#105: Flying battery packs — Lotus goes SPAC — Electrify America mess

Change happens slowly at first

then all at once.

And we're here to witness the whole thing.

Welcome, to the EV Universe
Image: Michael Keller from CharIN, via Electric Felix.

Hey, Jaan here. With your favorite EV newsletter.

This week, I feel we got more mini-stories than just curated link snippets.

I have a question for you:

Which way do you like your weekly EV Universe?

 ⚡ Keep it short 

⚡ ...⚡ Combo is best 

⚡..........⚡ Mini-stories are best 

Any additional feedback is very welcome here: (form)

This week's newsletter includes:

  • [Deep Dive] How far is General Motors with its EV goals?
  • Lotus will go public via SPAC
  • Roadster turns 15, EA fries cars (?) and gets hacked,
  • Audi ejects batteries, BMW i4 can't update on a hill and..

... all more good stuff this week.

Words: 2,408 | Time to read: 12 min | Hoping: that I'll never get hit with a battery pack.

— Jaan



We've had enough news on GM recently to turn it into a whole deep dive and see where they're heading. Ready for a ride?

GM lineup


General Motors makes its first real lithium acquisition move with a $650M equity investment in Lithium Americas, to develop the  Thacker Pass  mine in Nevada. ( link ) This is the largest known supply of lithium in the US and 3rd-largest in the world.

GM receives 'exclusive access' to the Phase 1 production of the mine, to use in the  Ultium cells  - up to 1M EVs worth per year. Not mentioned in most of the headlines, however, is that the production at Thacker Pass is projected to begin in the second half of 2026.

As far as I could gather, the mine itself is also still under question and should see final ruling 'within months'. Ranchers, environmentalists, and Indigenous groups say that the mine would permanently scar a region home to wildlife and key water sources for livestock. ( link )

GM earnings

Meanwhile, GM released its Q4 and FY 2022 earnings (49pp  pdf ) and claims it has now secured all EV battery raw material for 1M units of North American capacity by 2025.

Currently, without producing much in terms of EVs but being the top seller in the US, the company banked a record adjusted net income of $14.6B on $156.7B of revenue (+23.4% YoY).

What I found surprising is that GM projects $50B+ of EV revenue in 2025.


Hummer EV rolling off production line

The company plans to produce 400k EVs from now until the first half of 2024, and have a capacity of 1 million EVs in North America by 2025.

I think the emphasis here is on the capacity, as this doesn't really seem like an easy ramp-up. I wondered about the math with a silly meme here ( link ). But hey, I hope they'll achieve what they say because we need every EV we can get.

Well, maybe not the Hummers that much. A related joke... I found something that both petrolheads and electroheads agree on: how dumb the Hummer EV is ( link ). But the rest, for sure.

GM's game in China is also always a wild card.

Context: GM sold 39,096 EVs in 2022, so in reality all we seem to have for now are the big plans.


GM plans to launch the Chevrolet Silverado EV and GMC Hummer EV SUV in the first half of this year, and the Chevy Blazer and Equinox EVs in the second half. Here's the closest look we've gotten of the Equinox so far, in a video from just this week:

GM  promised  in 2017 to release 20 all-electric models by 2023. I currently count 6 standalone models, 7 if you count BrightDrop.

Worth noting, that GM's fossil pickup Chevy Silverado was the 2nd-best-selling vehicle in the US with 513k sales in 2022, only bested by another pickup, the Ford F-Series.

And since the RAM pickup series held the 3rd-best-seller spot in the US and we'll see the electric (production) version, the  Ram 1500 BEV , debut next year... we're seeing the pickup scene go electric fast.

GM partners with Netflix

This one goes well with our 'EVs on Screens' topic  last week .

Netflix will 'increase the presence of EVs' in the Netflix-produced shows and films. ( link ) You'll see GM EVs pop up in Netflix productions like Love is Blind (Bolt EUV), Queer Eye (Hummer EV) and Unstable (LYRIQ) first.

The wider announcement of the partnership will be done with a commercial at the Super Bowl this year on Feb 12th.

For this, they bring Will Ferrell back in, just like GM did for the " Norway is out-EVing-us " ad in 2021.

Will Ferrell >< Squid Game >< Chevy Blazer EV teaser:

What do you think? Is GM "all talk no EV game" or will they hit 1M capacity and $50B+ in revenue from EVs in 2025?


