Ford makes a big announcement regarding batteries, Volkswagen plans a cheaper ID.4, Rivian delivers electric vans to Amazon. All this and more in today’s issue of The Morning Dump.
Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
Ford Switches Packs
The inevitable EV ramp-up will be a colossal battle of costs and capabilities. Consumers want more production and lower costs, automakers want more profits. As of now, Ford is using nickel cobalt manganese (NCM) batteries in their electric vehicles which, while energy dense, are quite expensive on a per-cell basis. While other technologies have previously been less power-dense, new cell formulations are advanced enough to tip the cost-benefit analysis.
See, Ford plans on going with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries for next year’s standard-range Mustang Mach-E electric crossover, with the standard-range F-150 Lightning gaining LFP chemistry in early 2024. Ford claims a material cost reduction of between 10 and 15 percent — significant savings (largely coming from ridding of pricy Cobalt) that could swing profitability should general material costs continue to rise. So what are the drawbacks of LFP batteries and where are they already used? Well, LFP batteries feature lower energy density than NCM batteries, but that’s about as far as the downsides go. They’re more stable than NCM batteries and have higher thermal runaway thresholds —tttt good stuff for vehicle safety. Tesla and BYD are already using LFP batteries, so expect LFP cells to make their way into more EVs in the coming years.
In addition to this big LFP announcement, Ford believes it’s secured enough batteries to produce 600,000 EVs per year. While that pales in the face of the nearly 900,000 F-Series pickup trucks Ford sold in America during 2019, it’s still a solid step towards a greener vehicle mix. Not bad, Ford. Not bad.
Volkswagen Aims For The Masses
Affordable EVs are the next frontier of electrification, and Volkswagen seems to be making strides to limbo underneath the $40,000 mark. The German company announced this week that as production of the 2023 ID.4 electric crossover kicks off in Chattanooga, T.N., a cheaper shorter-range variant will be made available for American consumers.
Don’t worry, we’re not getting the sloth-like 55 kWh Pure model that Europe gets. While 215 miles of range on the WLTP cycle is perfectly fine if you live in a dense country, it doesn’t sound so great for American use. Instead, the cheaper North American ID.4 will get a 62 kWh battery pack, shaving 20 kWh of capacity off of the long-range 82 kWh battery pack. There’s a chance that rated EPA range of the rear-wheel-drive 62 kWh ID.4 will exceed 200 miles, although we’ll have to wait and see for sure. Ditto pricing, a starting MSRP in the mid-$30,000 range doesn’t feel unrealistic, although we’ll have to wait and see where VW’s chips fall.
Honestly, I’m excited to learn more about this entry-level ID.4 as it holds a lot of promise for families looking to go green on a normal budget. Sure, a well-equipped Hyundai Ioniq 5 is really cool, but not everyone has more than $40,000 to drop on an EV in an age of rising interest rates and soaring inflation.
Rivian Starts EV Van Deliveries
Hey, remember the electric delivery van Rivian was developing for Amazon? Well despite production delays for Rivian’s R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV, the van has finally made it out on the streets. Automotive News reports that Amazon can now put Rivian-built delivery vans into service across America, so there’s a chance your next overnight shipment of googly eyes might arrive in an EV.
“In 2019, Rivian and Amazon committed to fast-tracking a new type of delivery vehicle that would result in a significant reduction of carbon emissions,” Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said in a joint statement by the companies. “That vision is now being realized.”
Expect to see these electric delivery vans hitting the streets in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Nashville, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, and St. Louis, with more cities to be added later.
“This rollout is just the beginning of what is expected to be thousands of Amazon’s custom electric delivery vehicles in more than 100 cities by the end of this year — and 100,000 across the U.S. by 2030,” the release said.
Hell yeah, electric last-mile delivery is pretty dope. It’ll be interesting to see how scalable Amazon’s last-mile EV adoption is considering how many drivers are independent contractors, but hopefully cheaper mass-market electric vans will later arrive to fill that void.
Volkswagen To Co-Design New Chips
You know that old cliché about how if you want a job done right, you should do it yourself? Well, Volkswagen seems to be taking that to heart because Reuters reports that the German company is co-designing a new semiconductor with chip producer STMicroelectronics. The new chip is expected to be produced by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, with Volkswagen and STMicroelectronics “moving to agree” to that setup.
“With the planned direct cooperation with ST and TSMC, we are actively shaping our entire semiconductor supply chain,” said Murat Aksel, Volkswagen’s purchasing head.
“We’re ensuring the production of the exact chips we need for our cars and securing the supply of critical microchips for years to come.”
Honestly, it’ll take an arsenal to get car production back online. From semiconductor issues to rising material costs to shipping delays, we’re still very much in the woods. If this new chip from Volkswagen and STMicroelectronics helps get the new car market out of its slump, the investment should be very much worth it.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. Friday’s little sibling is here, which means that the calendar is almost through saying “WTF” and the weekend is right around the corner. While speculation isn’t really grounds for reporting, it can occasionally be a good thought exercise. With new car supply expected to stay tight for a while and three-year-old off-lease vehicle supply remaining sparse for years, could it simply be that the used car market has changed forever? Higher values, lower selection, more people holding on to their current cars. I’m curious to hear your thoughts because I don’t see used car values crashing any time soon.
Lead photo credit: Thomas Hundal