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  • EVU Report #132: US raised China EV tariffs 4x — Fisker crumbles — Tesla still plans $500M for SC

EVU Report #132: US raised China EV tariffs 4x — Fisker crumbles — Tesla still plans $500M for SC

Caution! High Voltage!

(cover image: Storedot, edited)

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Hey, EV geeks.

Jaan here.

Here’s something fun I witnessed the other day.

I saw a regular EV geek like me and you, calling someone else an oil bro.

I'm definitely adding this one to my vocabulary. I think the oil bros would hate getting the EV Universe newsletter. And the fact that there are 7,060 of us here already!

On the oil-free menu today:

  • China EVs are eating the world, but Biden stopped it in the US for now, by 4x’ing the tariffs. Meanwhile, foreign automakers are going hungry in China.

  • Zeekr IPOs, Fisker crumbles;

  • Polestar and StoreDot demo charging +200 miles (320 km) in 10 minutes;

  • FreeWire Tech lays off 113 people and seeks funding;

  • Musk starts rehiring Supercharger team, says Tesla will spend $500M on charging this year;

  • …and more.

You’ll get two newsletters from me this week. Three if you’re a Pro member.

Words today: 3,322 | Reading time: 11 minutes | Feeling: like the good EV news are massively underreported. 

Before we kick off — this isn’t sponsored or anything — I learned a friend of the EV Universe and an EV journalist, Jennifer Sensiba, is raising funds for her “Charge to the Parks” project, where she is documenting her EV+trailer trips to the national parks, creating EV travel guides and more.

I love this because it’s a true boots-on-the-ground EV initiative with a very clear impact. I chipped in and if you can, consider doing it too: (link, currently $1.3k raised of $5.2k), and learn more about her project here.

Chinese EVs are eating the world

If you’ve been with us for longer, you might remember how I suddenly started ranting more and more about China EVs overtaking the world, about three years ago. We saw it coming and are now at the point where it’s time to fetch that popcorn 🍿 , because things are getting interesting.

I normally don’t share opinion pieces with you, but they mix in so well today. Let’s start with the legacy auto’s troubles in China:

Why American Automakers Are Failing In China”, a decent 15-minute video from CNBC. The failure of foreign brands to stay relevant in China is very, very interesting to watch live, happening as we speak. A friend of the EV Universe, Michael Dunne, said it best. The formula for the Chinese have been so far:

Phase 1: Invite In
Phase 2: Learn From
Phase 3: Thanks for Coming.

You guessed it, we’re on phase three now. 👋 Here’s a great chart from Bloomberg on the matter, showing this exactly: the local brands in China had a 37% market share five years ago, but have climbed to 53% by now.

Without strong software and EV game, the foreign makers have no chance but to relinquish even more of the pie. They’ll go hungry. And retreat.

I Went To China And Drove A Dozen Electric Cars. Western Automakers Are Cooked” — a good feature with a lot of firsthand examples from Kevin Williams (link). 

Now, naturally, China is building out excess EV capacity, which will also be exported abroad.

The US blocking the way with tariffs and excluding incentives (see below)? No biggie, perhaps we’ll go through Mexico and Canada, or perhaps we’ll wait it out.

Europe requires domestic EV production or slaps tariffs on too? No biggie, joint ventures and/or factories on the ground it is. See BYD building a factory in Hungary, and Leapmotor deal with Stellantis.

The rest of the world is something China EV makers are now actively conquering — I’ll predict you’ll see a major jump in EV adoption in places like Brazil, South Africa, Thailand, Australia, and more. In fact, it’s time for:

Jaan’s wild prophecy corner: as soon as this year, we’ll see that many countries in the world will far outpace the US and Europe in EV adoption, for this simple reason: they allow it to happen.

This leaves the door open for (actually competitive) Chinese EVs. The blocked doors of US and EU (which is really more of a very high ticket price) will make the Chinese EV surplus massively spread among these other regions, starting from Brazil and ending with Australia, and both sides will win a lot from this.

The US quadrupled tariffs on China's EVs yesterday

China’s unfair trade practices concerning technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation are threatening American businesses and workers. China is also flooding global markets with artificially low-priced exports. In response to China’s unfair trade practices…

— part of the White House statement (link)

The US quadrupled tariffs on Chinese EVs from 25% to 100% (well actually it’s 27.5% to 102.5% total), while raising tariffs on some other areas around EVs too:

Raised tariffs on Chinese:

Tariff Change

From the year

EVs

25% → 100%

Now

EV Li-ion batteries

7.5% → 25%

Now

Permanent magnets

0% → 25%

2026

Natural graphite

0% → 25%

2026

non-EV use Li-ion batteries

7.5% → 25%

2026

See the statement for all tariff increases, including solar and semiconductors (link), and here’s a good explainer from Rho Motion (link).

