EV Universe #111: Rimac sets 23 records — VinFast goes SPAC — How Daimler saved Tesla

Hey, Jaan here.

Sorry for the little pause in our weekly sends.

I ended up, somewhat spontaneously, helping to organize the largest EV expo in my country — the first eCarExpo Estonia. It was a success, with over 2,000 visitors over the weekend, good panel discussions, and plenty of test drives.

I also learned a lot. Things always look easier on the surface. I now know what needs to be improved, you know, for the days when EV Universe starts its own global EV expo series. Yes, it's coming.

eCarExpo Estonia

I'm also happy that I got a chance to go on our national TV and tell everyone that the Tesla Model Y became the best-selling vehicle of any fuel type in Europe in Q1. Should come as quite a shocker to our little nation with only a ~3.5% EV market share, compared to the ~14% for Europe in general.

In case you missed it, I also published our first Teslaverse, a Tesla-focused newsletter, earlier this month: ( link ).

Today, I'm coming in hot with insights on:

  • Rimac Nevera sets 23 performance records;
  • VinFast is to merge with a SPAC to go public... and is VF8 terrible?
  • Batswap is improving and Ford pulls back in China;
  • The age of the vehicle fleet in the US and how BEVs fit in;
  • How Daimler saved Tesla in 2009.

Words: 3,136 words | Time to read: 15 minutes | Feeling: hyper

— Jaan



Rimac Nevera set 23 performance records in a single day in Germany.

This included the 'ultimate test of hypercar straight line performance', the 0-400-0 km/h (0-249-0 mph) record, which it completed at 29.93s, beating the previous record by over a second ( link ).

It even beat its own official specs of 0-60mph, now at 1.74s (spec 1.85s).

Rimac Nevera

Here's the  video  from the day (4min).

To the question if Tesla Roadster will be able to beat the 1.74s, Musk just answered "lol" ( link ).

Remember how we showcased the video of Mate Rimac fine-tuning the hypercar performance two years ago? I do ( it was here ).

This 10 minute  video  back when it was just one of the five pre-production hypercars called C_Two, really opened my eyes to their incredible focus.

Now we see all this work manifested into reality.

Bonus material: I found the video made in April 2011, where Mate Rimac's "Rimac BMW e-M3", broke several world acceleration records. ( 2min video ) Mate Rimac started to convert the BMW to electric when he was only 19 years old.

You can see how most of the comments on the video are in Croatian, as the company wasn't yet famous around the world.

In other news, Rimac also launched the  Rimac Energy  brand, which will develop energy storage solutions and battery-buffered DC chargers capable of delivering over a MW in power ( link ).

Their site  reads  "The fully integrated system can be scaled up to 1.500 kW and 2.000 Vdc." Rimac will build these in its new Croatia campus and pilot systems should go out already this year. Mass production in 2025 and plans are to grow it more than 10GWh/year capacity. The new Rimac Campus should finish the first phase this year. ( link )

Rimac campus

You can probably feel how every time I talk of Rimac, my heart starts to beat a little faster. Sorry-not-sorry for being a little fanboy here. In my eyes, Rimac is one of the most innovative companies to watch in our little EV space, especially on the high-performance side of it.



VinFast plans to go public in the US via a HongKong based SPAC called Black Space Acquisition ( $BSAQ ), aiming at a $27B enterprise valuation. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2023 and is of course subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals.

VinFast currently has four EV models on offer for its customers in Vietnam: VF e34, VF8, VF9 and VF5. The VF8 is also available in the US.

The VF8...

VF8 made it to our EV Spotlight section in December last year ( here ), as almost every EV journalist I know was shipped to Vietnam to tour the facilities and resorts.

Back then I wrote about a particular 'refreshingly skeptical' review of Kevin Williams from Jalopnik. Kyle of Out of Spec also put out a video in January called "I drive the VF8 for the first time! And I really wish I didn't..." (45min  video ).

It seems this has become roughly the consensus.

Now for some reason (*), several respected EV journalists have come out all at once with very negative articles and videos about the VF8 experience. Here are a few, most gathered by The Drive ( link ):

  • Scott Evans for  MotorTrend : "Return to Sender. [...] I'd be embarrassed to look a customer in the eye when handing over the keys to this vehicle.
  • Mack Hogan for  Road & Track : "Simply Unacceptable. [...] The VinFast VF8 has the worst body control of any modern car I’ve ever driven."
  • Emme Hall for  Green Car Reports : “Why Vinfast is intent on rushing this car to market is beyond me.
  • Steve Ewing for  InsideEVs  puts the headline "Yikes". [...] the sheer amount of bouncy body motions coming through the VF8’s suspension made being in this electric crossover – and I say this without hyperbole – unbearable.”
  • Edmunds  says  "If you want an electric SUV maybe don't buy the new VF8, pretty much anything else in the class is going to be better."

*Is the sudden flood of negative reviews now about any NDAs with deadlines the influencers signed previously? Or because previous reviews were paid? (rumors report up to $10k was offered per good review for the VF8). At any case it looks like the embargo lifted late last week.

