Report #89: Is Diess the reason CATL started? — rEVolution in Dealerships — Rivian will make e-vans with Mercedes

Welcome to the EV Universe

Hey, Jaan here.

Let's dig into what's up this week:

  • Diess might be the reason CATL even "happened"
  • Ford, Buick, and Chevy make their dealership moves
  • Rivian and Mercedes to make e-vans together
  • How many mines do we need for battery raw materials?

There's so much more happening that I'd want to tell you, but (lucky for you?) these emails can only fit that much. If you crave the full picture, consider joining the EV Universe Pro.

Words here: 2,223. Time to read: 12 minutes. Feels like: wow.

- Jaan


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Diess... made CATL happen?

Robin Zeng <> Herbert Diess

caption for image

Reading tip: The Rise and Precarious Reign of China’s Battery King (link).

The king here is Zeng Yugun (aka Robin Zeng), the founder and Chairman of CATL.

CATL is the Universe's biggest battery maker, which commands roughly a third of all EV batteries everywhere.

In this article, I found another connection in our EV Universe I never knew existed. Herbert Diess, in 2010 when he was purchasing manager for BMW, met with Zeng while he was running a TDK subsidiary. Diess tried to convince companies making mobile phone batteries to pivot to EVs and Zeng had said it's "impossible for him to build such big batteries".

Looks like Zeng did get a nudge from this meeting, however, because in 2011 he led a group of Chinese investors to acquire an 85% stake in TDK’s EV battery business, which they called CATL. And its first key account was, you guessed it, BMW. The Battery King even said in an interview (link):

"Diess brought our company into the car battery business.

I am grateful to him for that.”

And considering how many EVs are on the roads thanks to CATL scaling up battery production today, I am grateful too.


rEVolution in Dealerships

Buick Wildcat concept

Buick: EVs or Bye

Buick, similarly to Cadillac at the end of 2020, says "EVs or Bye" to its dealers, offering to buy out the franchise if they don't want to make the investments needed for an EV-only business. (link)

Buick will go fully EV by 2030. Here's how it went down with Cadillac on our 8th-ever newsletter (link).

Ford: Invest for EVs or stay ICE

Ford doesn't plan on offering buyouts to its 3,000 dealer locations that don't want to go EV, but it sets them a series of requirements instead (link):

  • No-haggle prices. No more markups, oh nooo...
  • Time until Oct 31st to opt into two EV certification tiers.
  • If the dealer doesn't join, it will not be authorized to sell EVs from 2024 onward and can only sell the ICE side.
  • Lower tier is an estimated $500k investment with 90% of the cost going to installing charging infrastructure, and at least one DC 120kW charger.
  • Upper tier has a $900k upfront cost (or $1M-$1.2M total) with at least two DC chargers, gets "elite certification" and allocation of more EVs.

The ones opting out can go for the EV model in 2027.

Is the average full cost for a DC charger really at $400k?

Jim Farley said:

"We’re betting on the dealers. We’re not going to go direct. But we need to specialize. [...] You could be the most valuable franchise in our industry.

Chevrolet: Your loss is our gain

Chevrolet's global VP Scott Bell says that the brand won't follow in the buyout offering and Buick and Cadillac dealers that take the payouts could end up exclusively selling Chevrolet vehicles. Which is good for Chevy. (link)


🌌 Around The 'Verse

The most clicked link last week was... the AXA crash test of the Model S, with the remote-started fireworks in the spot where batteries should have been (video)

Mercedes-Benz Vans and Rivian signed an MoU to partner on electric van production in Europe, leveraging an existing Mercedes-Benz site in Central/Eastern Europe. (link) +200 words on our Pro Report last week.

Funding secured. More than $900M in this and next year funding was approved for chargers along the highways of the US, under the NEVI program to 35 states. Here's a list with deployment plans per state: (link).

If you bought an EV within the last year or so, consider filling in this quick survey of the NY Times. (link) I always consider the more data points the better.

Scalp 'em. 6 weeks after Tesla started Model Y deliveries in Australia, one in ten are being flipped on used car market for a premium (link).

Tesla accepts SC location suggestions for the Supercharger Voting on Twitter (link), choosing based on likes.

Porsche IPO will consist of 911 million shares (yes, intended). Stock exchange prospectus expected on Monday. (link)

Let the emotional goodbyes begin. The Chrysler 300 production will end following the 2023 model year. The 300 was first introduced in 1955. (link) Chrysler plans to go all-EV by 2028.

Meanwhile, we won't be saying goodbye to the gas-guzzler Mustang. A redesigned seventh-gen Mustang with a 5.0 liter V8 was unveiled by Ford Blue. Jim Farley, ladies and gentlemen (link):

“Investing in another generation of Mustang is a big statement at a time when many of our competitors are exiting the business of internal combustion vehicles. Ford, however, is turbocharging its ICE growth plan."

I'd respond: "...and you're proud of it?"

Ford is missing out here by not turning the Mustang into a full EV project. The best example, which gets me drooling every time I see it, is this Charge Cars' '67 fastback... as a new electric car. They'll make 500 of 'em.

Charge Cars Mustang

🔋 ProLogium, the Taiwanese solid-state battery maker which seems to be one of Mercedes-Benz's and VinFast's solid-state battery bets, plans its first overseas battery factory. An $8B investment and an annual capacity of 120 GWh are expected. (link) Its first gigafactory in Taiwan will go online next year. Prologium said in March that it is weighing an IPO in the US.

