EV developments

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This research by the Pacific Northwest Laboratories could have some far reaching implications for lithium battery development. They found that the assumptions about the electronic insulating layer (solid electrolyte interphase or SEI) were incorrect. Overtime it is not an insulator, it becomes a semiconductor. This appears to be what causes the "mossy-like" buildup on the electrodes that decreases capacity over time. With a different insulator, can this problem be eliminated? It will be interesting to see where this discovery leads to in future battery development.

 
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I changed the thread title to be more inclusive. Here is another cool development that could strongly influence EV development. This one is in motors and could lead to an end to the need for rare earth magnets in EV motors.

 
Meanwhile, Alsym Energy is ramping up for large-scale production of a no-lithium, water-based battery system that they say matches lithium performance, by using more common elements. Their target market is the opposite of luxury EVs. The goal is to provide a safe and low-cost battery to drive down the cost of EVs. One of their initial customers will be an EV car company in India.


 
Like all tech scientific discoveries/breakthroughs take time to get into mass production but, and I feel quite certain about this, we will see these breakthroughs on assembly line in record time. The IRA money is good and will make taking risks more palatable. Tesla is setting a new standard of manufacturing where you don’t wait for a new model year to roll out a refresh or wait for a major redesign to implement new technology. When it’s deemed ready it goes on the line and out the door.

One question I have is how will product testing react to this shorter time to production. They must have a solution.
 
We'll see. Tesla has eliminated a lot of cost by having minimal dealers. That will also be influential. Some new vehicles are introduced and sold mid-model year, even for the big 3. I suspect that will continue.
 
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My parents are about to buy a Model 3 RWD. It will replace a Mazda 3. After a year of talking them down from the range anxiety ledge they serious started shopping. What they found was the only thing cheaper than a Model 3 RWD was the the Bolt or Leaf but with no consistent and reliable charging network those would have been around town cruisers. More over Hyundai is selling the Ionic 6 but the base model doesn’t even have programmable mirrors and the trim level that does won’t be available for 12 months. No Bolts available. Leaf is still not a road trip able car. That leaves ONE option under $39k. And it’s not exactly a new vehicle.

So with all this technology the landscape hasn’t changed in 5 years but the prices have dropped.

I don’t see any new battery tech in the next 2-3 years. Just improvements and price drops on existing tech.
 
My parents are about to buy a Model 3 RWD. It will replace a Mazda 3. After a year of talking them down from the range anxiety ledge they serious started shopping. What they found was the only thing cheaper than a Model 3 RWD was the the Bolt or Leaf but with no consistent and reliable charging network those would have been around town cruisers. More over Hyundai is selling the Ionic 6 but the base model doesn’t even have programmable mirrors and the trim level that does won’t be available for 12 months. No Bolts available. Leaf is still not a road trip able car. That leaves ONE option under $39k. And it’s not exactly a new vehicle.

So with all this technology the landscape hasn’t changed in 5 years but the prices have dropped.

I don’t see any new battery tech in the next 2-3 years. Just improvements and price drops on existing tech.

I agree with your market analysis on the low cost end. The dropping prices ARE the big story here.

The Model 3 is being updated now (the new one is called the Highland) to a basically whole new car derived from Model Y technology.

As for battery tech, LFP is starting to take off, and is better for longevity and lower cost (no Co or Nickel).

The issue is that the US is smallest EV market compared to China and the EU, so we have the worst selection, and little pressure to sell the newest products. That is, the Highland and LFP will get here last, but both are already a thing in China.
 
I agree with your market analysis on the low cost end. The dropping prices ARE the big story here.

The Model 3 is being updated now (the new one is called the Highland) to a basically whole new car derived from Model Y technology.

As for battery tech, LFP is starting to take off, and is better for longevity and lower cost (no Co or Nickel).

