Are EVs a Losing Game?

May 14, 2024 - 12:21pm -- Selcuk Gulboy

It’s been a miserable month for electric cars. Tesla fired everybody in its charger department, Ford told us that it is losing $100,000 on every electric vehicle it sells, and Donald Trump announced he will stop the construction of new wind generators off the East Coast because he wants to save the whales.

If you bought Tesla stock at $600 a share it appears you have a long wait to get even. Hybrids are selling like hotcakes, but Elon’s Cybertruck can’t catch cold. Ford’s F-150 electric is nice for Los Angeles and San Diego but not Duluth. 

President Biden told us electric cars would dominate the market by 2030, but I don’t think he has ordered a rechargeable limo yet.

What happened to the EV world?

Tesla captured the recharge market thanks to its novelty, Elon Musk’s flamboyance, and huge government gifts for each car, paid for by the gas and diesel makers. Tesla invested tremendous capital on chargers strictly for its own cars but still could not completely build out a network that would eliminate the fear of running out of juice before reaching a charger that hasn’t yet broken down.

The enormous run-up of Tesla stock gave Musk capital to use for expansion, and Europe and China became huge EV markets to dominate. 

The Ukraine war, Russia losing some pipelines, and eager European customers pushed up world fossil fuel prices.

China has granted enormous advantages to its own EV industry, which is now competing with Tesla at the low end of the market and headed for America if Trump-like tariffs do not cripple it before it gets going.

On the truck side, Rivian built a lovely-looking vehicle in the old Mitsubishi plant in Southern Illinois with guaranteed orders from Amazon, but it’s now losing $43,000 per truck. The latest rumor is that Apple will invest heavily in Rivian after blowing $10 billion trying to build its own viable car. The thought is that Rivian’s truck would use Apple’s AI technology to develop a robotic vehicle.

Google probably leads the way in robotic taxis with its huge investment in Waymo, but they are moving slowly, primarily using Volvos and Jaguars as their software carriers.

Elon Musk boldly announced that Tesla would soon dominate driverless vehicles. It is potentially an enormous market. But GM and Google now have a good understanding of how long it takes to make money in that domain. Musk has lawsuits stemming from the nutty people who tried going 120 mph without hands on the wheel.

We are all finding out in 2024 how difficult it is to make money with electric cars and robotic technology. The investment it requires is huge, and the market has limits.

Human-driven hybrids, which Toyota envisioned as a smart approach before 2035, are winning on the market. 

Elon Musk has had better luck with spaceships and satellites lately. Charging has its cost.

Question: Do you like or dislike your EV and why?

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