🔋 StoreDot says they've shipped the first production-ready cell samples of the 100in5 tech (silicon-dominated anode, should charge 100 miles in 5 minutes) to 'over a dozen of strategic partners and potential OEM customers across the globe'. (link) + three connections in the Pro report (link) ;)

VinFast delivered its first 100 VF8s in Vietnam (event video). The deliveries in other markets should start in December.

Mullen Automotive acquires a 60% stake in Bollinger Motors for $148.2M in cash and stock. (link) Mullen is looking to revive the B1 electric terrain vehicle and its B2 pickup variant (yay!).

B1 & B2

Meanwhile, Mullen has received a "minimum share price" warning by Nasdaq, which means it has 180 days to get the share price close above $1 for 10 consecutive business days — or be delisted. (link) The share price sits currently at $0.54

Musk said lithium refining is a license to print money. Tesla now plans to start printing money in Texas (link).

Connect The Watts: EVgo introduced the "EV Charging Hero" National Recognition Program to recognize the leaders in the EV charging ecosystem. You can nominate a hero here: (link).

Electrify America redesigns labels on the chargers, now showing connector type, max charging speed, and the charging speed visualized as variants of three lightning bolts. (link) Hyper-fast is up to 350kW, green label. Ultra-fast is up to 150kW, teal label. CHAdeMO sits on a blue label.


Bugatti on ICE. "A purely electric version is not included in our ten-year plan for Bugatti," says Mate Rimac, the CEO of the rather 'fresh' Bugatti Rimac carmaker. (link in DE) Looks like keeping the BEV side for the Rimac brand might have been a part of the deal.

Is a lethal EV combo brewing here? Geely's affiliate VREMT unveiled the 600kW supercharger. (link) We also know Geely's subsidiary Zeekr will be the first customer for CATL's new Qilin Battery with a great promised range. This would potentially give the Zeekr 001 coupe a 1,000+km (620mi) range with the ability to recharge 300km in five minutes.

NIO ET5 is having its "Model 3 moment" with showrooms packed before preorders are locked in. (link) No test drives have been made available yet. Rumors have the order count at nearly 200k (a bit extrapolated, but might be getting close).

GM released the details of the 2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV, which should start at $30k and offer a 250-300 mi range (link).

Equinox EV

Don't miss out on me ranting on about 30+ more news on tomorrow's detailed Pro Report. The layout of the Pro report is usually:

  • A deep dive
  • Around the 'verse
  • Models
  • Production, Sales
  • Battery, Mining and Recycling
  • Charging

Each of these come with 3-5 insights and an added M&A/funding section. Signing up takes just a few clicks (or taps):

Get more out of this rEVolution


Chart* of the week

* because "infographic of the week" just sounded weird.

At least 384 new mines for graphite, lithium, nickel and cobalt are required to meet demand by 2035, based on average mine sizes in each industry, according to Benchmark (link).

336, if you take recycling of raw materials into account. In total, we'll need:

  • 97 natural flake graphite mines
  • 74 lithium mines (59 if recycling)
  • 72 nickel mines
  • 62 cobalt mines (38 if recycling)

This is the 2022 supply (black) vs 2035 demand (yellow):

How many mines do we need

(retweetable here)


Stuff I'm...


👀 "I'm Tom and I... still drive a petrol car."

A great promo vid' from Fastned about their four-part podcast miniseries called "Confessions of a Petroholic", the first of which should drop today/tomorrow (here).

👀 Lucid CEO (and CTO) Peter Rawlinson's new "Tech Talks" video focuses on the Drive Unit. Bonus guest: VP of powertrain, Emad Dlala (1:12:25):

👀 The Munro team takes apart the Made-in-Texas Tesla 4680 battery cell:

👀 Absolutely scripted, but still funny - Biden in a Cadillac Lyriq at the Detroit Auto Show, answering Daniel Mac's question: "what do you do for a living?" (video)

👀 I stay away from the overall AV topics in this newsletter, including the Tesla FSD, to keep some kind of criteria for what we write about. But the FSD visualizing train wagons at a crossing as semi-trucks is just too funny not to share (video).

👀 Aptera Gamma revealed in detail. This will soon be followed by production-intent delta prototypes. Meanwhile, Aptera opened another $40M crowdfunding round at a $700M valuation (link). [not investment advice] 

👀  Maserati Folgore EV, 'roaring' in California.

👀  A deeper look into Candela C-8, the 'flying' electric speedboat:


📚 Since EV batteries aren't reaching end of life en masse any time soon (even if my ICEhead friends are convinced they do), the major source this decade for recycled battery materials will be battery production scrap. (link)

Greenpeace ranks the decarbonization efforts of the 10 largest automakers in its Auto Environmental Guide 2022 (60pp pdf). This is the final scorecard:

Greenpeace scorecard

(page 6)

📚 California officials asked, among other things, to avoid charging their EVs to avoid rolling blackouts. In reality, California's 680k registered EVs account for <1% of the total electricity demand in the state. (link)

📚 A peer-reviewed study by University of Michigan found that the USPS dramatically underestimated the benefits of an electric delivery fleet in its environmental review, when it agreed to purchase nearly all gas-powered trucks. (link) True that.

Tweet of the week:

Does anyone know what @Tesla will attach to this giant USB connector at Giga Berlin? (link)

My guess is... to dock with the alien dreadnaught?

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