Want to guess if this brings Biden some sweet sweet union votes in some states?

Yet to play out: if and what does Mexico do in this situation. Will it allow China EV assembly on its soil and offer a backdoor to the United States… or succumb to US pressure and close the way in.

This all fits in perfectly with yet another great read: “Tariffs and Timidity Are Driving US Carmakers into a Ditch” — an opinion piece of David Fickling, Bloomberg (link). Thanks for sharing, Corey. This one is a wonderful direct quote from David’s article:

“Cosy within a market protected by distance and tariffs, and fearful of the wrenching shifts required by both electrification and Chinese competition, many executives would like to believe the whole energy transition thing was just a bad dream.”

— David Fickling, Bloomberg

The US government also recently published the final rules on the up-to-$7,500 tax credits on EVs, giving automakers two additional years — 2027 instead 2025 — to remove some hard-to-trace-the-source minerals such as graphite in anode materials and critical minerals in electrolyte salts, binders and additives. (link)

You’ll find the currently subsidy-ready EVs here (sort for all-electric and this year).
Saving you a click, the $7,500 eligible EVs are currently certain trims of Cadillac LYRIQ; Chevy Bolt EV/EUV and Equinox EV; Ford F-150⚡️, Honda Prologue, Tesla Model 3/X/Y, and VW ID.4.
And on the $3,750 list, we have Nissan LEAF and Rivian R1S/R1T.

On another related note, the US Department of Energy announced $50M in grants through the Automotive Conversion Grants Program, meant for small and medium-sized suppliers to convert their production facilities to EV parts manufacturing. (link)

Friendly founders in China. Here’s an interesting little sidenote — Chinese EV-maker founders seem to get along well. This isn’t the first example I’ve seen, but it’s great to report on:

He Xiaopeng, the CEO of XPeng, personally delivers the new XPeng X9 to William Li, the CEO of NIO, in Hefei. (link) Then visits VW and NIO, and comments that he may consider joining NIO battery swapping network once it reaches 5,000 stations. (it currently has 2,414 in China). Then the two take the train together to Shanghai.

This reminded me of the time Musk visited Herbert Diess, then-CEO of VW Group, in Germany and drove the ID.3. Somehow I can’t imagine Musk would get as friendly with Blume.

I wonder if Musk and Lei Jun, the CEO of Xiaomi will meet again now that Xiaomi is an EV maker. If you haven’t, see our exclusive on Lei Jun’s since-deleted blog post about meeting Musk in 2013 here).

Speaking of batswaps, NIO 🤝 GAC for battery swapping and charging in the Guangzhou province (link). Other partners NIO has attracted so far are Chang’an Automobile, SAIC, Geely Holding Group, Chery Automobile, JAC Group, and Lotus. The scope of this industry cooperation is becoming hard to overlook.

Meanwhile, one of the China EV makers, the Geely brand Zeekr held an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange at a $5.5B valuation, the stock closed +34.6% on the first day and now sits at $6.84B valuation as of today. Ticker: $ZK.

In 2023, Zeekr sold 118,685 EVs, mostly in China and also increasingly exporting to Europe. It targets 230k for this year. The automaker did shed around half of its valuation, considering a funding round early last year valued the company at ~$13B.

Zeekr is now also added to our EV stock tracker, which is a spreadsheet I created with 118 EV-related stocks (EV-makers, Charging infra, Battery and raw material, ETFs, etc), and updates all pricing and market caps live. Available for EVU Pro members (link).

Enough of China? Let’s look elsewhere.

🇺🇸 US: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the final 2027-2032 emission targets for cars and vans. (link to EPA press release, the Rule summary (link) and the full 1,181-page rule pdf). This is from late March but since we were gone for a bit…

These targets should be able to “avoid more than 7 billion tons of carbon emissions and provide nearly $100 billion of annual net benefits to society.”

The targets were weakened compared to earlier proposals, but only at the earlier model years covered – with the final target remaining similar, reducing CO2 per mile by 49% in Model Year 2032, compared to 2026. The earlier proposal stated a 56% reduction.

The manufacturers must remain below a total light-duty fleet average of 170 grams of CO2 per mile in 2027, and reach a target of 85 grams per mile in 2032.

