If you were living in the United States during 2020 and purchased a new Electric Vehicle, chances were 8 out of 10 that you purchased a Tesla! Without a doubt, Tesla is the dominant player in the US Electric Vehicle market. But the EV market, even today, only amounts to just over 2% of total new car sales. Many more players will need to enter the EV market to meet President Biden's 50 percent target for 2030.
Tesla was the first entry into the modern EV market, and their first offering was based on the English Lotus 2-seater sports car platform. The combination of a sexy-looking car, unique and green power, and an attitude that shouted, I am special, and I know more than you do…made big news but did not sell many cars. Over the next decades, Tesla added traditional sedans at several price points and even an SUV, and is now almost part of the automotive establishment! They have even shown a very futuristic pickup truck that has yet to come to market but promises to deliver more volume when it does.
While Tesla is the undisputed leader in the EV segment and will likely increase in volume in the coming years, its market share will decline significantly as traditional manufacturers introduce EVs and new companies use EVs as their entry point into the transportation industry. They will end up being a smaller slice of a growing pie. It does not mean they will not do well. It just means the pie will grow faster than any single company could ever hope to keep up with.
One such EV startup you may never have heard of is Rivian. It has financial backing from several strong and financially well-off companies, such as Amazon and Ford! Recently, industry rumors have it that the company will be floating an IPO. Rivian seems to have the confidence of both the transportation and investment community. Their first vehicles will be SUVs, pickup trucks, and light commercial vehicles. One of the reasons for this is that publicly traded companies are now being rated on their environmental friendliness. If you operate a fleet of vehicles, you will be looked upon more kindly if they have a smaller carbon footprint. This fact could lead to faster adoption of EVs by publicly traded companies than by private individuals.
Another new name in the automotive arena is Lucid Motors. Lucid has decided the right place to position their brand is towards the very top of the luxury car segment, with vehicles over $150,000. While they will find themselves competing with Tesla, they have tried to throw down the gauntlet to Tesla by saying their cars will have more horsepower, more performance, more range, more luxury, and a higher price! An interesting way to enter a new market, but if your volumes are initially low (which most startups have want to or not), having a premium price is a plus. Lucid Air, their top-of-the-line model will come in two flavors, Performance and Range. The performance will have 1,111 HP, go 0-60 in 2.5 seconds, and have a range of 475 miles. If you'd rather go farther than faster, you can have the Range model, which will slow down your 0-60 time to 2.7 seconds, but increase your range to 517 miles. Both models feature two motors, all-wheel drive, a top speed of 168 mph, and a price expected to be $169,000 ($1000 per mile an hour?).
Henrick Fisker, the Chairman and CEO of his company introduced a very exotic EV sedan some years ago. He is now reentering the EV marketplace with an affordable SUV designed to offer modern design and excellent value for the money. The thinking behind it is that people want to buy SUV types of vehicles, and as EVs tend to be more expensive, if you can price yours a bit lower, you will find higher volumes. Henrick is shooting for just under $40,000 for his Ocean SUV and believes he will deliver beautiful design and excellent value at a competitive price. The new Fisker will be revealed at the LA Autoshow this November.
The ability to produce more products at lower prices always tends to favor high volume manufacturers. And that brings us to the manufacturers whose names you are familiar with. It seems like only a few weeks ago, Ford announced its very first EV Pickup, the F-150 Lightning. No one knew what the idea of an electric pickup would do in the marketplace. Still, initial demand for the 2022 Lightning has been so strong that the company has announced it will be investing an additional 850 million dollars to boost its production rate from 40,000 vehicles a year to 80,000 a year by 2024. A significant amount of the interest in purchasing these vehicles comes from business fleet users instead of individual customers. It is likely due to companies' desire to operate fleets of vehicles to reduce their carbon footprint as quickly as possible.
Speaking of Ford, they also announced the electric Ford Mustang Mach E a few months back. It shocked (no pun intended) many people to see Ford put their highly cherished and successful Mustang name on an EV. But, the public reception has been quite strong. Just in the past week, there have been announcements coming out of Stellantis, the international conglomerate that owns Dodge, that they will be coming out with an electric Dodge Challenger. It is beginning to look like the return of the Muscle Car era of the 70s and should make you wonder if an electric Camaro could be that far behind?
It is way too early to try and call who will be the winners and losers in the electric car wars. But the competition will be fierce. And it is worth pointing out that not only is the technology inside cars changing, but the way they are sold is also changing. Along with most of the other new electric car manufacturers, Tesla will not be using the classic franchised dealer networks that we have all grown up with. They want to have company-owned "experience centers," connecting the customers directly to the dealers. Some companies are even exploring a subscription model, where you would subscribe for the use of a car for a period with all services included, but you would never actually own the vehicle! As Bob Dylan sang many years ago, The Times They Are a-Changin. It will be an exciting competition to watch.