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The most clicked link last week was the 19-minute video where Musk announces the Giga Nevada's $3.6B new battery and Semi production plans. ( video )

Lotus goes public

Lotus Tech, the EV arm of Lotus, plans to go public via SPAC merger with  $LCAA  at a $5.4B valuation. ( link )

Lotus has a deal with Geely to produce 150k vehicles/year. Geely owns the majority of Lotus, along with Nio and Etika.

Lotus also recently started production of its electric Hyper-SUV: a Polestar 3-like offering, which starts at ~€96k in Europe. ( link ):

Lotus Eletre


EV price wars

A question that I imagine is being asked from every executive in the (electric) auto industry right now:

Will you follow Tesla into  price war ?

  • VW Group CEO Oliver Blume: no plans to cut to follow Tesla ( link )
  • Renault Brand Chief (soon CEO) Cambolive: no plans because it hurts existing customers and residual values. "But it's foreseeable that prices for EVs will come under scrutiny." ( link )
  • Ford: why yes, here's Mach-E up to $5,900 off! ( link ). And these are retroactive to Jan 1st. ( link )
  • Porsche: hold my bier. Here's +6% to the Taycan price ( rumored ).
  • General Motors: Barra says "We think we’re pricing where we need to be." ( link )
  • Suppliers, reportedly: Well the price cuts will just be squeezed out of us eventually ( link ).


Electrify America?

Kevin Bacon, co-starring with his daughter Sosie, in full dad mode in a Hyundai Ioniq 6 commercial. ( video )

What caught my eye, however, was a cheeky comment under their video about them arriving at an Electrify America station:

Ioniq 6

I spend a lot of my time in EV communities. And sadly, the sentiment around EA chargers currently... yeah.

I'm still looking into this, but I've now seen several instances reported where EV owners plugging into an Electrify America station get their cars 'fried', as in bricked after hearing a loud 'boom'. Three instances reported here:  Chevy Bolt ,  F-150 Lightning ,  Rivian R1T .

Meanwhile, Electrify America seems to have switched it's operating system to use Windows 10... and our friends at Kilowatts found a way to 'hack' into one, using Teamviewer to show whatever they want on the screen. Tesla Supercharging network, perhaps? (video  1 ,  2 ,  3 )


Instead of playing it well, Electrify America decided to issue a warning in response ( link ):

"Intentionally accessing a computer system without authorization can be a serious crime and may incur civil liability as well. We continue to investigate these events and intend to protect ourselves and our customers."


The 'ban': New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced that ride-hailing companies like Uber, Lyft and others must only operate EVs in the city by 2030, with no new costs for individual drivers. ( link )

Size of the impact: the ride-hailing fleet currently consists of more than 100,000 vehicles.

We saw it coming: If you see headlines in the media that the companies are now 'pushed' to do that, that's not likely. Uber and Lyft have stated the goal of the fleet going electric by 2030 earlier too.


Roadster 15

Tesla celebrates the 15th birthday of the Tesla Roadster. ( video ) Here's the Tesla official blog post from Director of Product Planning, Zak Edson (currently VP Sales and Service at Lucid Motors) on February 6th, 2008 called:

 Re: P1 Arriving Now! :) 

This was the subject line of the email that San Carlos employees got on February 1st, 2008 at 12:56 pm. Do read the  story  of the first cars arriving, their batteries being installed and see the pictures. You know, for history.

Musk and Straubel
JB Straubel and Musk driving the "P1"


ABB E-mobility

ABB E-mobility, the charging arm of the automation and electronics giant ABB, raised a total of ~ 525M Swiss francs ($574.63M) with now closing its second and final round of pre-IPO private placement. ( link )

If I got this down right, the investors got a total of around 20% of the company, which would make the pre-IPO valuation at around 2.625B Swiss francs ($2.873B). And ABB holds the other 80%.

One of the notable investors in this round was Porsche, with a 'double-digit million euro" investment. ( link )

Just a few days ago, ABB E-mobility celebrated the delivery of its 1-millionth EV charger (AC and DC combined). On 20th of January, the company opened its South Carolina plant to shell out around 10k chargers per year. ( link )

The South Carolina facility

A bit of my personal e-xperience: just yesterday I used one of the earliest DC chargers ABB has ever installed, charging a Škoda ENYAQ from the Type-2 side. This is a 50kW ABB Terra51 DC charger from 2012, which also has a 22kW AC side, and it still works perfectly fine!