The EPA assumes that the regulations will lead to 30 to 56% of new car sales being electric between 2030 and 2032.

EPA also announced the 2027-2032 Model Year targets for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, but since we’re limited in email space I created an article about it for you here: (link)

Speaking of US EV policy, we went over the National Zero-Emission Freight Corridor Strategy 2024-2040 roadmap for electric heavy-duty vehicles published by the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation in last week’s Pro Report.

Trump reportedly promised to reverse dozens of the Biden administration's environmental rules and policies — including those for EVs — at a meeting with top US oil executives. Naturally, it’s also where he asked them to raise $1 billion for his presidential campaign (link).

Déjà vu: I’d hate to see the oil lobby get what they want. I stay out of politics, so you won’t hear Biden vs Trump stuff from me. This reminded me of our third-ever newsletter in November 2020 where we tried to scope what a Biden-or-Trump election win would mean to the EV industry. That newsletter back then went out to just 87 of you, by the way.

Study tip: Around 34 US states charge EV drivers additional registration fees, ranging from $50 (Hawaii and South Dakota) to $225 (Washington) with the average fee costing $132.58. (link)

Atlas did wonderful research here, and also identified the “EV penalty” per state — the total amount of EV-specific taxes and fees an EV driver pays in a single calendar year for each state in comparison to a typical gasoline vehicle driver.

Oil lobby vs chargers? I had never even considered this might happen:
A new state law in Kentucky lobbied by the oil industry mandates that zoning authorities of cities and counties do not treat retail filling stations differently than EV charging stations. What this would potentially lead to, is prohibiting deploying chargers near parks, high schools and other places where gas stations would be inappropriate. (link)

Fisker begins to crumble? Its Austrian subsidiary, Fisker Austria files for insolvency. (link) Currently says other Fisker companies aren’t involved 🤷 A report recently claims Fisker closing its HQ in Manhattan Beach, California and the company has said if it doesn’t find ways towards funding, it’ll be terminating employees on June 28th (link).

Meanwhile, we get news of Fisker adding new US dealer partners, up to 15 now. (link) In March, Fisker lowered the MSRP of the 2023 Ocean Extreme trim to $37.5k from $61.5k, and the lowest trim to $25k from $39k. I joke about bankruptcies making EVs affordable here.

Magna, the company contracted to build the Fisker Ocean, CEO confirms on their Q1 earnings call that the production in its Graz plant has been discontinued and will probably not be resumed. (link) As far as I’ve gathered, this actually punched a hole into Magna’s own balance sheet too.

We’ve been tracking Fisker’s way down for quite a while now already when it started suspicious language on its production guidance (mostly in our Pro Reports), and I won’t call out the death of another EV maker before things are certain — but it does not look pretty at the moment.

There are a few readers among us who already own a Fisker Ocean. If you’re up for sharing your good & bad with the vehicle and company so far, do let me know, and let’s share it here. The more context we all have, the better.

CATL unveiled Shenxing Plus, an LFP battery capable of charging 4C, and achieving a 1,000 km (621 mi) range. (link | product launch 28min video).

This charging rate would add 370 miles (600 km) of range in just 10 minutes.

Quick explainer: The 4C charging rate here would mean that it would be possible to charge a 50 kWh battery pack at up to 200 kW power, or 100 kWh battery at 400 kW.

The battery should also be able to charge ‘superfast’ in temperatures as low as -20°C (-4°F). And I assume just charging slightly slower after that. With the 205 Wh/kg energy density, this LFP battery seems to have reached the levels of most traditional NMC batteries. The last notable upgrade on CATL’s LFP batteries was the announcement of the original Shenxing battery that promised a 700 km (435 mi) range.

It seems to be a perfect storm of increased efficiency and lowered unit prices, as CATL said in January that the LFP battery costs would be reduced by 50% by mid-2024.

We can assume these Shenxing+ batteries are “coming soon to EVs near you”, since CATL has been the largest EV battery maker for the 7th consecutive year, commanding a 36.8% market share in 2023.

Speaking of battery chemistries, here’s a chart tip for you from the IEA Battery report I shared last time, showing EV sales by chemistry and region in 2021-2023:

guess which way will US & EU be moving next?

Just last week, CATL exec said in an interview it has “talked with about a dozen carmakers about technology licensing partnerships”, where CATL provides technology licensing as well as plant construction and operation services to help global OEMs and even the company's peers quickly master battery production capabilities. From late March, we know one such partnership might be with GM.

