Ford vs. Tesla vs. Rivian vs. GM … everybody has a different strategy to win over customers

Elon Musk faces his most difficult battle yet

Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

When regulators come knocking, business leaders generally bow their heads and say namaste.

Not Elon Musk.

Tesla’s instigator-in-chief has taken on American lawmakers as a marketing sport. He has called the Federal Aviation Authority “fundamentally broken.” He has thrown around poop emojis on Twitter when asked to comment about the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He has even accused U.S. regulators of being “unlawful.”

But when it comes to China, Musk is a different man.

Over the last few months, Chinese authorities have poked and prodded Tesla in many ways. There have been several recalls over suspension and touchscreen issues…

Tesla’s falling market share, Porsche’s surprise success and other trends that will shape rest of the year

Photo by Andrew Roberts on Unsplash

It’s 2018 all over again.

That year, plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) sales hit an all-time high in the U.S., nearly doubling from 195,000 in 2017 to 361,000.

Then came the fall.

In 2019, PEV sales dropped for the first time since 2011 — by about 8% to 331,000. The pandemic delivered a second blow in 2020, pegging PEV sales back to 296,000. The tumble was considerably muted compared to gasoline vehicles but it was a setback nonetheless.

This year, the downward trend is finally showing signs of reversal. Many analysts see 2021 as an inflection point for EVs, myself included…

Demand for lithium, nickel and rare earths is already skyrocketing

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Have you heard of DeepGreen?

It is a Canadian company that wants to extract metals for electric vehicle (EV) batteries from rock formations found deep in the Pacific Ocean. Vancouver-based DeepGreen Metals Inc. announced that it will merge with Sustainable Opportunities Acquisition Corp. in the second quarter of the year.

DeepGreen’s valuation? $2.9 billion. The company does not even have a proven technology.

DeepGreen may be an extreme example but its unicorn status indicates the red-hot appeal of EV metals such as lithium, nickel and others. Some mining companies such as Lithium Americas (NYSE:LAC) have seen their stocks surge 200%…

Air mobility companies touch unicorn status but how real and viable are their prospects?

Joby Aviation press photo

We are now well and truly in deep SPAC.

The ongoing trend of publicly-traded shell companies, known as special purpose acquisition companies or SPACs, acquiring or merging with startups had already hit the frothiest part of mobility — electric vehicles, self-driving AI, connected data. (You can check out my recent post on this trend).

Now the frenzy is making its way to more esoteric areas of transportation, such as flying cars. Joby Aviation, one of the leading companies in air mobility, is merging with Reinvent Technology Partners (NYSE:RTP) through a SPAC deal valued at $6.6 billion. …

Self-driving companies get the headlines but these under-the-radar startups have great potential for investors

Photo courtesy Unsplash

When it comes to artificial intelligence, self-driving and autonomous tech receive all the attention in the world of mobility startups. There are many companies in this space. Most have blockbuster valuations and headline glory. Argo AI, Waymo, Pony.ai, Zoox (check out this list) — you are probably familiar with all these names.

But some new companies are bringing machine learning, artificial intelligence, and predictive action to other areas of mobility, while others are indirectly powering self-driving technology. These startups are often hustling in the background, without the star-studded status of a Waymo or a Cruise. …

Blank check companies are ramping up investment in mobility startups — even Goldman Sachs joining the fray (sort of)

Photo by Chronis Yan on Unsplash

If you keep up with business and technology news and you haven’t heard of SPACs, you have been probably been living under a rock.

A special purpose acquisitions company, or SPAC, is arguably the hottest financial and investment trend in North America right now. In 2020, there were nearly 250 SPACs accounting for about $84 billion in investments, compared to only $3.9 billion in 2015.

In layman’s terms, SPACs are public shell, or “blank check”, companies that do not have a product or service. They are specifically created by a group of investors with the intent of buying or pouring…

Photo by Charlie Deets on Unsplash

The EV wars are upon us. Elon Musk may not win them.

Who remembers Netscape?

I am going to date myself here but when I first started using the Internet in the mid 90’s, Netscape Navigator was Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer rolled into one. In 1995, the now defunct web browser had a whopping 80%+ market share. It pioneered the way we interact with information online and was far sexier in look and feel than other browsers of its time, e.g. Lynx.

At that time, Netscape seemed unstoppable but its dominance was short-lived. The browser onslaught that defined the turn of the millennium buried the Marc Andreessen-founded company. …

Detroit automaker’s 2035 all-EV plan is more than a marketing game

General Motors press photo

Mary Barra knows how to make a splash.

Early January, the General Motors CEO sent the autosphere abuzz with her company’s impressive virtual CES showcase — essentially redefining the way traditional automakers introduce their products. Then, a few weeks later, she dropped the real bombshell.

Her announcement that the Detroit automaker will stop producing internal combustion vehicles and go emissions-free by 2035 has already become one of the top stories of the year. …

A warts-and-all look at the state of electric mobility in Canada

Image from ICCT Report — Power Play: Canada’s Role in the Electric Vehicle Transition

[Part 1 of this article explored what’s working for Canada in the race for vehicle electrification. This part will look at what’s broken.]

See the chart above. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture for Canada.

The analysis comes from a report published in April 2020 by the International Council of Clean Transportation, a Washington-DC based group. Canada’s clean energy think tank Pembina Institute co-authored the study, which explores the country’s “position in the emerging global electric vehicle industry by analyzing sales and production trends for conventional and electric vehicles and comparing these trends to similar auto markets around the world.”

Kumar Saha

Automotive strategist by day, culture hound by night.

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