The ultimate EV test — Rivian acquires ABRP — Lordstown bankrupt
Caution! High Voltage! ⚡
Hey, Jaan here.
Wow, what a week.
Here’s what I’ve picked out of the EV industry news for you:
Norwegians drove 32 different EVs until they died. We’ve got the results.
Lordstown files for bankruptcy
US gov will loan $9.2B for Ford’s batteries
Rivian, Volvo, Polestar will adapt NACS while Washington, Texas and Kentucky might require the connector for federal funding
Rivian acquires A Better Route Planner and why it is an ace move.
Words: 2,333 | Time to read: 10 minutes | Feeling like: building a D2C EV tool with community.
Before we get off to our regular stuff, however…
I’m sad to write to you that John B Goodenough has passed.
John was the man essentially behind the li-ion battery revolution. He is the reason we can drive our EVs today.
Thank you for the legacy you left behind, John.
If you want to learn more, here’s a great profile by Steve LeVine in 2015.
The Norwegians did it again.
The NAF & Motor.no held its summer EV range test, driving 32 different EVs until they died. (link)
I love these tests because they all drive in the real world and under the same conditions. It’s almost the closest thing we get to reality, in contrast with all the press releases I cover here for you.
No room for bs when on the road.
I put the results in a table here for you to see how far the cars drove (middle column) and how they fared against their WLTP ratings (delta column).
Also, back in February, we covered the same test with 29 vehicles for the winter ranges in our Pro Report. Here are the results from back then (link).
New section, who this?
We’ve had some of our EV Universe readers get a message out to you in this newsletter before. We don’t do it often (but you can book here).
I now decided to create a permanent space here where I share some other newsletters I’m reading and tools I’m using. These recommendations will always be true, things that I really use or read. Note, that sometimes the other end will add a bonus for the EV Universe if you sign up through our links. It will help us expand, so why not?
Today I want to tell you about the Dr. Green Economy newsletter. (link) Parva dives deep every week on topics like renewable energy, sustainability, EVs. She has useful graphs. She cites sources. A great piece from her this week: When will fossil fuels run out?
Have recommendations I should share? Can offer benefits to our readers? Reach out!
amazing photo manipulation skills by yours truly
We’ve covered Lordstown Motors’ story during the whole rollercoaster ride, the ups and downs (mostly the latter), while remaining ever hopeful we will see Lordstown pull through and get the Endurance pickup truck on the market.
On Tuesday this week, Lordstown filed for bankruptcy and sued Foxconn, alleging breach of contract and fraud. Here’s a good backstory from Bloomberg’s David Welch and Sean O'Kane with the latest from both sides: (link). Lordstown founder Steve Burns has also now completed selling off all of his remaining stock, just before it went bust (link.)
⚡️ ⚡️ ⚡️
Let’s see the results of our poll from last week:
76.7% of you said oil companies should use a disclaimer when advertising clean energy and EV charging. 23.3% said no disclaimers are needed. Thanks everyone. I’ll highlight one answer for each:
Dominik says: “It is enough of their greenwashing marketing strategies, real numbers ftw!”, with Miguel adding “Energy production must be accounted as well.”
Brian says: “Oil companies have become energy companies. They make money by selling energy -- any kind of energy. That seems to me to be self-evident. Therefore, disclaimers make no real sense, at least not to me.”
This poll referred to the Shell’s charging ads that got got banned for greenwashing (link). Well, now the same advertising watchdog ASA banned Toyota’s bZ4X ads from 2022 saying they are misleading consumers about the charging speeds and public charging availability. (link)
Toyota used the wording “use rapid public charging to reach 80% charge in around 30 minutes*” on their website, which the ASA says is misleading due to the factors tat can significantly affect the advertised charging time.