Polestar and StoreDot showed a successful charge of the Polestar 5 prototype with 300Wh/kg silicon-dominant StoreDot cells going from 10-80% in 10 minutes. That is +200 miles (320 km) in 10 minutes at an average 310kW charge rate. (link | video)

FreeWire Technologies needs funding, and cuts 113 staff. Freewire Technologies says it needs additional capital to further support growth and ensure continued success, in a statement issued after its plans for closing its Newark, CA facility and laying off the 113-person team became public. I created a deeper look into what’s up here: (link)

click on this pic to teleport to the news

Latest on the Tesla Supercharging layoff/slowdown (our deep dive here). Elon Musk writes an update:

Just to reiterate: Tesla will spend well over $500M expanding our Supercharger network to create thousands of NEW chargers this year.

That’s just on new sites and expansions, not counting operations costs, which are much higher.

— Elon Musk

Bloomberg reports that Tesla, just like we anticipated, has started rehiring some of the Supercharger team that was laid off, including Max de Zegher, formerly the director for charging for North America, now reportedly in a senior role. (link)

So how many Superchargers will Tesla deploy with the $500M? What does “thousands” mean here? I did some of my back-of-the-napkin calculations which I know you love so much, and will share it in our next Teslaverse issue coming out to you this week.

I’m not recommending this here, but the old trick still works: covering the V2/V3 Supercharger handle in a wet towel on a hot day will fool the temperature sensor in the handle, making the charging curve not drop as much as quickly. (link) (link to charging curve spot)

The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved a further $1.9B to expand zero-emission charging infrastructure over the next 4 years in its Clean Transportation Program (CTP), to be distributed to projects through competitive grants (link).

  • $1.02B for Zero-Emission truck and bus infrastructure (BEV and FCEV)

  • $657.6M for Light-duty EV charging infrastructure

  •  $130M for Zero-Emission port infrastructure

  • $46M for “Emerging Opportunities”

  • $5M for ZEV workforce development.

Clean Transportation Program, since 2007 when it was created, has spent $1.8B on ZEV infrastructure and related areas (detailed here). 

Late last year, California announced it had reached its goal of installing 10,000 DC fast charges a year early.

For context, this is how they see the future infrastructure needs:

  • In 2030, 7.1M EVs need 1M chargers.

    155,000 electric trucks and buses need 114,500 chargers.

  • In 2035: 15.2M EVs need 2.1M chargers.

    377,000 electric trucks and buses need 264,000 chargers.

And additional context from yours truly: by the end of 2023, California had 1,623,211 total ZEV sales and ~34% of new ZEVs sold in the US were sold in California.

Related:

WattEV opens the first electric truck stop featuring a solar-powered microgrid in the US, in Bakersfield, California. (link) The site features 16 dual-cord 360kW chargers connected to the grid and 15 single-cord 240kW CCS chargers, plus three MCS 1,200kW rapid chargers, drawing power from the site’s solar array. This is WattEVs third site in California.

Speaking of e-trucks, Amazon’s largest fleet of heavy-duty electric trucks hits the road in Southern California, “nearly 50” Volvo VNR, which gets a range of up to 275 miles when loaded at 82k lbs gross. (link) These will be charged at 45 DC chargers Amazon has installed across 11 sites. Amazon also writes it has deployed ~13,500 Rivian vans in the US so far.

The EU Commission has announced €424M in funding for 42 new infrastructure projects with 4,200 charging points and 48 hydrogen refueling stations through the fifth round of Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Facility (AFIF) grants. (link) (link to all 42 project details and funding amounts.)

A new AFIF call for applications is currently open for which the first submission deadline is 24th of September 2024. 

The EU has approved more than 1.3 billion euros for various projects through the AFIF since 2021, which have been used to install 26,396 EV charging stations, 202 hydrogen refuelling stations and to electrify ground operations at 63 airports. 

Study tip, UK: More than one-in-10 UK supermarkets now offers EV charging, per Zap-Map study (link). And the latest: Q1 of 2024 sees rate of charge point installation increase by 35% with 5,725 new public chargers, 1,436 of those high-powered and 832 of those 150kW+ (link)

Study tip, France: a detailed overview of Ultra-fast charging in France, with historical growth, CPO overview, and reliability metrics. (link) I enjoy GIREVE’s work on their ‘Beyond EV Charging’ series, see all 6 studies here.

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My favorite reply from the last newsletter:
“I always enjoy your misplaced optimism in the BEV market.”
It’s funny because it’s true.

— Jaan ✌️ 

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