The issue is that the US is smallest EV market compared to China and the EU, so we have the worst selection, and little pressure to sell the newest products. That is, the Highland and LFP will get here last, but both are already a thing in China.
the Highland update is not really attractive to my parents. Stalkless driving my a one feature the over 75 crowd stays away from. The biggest issues is the tax credit being halved next year for the the LFP (I’m assuming ) teslas. Maybe sometime in 2025 -26 something will shift the US market
 
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the Highland update is not really attractive to my parents. Stalkless driving my a one feature the over 75 crowd stays away from. The biggest issues is the tax credit being halved next year for the the LFP (I’m assuming ) teslas. Maybe sometime in 2025 -26 something will shift the US market
So my wife has had a Tesla for 6 months. I've driven it enough that i can say the lack of buttons is annoying. I drive a Ford Fusion that has more buttons than the space shuttle, but i prefer them. Things like heated seats, windshield wipers--you have to use the stupid touchscreen for everything. Sure you can do a quick swipe with the stalk, but how dumb to put everything in that display. I feel like im going to run over something while trying to find out how to do xyz. Also the lack of sensors/cross traffic is beyond stupid. My 2012 car had the sensors and my 2015 lexus had cross traffic radar--that thing would alert you long before you would even see the car coming. My wife already ran into a wall or something at the parking garage using the camera sensors. Sure efficiency is great and its cheap if you just use it as a commuter/around town trips.
 
Many cars now have few or no buttons, it's not just an EV thing. For example the current VW Gti and Golf R. Every reviewer hates that aspect of the car. It looks "cool" to people who were raised on screens and it costs less but useability is terrible.
 
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We Gen 1 Volt owners griped a lot about the capacitance touch buttons for everything. It was dangerous to adjust the climate controls to defog a window while driving. They listened and made the climate controls much more analog in the Gen2 Volt. It's a big improvement.
 
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So my wife has had a Tesla for 6 months. I've driven it enough that i can say the lack of buttons is annoying. I drive a Ford Fusion that has more buttons than the space shuttle, but i prefer them. Things like heated seats, windshield wipers--you have to use the stupid touchscreen for everything. Sure you can do a quick swipe with the stalk, but how dumb to put everything in that display. I feel like im going to run over something while trying to find out how to do xyz. Also the lack of sensors/cross traffic is beyond stupid. My 2012 car had the sensors and my 2015 lexus had cross traffic radar--that thing would alert you long before you would even see the car coming. My wife already ran into a wall or something at the parking garage using the camera sensors. Sure efficiency is great and its cheap if you just use it as a commuter/around town trips.
My 72 year old parents pick their new Model 3 up today and leave from the dealership on a weekend road trip. I hope the voice commands works better than my 7 year old car’s. Find me an alternative that’s $35k that is as well optioned. It’s replacing a 2008 Mazda 3 that didn’t even automatically turn off the headlights. I’m not saying Tesla is perfect but there just are not any other viable EV alternatives. I don’t mind it. Controlling AC/heat from the wheel is nice. Voice navigation works. Voice commands mostly work for the music radio podcast. It’s distracting if you need to change settings while driving. Like fog lights, ride height ect. After 6 months woth the Tesla I rented a Sienna for a weekend and I can say I was appalled by all the buttons some I could barely reach.
 
I don't see the EV landscape changing soon, Ford is loosing $30k on every Mach-E it sells, and is scaling back plans to build new EV factories.

Maybe this is where some of the legacy automakers collapse?
 
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I expect the recent labor contracts will be a factor in legacy automakers collapse. Their competition without labor contracts are going to get a big leg up.

The major US car companies currently have a choice, they can sell EVs to offset their highly profitable light trucks or they are going to be paying big fines for missing the new fuel economy standards.
 
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I expect the recent labor contracts will be a factor in legacy automakers collapse. Their competition without labor contracts are going to get a big leg up.

The major US car companies currently have a choice, they can sell EVs to offset their highly profitable light trucks or they are going to be paying big fines for missing the new fuel economy standards.
Money talks. I don’t think the government will allow any one of the big three to collapse. We have recent history to back this up. I can situation where the mileage standards are lowered to allow them to stay in business. I don’t like it that outcome. They knew the rules and went along with the game but I also understand not wanting to lay off those numbers of workers.

They are losing money because they tried to compete with Tesla products but only with final products not the whole manufacturing ecosystem. They didn’t build a charging network!!! How can you sell EV when your buyers don’t know if they will be able to get to or home from their destination. Tesla had a coast to coast charging network a decade ago!!

Go look at Munro Live tear downs of fords vs Teslas. Fords pickup while functioning well looked rushed and designed to be a quick to market product not a design that prioritized design efficiency. The Mach E was better.

