Report #104: Toyota changes CEO — Lightyear sunsets 0 — Battery Passport

Happy Year of the Rabbit!

Welcome to the EV Universe.

Hey, Jaan here.

Might the year of the rabbit mean that I go down even more rabbit holes than before?

It seems likely so far, evident by the nearly-3,000 words I'm sending your way.

Topics today include:

  • [Deep Dive] Toyota's CEO, Akio Toyoda, steps down
  • [Deep Dive] Lightyear sunsets the Lightyear 0
  • Battery Passport, Tesla's Newada plans, EVs on screens

And, lucky for you, a lot in between!

Words: 2,986 | Time to read: 15 minutes | Feeling: the wind of change.

— Jaan



Do you have any experience with Chinese EVs sold in Europe? Our member Olexandr had a business importing and selling EVs from China in Ukraine...until Russia attacked.

Now, they've got cars from VW like ID4, ID6, from BYD, the Zeekr 001, Mach-E and others in stock but no market to sell them in.

If you have deeper knowledge of the import rules of any possible markets in Europe they could do business in, please reply to this email and I'll put you in touch.



This seems to have come as a surprise for most people I've spoken to in the industry so far.

Akio Toyoda, the CEO of Toyota, is stepping down. He will take place as chairman of the board of directors ( link ).

Koji Sato will become Toyota’s new President and CEO on 1 April 2023. Sato is currently the Operating Officer, Chief Branding Officer, President of the Lexus brand and President of the motorsport subsidiary Gazoo Racing. Sato, a mechanical engineer by training, joined Toyota in 1992 after graduating from Waseda University.

Here's Koji Sato (left) and Akio Toyoda, having fun testing the first electric Lexus, the RZ in 2021 ( video ):

Koji Sato and Akio Toyoda in a Lexus RZ

There aren't too many details and likely won't be going forward, but Toyoda said in a  broadcast  it was now Sato’s job to "transform Toyota into a mobility company”.

I think that Sato, too, is a carmaker like me.

Here's an official address from Toyoda and Sato ( link ).

Akio Toyoda is the grandson of Toyota founder, Kiichiro Toyoda and has been the head of the company for the past 14 years. The only current head of any automaker that has been a CEO longer than Toyoda is... Elon Musk.

"I would wish to pass on the baton to a successor as soon as it makes sense,” Toyoda  said  in an interview published in an in-house publication in 2020 when discussing leadership & succession. Toyoda then also described his  ideal successor :

"I don't want to hand over my position to someone who is envious or thinks they are the best. I prefer someone who would say, "Me? Really? You have made the worst last decision."

Here are a few analysts and people from the industry speculating on what's up, compiled by Reuters: ( link ).

Our next chance of seeing Toyota's EV-or-not future is the expected new 3-year-plan that the automaker should present to its suppliers sometime 'early 2023'. Which would in turn show us roughly what (kind of) models it plans to bring to market in around 2026. ( link )

Jaan's two Watts:

We can only speculate how much or little will this change in turning Toyota towards an all-electric future, if the misdirection of not going fully electric is the very reason for the shake-up, or whether Toyoda will continue to lead the company the same way from his new position.

Maybe even a bit more far-fetched, but I wonder if Sato will serve as just one link in the chain until the position is transferred to Daisuke Toyoda, Akio's son. As far as I could find, Daisuke is currently 34 and the SVP of Woven Planet Holdings, Toyota's subsidiary focusing on advanced technology.

Here's a reminder of the time Toyoda, Musk and Schwarzenegger were at the ceremony of Toyota giving over the NUMMI plant in Fremont to Tesla. I wrote more about that and if Toyota is really an 'EV villain' back in 2021  here .

Toyoda, Musk, Schwarzenegger

In other news - Renault brand gets a new CEO too.

The current Renault COO, Fabrice Cambolive, will take over as Renault brand CEO in February.

