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  • EVU Report: Ethiopia goes EV only — Ford's secret EV team — Ultimate Winter EV range test

EVU Report: Ethiopia goes EV only — Ford's secret EV team — Ultimate Winter EV range test

Caution! High Voltage! ⚡️

Hey, Jaan here.

Welcome back to the semi-weekly roundups of the EV industry. If you’re new here, this is how we roll:

First, I go over hundreds upon hundreds of news pieces, press releases, or data points every week about our EV industry, distilling it down to about 70 or so most relevant (or fun).

Second, I remove the fluffy words like “industry-leading, cutting-edge, innovative, flagship, underscoring dedication, pioneering, breakthrough,” …you know what I mean.

Third, I summarize and add context, sometimes including my opinion in italics.

Fifth, I add a sprinkle of humor and perhaps even a dash of irony.

Finally, I send it all to you with these reports.

There are 6,027 of you EV geeks (in the kindest of sense) receiving this newsletter today. My system tells me that 52.6% of you open these emails within the next two days on average. And 14.2% of you click something in the newsletter to dig deeper. These stats are pretty wild!

Sometimes I also ask myself, what happened with the Fourth step?!

Oh right, the fourth step might be the way-too-long intros I write to these emails. Sorry (not really), but let’s get going 👇️ 

Words: 3,240 | Time to read: 12 minutes | Feeling: like writing a haiku?

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From our community

It’s official — we will be continuing our EV industry predictions next year. This is how you voted on our industry prediction issue:

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🔮 Yes, I love reading these (62 votes)
🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🙅 No more of this hocus-pocus (14 votes)

As for the latter, I get your point — it differs from our usual factual reporting. I personally think it’s fine (and even fun) sometimes to veer into the community side of things. But I appreciate the feedback still!

Also, in one of our earlier newsletters I asked:

Do you think we’ll ever see another ICE car becoming the best-selling car in the world?

🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️ Yes (66 votes)
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 No (106 votes)

Great stuff. I uploaded the 19 compelling arguments you guys left here so you could see how both sides argue their points: (link).

Ok, now let’s talk about Ethiopia
(yep you read that right)

Deep Dive image

…a decision has been made, that automobiles cannot enter Ethiopia unless they are electric ones.

— Alemu Sime, the Ethiopian Minister for Transport and Logistics

Sime is not talking about 2035. Or even 2030. He is talking about today. (link)

Due to a mix of different variables, ranging from the foreign exchange shortage which causes problems importing oil, to the massive air pollution in its cities due to a 20-something year old car fleet, the country decided to become the first in the world to just do it ✓. Ban ICE sales.

According to the Minister, Ethiopia spent €6 billion ($7.6B) on gas and diesel imports in 2023, necessitating the ban.

Note that we don’t have too many details to go on yet, so we can’t be sure if the ban remains permanent or not, and if it also expands to used cars.

Now all they need to do is build out the charging infra better, which Sime said the government is focused on, and the ~2M vehicles currently on its roads should be gradually switched out by something much cleaner.

Some support: The Ethiopian government also implemented electric car exemptions for VAT, excise tax, and surtaxes in 2022. The gov’s 10-year plan (found the 86-page pdf) sees it supporting the import of at least 4,800 electric buses and 152,800 electric cars to the country by 2030.

There’s a little something else that Ethiopia has to deal with for the transition, too.

“Ethiopia is rich in renewable energy resources, but citizens are energy poor,” says a recent research paper I found to better understand their energy systems in place (link). I’d say Ethiopia has to overcome a barrier first, which most of us don’t have:

“Like millions in the global south, Ethiopians are energy poor with per capita electricity consumption of 100 kWh per year, far below the sub-Saharan Africa average of 487 kWh. Around 50% of Ethiopians, or 60 million people, have no access to electricity.”

And of those with access to electricity, can you imagine how much different the energy consumption will be with an EV, if your average electricity consumption per year is 100kWh? That’s about two full charges worth for an average EV.

The country seems to be going through a massive transition in energy with new renewable projects coming online — one of which is the 6000MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) hydroelectric power plant that just opened, and once reaching full capacity would be the largest such in all of Africa.

Per Statista, Ethiopia had the second-least expensive household electricity prices worldwide in June 2023, at an average of $0.006/kWh. Now I’d happily charge mine with that.

The Dam in Ethiopia

My speculation: if the EV transition in Ethiopia is indeed strong underway, we’ll see the market flooded with Chinese EVs specifically. China is both the biggest supplier of foreign direct investment and the top bilateral creditor to Ethiopia, and President Xi Jinping upgraded ties last year. (link)

Oh, and the Chinese are roughly the only ones that can provide cheap-enough yet good-enough EVs to the country, with for example GWM and BYD already operating in nearby markets.

It will be interesting to watch how the country figures out the EV future. If you’re from the area and reading this (we are truly global here), please let me know and I’d love to figure out a way we could track this transition live.

In case you wish to share this deepish dive on Ethiopia with your friends, here it is as a standalone article on our web: (link). Ok, now to the rest of the world.

