Tech Insights

Bad News for EVs? A Look at Recent Trouble

November 07, 2023 by Jake Hertz

A wave of bad news has swept the EV industry recently, including financial woes and customer dissatisfaction.

The electric vehicle (EV) industry is full of hype, but we don’t often pay much attention to the industry's challenges. While the promise of cleaner, more efficient mobility fuels optimism, a recent series of setbacks and challenges are revealing the complexities of making this transformative technology mainstream.

 

Ford Lightning production plant.

Ford Lightning production plant. Image used courtesy of Ford Media

 

From the bankruptcy of promising startups to production hiccups at established automakers, the industry is currently grappling with issues that could significantly impact its trajectory. 

 

Volta Trucks Files Bankruptcy

Volta Trucks, a well-funded Swedish startup, has filed for bankruptcy. 

 

Volta Trucks has €1.2 billion in orders for its electric truck.

Volta Trucks has €1.2 billion in orders for its electric truck. Image used courtesy of Wikimedia Commons  

 

With €290 million ($330 million) in raised capital and a €1.2 billion order book, Volta Trucks appeared to be on a solid footing. However, the bankruptcy of its battery supplier, Proterra, threw a wrench into its manufacturing plans, significantly reducing its projected vehicle output. According to the company, this supply chain disruption had a cascading effect, eroding investor confidence and making it exceedingly difficult for the company to secure additional funding.

The Volta Trucks case highlights the precarious nature of startup ventures in the EV space, particularly those dependent on a complex ecosystem of suppliers and investors. Even well-funded and well-received startups are not immune to the vulnerabilities of the supply chain. It also raises questions about the resilience and adaptability of new entrants in the EV market, especially when faced with unexpected financial and operational challenges.

 

Ford F-150 Lightning Plant Loses Shift

Amongst a growing automotive workers' strike, Ford recently announced that it would trim one of the three shifts at its Rouge EV plant in Michigan.

 

The Ford F-150 Lightning.

The Ford F-150 Lightning. Image used courtesy of Ford

 

The cutback, affecting around 700 jobs, comes amidst a 46% decline in F-150 Lightning third-quarter sales over last year. While Ford attributes the cut to supply chain issues, the underlying factors may be more complex. The company had previously shut down for six weeks to expand its electric vehicle center, indicating that scaling production remains a significant challenge.

While Ford has made substantial investments in its EV infrastructure, the cutback suggests that the company is still navigating the operational complexities of mass-producing electric vehicles. It also raises concerns about whether traditional automakers can adapt quickly enough to meet the growing demand for EVs, especially when faced with supply chain disruptions and shifting consumer preferences.

 

Half of EV Owners May Return to ICE Vehicles

A recent study from S&P Global Mobility has unveiled a troubling trend: nearly half of all EV owners are considering reverting to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. 

 

Loyalty to EVs in the luxury space.

Loyalty to EVs in the luxury space. Image used courtesy of S&P Global Mobility
 

While the headline suggests that 75% of luxury EV households stick with electric vehicles for their next purchase, this figure drops sharply when Tesla's industry-leading loyalty numbers are excluded. According to the study, nearly half of non-Tesla EV households that acquire a new electric vehicle revert to an internal combustion engine vehicle for their next purchase. The fuel type loyalty rate for mainstream brand EV households stands at 52.1% for the year through July.

The study also reveals that consumer consideration for EV purchasing has declined from 81% in 2021 to 52%. The top reasons for not buying an EV include pricing, infrastructure, and range anxiety. Among mainstream brands, Nissan and Chevrolet have the strongest loyalty rates at 63.2% and 60.6%, respectively. However, these figures represent loyalty to EVs in general, not brand-to-brand loyalty. For individual models like the Ford Mustang Mach-E, only 37.3% of households bought another EV, while 45.8% opted for gasoline power.

 

Rough Times Ahead for EVs?

The electric vehicle industry stands at a pivotal moment, grappling with a range of challenges that could either stall its progress or serve as catalysts for innovation and improvement. From supply chain vulnerabilities and operational complexities to wavering consumer commitment, the hurdles are considerable. As the industry strives to fulfill its promise of a more sustainable and efficient transportation future, addressing these issues head-on will be crucial.