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  • EVU Report 124: ⚡️ Lucid Gravity — 🔍️ Renault Ampere plans — 🔋 Sodium-ion batteries

EVU Report 124: ⚡️ Lucid Gravity — 🔍️ Renault Ampere plans — 🔋 Sodium-ion batteries

Hey, Jaan here.

Something happened while we were gone…

The EV Universe reached 5,000 subscribers! 🥳 

I know this GIF hits a bit different in the light of recent news, but it’s also one of my all-time favorites.

There are 5,255 of you getting this newsletter today already. You wouldn’t believe how happy this makes me. Off to the next milestones! 🚀 

We’re covering more than just our usual week in the industry, as I got hit with what my friend Nick called a “pre-mortem” fever recently. I’m back in action now!

Today’s selection of EV insights:

  • Renault goes on EV offensive, starts small;

  • Proterra divides up its assets;

  • EV spotlight: Lucid Gravity drops;

  • Tesla opens up all Roadster design & engineering info;

  • Northvolt and BYD sodium-ion battery plans;

  • Mercedes’ first charging hub in the US

Words: 2,346 | Time to read: 12 minutes | Feeling like: gravity is good for you

In case you’ve missed it, we’re going all out this Black Friday for the EV Universe Pro:

  • 100% treediscount on three months for the monthly membership.
    We will plant 38 real trees for you.

  • 50% treediscount on the yearly membership.
    We will plant 63 real trees for you.

  • 50% treediscount on the lifetime membership.
    We will plant 228 real trees for you.

The word I made up here, treediscount, means that I will take this amount, and plant real trees for it. Here’s all the info on how it works, how we’ll track it and why do we do it: evuniverse.io/p/trees.

This will be the largest discount of the kind I will make, perhaps ever. Valid until Tuesday. Oh, and we will probably never do ‘normal’ discounts again either. Go ahead, offset those Black Friday goods:

UPDATE: As I’m writing this we’ve planted 268 real trees. Let’s get to a thousand!

A closer look at Renault

Ampere, Renault’s new “pure-play” EV unit that started operating separately from Nov 1st, held its the Ampere Capital Market Day on Wednesday (2h40min video). They calim they’ve got one mission: Democratize EV in Europe. While I cringe on the overuse of the democratizing word, it’s still a noble goal huh?

Ampere unveiled it has seven EVs planned for its lineup by 2031. (link)

From the right: Scenic E-Tech, Renault 4, Twingo, Renault 5, Megane E-Tech

This includes the city car to replace the current Twingo, which is set to cost under €20,000 ($21,760). The new Twingo will launch in 2026, will be built in Europe and claims to offer 10kWh/100km efficiency. Currently Renault-branded Megane E-Tech, Scenic E-Tech, and upcoming Renault 4 and 5 will be included in the Ampere’s seven model lineup, with two models yet to be unveiled.

Here’s the 89-slide pdf used on the conference with the overview of Ampere, its plans and supply chain. It reads as a pitch deck, basically (pdf).

CFO Thierry Pieton said Renault aimed to sell EVs at the same price as its combustion engine cars earlier than rivals, with smaller EV models reaching price parity in the next two years and bigger ones by 2027-28. (link)

Ampere plans to sell 300k EVs in 2025 (up from ~45k this year), and 1M EVs in 2031. It also plans for reaching breakeven at $10B revenue by 2025 and an operating margin og at least 10% in 2030.

The Renault Group CEO, Luca De Meo, says they think they still have a potential window of opportunity to IPO the EV arm in spring 2024, but they would also scrap the IPO plan if the valuation would be too low (a target of €8B-€10B).

Nissan and Mitsubishi have announced they’ll invest a total of €800M into Ampere, and the CFO says an investment from Qualcomm is “being finalized” and unveiled soon.

The collaboration with Mitsubishi will go further (and I’d bet with Nissan soon too): Ampere will be building a compact SUV for Mitsubishi at its Douai plant in France, launching in 2025. (link)

🇪🇺 The European Parliament (EP) voted in favour of European Commission’s (EC) proposed targets to reduce emissions from heavy-duty vehicles, with targets of cutting average emissions of new freight trucks by 45% in 2030, 65% in 2035 and 90% in 2040. (link) The urban buses would need to go zero-emission by 2030. Next, the EP & EC will have the final negotiations on legislation with the member states.