Cambolive’s main task will be to organise the upcoming EV offensive. Current Renault CEO, Luca de Meo, will stay on as the CEO of Renault Group. ( link )


DEEP DIVE: Lightyear stops production

Lightyear announced on Monday that it suspended the production of the Lightyear 0 and will focus on LY 2. We've been following their journey for a while here, as the world's first solar car was introduced in 2019.

Now, the company now announced a 'strategic restructuring' and will focus on the <€40k Lightyear 2 which will carry the  technological advances  of the 0.

This €250k masterpiece will not see the light of day, except for the few I'd assume they have produced within the last few months:

LY 0

CEO and Co-Founder Lex Hoefsloot:

"Unfortunately we had to make this decision. The whole process of developing Lightyear 0 has provided our company many valuable learnings over the past years. We are now redirecting all our energy towards building Lightyear 2 in order to make it available to clients on schedule."

On schedule here would mean starting production in late 2025.

So, why did they sunset the 0?

There's not much about the background that the company has revealed so far. A Dutch publication NRC  claims  the CEO had confirmed that the recently started production turned out to be too expensive, and partly under pressure from investors the production had been halted.

A 'source' had also commented that the company has grown very quickly in the last months, to 600 people, in a now difficult economic situation.

The 'restructuring' here also seems to mean that they have sent one of the arms into bankruptcy - their operating company responsible for production of the LY 0 called Atlas Technologies B.V. As far as I understand, it is one of the subsidiaries of their holding company which holds the IP, Atlas Technologies Holding.

Yesterday, they announced that the bankruptcy of the operating company was approved. ( link )

Jaan's two Watts

I've been supporting their mission as soon as I saw what they focus on — efficiency.

The Hummer EV has become a laughing stock among EV people because it does what Hummer is meant to do. To be ridiculous.

Lightyear 0 was at the very other end of the spectrum — it achieved the title of the world's most aerodynamic production car, with a drag coefficient of 0.175 Cd. Now, minus the production part. It would run at around 10.5kWh/100km or 16.9kWh/100mi, which is... nuts. In a good way. So even leaving anything connected to solar generation aside, this car is special.

So, assuming there is no foul play by the company regarding the cease of operations on the LY 0, I will fully support the company pushing the boundaries forward with the  Lightyear Two .

LY 2

I'd love to know your thoughts on this, feel free to reply to this email.



There's another 2,500-word newsletter, every week, with a detailed look at the EV industry. And you're missing out on it.

We call it The Pro Report.

I strive to keep all EV industry info accessible to everyone, not just for the big corp budgets. You can get full access from $8.33/month. Join us: ( link )

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Learn more about EVU Pro



The most clicked link last week was the  Battery Report 2022  by Volta Foundation.

The Global Battery Alliance launched three Battery Passport pilots, using data from Audi and Tesla ( link ). A Battery Passport is a digital twin of the physical battery that has information about all the sustainable battery requirements, tracing the source of each battery material, how it has been processed, whether there is any chance of child labor being involved and so on.

The goal is to bring transparency to battery value chains to ensure the sustainability of the raw minerals used, to understand where all the materials in a battery cell come from.

Here's the data from the three pilots: ( Tesla ;  Audi ;  Audi ) The concept is explained in a video  here  or in pdf  here .

My two Watts: In my book, traceability = transparency, and to ensure that our EVs are as good as possible for our planet and its people, we need to make sure the supply chain is ethical and sustainable too. Startups to watch for supply chain traceability:  Circulor ,  ReSource .


We're talking about the EV tax credit... again. Senator Joe Manchin, the chair of US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the person largely behind the initial EV tax credit in the Inflation Reduction Act in the first place, introduced a new bill that would halt the current EV credit until the battery requirements set at the start are put in place. ( link )

Currently, the tax credit is usable until IRS releases guidance on enforcing these are incoming in March. Manchin said:

It is unacceptable that the U.S. Treasury has failed to issue updated guidance for the 30D EV tax credits and continues to make the full $7,500 credits available without meeting all of the clear requirements included in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Maybe even most importantly for us, the bill Manchin introduced would also claw back the credit from any consumer that received it after purchasing an EV that didn’t satisfy the domestic sourcing requirements.