I do hope VinFast will be able to overcome the obstacles fast and make the VF8 and anything that follows a solid EV going forward. We need every (good/volume) EV player we can get.

VinFast sold around 7,400 EVs in 2022 and hopes to sell up to 50,000 EVs in 2023, with the chairman projecting the company to break even by the end of 2024. ( link )

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"Effective immediately, all construction related to the battery module production on the Windsor site has stopped."

Stellantis and LG pause their joint 45 GWh battery plant plans in Windsor, Canada. The $4.1B (CAD 5B) plant was planned to go online in Q1 2024 ( link ), but the construction was halted because of a funding dispute with the Canadian government.

Here's the Mayor of the City of Windsor, Drew Dilkins, saying they made crucial work to make the battery plant a reality, but now the federal government jeopardizes the completion by 'not fulfilling their commitments'. ( link )

Just last month, Canada announced it will provide up to $9.7B (CAD 13B) to Volkswagen over the next decade for a battery plant in the country. At least in Volkswagen's case, the subsidies are set to be proportional to the US' IRA, so if the subsidies in the US would be reduced, Canada's will be too.

Officials estimate that over the next 30 years, the VW battery plant could generate over 200B CAD in value for Canada.


California bans the sale of new medium and heavy-duty trucks with combustion engines from 2036 with an "Advanced Clean Fleets" regulation passed by CARB.  ( link )

Interim targets

The new regulation affects medium and heavy-duty on-road vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of greater than 8,500 pounds (3,856 kg) as well as off-road yard tractors and light-duty mail and package delivery vehicles.

New diesel drayage trucks in ports and railyards will already be banned in 2024. The large fleets are required to become 100% emission-free by 2045.

New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Massachusetts, Washington and Vermont have already committed to follow California’s stricter standards, together accounting 20% of heavy-duty sales in US. ( link ) In case you've missed it, California has a 2035 ICE ban (with interim targets) set for 2035.


Ample, the batswap system we've mentioned here before, has now unveiled their second-generation station which can provide a battery swap in 5 minutes, twice as fast as its first-gen stations. ( link )

Ample says they can build a new station in just 3 days, which would allow it to deploy across a whole city in just a few weeks. You can see the swap briefly in action on video  here .

I like that Ample decided to focus on the fleets and ride hailing first, instead of directly consumer facing approach.

Ample is already supporting Uber drivers at its 12 stations in the Bay Area, with more deployments coming this year in California, Japan, and Spain. So far, Ample has signed partnerships with five vehicle manufacturers and designed adapter plates for 20 EV models.

Fisker announced the partnership with Ample just two weeks ago, aiming to use the batswap initially at fleets in US and Europe with plans to start by Q1 2024. ( link )

“We were going to do a better  Better Place . We want to be the gas station of electric,”  said  cofounder and CEO Khaled Hassounah.

The 5 minutes batswap time is what NIO claims to be the average also, although in Ample's case it's interoperability across OEMs might give it an edge. The CEO of NIO has recently said, however, that they are now open for partnerships.

A 'from the road' experience of the EV YouTuber Bjørn Nyland, with his 1,000km test run in Norway with four different NIO models, found that the batswap in NIO's case weren't as great as one would think.

His experience was that while the swaps work well, it took 7-10 minutes on average to get a new battery even without any lines, and you can't use the infotainment and climate controls during the swap (plus you can't go out of the car). Since you'll get back a battery at ~90% charge, the effective gain of the full battery is also less. Our reader AEON did a good overview of Bjørn's experience here: ( link ). This service and tech behind it, of course, will likely improve over time.

NIO currently has over 1,400 batswap stations installed in China and 16 in Europe. Just this week, it also built its first battery swap station in partnership with Shell, in Harmelen, the Netherlands. ( link )

NIO Netherlands


Ford has seen its market share halve in China since 2016.

Ford China

Now, the CEO Jim Farley has come out with a surprising dash of honest takes on the reality of it and Ford's next moves. He  says: 

We have been for the last couple of years, really looking carefully at our China business. And now we have made up our mind where our strategy is going to be, and it will be a much lower investment, more focused investment.

The focused investment will mean selling commercial vehicles like delivery vans, but not pouring money into the region to fight in the volume passenger EV market. After reading this quote below I realized Farley actually gets the reality of China EV Inc, unlike several other OEM heads ( link ):

We don’t want to leave China like others have because the battery technology, the user digital experience . . . is among the best in the world.
[...] It’s interesting to see how customers are no longer just attracted to traditional luxury brands with EVs or even hardware design anymore.
[...] The best new brands are offering integrated digital, retail, lifestyle and experience that are software defined.

Teaser: I've got a whole deep dive written out for you on Mercedes-Benz and China for the next week for you.


EVs now make up ~10% of Hertz global rental fleet, reaching 50k EVs in its fleet by the end of Q1. ( link ) The company expects two million electric trips in 2023 and plans for 25% of its fleet to be electric by the end of next year.

Can you imagine a more influential spot to be in, in terms of EV adoption? They literally put butts in (EV) seats. Good to see.