Global News

Ford’s secret EVs ± China

Ford CEO Jim Farley, in the Q4 earnings call (41-slide presentation | 1h presentation video), said the company has been developing a low-cost “third-generation” EV platform with…

well now, who doesn’t love a good “hidden” storyline?

“We’re also adjusting our capital, switching and more focused onto smaller EV products.

We made a bet in silence two years ago. We developed a super-talented skunkworks team to create a low-cost EV platform.

It was a small group, small team, some of the best EV engineers in the world. And it was separate from the Ford mothership.

— Jim Farley, CEO of Ford

Interesting note — Ford has now confirmed the ~2-years old ‘skunkworks team’ is led by Alan Clarke, who happened to also lead the early development of the Tesla Model 3. (link) It also includes engineers from Auto Motive Power (AMP), the EV power startup that we reported Ford acquired in automaker acquihired in November. AMP’s founder Anil Paryani — get this — worked with Clarke at Tesla for about five years.

From the looks of it, it does seem Ford knows what they’re up against and which direction to be moving:

“All of our EV teams are ruthlessly focused on cost and efficiency in our EV products because the ultimate competition is going to be the affordable Tesla and the Chinese OEMs.”

I was rather surprised to see Farley call out a specific inbound competitor in a recent conference talk (link):

“There is a bigger thing here than the government. It’s called the BYD Seagull. BYD can produce its small Seagull EV for $9,000 to $11,000 in materials.

[…] If you cannot compete fair and square with the Chinese around the world then 20% to 30% of your revenue is at risk over the next several years.”

— Jim Farley, Ford CEO

Even more, Farley says he is open to joint-venture and collaboration deals with other automakers to better compete against lower-cost Chinese manufacturers who seem poised to enter the U.S. market.

Now, I wouldn’t rule out eventually collaborating with said Chinese makers, following the footsteps of Stellantis and VW. That would set Ford in the right direction for the low-cost EV.

Shall we say they will meet in… Mexico?

Will Ford form a joint venture with a Chinese EV company, with a production base in Mexico, for low-cost, IRA-compliant EVs? Let’s see, I’m calling it now.

Actually, no kidding here. We’re starting to see the early innings of what we called out a while back: the EV makers taking the route China→Mexico→US. Read 369 words on what I wrote about exactly this in this weeks’ Pro Report.

Until then, Ford has projected it will lose $5B to $5.5B on its EVs this year. For context, Ford’s EV business generated $1.6B in revenue in Q4 2023 — out of $46B total.

Let’s see where Ford gets to with the real action. Its 2023 EV numbers came in at ~72k units, and until its next-gen EVs hit the road, I wouldn’t expect much in growth, especially as it is cutting down F-150⚡️  production like it has.

GM slows down

General Motors takes an (expected) step back and starts offering plug-in hybrids. (link)

“We also have more than 100,000 reservations and orders for EV pickups that we expect to fulfill in 2024 and 2025. However, if demand conditions change, we’ll take advantage of our manufacturing flexibility in Spring Hill and Ramos to build more ICE models and fewer EVs. We can also mix between different EV products at Factory ZERO. Ultimately, we will follow the customer.”

— Mary Barra

Jaan’s rant on this: While yes, I personally believe the Chevy Volt is one of the only combustion-engined vehicle that almost makes in today’s world if used right, GM has fallen to the exact pit we assumed they would for years. Can someone tell Mary that:

The EV demand is there. If you build competitive EVs.

Fast forward a few years and GM will have lost out significantly in both market share and the potential of EV production capacity, thanks to its backtracked (although anticipated) EV goals of today.

EV Spotlight

Rivian R2 incoming

The Rivian R2 platform, along with the first crossover based on it, will be debuted on a livestream on March 7th at 10 am PST. You’ll be able to reserve an R2 for a refundable $100 deposit.

So it is just as we found out by clues in our last newsletter here. Now, if you’re going, do report back if the ice cream cart is there and if it is R2-D2 themed. Need-to-know information, really.

By the way, there are also rumors of an R1 platform refresh coming, spotted in camo for a few instances (link) and with whispers of Normal plant retooling being in process already.

The R2S that’s about to be unveiled, however, is already possibly spied in LA in the Rivian Adventure Network chargers, perhaps for video shooting, on the different angle (but mostly potato) pictures here, and here. We, of course, can’t rule out this is an AI-generated picture these days, but… 🤷 

Now, the question is if that’s the refreshed R1S or the new R2S we’re looking at. The regular R1S can be seen behind it:

(we’re wondering about the white one on the left)

There also was this patent application from Rivian recently for the headlights, which might’ve given us a glimpse of the overall vehicle (link).

The CEO, Scaringe has previously said the R2 will be Rivian’s version of the Tesla Model 3. Not in terms of design, but “Strategically, it’s very similar.”

Luckily, we don’t have to wait too long anymore, with March 7th just around the corner.