Meanwhile, a study from Transport & Environment finds Europe could end its reliance on China for battery cells in 2027, if it ramped up subsidies to counter America's IRA.. ( link , 60pp  pdf )

T^E visual

Julia Poliscanova from T&E says:

The Inflation Reduction Act has changed the rules of the game, and Europe needs to put more money on the table or risk losing planned battery factories and jobs to America.


Although this is quite an obvious advertorial, it's still fun: a story how parents are using Ford F-150 Lightning's frunk for diaper changes and/or bed ( link ).


Renault will offer EV retrofitting to its classic Renault 4 and 5 and the 1st generation of Twingos, together with MCC Automotive. While the Renault 4 & 5 will be coming as completely new EVs in 2024/25, there are still a lot of these classics on the roads (or in the garages). From 1960s to 1980s, there were about 8 million Renault 4s sold.

The price for the Renault 4 retrofit is €11,900 ($13k) including taxes and installation and will go on sale in February  here . It will feature a 10.7kWh LFP pack which Renault claims gets a 80 km (50 mi) range. ( link )

Renault Retrofit


Alpha Motors, the startup with the cool futuretro EV designs which at one point nobody knew if they are real or just a hoax, is now live on startengine with their Reg CF offering, and has so far raised $573k at a $125M valuation. ( link )

Alpha Motors



Tesla held its Q4 and Full Year 2022 Earnings Call on Wednesday. Here's the 35-page Shareholder Deck ( pdf ) and the Q&A Webcast here ( 1h2min ). Tesla's total revenue grew 51% YoY to $81.5B. Musk says Tesla could make 2M vehicles this year. Even  $TSLA  is up 19.4% since the call and +57% past in the month, currently at a $540B market cap.

I'll create an overview of the (l)earnings in tomorrow's  Pro Report .

Giga Newada

Earnings day wasn't the only big one from Tesla this week.

This Tuesday, live from the Giga Nevada site ( link   to blog / video ), Tesla announced two new manufacturing factories:

  1. A 100 GWh cell factory (4680 cylindrical cells). Musk mentions they might scale to 500 GWh here, and up to 2-3,000 GWh overall in the long term. This is in addition to Tesla's suppliers and equivalent to additional 1.5M Model 3/Y vehicles.
    The first high-volume Semi factory. This year limited production of the Semi, hopefully next year volume production.

This is the current footprint of the factory in purple, the new cell factory in green and the Semi factory in blue:

Semi and Cell factory added

This will mean $3.6B in new investment by Tesla, around 4M sqft of new manufacturing footprint and over 3,000 additional jobs.

This is the "Phase Two" of the site where Tesla broke ground in 2014. So far, Giga Nevada has seen $6.2B in investments and with its 11k-strong team it has produced:

  • 7.3 billion (Panasonic) battery cells*, 37 GWh+ annually
  • 1.5 million battery packs
  • 3.6 million drive units
  • 1 million energy modules (reached last Wednesday), 14 GWh+ total

"We're going to scale up big time..." is what Musk says in this 19-minute video from the factory, where Musk presented the vision:


* in other words, Tesla has so far roughly produced one battery cell per every human on Earth.



Take everything below here with a grain of salt.

Actually, we get 2-rumors-in-1 today.

On our Pro Report last Friday I wrote how General Motors and LG Energy Solutions are reportedly about to cancel the plans of building a 4th battery plant under their Ultium Cells joint venture. ( link ) To be fair, the three plants with 35GWh+50GWh+50 GWh are quite an undertaking already.

