Electric vehicle race heats up as Detroit makes its move


Electric vehicle race tightens, with two Ford Fs -0.08%

Motor Co. and General Motors Co.

DG -0.95%

highlighting new electric pickups and automakers preparing to launch a barrage of new battery-powered models this year and next.

Auto executives have spent the past few years expressing their ambitions, allocating billions of dollars in new investments to add more electrics to their global lines. But so far, the transition has mostly taken place behind the scenes with engineers and designers prepping the next generation of vehicles.

Over the next year or so, car buyers will begin to see these efforts manifest more on dealer lots. Automakers plan to launch dozens of new electric models over the next two years in a range of different styles and at varying prices, Bank of America analysts say.

The arrival of these electric vehicles shifts the pressure on car manufacturers from their development to convince consumers to buy them.

“A new world is coming,” said Carlos Tavares, managing director of global automaker Stellantis STLA. -2.06%

NV at the CES Electronics Show on Wednesday. “Now the machine is on and we are moving quickly. “

Ford has unveiled the battery-powered version of its F-150 pickup, joining other automakers in the nascent electric truck segment. The F-150 Lightning is inferior to several competitors with a starting price of around $ 40,000. Photo: Dominick Sokotoff / Zuma Press

On Tuesday, Ford said it would almost double production of its next electric truck, the F-150 Lightning, after receiving a higher than expected number of reservations. The truck will go on sale in limited numbers this spring.

The move sent shares of Ford soaring, pushing its market value to $ 97.6 billion at Friday’s close, after GM and Rivian Automotive Inc., a young and dynamic startup that recently released an all-electric truck and is went public in November.

GM on Wednesday unveiled its rival electric truck, a battery-powered version of its popular Chevy Silverado, and general manager Mary Barra listed around 10 electric vehicles that will go on sale in two years, down from just two today.

Stellantis, which owns Jeep, Ram and other auto brands, said last week that the nearly 100-year-old Chrysler brand will go exclusively electric by 2028. The automaker also revealed it had an agreement to sell cars. electric vans at Amazon.com Inc.,

making it a competitor to Rivian, which also has an agreement to sell vans to the e-merchant.

Rivian’s stock fell 11% on the news Wednesday, then briefly fell below its IPO price of $ 78 for the first time since its IPO. It closed Friday at $ 86.28 per share.

A spokeswoman for Rivian said the deal with Stellantis was good news for the industry as a whole and that Rivian’s own partnership with Amazon was intact, flourishing and growing.

The switch to electric intensifies the battle between traditional car manufacturers and new players entering the automotive sector more than a century old.

GM has unveiled a battery-powered version of its popular Chevy Silverado.


Photo:

Paul Sancya / Associated press

Legacy automakers like GM, Volkswagen AG

and Toyota Motor Corp.

have deeper pockets, well-established supply chains, and automotive manufacturing know-how to help reshape their lines.

Until recently, however, investors tipped the scales largely towards Tesla and other startups that focus solely on making electric vehicles. These companies have raised billions of dollars in funding in recent years and don’t have the capital constraints of having to transform a business built primarily around the gasoline engine. Tesla, worth more than $ 1,000 billion at Friday’s close, is now the world’s most valuable automaker.

Despite all the buzz, automakers new and old still have a way to go in convincing consumers to ditch gasoline.

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Electric vehicle sales are on the rise, increasing 88% year-over-year in 2021, but they still only represent about 3.2% of the total U.S. auto market, according to research firm Motor Intelligence .

Tesla has a solid lead over competing automakers. Its global shipments increased 87% last year to around 986,000.

In the United States alone, Tesla sold about 352,500 vehicles in 2021, or about 72% of all battery-electric vehicles purchased, Motor Intelligence estimates. Tesla does not break down deliveries by region.

In contrast, Ford sold around 27,000 electric vehicles in 2021 and GM around 25,000 last year. For both companies, this represented less than 2% of their total sales in the United States.

A Rivian R1T electric pickup truck outside the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York City in November when the company went public.


Photo:

Bing Guan / Bloomberg News

For many car buyers, an electric vehicle remains difficult to sell, in part because there is not a wide availability of charging stations and gasoline-powered models are more affordable to buy, despite the credits. tax aimed at making electric vehicles more attractive to consumers.

“We have a lot of conversations about electric vehicles,” said Ryan Gremore, president of the O’Brien Illinois automotive team. “But that didn’t translate into consumers saying ‘I have to have one.'”

Such sentiment has done little to curb the ambitions of the auto industry, with executives saying they need to add more zero-emission vehicles to their showrooms to meet tougher regulations for global air pollution.

And with more options to come, the math changes for buyers. A survey by consulting firm AlixPartners LLP in August found that 19% of people in the United States say they are very likely to make their next car an electric vehicle, up from 5% in 2019.

“The question on electric vehicles is much less about demand than supply,” said Dan Levy, analyst for Credit Suisse.

Brad Sowers, a car dealership in Missouri, said the pace of electric vehicle news was attracting more interest from his customers. Mr Sowers said he received 30 orders for the new electric Silverado within an hour of its unveiling. The new truck will not go on sale until early 2023.

Weston Wellington, a financial executive at a horse ranch and farm, said he was ready to go electric for his next truck, saying the performance was superior to combustion engine pickup trucks internal. He said he looked into Rivian’s new R1T electric truck, but the new battery-electric Silverado intrigued him.

“I don’t know which one,” Wellington said. “I just expect there will be a lot of choice. “

Electric vehicles

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Write to Ben Foldy at [email protected]

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