A total of 163 of those CHAdeMO-standard chargers were installed all over Estonia in around 2012-2013, as the  world's first  fully-covering national EV charging infrastructure.

A large portion of those are still in active operation today, a real testament to ABB's reliability.

Here's a picture I made yesterday:

ABB charger ENYAQ



Backstory: In Richmond, BC, Canada, an idiot in an Audi e-tron ran a red light and t-boned a Toyota. Luckily, no life-threatening injuries.

The accident

Why this one is interesting: from the video and following pictures, we see that during the crash, the battery pack of the e-tron broke loose ("ejected") from its mounts and flew across the road... and then caught on fire. ( link ) ( link2 ) ( video )

The crash. You can see the pack flying off.

battery pack
The battery pack, later also in flames.

Unlike a lot of speculation online, I find it highly doubtful the e-tron SUV has any kind of 'battery ejecting' mechanism built in and this looks just like the heavy battery breaking off from its mounts during the collision.

Is this a good thing?

On one hand, the battery actually ejecting could save someone, as the battery fire would occur out of the car. It is also easier to put out like this.

On the other hand, it could also kill someone, because the ejecting couldn't be in a controlled manner and it might end up hitting someone or burning in a less 'optimal' place.

Do you think a battery ejecting from a car in case of a serious accident (like a rollover) would be a bug or feature?

Please vote with just a click. You can also leave a  comment . I'll cover the results next week, but you can also see the live count:

 👍 Feature 

 👎 Bug 



13.95% of all passenger vehicles sold in Europe (all of Europe, not just Western or EU) in 2022 were fully electric. You'll see a number of 12.1% in most media, but mind that it corresponds only to the sales in European Union countries.

That's 1,575,079 battery-electric vehicles sold in Europe. For context, an estimated 7,65M BEVs were sold in 2022 total.

European EV sales grew 29.3% over 2021, when the market share was ‘just’ 9.10%.

The data came in this week from the European Automobile Manufacturers’​ Association (ACEA) ( link ).

BEV sales Europe

share it on LinkedIn  here  or on Twitter  here 

I’m currently spending hours every day putting together a detailed spreadsheet with all EV sales in 2022 per OEM and also per country.

We're currently at ~70% of per-OEM and ~95% of per-country mapped.

Our  Pro members  have exclusive and live access from the start (along with the insights). I think I'll be able to present my findings to you here already next week too.




👀 Tim Fallon, Rivian's VP of Manufacturing, looks back to 2022 and ahead to what's coming in 2023. Some nice footage from the factory and the people too. Celebrating building 25,000th Rivian rolling off the line. (4:41)


Meanwhile, a leaked email from Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe to employees states that the company plans to lay off about 6% of its 14,000 employees (~840 people) at its Normal, Illinois plant (link). "We must focus our resources on ramp and our path to profitability."

👀 POV: Your BMW i4 tells you that it can't install the software update... because you live up on a hill ( link ):

i4 upgrading thing

Best  captions :

  • "You have to upgrade to the Slope Compatible OTA subscription."
  • "It's normal, everyone knows data can't transmit up a hill."

In other news, BMW recalls 3,431 of its i4 and iX models because their noise generators might not work. ( link )

Something that in the old days would have meant a problem with the engine, is  now just a software update. Although, for some reason, the owners won't get this one over the air.

👀 Škoda Enyaq iV vRS sets two ice drift Guinness World Records:

  • Longest Continuous Vehicle Drift on Ice, 4.568 mi (7.351km), sliding around a 1.2-mile ice circle for almost 16 minutes.
  • Longest ... well the same thing, but for EV category.


📚 Is the transition to EVs the death of in-car AM radio? ( link )



Thomas Schäfer

Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen (brand), about hydrogen-powered passenger cars ( link ):

“It's not competitive, especially not for passenger cars, the tanks take up space in the cabin. Maybe for commercial vehicles, but not in the passenger car. So, I don't see this happening in this decade. Not at Volkswagen."



Which way do you like your weekly EV Universe:

 ⚡ Keep it short 

 ⚡ ...⚡ Combo is best  

⚡..........⚡ Mini-stories are best 

Any additional feedback is very welcome here: ( form )

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