The ASA ruled similarly to Hyundai Ioniq 5 ads on its website, Youtube, and digital billboards, which claimed “Ioniq 5 charges from 10% to 80% in 18 minutes when connected to a 350kW charger.” (link)
⚡️ ⚡️ ⚡️
Hyundai outlined an updated EV plan (again) during its investor day, including plans to spend about $28.1B over the next decade on electrification, with $7.45 billion set for batteries. (link) It will also launch a new dedicated EV platform replacing e-GMP. It will be called Integrated Modular Architecture (IMA
Audi CEO Markus Duesmann will be replaced, by Gernot Döllner, the head of Group Strategy and General Secretariat of VW Group, who is also said to be ‘close to Oliver Blume’ (the CEO of Porsche and VW Group). (link)
Related news: Audi boss before Duesmann, Rupert Stadler, is the first former VW board member that admits in court he was ‘partly responsible’ for the dieselgate emissions fraud. Last week, Stadler was convicted and got off with a 21-month suspended sentence and a €1.1M fine. (link)
Lucid will supply EV powertrain components to Aston Martin and take a 3.7% stake in the company. (link) Aston Martin will issue about 28.4M new ordinary shares to Lucid, which will also get phased cash payments, totaling an aggregated value of ~ $232M
Spain has approved a 15% personal income tax reduction for EV buyers. (link)
🇫🇷 France is pressing the European Commission to open a probe paving the way for tariffs on Chinese EVs. The EC is reportedly discussing whether to launch an investigation that could allow Brussels to impose additional levies, known as anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs, on such cars. Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said he was "very much in favor of opening a dumping investigation into electric cars as soon as possible." (link)
We’ve seen the China-EV tariff potentially on the way for a while now for EU to “protect” it’s domestic auto market.
TrendForce market research firm announced this week it expects Chinese brands to increase their share of NEVs (EV+PHEVs) in western Europe to 9% of the market. (link) Stay tuned.
📚️ Reading tip: Fisker published a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Report for the Fisker Ocean. (link) With this, the company claims Ocean has the lowest published carbon footprint of any electric SUV. A very interesting read with plenty of visuals, including comparison to Polestar 2 and Volvo C40 Recharge.
Fisker also just delivered its first 22 Oceans in the US (link).
💰️ Octopus Electric Vehicles, the UK-based EV financing provider, raised $192M from Pollen Street Capital to expand its salary sacrifice offering. (link) It has now raised a total of £650M ($826M) in two years.
EV Conversion spotlight:
Mercedes-Benz wants to start displaying digital art on the new E-Class screens. (link) First from their Art Collection and later, “with the correct subscription package”, linking the drivers’ own crypto wallet and showing their own NFTs. Well, that’s one way to invent a new revenue stream…
The US Department of Energy announced it will loan $9.2 billion to Ford’s and SK On's joint venture BlueOval, to build three battery factories. It is the biggest government backing for a US automaker since the bailouts of 2009.
The joint venture has also received subsidies from the states of Kentucky and Tennessee, so almost all of the $11.4B cost is financed. Add in the IRA cell production subsidies... it seems Ford has derisked building batteries for its EVs. Here’s a deeper look: (link).
Looking to the past, Ford borrowed $5.9 billion from the same loan program in 2009 and paid it off in 2022. The same program gave out a $2.5B loan to the GM-LG battery joint venture Ultium Cells, to build three battery factories in the US. Redwood Materials has also received a $2B loan.
Benchmark forecasts that globally, the battery industry needs to invest at least $514B (yes, you read that right) across the whole supply chain to meet expected demand in 2030, and $920 billion by 2035 (link):
CATL, the world’s largest battery maker, is in talks to establish multiple battery recycling sites in Europe and is also seeking partners to set up recycling sites in North America. (link)
Rio Tinto, the mining giant, plans to start building its own batteries in Melbourne — though it claims not for commercial sales but rather for R&D “to better understand how its minerals can work for battery makers.” (link)
Northvolt is reportedly close to a deal with the Canadian and Quebec governments for funding to build a $5.3B battery plant near Montreal, Canada. (link). Northvolt also just raised $400M in convertible notes from a Canadian pension fund Investment Management Corporation of Ontario (IMCO). (link)
KEEPING UP WITH NACS
So far, I count 18 charging hardware providers, so virtually all bigger DC charger manufacturers on the market, and several charging networks that have announced adopting the NACS connector.
I’ll create a resource for next week that puts all the info in one place. If you have ideas on which form would be most useful for you, do let me know.
Notably since last week on the charging networks’ side, Electrify America announced it will work to offer a NACS connector option at existing and future charging stations (in US and Canada) by 2025. (link)
Rivian will incorporate NACS charge ports in R1 vehicles starting in 2025 as well as the upcoming R2 platform. (link) Existing owners will access the Supercharging network in spring 2024. Rivian Adventure Network to continue nationwide expansion.