The Bolt was good. And followed the Volt which was too. Both are dead. I blame battery technology for the demise of the Bolt. Ultium still doesn’t have volume production. How do you make EVs without batterie??

Tesla has even taken out all the ultrasonic sensors USS to save 151$ a car and didn’t even have a solution for how to keep the features that relied on the USS operating. It’s been almost a year and they still don’t have a fix. All to save 151$. Stalks who need those. Buttons gone. Structural batteries that make pack replacement really difficult yep. They can bolt the seats to the batteries and lower the frame down. None of the expensive 4 or 5 axis robots to put seats in.

Tesla is now on to refining designs. Better ride, quieter interior interior mood lights. The advances in battery and motors may well come soon but I’m leaning towards they want to cut prices with volume production. Retooling for a brand new battery design could happen but it will take 5 years. Giga Texas I don’t believe is running at full production in the battery line yet. They have enough miles to prove the current technology is efficient, reliable and cheap enough to turn a profit. If any automaker want to sell cars all they need to do is offer better financing terms than the competition. As I recall (and I could be making this up ) GM financial was more profitable than GM at some point or still is.
 
Well, the chit seems to be hitting the proverbial fan with Ford and GM....

Ford first:



Ford has decided to postpone the scale up of their current EV offerings (Mach-E and F-150 Lightning) citing poor sales. Sales are still up year on year, but not as much as planned. Ford says 'the consumer is no longer willing to pay a premium for EVs'.

Yup, just that enigmatic consumer preference...who could've predicted it, right? I'm sure it has nothing to do with 5 consecutive price hikes on the Lightning (followed by a huge cancellation of pre-orders), or the fact that the Mach-E is more expensive than the Tesla Y and the Kia/Hyundai offerings, despite being clearly older tech.

So, it seems that Ford projected exponential EV growth at a premium price point, and didn't sweat their high costs of production. Then when those sales didn't materialize (for Ford), they could either cut prices (and increase their losses per unit and overall), or they could cut production and keep prices high (and only lose their Rand D and capital investment). Cash poor, Ford took the second approach.

Ford says they remain committed to rapid development and scale up of their 'second generation EVs'... the replacements to the current offerings. Anyone want to guess where those products will rate relative to the competition when they eventually arrive? And will the costs be low enough to make a profit 2 years from now, when EVs will likely be cheaper than ICE MSRP?

GM is arguably WORSE.

GM has been advertizing their Ultium platform for several years now (including on the Superb Owl and World Series), but shipped TINY numbers of them in Hummers and Cadillacs. NONE of the trucks, CUVs or hatches based on Ultium have shipped to consumers yet, despite promises to do that long ago. Silverados have gone to fleet owners in 'beta test' numbers.

The problem is likely the same as Ford, but GM has better sales price forecasting. They might already know that their offerings, while likely better than Fords, and perhaps cheaper to build, will still struggle to make a profit. They might sell their 'first gen' Ultium EVs at a small scale and a significant loss per vehicle to get some production experience and real world data (the way they treated the Bolt for 5 years).

They also cancelled the Bolt, despite strong sales over 100k units/yr. Obv bc they didn't want the Bolt with LG batteries to compete with their Ultium vehicles. Classic back office thinking to shut down a popular and semi-scaled product. They got skewered for being dumdums on that, and quickly backtracked, vaguely promising a new Ultium Bolt at an unspecified future date.

The interesting news now is that GM says the new Ultium Bolt will have LFP cells (or cell materials?) made by an asian contractor! This is the first time GM has mentioned the possibility that Ultium 'packaging' could contain cells not made by GM. Very interesting.

------------------------

My analysis: The battery business is really rough. New formulations and chemistries and production methods are being rapidly innovated by startup and tech type companies used to a rapid innovation, production and scale cycle. The legacy makers can pick a tech and build a battery factory, but by the time they get it off the ground, the batteries they make are not that great, and are too expensive compared to rivals. And since the battery is then major cost driver of the whole EV at scale, this means that the legacy EV competitiveness is crippled from day 1.

Even Tesla, that builds its own batteries for US and some EU vehicles, buys its cells from asian battery maker CTL for its asian markets, where price competition is extreme. Get a quote, order a million batteries, let CTL worry about clearing a profit on the cells, and whether the factory is obsolete two years from now.

