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Rivian’s More Affordable Dual-Motor R1T Models Make Their Debut in R1 Shop
The first dual-motor models of Rivian’s R1T electric truck are now available in the R1 shop, less than two months after they rolled off the production line at Rivian’s factory in Normal, Illinois.
The dual-motor model uses Rivian’s in-house Enduro drive units, which were first produced in February. The Enduro drive train is designed to lower costs and help increase production rates.
Rivian has also started building its own Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery packs. The combination of in-house drive units and battery packs has helped Rivian reduce the input costs for its Electric Drive Vehicle (EDV) by about 25%.
The dual-motor R1T is priced at $80,750. Rivian now offers three powertrain options for its R1 series: dual-motor, dual-motor performance, and quad-motor.
According to Henry Huang, Rivian’s senior director of powertrain and thermal, the basic dual-motor version is a product that does everything for most customers.
Tesla’s Energy Storage Soars
Tesla’s energy storage business had another strong quarter, with the company deploying 3,653 MWh of energy storage in Q2 2023, a 222% increase year-over-year, due to the ongoing ramp-up of Tesla’s first dedicated Megapack factory in Lathrop, California.
Andrew Baglino, SVP of Engineering at Tesla, stated that the final assembly line at the Megafactory is set to come online next year, which will allow the factory to reach its full 40 GWh annual production capacity.
The Megapack continues to see strong global demand, and the company is on track to meet its contracted projects for 2023. The second final assembly line at Lathrop is progressing on schedule, which will double the factory’s capacity ahead of the full factory ramp in 2024.
Musk’s Bet on Scale Leads to Tesla Price Reductions
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, said his strategy to reduce prices now for better margins in the future when full self-driving software is fully integrated into Tesla cars has not been well-received by investors. This resulted in a nearly 10% drop in Tesla’s shares.
Musk has been engaged in a price war against EV competitors since last year, and he indicated that price reductions are here to stay, despite a slide in Tesla’s quarterly automotive gross margins.
The decrease in share price erased almost $90 billion from Tesla’s market value.
Increasing the number of cars on the road would help Tesla maintain its dominant U.S. market share in “turbulent times” and gather valuable usage data needed to train the AI models behind its self-driving technology.
However, investors are questioning whether it’s worth sacrificing current profitability for technology that has consistently missed Musk’s targets and is under regulatory scrutiny due to several crashes involving Tesla vehicles.
Musk believes that full self-driving (FSD) could one day account for most of Tesla’s value and provide it with a competitive advantage as rivals struggle to make their EV operations profitable.
Tesla in Preliminary Talks to Share Self-Driving Tech with Major Automaker
Elon Musk has confirmed that the company is in the early stages of discussions to license its self-driving technology to a major automaker.
Musk emphasized that Tesla is open to sharing its self-driving technology with other automakers, a point he has frequently mentioned recently.
Integrating Tesla’s self-driving technology into other automakers’ vehicles would be a complex task, requiring the installation of Tesla’s self-driving computer and multiple cameras at specific angles around each vehicle.
Many other companies have developed purpose-built vehicles for autonomy, while Tesla aims to achieve level 4 or 5 autonomy on consumer vehicles through software updates.
Despite Tesla’s missed deadlines, many automakers lag behind in autonomous driving technology, making a partnership with Tesla a potentially attractive option.
Whilst the identity of the “major” automaker is not disclosed, it’s speculated that it’s not Ford or General Motors, as they are already developing their own self-driving technologies. However, both Ford and General Motors have adopted Tesla’s NACS connector for their EVs, gaining access to 12,000 Supercharger locations starting in Spring 2024.
Musk stated that technology leadership is not defined by patents but by the ability to attract and motivate talented engineers.
Magna Pumps $790 Million into Ford’s BlueOval City in Tennessee
Magna International, the world’s largest automotive supplier, is investing nearly $800 million to expand its North American operations, becoming the first supplier for Ford’s new BlueOval City in Tennessee.
Magna is an automotive contract manufacturer with 341 production and assembly facilities across North America, Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa. It has reported gross profits of $4.6 billion in 2022.
The company supplies components to several EVs in North America, including the GMC Hummer, the Rivian R1S, Cadillac Lyriq, and the Ford F-150 Lightning.
With this latest investment, Magna is deepening its relationship with Ford Motor Company. It will set up two new supplier facilities within Ford’s 4,100 acre BlueOval City campus.
The new facilities will include an 800,000 square-foot frame and battery enclosure facility, which will operate alongside Magna’s existing facility in Ontario, Canada. This facility currently supplies components for Ford’s F-150 Lightning pickups.
The second facility will be a 140,000 square-foot seating facility that will produce polyurethane foam and assemble and sequence complete just-in-time (JIT) seats. These two plants are expected to create up to 1,050 new jobs in Tennessee.
Magna has also committed to a third facility in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, a stamping and assembly facility for vehicle frames.
BlueOval City scheduled to begin production from 2025.
Stellantis Unveils Innovative Battery Design for More Compact and Efficient EV Powertrains
Stellantis, in collaboration with the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Saft, has developed a “revolutionary” prototype battery that integrates charger and inverter functions into the battery itself.