Also, now at least two US states have been revising their infrastructure funding requirements:
Texas now requires NACS connector and CCS for NEVI funding (link):
Washington state is reportedly also planning to mandate the NACS plug to be a part of the state’s NEVI and state grants funding (link).
Looks like Kentucky seems to be thinking along NACS lines too (link).
There’s also an update on CharINs “task force” which aims to get NACS go through a standardization process. (link) The preliminary list includes 51 parties, including large carmakers like BMW, Ford, GM, Hyundai-Kia, JLR, Lucid, Mercedes, Stellantis, Toyota, VinFast, and Volvo. Interestingly, Tesla itself is not on the list.
Just this week, SAE announced it will standardize the NACS connector “on an expedited timeframe” (link).
Live view from Musk with the Tesla team right now:
RIVIAN ACQUIRES A BETTER ROUTE PLANNER
Rivian acquired Iternio, the company behind A Better Route Planner (ABRP), a popular route-planning app used by EV drivers. (link) ABRP provides route calculation services that take into account weather conditions, charging stops, vehicle weight, and other factors.
Rivian has already launched a software update for its vehicles that has made significant enhancements to trip planning. (link) Here’s a recent video showing the capabilities in the Rivian app (video).
ABRP hasn’t openly shared their user statistics as far as I could find, so we aren’t able to see how big of an EV drivers user base Rivian essentially acquired here.
Even at an undisclosed price, this is a hyper-targeted class-A acquisition from Rivian, which will have bigger benefits than just the routing functionality itself.
Here’s what I could find out about the reach of the ABRP services:
About 445k monthly visits to its website, with 32% of the traffic from the US and 19.3% from Germany.
By October 2019, ABRP users had already planned over 10M routes (link). Two years later, on October 2021, ABRP reached 50 million route plans. (link) By March 29th this year, the service reached 100 million routes planned. (link)
ABRP was shown as one of the native apps in Volkswagen Group’s CARIAD application store launch back in March this year. (link) The ABRP also powers MyŠKODA app’s EV planning and has been present in the Polestar 2 system through Android Automotive.
it has a 5€/month or 50€/year premium version and an API for others, so I’d expect there’s a meaningful revenue stream behind the company already.
Rivian CEO, RJ Scaringe said the company would invest in improving and growing ABRP as a stand-alone app for users of other EVs and integrate Iternio's technology into its mobile app and in-vehicle navigation system.
"The data that comes off of having a very active user base allows us to be very intentional as to how we build out a charging infrastructure," Scaringe said, adding that data on locations that lack chargers or have chargers with poor performance would be particularly beneficial. (link)
I’m excited to see what they’ll do with it. The founder, Bo Lincoln, is now employed at Rivian as Director, Iternio Software Systems (link).
SPECULATION: There’s talk in the industry of a “mid 7-figures” acquisition price (not at all confirmed). I find that very hard to believe.
We do have the EVgo-acquiring-PlugShare to compare with which went down for $25M about two years ago, which had ~3M app downloads back then. We called that a tiny acquisition cost per a hyper-targeted audience like EV drivers back then. A very good move.
It sure looks like Rivian has managed to do even better. Or, the acquisition was actually significantly larger than rumored.
Fun fact from our Pro Report last month: PlugShare has now reached 3.5M registered users and 6.5M user check-ins, with 775k photos uploaded by drivers. (link) If I weren’t building EV Universe, this is exactly the space I would venture off to.
I’m also wondering — what’s the next community-like tool that is used by so many EV drivers, yet is still independent? Let me know of any you see emerging.
OTHER CHARGING NEWS
Blink Charging upped its plans with adding NACS connector also to the rest of its product line, including the L2 chargers. Production with the new options start in October. (link)
ZapMap and the Green Finance Institute in the UK created a country-wide utilization report (6-page pdf). They used the data from ZapMap’s integration to around 70% of UK’s ~44k public chargepoints and estimated utilization in two categories:
Energy-based utilization (kW delivered by the charger, relative to the potential max energy that could have been delivered):
Time-based utilization (the time a vehicle is plugged in, out of 24hrs):
We don’t get too many insights into charger utilization, so you can see I am hungry for this kind of data.
Thirsty for more on charging? Get this week’s Pro Report. (link)
That’s it for today! This newsletter went out to our 3,345 subscribers. If you’re looking to level up your EV game and ours too, consider getting our Pro Reports here.
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