The same thing happened to Nissan 10 years ago... they built their own batteries for the LEAF, and big expensive factories, and then realized that other companies cells were way better and cheaper than Nissan cells ever would be.

So the 'vision' of the post-IRA US EV space... that legacy makers will just build giant battery factories that make compelling cheap EVs 100% in the US, is running into a wall. They may well be better off buying cells from Asia, and forgoing half the tax rebate on their vehicles, as buying top notch cells may well be much cheaper than the $3250 lost rebate.

Tesla will stick to making its own cells here, probably, because the US sandbox is much less competitive (no Chinese EVs for sale here), and they are well ahead of Ford and GM on how to make cells pretty cheaply themselves.

---------------------------

This is a classic story of incumbent company failure. The incumbents have huge resources and tech know how, but can't innovate and scale at the same time fast enough to survive competition from better managed non-incumbent start-ups. We are seeing just that when we see piles of Ford EVs on dealer lots at absurd prices, and fleets of 'vapor EVs' from GM being sold on TV and in press releases.
 
Well, the chit seems to be hitting the proverbial fan with Ford and GM....

Ford first:



Ford has decided to postpone the scale up of their current EV offerings (Mach-E and F-150 Lightning) citing poor sales. Sales are still up year on year, but not as much as planned. Ford says 'the consumer is no longer willing to pay a premium for EVs'.

Yup, just that enigmatic consumer preference...who could've predicted it, right? I'm sure it has nothing to do with 5 consecutive price hikes on the Lightning (followed by a huge cancellation of pre-orders), or the fact that the Mach-E is more expensive than the Tesla Y and the Kia/Hyundai offerings, despite being clearly older tech.

So, it seems that Ford projected exponential EV growth at a premium price point, and didn't sweat their high costs of production. Then when those sales didn't materialize (for Ford), they could either cut prices (and increase their losses per unit and overall), or they could cut production and keep prices high (and only lose their Rand D and capital investment). Cash poor, Ford took the second approach.

Ford says they remain committed to rapid development and scale up of their 'second generation EVs'... the replacements to the current offerings. Anyone want to guess where those products will rate relative to the competition when they eventually arrive? And will the costs be low enough to make a profit 2 years from now, when EVs will likely be cheaper than ICE MSRP?

GM is arguably WORSE.

GM has been advertizing their Ultium platform for several years now (including on the Superb Owl and World Series), but shipped TINY numbers of them in Hummers and Cadillacs. NONE of the trucks, CUVs or hatches based on Ultium have shipped to consumers yet, despite promises to do that long ago. Silverados have gone to fleet owners in 'beta test' numbers.

The problem is likely the same as Ford, but GM has better sales price forecasting. They might already know that their offerings, while likely better than Fords, and perhaps cheaper to build, will still struggle to make a profit. They might sell their 'first gen' Ultium EVs at a small scale and a significant loss per vehicle to get some production experience and real world data (the way they treated the Bolt for 5 years).

They also cancelled the Bolt, despite strong sales over 100k units/yr. Obv bc they didn't want the Bolt with LG batteries to compete with their Ultium vehicles. Classic back office thinking to shut down a popular and semi-scaled product. They got skewered for being dumdums on that, and quickly backtracked, vaguely promising a new Ultium Bolt at an unspecified future date.

The interesting news now is that GM says the new Ultium Bolt will have LFP cells (or cell materials?) made by an asian contractor! This is the first time GM has mentioned the possibility that Ultium 'packaging' could contain cells not made by GM. Very interesting.

------------------------

My analysis: The battery business is really rough. New formulations and chemistries and production methods are being rapidly innovated by startup and tech type companies used to a rapid innovation, production and scale cycle. The legacy makers can pick a tech and build a battery factory, but by the time they get it off the ground, the batteries they make are not that great, and are too expensive compared to rivals. And since the battery is then major cost driver of the whole EV at scale, this means that the legacy EV competitiveness is crippled from day 1.

Even Tesla, that builds its own batteries for US and some EU vehicles, buys its cells from asian battery maker CTL for its asian markets, where price competition is extreme. Get a quote, order a million batteries, let CTL worry about clearing a profit on the cells, and whether the factory is obsolete two years from now.

The same thing happened to Nissan 10 years ago... they built their own batteries for the LEAF, and big expensive factories, and then realized that other companies cells were way better and cheaper than Nissan cells ever would be.