General Motors Europe President Jaclyn McQuaid confirmed the rumors that GM is coming (back) to Europe this autumn, with "an all-electric lineup from more than one brand". The Cadillac Lyriq is said to be in the launch list. ( link )

I hope they come in with Chevy Equinox. This would have the potential to become the entry-level EV in Europe too, if they achieve a similar $30k starting price as it will be in the US.


If you don't come from the automotive world originally (like me), it might be useful to know that GM left European volume market in 2017, when it sold its subsidiary Opel to the PSA Group (now under Stellantis).



Lordstown Motors said it expects to end production of its Endurance pickup truck “in the near future,” as it is running out of cash and seeks additional capital.

Lordstown said in a  SEC filing  it might be forced to file for bankruptcy protection due to possibility of its contract manufacturer (and investor and essentially, its lifeline) Foxconn walking away from their investment deal.

Foxconn recently said Lordstown is in breach of their investment contract because of triggering a delisting notice from NASDAQ for the <$1 share price.

The latest agreement between the two in late last year saw Foxconn investing up to $170M for a 20% stake in Lordstown, of which it already paid $52.7M last year. Looks like the rest of the ~$117M is what is at stake.

Lordstown had a net loss of $171.1M in Q1, and had $108.1M cash and equivalents left.


In a  Pro Report  in the middle of the March, I reported on how Lordstown recalled all 19 trucks they had made so far and stopped production. The former CEO Steve Burns had by then also cashed out about 1/3 of his ownership of the company, yet remaining the biggest shareholder at around 9%.

Foxconn Chairman Young Liu expressed that the Lordstown Ohio plant "would be useful regardless of how the companies' dispute ends." ( link )

Tesla canceled right-hand drive versions of Model S and X in the UK, Australia, Japan, NZ, Singapore and Thailand. Those with orders still in can get the LHD versions, £2k credit for Model 3/Y or just cancel. ( link )



US drivers are keeping their passenger vehicles for an average of 13.6 years and light trucks/utilities for 11.8 years, according to an S&P Global Ratings report. ( link ) And the trend of average age is upwards.

Note, that the "light trucks/utilities" here make up 63% of overall vehicles, and includes SUVs and pickup trucks.

There are more than 284 million vehicles in operation on US roads.

Chart US fleet

And that right there is the answer to the "how will the grid handle it if we all buy electric vehicles tomorrow" for ya.

What I'm left wondering is — how will widespread EV adoption change this?

The report had some other useful insights for us, too.

  • Currently, (for obvious reasons but) the average age of BEVs in the US is 3.6 years this year, and has hovered between 3 and 4 years since 2017.
  • Of the nearly 2.3M BEVs registered in the US from 2013-2022, about 2.12M are still on the road today. This means ~6.6% have left the fleet.
  • For context, for the rest of the drivetrains, the average is 5.2% per the same time period.



👀 A tour of ChargePoint facility by Out of Spec's Kyle Conner. What a great video for us EV geeks, with the combination of knowledgeable Kyle and  surprisingly in-depth conversations with the team (2h14m):


👀 Robert Barrosa, the man taking over as President and CEO of Electrify America took a 2,800 mi coast-to-coast road trip charging the Hyundai Ioniq 5 only at Electrify America chargers. (7min  video )

👀 How many parts can you remove from a Tesla before it stops working? ( video )

👀 This is the best ID. Buzz design I've seen so far. ( tweet )



📚  ChargeUp Europe , the European charging lobby group, published the State of the Industry Report. (63-page  pdf ) According to the P3 analysis (based on EAFO data), there are 57,000 public DC chargers and 418,000 AC chargers in Europe.

The ChargeUp Europe group itself consists of 34 members:

ChargeUp Europe

Elsewhere, National Charging Experience Consortium ( ChargeX ) was just launched in the US and  ChargeUK  just launched in the UK.

Let me know if a deep dive into the EV lobby groups would interest you. This way I'd move it up on the list.

📚 An US-wide study of the EV Shopping Experience by Sierra Club found that 66% of car dealerships in the US don't have any EVs to sell. Of these 66%, 45% reported they are unwilling to sell EVs, regardless of automaker allocation and supply chain constraints. (16-page  pdf )



On this day in 2009, Daimler acquired nearly 10% of Tesla for a $50M investment.

"It was the Daimler investment that saved Tesla, not government funding." — Elon Musk, in 2015.

Tesla needed the money following the 2008 market crash and Musk almost had to choose between saving either Tesla or SpaceX.

This was a year before Tesla's IPO. Before the Model S launch. The two companies partnered in technology too, specifically for the Smart and Mercedes A250 tech.

Five years later, Daimler sold the remaining part of its stake in 2014 for $780M.  While a nice $730M profit dor Daimler, the stake would be worth around $55.4B today.


Here's a short  thread  on how this went down, including Elon on video.

Oh, and while we're on the topic, we  wrote  a while ago about how Toyota acquired a 2.5% stake in Tesla in 2010. Back then, former Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda even said:

"Toyota was once a start-up company. Working with Tesla will provide us with a powerful stimulus."

I think we can now say that for some reason, they really were not provided with said stimulus...




This was a  response  to a tweet about Ford revealing its net EV income last quarter was -40%, projected net EV income is -20%, while Tesla's net margin was +11.4%.





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