However, the Members of Parliament also voted for a loophole that would consider vehicles running on biofuel or e-fuels to also be considered emission-free. (link) “Oil companies have lobbied hard for this loophole to help keep up demand for its fuel. We call on the Council to block this lifeline to the fossil fuel industry,” says the environmental lobby group T&E.

🇪🇸 Spain will continue its €1.2B EV subsidy scheme until July 2024 (instead of ending with this year), with ~€300M left in the funding pot. (link) It has received over 250k applications so far this year. Applicants can get up to €7k ($7.6k), and another 15% in tax deduction.

🇬🇭 Ghana waives import duties on EVs for the next eight years. (link)

🚌 Proterra has concluded the auction of its Chapter-11 bankruptcy process and, subject to bankruptcy court approvals, assets will be divided up like this:

  • Phoenix Motor set to acquire the Proterra Transit business line for $10M,

  • CSI to acquire the Proterra Energy business line,

  • Volvo Battery Solutions to acquire the Proterra Bowered business line for $210M. Btw, Volvo Battery Solutions is a Mack Trucks subsidiary, which in turn is a Volvo Group subsidiary.

The court documents are available here if you want to dig deeper.

Lucid Gravity

The luxury SUV from Lucid Motors was unveiled at the LA Auto Show. Here’s a roundup of what we know so far (as usual, more images and videos in our online version of this newsletter):

  • Price: starts at under $80k (which means it’ll qualify for the IRA tax credit)

  • Architecture: 900V

  • Range: up to 440 miles (708 km) projected, “achieved with a battery pack a little more than half the size of some of our battery-hungry competitors."

  • Charging: Up to 350kW DC charging

  • 0-60mph in <3.5s, over 800 hp

  • Space: three rows (both 2nd and 3rd fold flat), room for seven, 8 cubic ft frunk

  • Display: 34’’ curved and uninterrupted OLED

  • Drag coefficient target of 0.24 cd

  • Can tow 6,000 pounds (2,721 kg)

  • Production: starts in late 2024

I’ve been covering the EV industry every day for the past three years and somehow I didn’t see this one coming: Gravity’s frunk has back padding, or maximum seating comfort. 🤷‍♂️ (video)

Here’s the press release, the product page, the official world premiere (19-min video).

And, now word to some of our favorite reviewers for walkarounds and drives: Throttle House (19 min, with drive), Auto Focus (aka MKBHD, 12min), Motor Trend (10min), Kyle and Jordan of Out of Spec (40min)

Lucid also just introduced the RangeXchange, a new vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) adapter which enables Lucid Air owners to charge other electric vehicles directly with up to 9.6kW.


Cadillac shows its fourth EV to be unveiled next year: the OPTIQ

  • All design & engineering of the original Tesla Roadster is now fully open source, available at service.tesla.com/roadster. Musk says “Whatever we have, you now have.”

  • Tesla added a clause to the Cybertruck Motor Vehicle Order Agreement that would prohibit the resale (aka flipping) of the Cybertruck within the first year (with a $50k+ penalty)… and then removed it. (link) The CT reservation slots currently go for ~$10k on eBay.
    Stay tuned for our special Teslaverse issue on 1st of December covering everything we learn from the Cybertruck delivery event.

  • Aptera’s UX Design Lead explains its user experience (5min video). Aptera has become one of my favorite EV startups to follow, really rooting for them to make it into production.

Sodium-ion batteries are picking up some steam: Northvolt announced it had developed a sodium ion cell with an energy density similar to lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cells and aimed to set up Europe’s first pilot plant. (link)

Meanwhile, in China, BYD announced it will build a $1.4B, 30 GWh plant in Xuzhou together with local conglomerate HuaiHai (link). This announcement alone doubled the global capacity pipeline for sodium-ion batteries.

