the Pentagon to Ukraine for them to plan attacks and defend themselves in the war with Russia. But the company was reported to have given the Defense Dept. an ultimatum — a $400 million bill for providing annual service. No payment, no access. Soon after, connectivity was severed as Ukrainian forces entered that territory contested by Russia. The article also delved into safety investigations being done on the Autopilot semi-autonomous option for Tesla owners. In other news, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will soon make an announcement about its two-year investigation into Autopilot, the agency recently told Reuters.

Hybrids aren’t going away: Hybrid-electric vehicles are not disappearing as automakers put more time, capital, and talent into all-electric models. Ford is the latest of several top automakers, including Toyota and Stellantis, planning to build and sell hundreds of thousands of hybrid vehicles in the U.S. over the next five years, industry forecasters told Reuters.

BMW’s Mini subsidiary is set to roll out the Mini Cooper E and Mini Cooper SE at IAA 2023 in Munich. The base version E will go 189 miles, while the SE can go 249 miles. The E has 181 horsepower and 213 pound-feet of torque, allowing the driver to take it 0 to 62 mph in 7.3 seconds.

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