This new design, called the Intelligent Battery Integrated System (IBIS), is the result of over four years of research. It uses lithium-ion cell chemistry and integrates more functions into the battery, making the powertrain more efficient, reliable, and less costly.
The IBIS system produces an alternating current that can go directly into the electric motor, eliminating the need for an inverter and onboard charger. This results in more cabin space for passengers and reduced weight, which in turn increases the vehicle’s range.
The IBIS system also simplifies the manufacturing process, reducing the cost of the EV powertrain. It can also be used in stationary applications like generators and power banks.
Stellantis is planning to have this technology ready for production before the end of the decade. The next step is to build a fully functional prototype vehicle for testing and development on test tracks and open roads.
Audi’s Full Lineup of Electric SUVs Earns Top IIHS Safety Ratings
All of Audi’s electric SUVs have received the highest Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The award applies to all current model year Audi electric SUVs, including the 2023 Audi Q4 E-Tron and Q4 Sportback E-Tron, as well as the 2024 Audi Q8 E-Tron and Q8 E-Tron Sportback.
The E-Tron GT, the only non-SUV in Audi’s current EV lineup, is likely too low-volume to warrant the full battery of tests from the non-profit safety organization.
Audi and SAIC Join Forces for EV Development in China
Audi and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) have announced a collaboration to develop electric vehicles, aiming to strengthen their positions in the Chinese auto market.
This collaboration comes after Audi initiated discussions with SAIC, the owner of MG Motor, to source an EV platform from SAIC’s IM Motors brand. This move is seen as an alternative to the delayed Scalable Systems Platform (SSP) architecture from Audi’s parent company, Volkswagen Group.
The SSP architecture, which was supposed to underpin future Audi EVs, has been delayed due to issues in software development, including a new operating system known as E3 2.0. This software is a crucial part of the SSP architecture, as it is designed to offer level three autonomous driving technology.
As an alternative for models to be sold in China, Audi is considering using the EV platform developed by SAIC for the IM L7 saloon and IM LS7 SUV. This platform supports an 800V electric architecture and is designed for models with wheelbases ranging from 2800mm to 3200mm in length.
Audi is under pressure to improve sales in China.
Spain Witnesses Record Plug-In Car Sales in June 2023
The plug-in electric car market in Spain is expanding rapidly. In June, 12,405 new plug-in electric cars were registered, a 66% year-over-year increase, setting a new all-time record. The market share improved to 12.1%, compared to 8.2% a year ago.
All-electric cars are currently the fastest-growing segment, so far this year, more than 57,000 new passenger plug-in electric cars were registered in Spain.
The top-selling all-electric cars in Spain during the first half of the year were the Tesla Model Y, MG4 Electric, and Tesla Model 3.
US Government Agencies Triple Electric Vehicle Purchases
US government agencies are set to purchase 9,500 electric vehicles in 2023, nearly three times the number purchased in 2022. This will involve an expenditure of $770 million on vehicles and charging infrastructure.
26 agencies with approved plans to purchase electric vehicles estimated they would need over $470 million to buy the cars and nearly $300 million to plan and install the necessary infrastructure and other expenses. These agencies represent more than 99% of the federal vehicle fleet, excluding the independent US Postal Service (USPS).
In December 2021, US President Joe Biden issued an executive order directing agencies to procure only zero-emission passenger cars and light-duty trucks starting in 2027. From 2035, this will apply to all new vehicles, with exceptions for military vehicles.
The agencies procure about 45,000 to 50,000 vehicles per year. With about 9,500 EVs, their share of procurement this year would be about 20%.
The $470 million investment in EVs would turn out to be almost $200 million more than what would be spent on comparable combustion models. The White House did not comment on the figures.
Some agencies could not procure as many vehicles as they had initially planned due to order cancellations from manufacturers. Others expressed concerns that the available EVs won’t meet all the requirements, especially for law enforcement missions in extreme environments.
Nio Power Day 2023 Highlights
Nio held its annual Nio Power Day event in Beijing, where it announced that it would continue its aggressive infrastructure plans. The company also revealed that car sales are picking up, but the release of the 150-kWh battery pack might be slightly delayed.
The company has started allowing owners to upgrade their standard range battery packs to long range on a daily basis, after previously offering annual and monthly upgrade options. The additional cost for daily upgrades is RMB 50 ($7) per day, with a maximum cost of RMB 880 per 31-day period.
Nio unveiled its 20-kW V2G (vehicle-to-grid) charger, which adds a discharge function in addition to charging. This allows EVs to receive power when the grid is idle and release power when the grid load is high, improving grid efficiency and reliability.
To date, Nio has 1,564 battery swap stations and 1,509 supercharging stations providing 7,394 charging piles in China. The company is likely to meet its goal of adding 1,000 battery swap stations this year one month ahead of schedule.
The 150-kWh semi-solid-state battery pack, which was supposed to be available in July, may be slightly delayed. However, Nio’s operational readiness for the pack has been moving forward. The development and validation of the 150-kWh pack have taken longer than expected.
PHIL ROBERTS / ELECTRIC FUTURE
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