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There’s been no shortage of drama in the world of electric vehicles lately. In fact, there’s been so much that your brave and intrepid EV reporter had no chance of covering it all. So what do we do when there’s simply too much news? We round it up in one spot with no cohesive element whatsoever.
So here we go. In the order of the most absurd to the least:
Boy, where to even start? Faraday’s been all over the news in the last seven days. First, the extremely embattled EV hopeful announced it had received death threats and was handing them over to the FBI. Who would threaten to kill a car company exec? They don’t say. But based on their stock performance, my money is on retail investors…or any investor, really. Faraday claims it has been the victim of a coordinated smear campaign, alleging that company directors were trying to force the company to declare bankruptcy for their own financial gain.
Despite the drama, the company announced it had finally secured a much-needed $100 million in funding to begin production of its first vehicle, the FF91. TechCrunch reported on Monday that “the near-term funding agreements include up to $40 million in convertible notes and warrant exercise payments, and up to $60 million in convertible notes from Hong Kong holding company Senyun International.” The news came at the same time that top executives Brian Krolicki (director) and Sue Swenson (executive chair) resigned in order to resolve a dispute with a major shareholder.
Prior to all of this, the company faced a deluge of bad PR, stemming from a patently absurd showing at the Detroit Auto Show in which their vehicle failed to…meet expectations, shall we say. Several reporters were stunned by the car’s lackluster showing, but my favorite piece was by Abigail Bassett in Forbes.
Somewhere in all this, the company also received an EPA range estimate for the FF 91 of 381 miles, which is actually really impressive…as it should be for $180,000.
While not a Southern Californian EV company, Nikola has also been in the news recently. You may remember the company as an early entrée into the EV space and a poster child for SPAC fraud. Their former CEO, Trevor Milton, has been indicted on securities fraud for misrepresenting the company’s technology and product. Now that the trial is underway, new testimony suggests just how extreme the grift was. Texts between company employees have revealed that their prototype “Badger” truck was mostly parts from a Ford F-150 Raptor mashed together with an electric drive platform taken from a Nikola sports car.
Mullen Automotive keeps buying up other bankrupt EV companies that failed to make it to market, which is weird because Mullen has not yet made it to market themselves. On September 12th, the company acquired Bollinger Motors, a dead-in-the-water EV SUV/commercial truck company, for $60 million. A week later, Mullen put in the leading bid of $100 million for bankrupt EV delivery company Electric Last Mile Solutions Inc.
Mullen gets a bunch of IP out of the deals, and even some factory assets, but it’s hard not to see this as a sinking ship trying to stay afloat by welding on scrap metal from other sunken ships.
Maybe it’s brilliant, but Mullen’s stock is currently trading around an all time low of $0.34 and is in danger of being delisted from the NYSE for its abysmal performance, suggesting investors aren’t exactly inspired by the acquisitions either.
VinFast, the Vietnamese EV company with a Los Angeles HQ, did make the news last week, announcing a strategic partnership with Japanese semiconductor company Renesas Electronics Corporation. Renesas will provide tech such as one-chip operating systems, microcontrollers, analog and power semiconductors. The company didn’t provide an estimate for what the deal would be worth.
Following in Tesla’s footsteps, Rivian is building a nationwide charger network that will offer both Level 3 DC fast charging as well as Level 2 charging at destinations, called the “Rivian Adventure Network” and the “Rivian Waypoint Network,” respectively. There are currently just six total stations in the fast charging “Adventure Network,” five of which are in California, but hey, you’ve got to start somewhere.
If Rivian can mimic Tesla’s success here and build a ton of high-quality charging stations it will be a massive selling point for their vehicles, especially considering how unreliable third-party charging options remain. — David Shultz
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Nominate LA's Top Startups for Our 2022 Startup Awards!
Help us shine a light on the best startups and founders in Southern California - submit a nomination for the 2022 dot.LA Startup Awards! Winners in the six categories will be announced at our annual Summit on October 21st. Register for the Summit here. Browse the categories and nominate a startup or individual before entries close Friday, October 7th. Questions? Email awards@dot.LA.
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