If only it were just gas prices that were rising! Unfortunately, at the moment when more people than ever want to ditch gas, EV prices are rising significantly too.
But bucking the trend, GM is lowering the price on the Chevy Bolt in an effort to establish itself as America’s affordable EV brand. In other Detroit news, Ford CEO Jim Farley says the days of haggling with dealers are numbered; he wants to move all sales online. And he suggests car advertisements are a waste of money.
Also, a series of shaky EV SPACs has prompted the SEC to consider new rules, Uber hits another legal roadblock in Europe, delivery apps experience a pandemic hangover, California gives Cruise the greenlight to charge for driverless rides, Geely launches satellites for AVs, and, last but not least, the DeLorean is coming back … to the future!
America’s cheapest EV: While Tesla (and just about everybody else) hikes prices in response to global supply chain challenges, GM moves in the opposite direction, slashing the price of the 2023 Chevy Bolt by six grand to $26,595. That makes the Bolt the lowest-cost EV in the U.S. There are a few factors that help explain this decision. First, GM cars are no longer eligible for the federal $7,500 tax credit, putting pressure on the automaker to make them more affordable. Second, high gas prices have likely led to a surge in interest for EVs among cost-conscious consumers who are looking for something much cheaper than a Tesla. Will the Bolt be the answer?
Ford moves online: CEO Jim Farley says the automaker will replicate Tesla’s model of fixed-price, direct-to-consumer EV sales. The brand’s dealers will continue to play an important role in helping customers repair their cars, including the increasingly important tech side of future EVs, but Farley believes that shipping inventory to dealers is a cost he’d like to eliminate. He also suspects that the $500-600 per vehicle the automaker currently spends on advertising is largely unnecessary, believing that a better use of the money could be on trying to retain customers by offering them top-notch maintenance and repair services.
Which is it, Elon? First, in an email to Tesla executives, Elon Musk says he feels “super bad” about the economy and demands an immediate hiring freeze, saying the automaker should seek to cut 10% of its jobs. While Musk didn’t call for layoffs, some suspect his demand that workers “spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week,” which has prompted particularly vocal backlash among employees in Germany, may be a way to prompt resignations (which are generally cheaper than layoffs). But then on Saturday, Musk tweeted that “total headcount will increase but that the number of salaried workers would be “relatively flat.” Huh.
…meanwhile, Ford adds jobs: The automaker announces plans to invest $3.7 billion in U.S. factories and add 6,700 new union jobs.
Geely launches satellites for AVs: Chinese automaker Geely sends nine satellites into low-Earth orbit, the first step to building a satellite network that will help guide autonomous vehicles.
Cruise can charge: Cruise, the GM-backed AV startup, gets approval to begin charging for driverless rides on select streets of San Francisco. The California Public Utilities Commission votes to allow the company to operate a fleet of 30 autonomous vehicles between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. in certain lower-density areas of the city at a maximum speed of 30 mph.
Drive Back to the Future: In Back to the Future Part II, Doc Brown’s 2015 DeLorean runs on garbage and flies. The car envisioned by those trying to revive the iconic DeLorean brand, which has been on a hiatus since the early 80’s, does not do either of those things. But the Alpha 5 EV concept the company released is still pretty cool!
Florida gets a remote control center: Three tech companies are collaborating to set up America’s first remote control command center for driverless car testing in Boca Raton, Fla. The group includes Perrone Robotics, which develops AV systems; Thai conglomerate CP Group; and Guident Corp., which develops remote monitoring systems for driverless cars. Employees at the command center will monitor the vehicles and be able to take over the steering wheel if the car encounters a problem, such as an obstacle it can’t get around.
Swiss court deals blow to Uber: Uber loses its appeal of a Geneva court ruling that deemed it an employer subject to various labor regulations. The fact that so many western governments are not willing to support Uber and Lyft’s business model is a major obstacle to the companies achieving profitability.
The delivery market downturn: The pandemic prompted an increased reliance on delivery apps that is here to stay, but many VC-backed services that emerged during Covid still haven’t figured out how to turn a profit. Companies promising ultra-fast delivery times –– 30 minutes or less –– have particularly bad records.
Is the party definitively over for SPACs? TechCrunch looks at new regulations the SEC is considering for SPACs, which are in some part prompted by a number of notable SPACs for EVs that have been dogged by allegations of fraud. It appears regulators want to impose similar disclosure requirements on SPACs that exist for other IPOs. They’re also considering rules that will hold those involved in the drafting of financial statements liable for inaccurate information.
A perfect time to go electric, except…High gas prices present an obvious opportunity for EVs, but many of the issues causing gas prices to spike are also increasing costs for EVs. Plus, in the U.S., many EVs are no longer eligible for the generous tax credits. It’s a damn shame! Slate takes a look at the numerous factors driving up the price of EVs.
Uber & Lyft’s battle for profitability: In a video report for the Wall Street Journal, George Downs explains the myriad obstacles to profitability that Uber and Lyft face as they try to climb back from the pandemic, including a dearth of drivers and fewer customers.
Stop ignoring e-bikes: Writing in Treehuger, Lloyd Alter says policymakers are failing to appreciate the potential of e-bikes. Around the world, sales of electric two and three-wheel vehicles dwarfs that of electric cars and trucks and yet many elected officials and even environmental activists are preoccupied with the latter
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