So the 'vision' of the post-IRA US EV space... that legacy makers will just build giant battery factories that make compelling cheap EVs 100% in the US, is running into a wall. They may well be better off buying cells from Asia, and forgoing half the tax rebate on their vehicles, as buying top notch cells may well be much cheaper than the $3250 lost rebate.

Tesla will stick to making its own cells here, probably, because the US sandbox is much less competitive (no Chinese EVs for sale here), and they are well ahead of Ford and GM on how to make cells pretty cheaply themselves.

---------------------------

This is a classic story of incumbent company failure. The incumbents have huge resources and tech know how, but can't innovate and scale at the same time fast enough to survive competition from better managed non-incumbent start-ups. We are seeing just that when we see piles of Ford EVs on dealer lots at absurd prices, and fleets of 'vapor EVs' from GM being sold on TV and in press releases.

Kia/Hyundai has decent products and the EV9 will decimate the MachE sales at the same price point even if they are not in the same class. NACS on these vehicles will be nail in the coffin. I don’t see any chatter about future ford or GM products that will be competitive. Stellanis will have products not sure how comps they will be. BMW and VW/Audi may make a play in the American market. Not sure about M-B yet.

As much my dislike for Musk grows by the week Tesla is the only EV under $59k I can recommend. Now I’m stuck running free tech support for my parents and their new M3. Their buying experience was not great. Once they signed the title they were shown the door and to their new car and the sales staff could hardly be bothered to answer any questions about how to operate their new purchase. Didn’t even help them pair phones to the media side of the car.
 
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Now I’m stuck running free tech support for my parents and their new M3. Their buying experience was not great. Once they signed the title they were shown the door and to their new car and the sales staff could hardly be bothered to answer any questions about how to operate their new purchase. Didn’t even help them pair phones to the media side of the car.

My 2022 Chevy experience was no different. Salesman shows me the car, gives me a test drive (w/o him), and after the paper work, hands me the key, presses the Onstar button and runs away. The lady on Onstar talked me through phone pairing, and demanded a CC# for a $40 monthly fee (that I declined).

Ofc, the phone would not connect again then next time the car was started, and when I called OnStar for help, I was on for 30 minutes with them trying to fix things on their end, before CarPlay worked properly.

And during the purchase the salesman was surprised I lived 100 miles away, and was very curious how I would be able to get the car home and were I would charge. Despite the 250 mile range on the display. :rolleyes:
 
I expect if they do roll out the Tesla truck in "November" that the first owners are going to be going through a lot of quality control issues as they effectively will become the beta testers. Performance is reportedly very impressive and for folks using them for commuter use, the performance may offset the time spent at the dealer.
 
Money talks. I don’t think the government will allow any one of the big three to collapse.
It's no longer Chrysler Corp. Stellantis is not an American company. It's a multinational headquartered in the Netherlands. Bailing them out would be a tough sell.
This is a classic story of incumbent company failure. The incumbents have huge resources and tech know how, but can't innovate and scale at the same time fast enough to survive competition from better managed non-incumbent start-ups. We are seeing just that when we see piles of Ford EVs on dealer lots at absurd prices, and fleets of 'vapor EVs' from GM being sold on TV and in press releases.
Looking back this will be another classic case of disruptive technology. It is much easier for a smaller and more nimble company to innovate and take large risks in a developing market. GM and Ford have both been poor at mass volume, lower profit vehicles and instead have focussed on large, high-profit trucks and dressed-up SUVs. They did this against environmental and economic headwinds. It's the opposite approach of that taken by Toyota with the Prius and their hybrid tech.
 
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I liked the Tesla buying experience, but i generally want to be left alone. We ordered online, drove 2 hours to Minneapolis to pick it up. Took about 10 minutes if that. Gave him a check, off we went. Initially the strangest thing was 1 pedal driving. I never knew it was as strong as it is (first EV i've driven). Also Tesla came right to our house to fix a taillight that kept getting condensation inside. Can't beat that--their guy was driving a Model S. Still though i do wonder long term how things like rust (we live in rustbelt capital) and battery holds up. We average something like 20 days below 0F each winter...and normally hit -20F most years. One thing i thought i might not like is no center display (model 3) but i've come to realize i never even look at the center display in my Fusion--i probably pay more attention to speed in the Tesla/but its so easy to speed in that thing.
 