El Prix, the ultimate winter range test

The Norwegian Automobile Federation (NAF) held another one of its winter EV range text, El Prix, results of which we love to cover here every time. Can’t get more of a real-world wide test than this: 23 EVs, driven until they die, in the exact same conditions (windy, between -2° and -10℃ (14° to 28℉)), and all driven during the same day. (link)

The vehicle with the most range was HiPhi Z, the one in front here, driving 522 km (324 mi) before it died, also with the lowest range loss (6%) compared to the WLTP range advertised.

Note that you might not get to buy this king-of-range soon though, as the news just came yesterday of HiPhi closing down its factories in China for the next 6 months. The competition in the China EV market is no joke.

Anyway, I entered test data into a spreadsheet so we could sort it per highest range, per largest deviation from the advertised range and also added the data in miles. Why NAF doesn’t do that on their site is beyond me.
Check it out here: (The ElPrix Spreadsheet).

Electric Vehicle

El Prix range (km)

WLTP advertised range (km)

Delta (km)

Delta in %

HiPhi Z










Hyundai Ioniq 6





Lotus Eletre










XPeng G9





BMW i5





Kia EV9





Tesla Model 3





Polestar 2 LR










Audi Q8 e-tron





MG4 Trophy Extended





Mercedes EQE SUV





Volvo C40





Nissan ARIYA





Hyundai Kona EV





BYD Dolphin





Ford F-150 Lightning





Toyota bZ4X





Peugeot e-308





Opel Astra electric





Jeep Avenger





Note, that the test is mostly done with EVs or their variants that are new to the Norwegian market, which is why you don’t see models like the Model Y there (but do search their site for all previous runs).

EVs & the Super Bowl

While seeing EV ads outnumbering ICE ads during the Super Bowl has become ‘normal’ for us, it hasn’t been this way for long (link):

Here are the three from this year.
(*khm, these are all watchable straight without leaving on our web version)
Kia tried to take an inspiring approach with its EV9 (video).

BMW attempted the humor way, with Christopher Walken (video).

And Volkswagen went for a drive down memory lane with the “we shape its metal, you shape its soul” (video).

Overall, I do think last year’s EV ad quality was significantly higher. Turns out the Game itself can be inspiring too. If you saw it, this meme of yours truly might click:

(feel free to share on X here and on LinkedIn here)

Batteries, Recycling

Automakers, battery makers, and academia in China form the alliance called China All-Solid-State Battery Collaborative Innovation Platform (CASIP), to commercialize all-solid-state batteries and establish a supply chain.

The alliance includes CATL, BYD’s battery subsidiary FinDreams, CALB, EVE Energy, and Gotion High-Tech (26% of which is owned by VW Group, and which in turn owns 25% of InoBat). NIO and BYD are also involved as automakers, and several Chinese government ministries are included. I wonder what it means for the other solid-state play of VW Group, Quantumscape, which it owns ~14% of.

Can’t wait to report back in a few years on how far along the Chinese have “suddenly” come in solid-state batteries on the market.

Meanwhile, Quantumscape’s co-founder Jagdeep Singh will step down as CEO, ceding the role to Siva Sivaram, a semiconductor industry veteran. (link)

There’s much happening in the solid-state (and also in the semi-solid state) part of the industry. Join the EV Universe Pro to learn more in our Pro Reports.


Much to his chagrin
he found that I do not spend
too much time chargin'

— a little haiku from yours truly… because I felt like it.

Honda 🤝 GM 🤝 Hyundai 🤝 BMW 🤝 Kia 🤝 Stellantis 🤝 Mercedes-Benz

= IONNA, now having an actual name and having received regulatory approval, plans to roll out the first high-power stations in the US in 2024 and deploy 30,000 charge points across North America. (link)

To give you a banana for scale, the United States right now has a total of 39,119 DC charge points installed in 9,245 locations, and Canada has another 4,876 DC ports in 1,775 locations (per Alternative Fuels Data Center).

So, although IONNA does not specify any target date, it is quite the announcement in today’s scale, and I did find Stellantis mentioning 2030 as the target in one of its press release for something else:

Stellantis is adopting SAE J3400 connector (aka the now-official name of Tesla’s NACS connector, which it really tries not to mention here) in its EVs in 2026. (link) (my meme)

Seth Cutler, formerly from EV Connect and Electrify America, is now the CEO of IONNA.

Here’s a few quick kW for ya:

  • Electrify America debuted its first purpose-built indoor charging station, in San Francisco. (link) Features 20×350kW chargers, two lounges with amenities, open 24/7.

  • The Equitable EV Charging Act in the US seeks to simplify the deployment of curbside charging stations for residents of multi-family homes. (link) This bill was co-sponsored by FLO and itselectric. Aka the ones that’ll win from increased curbside charging rollout.

  • The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved a further $1.9B for new EV charging stations and hydrogen stations over the next 4 years. (link)

  • Zap-Map’s Price Index says the public charging prices in UK increased by 11% in 2023, with the premium to charge at the rapid/ultra-rapid network remains at ~47% (link).

EV GIF of the week

NIO took the Dog Mode to a whole other level with its ET9 (link).

These kinds of party tricks come from NIO’s new supply partner for the proactive suspension, ClearMotion, a startup born out of MIT.

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See you soon (probably this week!)
— Jaan

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