Senator Joe Manchin urged the US Treasury on Monday to adopt the "strictest possible standards" to prevent Chinese-produced minerals or Chinese battery companies from winning EV tax credits, adding the tax credits "cannot be allowed to be hijacked by adversaries engaging in mineral laundering." (link) I like the phrase ‘mineral laundering’ here, this one will stick.

Ford says its BlueOval Battery Park in Marshall, Michigan will go forward, but it will be downsized from initial 35 GWh plans to 20 GWh´. Of course, Ford calls it “right-sizing” in its press release. (link)

The LFP cell plant operations are still set to start in 2026, but they don’t mention if and how much CATL is involved in the process. So far, the project had been on hold since September as Ford awaited for “final language” if the cells produced in this manner would qualify for the IRA tax credits or not.

The Ford and SK On joint battery plant in Tennessee is progressing along nicely (see recent images here), yet the Ford’s Turkish battery venture with LGES and Koc is also scrapped — more on that in our Pro report.

Toyota will start to source Cathode Active Material (CAM) and Anode copper foil from Redwood’s recycling operations, building on the earlier recycling agreement. (link) Redwood’s technology will ensure at least 20% recycled nickel, lithium, and 50% recycled cobalt in cathodes, aiming for recycled copper in anode foil.

Graph tip: Here’s a visualization of all the metals we mined in 2022. (link) Hat-tip to Jon for sharing.

BMW expands its ChargeForward program to cover 48 states across US. (link) ChargeForward lets all BMW drivers with 2017-and-newer BEVs and PHEVs receive cash incentives if charging at times when renewable energy is highest on the grid.

Drivers can enroll online and do not need to install any hardware to participate. Their Android app needs some work though, at 2.1-star average rating so far. iOS one does better.

With BMW’s recent ChargeScape joint venture, I assume we’ll see Ford and Honda offer this soon too.

In other news: solar is expected to generate over 318 billion kWh next year in the US, expected to surpass hydropower generation in 2024. (link)

I did find something else buried in this press release that hasn’t been publicly announced anywhere yet: BMW will partner with Shell Recharge for North America:

“To give customers access to more public chargers in North America, BMW will introduce Shell Recharge as additional public charging partner. With this, customers will gain access to more than 100,000 additional chargers, everything fully integrated into the myBMW App and vehicle head-unit.”

Kyle of Out of Spec tours the first Mercedes-Benz Charging Hub opened in US — in Sandy Springs, Georgia (1h video).

The site has 10 ChargePoint chargers, each able to deliver up to 400kW, a lounge with restrooms and more, and a solar canopy. (link) It’s also open to non-Mercedes EVs, although only Mercedes owners can reserve a charger ahead of time.

🔌 ChargePoint itself seems to have serious problems with its business — preliminary revenue figures for Q3 are now expected to come in between $108 and $113 million, vs the expected $150 to $165 million. (link)

ChargePoint also appointed Rick Wilmer as President and CEO and named Mansi Khetani as Interim CFO. Pasquale Romano, the CEO since 2011, transitions to an advisory role for a smooth handover. CFO Rex Jackson departs.

This press release sent the $CHPT stock down over -30% before the market open on last Friday, and hasn’t recovered since. Chargepoint now sits at a ~$734.5M market cap.

🇬🇧 The Public Charge Point Regulations 2023 went into force yesterday in the UK: All new public chargers >8kW need to have a contactless payment option. Existing >50kW chargers must be retrofitted to have the option within 12 months. (link)

Curious how Tesla would retrofit their non-V4 chargers? Their Taiwan deployment to comply with the local regulations might be a hint — a standalone column with a screen, where the driver can select a stall number and pay (link):

THOR Industries (the world’s largest RV manufacturer) created a concept of an EV charging hub design specifically meant for electric RVs and EV tow vehicles. (link) Key features are ample space and dual charging cords for simultaneous charging for the car + trailer.

I made this meme for my first encounter with a post like that this year. You know, the picture where there’s a bunch of cars stuck in a snowstorm and is captioned with something like “EVs are a hoax, your battery dies in 2 hours during snowstorm.”

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— Jaan

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