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It's no longer Chrysler Corp. Stellantis is not an American company. It's a multinational headquartered in the Netherlands. Bailing them out would be a tough sell.

Looking back this will be another classic case of disruptive technology. It is much easier for a smaller and more nimble company to innovate and take large risks in a developing market. GM and Ford have both been poor at mass volume, lower profit vehicles and instead have focussed on large, high-profit trucks and dressed-up SUVs. They did this against environmental and economic headwinds. It's the opposite approach of that taken by Toyota with the Prius and their hybrid tech.
The party that lets Jeep and Dodge go out of business won’t do well in the next election is my prediction;)
 
A nice fact-check dropped last week:


It has a UK focus, and guess what? The Daily Mail is not a reliable source of EV information.

Among the myths... "FALSE: ‘Sales of electric vehicles appear to be slowing’"

One stat I liked is that global EV sales reached in 2023 the level predicted by the IEA to occur in 2030, in 2021! So what they thought would take 8 years, took 2. :eek:
 
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What happened in 2023 with media messaging about EV sales is (my opinion) a classic example of the inability of media or most people to understand the nuances of mathematical or scientific terminology, or to even tease out the bigger story of failures behind some of the manufacturer's missteps, and the classic capitalization of these inabilities by those we seek to create propaganda or misinformation to suit their economic or social agendas.

The simple reality is that sales growth slowed, but is still at something like (from memory) 30% year over year, down from 50% year over year. And EV sales in the US will/have hit 1 million units for the first time (annualized basis) and are something like 8% of all new vehicle sales. This doesn't sound like a failure to me, and nobody is forecasting growth to go to zero. EVs have gotten to be 8% of the market a lot quicker than solar PV got to be 8% of electricity supply, and a 30% rate of growth means that in 5 years market share will be 30% of all new vehicles in the US. That would seem (to me) to be the tipping point to rapid adoption.

For instance (just from memory, and not direct quotes) some classic media stories and/or misinformation circulating now:
  • "EVs are piling up at dealerships" - hmmm, maybe some makes and models but not all makes and models.
  • "Tesla has to cut prices as demand plummets" - hmmm, demand growth slowed, and they strategically modestly lowered prices to make things harder on those trying to intrude into their market share, which seems to be working and seems pretty smart (note: I am not a Tesla fanboy, just making a business observation).
  • "GM is cutting production and delaying new models" - mostly because it sounds like they can't solve production problems with batteries and made a dumb bet on leading with big, expensive truck-like vehicles targeted at a market segment that doesn't particularly care for EVs, while not having more practical, less expensive vehicles that the broader market might actually buy.
  • "Honda is backing out of GM partnership" - maybe because GM can't figure out how to build batteries at scale and at good enough cost?
  • "Toyota is looking smart now by betting mostly on hybrids, which is what consumers seem to want" - nice try! Hybrids are cheaper than BEVs and not a bad solution for somebody who wants something more efficient and/or more cost-effective to run and can't afford a BEV. Toyota is way behind and panicking, and trying to spin that hybrids are the way to go. This will not end well for them. Japanese companies often seem happy to be left behind as the world changes when the changes don't suit what they do well. Remember how dominant Sony was in portable media back in the 1980s? They couldn't adapt or change, and just kept making what they knew how to make while others reinvented the paradigm. Prediction - In 20 years, Toyota, Nissan and Honda will have a niche business selling plug-in hybrids and supplying gas engines to a bunch of niche industries, but will otherwise be shells of their former selves having given most of their market share to Chinese BEV suppliers.
  • "Ford is losing billions on EVs with no end in sight and is pivoting back to hybrids" - maybe because they didn't have a good plan on how to produce EVs profitably at scale and relied on a bunch of (now) outdated off-the-shelf technology and jury-rigged designs to jump start their efforts. Ford Mustang - kind of OK when it launched, but wasn't going to be competitive five years out, so no surprise that its sales are falling.
Transitions are never easy, and they tend to have a lot of bumps in the road. But it is hard to argue with 30% yearly growth as being anything but impressive. If the demand is there for affordable BEVs (and I believe it is), then whatever supplier gets there early will be in a better position to capitalize on the growth. Half of the car companies consumers know well today will probably not be around in 20 years.