The Short Cut: EV startups face harsh realities of production, and more
Rosalie Wessel
Apr 8, 2022
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The Short Cut: EV startups face harsh realities of production, and more

Rosalie Wessel
Staff writer
Apr 8, 20223 min read
The Short Cut: EV startups face harsh realities of production, and more
Welcome, welcome! This week’s short cut is not as short as normal, but it is full of the juiciest news the EV, mobility and tech industries have to offer. This week, we learn how electric vehicles could save lives and how the U.S. government’s probe into Google Maps might have implications for the entire industry. Keep on reading for the full stories.

All talk? EV startups face production challenges

EVs – and vehicles in general – are difficult to produce. EV makers such as Lucid, are pushing production back by months, and mainstream carmakers such as Volvo and Volkswagen are still facing delays caused by the global chip shortage.

This isn’t an uncommon story – Tesla faced a host of problems during its early days, and often still does. And while many EV startups are looking to replicate the Tesla success story, they are finding the idea is easier than the reality. Thanks to the Musk effect and the hype surrounding the company, Tesla now has a valuation bigger than most of the vehicle industry. People were willing to wait and forgive any delays or mistakes – but that’s a luxury many automakers don’t have. The Financial Times details the issues faced by EV hopefuls, as well as why Tesla’s success story is not the blueprint for success.

The U.S. government’s Google Maps probe could have implications for the entire car industry

A probe first lodged in 2020 by the U.S. Justice Department is investigating Google for anticompetitive practices. It is looking at how Google bundles its Maps app alongside other Google services such as Google Assistant, Google Search, Google calendar and so forth, Jalopnik reports.

As a result of this bundling, carmakers are forbidden from using other mapping services, such as Apple Maps, TomTom or even Waze, which is owned by Google. While some carmakers find Google’s connected services useful, there will be a number that wish to regain some measure of control, especially over location data. This probe could set a precedent for how the car industry interacts with mapping services. It may also deliver Google a scolding for violating anti-trust laws that prohibit anticompetitive practices.

Vietnamese EV making startup to invest $6.5 billion in U.S-based production

On March 29, Vietnamese automaker VinFast announced plans to open an EV manufacturing plant in North Carolina. Set to commence operations in 2024, the automaker says the factory will turn out 150,000 EVs per year. VinFast will begin the production of two electric SUVs that were revealed to the public at CES back in January. The factory itself will cost around $2 billion, the extra $3.5 billion will go on a battery facility. Forbes reports on VinFast’s major entrance into the US market, which comes at a crucial time as Americans start to turn towards electric vehicles.
Vinfast announced plans to open an EV manufacturing plant in North Carolina.
Vinfast announced plans to open an EV manufacturing plant in North Carolina.

Package for Hertz! Rental company scores 65,000 EVs from Polestar

Hertz has announced it’s going to purchase 65,000 Polestar EVs over the next five years, Reuters reports. A move by the rental car firm to increase its selection of zero-emission models around the globe. The company also announced in October an order of 100,000 Teslas.

According to Hertz, the Polestar EVs will be available to customers at the beginning of spring in Europe, and later in 2022 for North America and Australia.

Australia’s EV problem might leave them behind in the dust

It looks like EVs are becoming a hot commodity down under. Writing for The Guardian, Jordyn Beazley speaks to industry leaders about the increasing demand in Australia for EVs, and how it's now outstripping supply. A lack of incentives in Australia has led to automakers selling EVs in countries with CO2 emission efficiency standards, or where there are schemes in place to support EV manufactures and encourage customers.

While the Australian government does have a $2.1 billion funded future fuels and vehicles strategy, it does not seem to be enough to motivate manufactures to focus on Australia. Wait times for Tesla models currently stand at six to nine months, and Australia usually receives EV models at a much later date than other countries. Automaker Škoda announced that its electric SUV Enyaq would be available in Australia in 2023, three years after it was released in the UK. With further delays created by the pandemic and gas prices soaring, Australians face being left behind as the world goes electric.

Electric vehicles could save lives, study reports

According to a new report by the American Lung Association, a quick transition to EVs in the U.S. could save over 100,000 lives.

A further $1.2 trillion could also be saved in healthcare costs over the following three decades, the Guardian reports. The ALA also predicts there would be 2.8 million fewer asthma attacks and avoid 13.4 million sick days by 2050.

The calculations were based off a scenario of 100% EV car sales and the complete shift from fossil fuels to other energy sources such as solar, wind, hydroelectric and nuclear by 2035. Despite the promising results of the report, it’s an unlikely scenario. The divide in American politics, as well as the lack of urgency to promote climate policies among some American leaders, is seeing climate change reforms pushed back.

GM and Honda team up to create wallet friendly EVs

GM and Honda Motors have announced that they will work together to develop a line of affordable EVs, CNBC reports. Using GM’s Ultium battery technology, the collaboration is hoping to see millions of cheaper EVs created including popular compact crossover vehicles.

Vehicles in the affordable range are expected to cost below $30,000 and will be available to buy in 2027. Both companies are also working on next-generation battery tech, which should see batteries get cheaper, lighter, have a higher range and greater energy density. This collaboration marks yet another joint effort by the two companies, with Honda having previously invested $750 million in Cruise, GM’s autonomous vehicle unit. However, Honda still plans on creating its own EV technology.

EV fever hits the UK

The numbers are in! Britons have seen the light (or should that be electrical glow?)! They purchased more EVs in March 2022 than in all of 2019.

According to the Guardian, there were 39,315 new battery vehicle registrations in the UK in March – and only 37,850 UK EV sales in 2019. These figures are in part due to soaring petrol prices, which has prompted the lowest amount of gas and diesel car sales in 24 years.

But the waters aren’t entirely calm for the growing EV sector: chip shortages and production delays are proving tricky to manage in light of the surge in demand.
Britons have purchased more EVs in March 2022 than in 2019.
Britons have purchased more EVs in March 2022 than in 2019.

Top secret? Biden administration meets with Musk and Barra

On April 6, the Biden administration met with Tesla front man Elon Musk, and GM CEO Mary Barra reports Reuters. In a statement released by the Biden administration, the talk concluded with the agreement that charging stations and vehicles need to be cross compatible and provide a smooth user experience for all drivers regardless of which car make they drive.

They also talked about building a national network of 500,000 chargers. While the Biden administration has found it difficult to pass legislation regarding tax incentives for the building and purchasing of EVs, last year Congress approved $7.5 billion in government funding for EV charging stations.

EVs are key in meeting sustainability targets

To meet climate goals, EVs alone aren’t going to cut it – at least that’s what Enric Asucion believes. Writing for Forbes, Asuncion looks at how EVs can lead the change needed to lessen the effects of climate change. And while switching to EVs won’t be enough, Asuncion lays out how using more renewable energy sources will let us keep the lives we are used to, while lowering our environmental impact. And renewable energy is undoubtedly on the rise. An IEA market analysis has stated that renewable power will expand by 50% by 2024. That’s a sure sign that getting on the renewable energy train is the best way to go.

But we mustn’t forget – the transition to renewable energy is going to need some work. Asuncion is clear on this: a full chain of distribution that includes a transmission and distribution grid is vital, so that people can optimize their smart energy in the most effective way possible.
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