However, we get a new dimension on it with reporting from TheElec whose sources (I've found them true in the past) claim that General Motors is considering using cylinder cells over pouch cells in its future EV models. ( link )

While Ultium Cells, the LGES and GM joint venture is based on the pouch cells, it would explain why the 4th battery plant might not fit the plans anymore.

If the above is true, we'll likely see GM announce another partnership for either joint battery plant or initial supply soon - which I'd assume will be either 4680 (or 46XX). We already see BMW, Volvo, Stellantis among OEMs that are making the move towards this type of cells.

For context, as I wrote above Tesla just announced a 100GWh cell factory in Nevada for just that, the in-house production of 4680. It is currently producing at a rate of over 1,000+ cells per week.



...on #savesion campaign: they didn't reach the 50-day goal, extended. By today, €47,784,354 was raised, including a €1.46M grant from an EU Commission project. Sono Motors extended the #savesion campaign "as talks with potential investors progress". ( link ) The website now displays 32 days.

I guess all the three likely outcomes I offered  last week  are still in the running. Sono also dropped a video of its Tech Day in Munich, a guided tour with its CTO ( video ).

Two sides of the coin - there are also some that call out the campaign to be misleading from the start ( link ).

...on Arcimoto cash troubles: seem to be relieved for a bit, as the company announced it closed its $12M public offering at $/share. ( link ) Live to fight another day?



Movie buff? There's apparently a site called 'Intenet Movie Cars Database ( ), and LeasingOptions sourced the statistics from it that are relevant to us: what are the most seen EVs in film and TV? ( link )

Looks like Teslas are represented more than any other EV combined. But the whole picture is rather interesting:

EVs on Screen

I love this user-generated content site imcdb. For example, here are the screenshots of all the Teslas in the scenes, logged in from Fifty Shades of Grey to South Park ( link ) or Nissan LEAF in films like Robocop or The Office ( link ).




Thomas Edison poses with his first electric car, the Edison Baker. ( link )

He shows off the batteries, which seem to be in the... frunk?

Edison Baker

(retweetable  here )




👀 Some significantly more detailed photos of the Tesla Semi than what we've seen so far, done by MotorTrend when they visited the Frito-Lay event in Modesto, California (link). PS - looks like there's no frunk after all (for now)

👀 Jack Scarlett of Fully Charged walkaround of the Jeep Avenger which you can now order in Europe.

 👀 How to solve the problem of Tesla owners just parking in the Supercharger spots without charging? Plug them in and the idle fees start ticking. ( video ) Alternatively, Tesla should update the app to start charging idle fees if the anti-ICE floor locks are lowered by an owner, but it doesn't start a charge.

👀 A 20,000-mile trip from Alaska to Patagonia with a Tesla Model X and Model 3? No problem.  Electric Americas  is producing a docu-series featuring sustainable initiatives and extreme sports - and they just finished the whole trip. There are some videos from the trip on their  channel  already. Stay tuned for the documentary.

Electric Americas

PS, next week I'll also update you on the 4x4electric journey, the two Dutch nature geeks that went on an Africa expedition in a Škoda ENYAQ.  

👀 A Tesla Model X Plaid review... on a German Autobahn ( video )


📚 A non-academic perspective on the future of lithium-based batteries, by battery-rockstars James T. Frith, Matthew J Lacey & Ulderico Ulissi ( link )

📚 The world's largest trial for commercial EVs, punnily called Optimise Prime, has reached its conclusion in the UK. Hitachi Europe and UK Power Networks led the trial of over 8k EVs and included depot, home and on-the-road charging. It put its findings into this Fleet Electrification Guide and Operating Model. (23pp  pdf )


🎧 Ride the Lightning went to Tesla HQ and did a 55-minute podcast with Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen. Plenty of good insights. ( link )


PS! Pro members already got early access to the 2022 EV Sales spreadsheet I'm creating. And the insights along the way.

By now, I've mapped out 55% of the overall sales for OEMs and roughly the same for regions.

EV Sales Mapped

Get access on EVU Pro


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