Tesla shares have risen by more than 500% in the past 12 months, and as the ticket to ride the erstwhile rocket ship gets ever-pricier, interest is surging in new competitors that might be “the next Tesla.”
There’s not only Nikola (which took the other half of inventor Nikola Tesla’s name), which briefly overtook Ford in terms of market value, despite never having produced a vehicle for sale. But there’s also Rivian, Fisker, Byton, Faraday Future, and a whole lot more. Some are more established than others and some are further along in their product cycles.
Most of these companies are staying out of the sedan market altogether — despite Tesla’s success with the Model S and Model 3 — opting to make trucks, crossovers or vehicles that blur the boundaries between traditional categories instead.
Here’s a rundown of the increasingly crowded electrical vehicle start up world and what’s coming next.
Los Angeles-Based Fisker plans to begin selling its Ocean crossover SUV in 2022 for about $40,000. That’s roughly the same price as Nissan’s upcoming electric SUV, the Ariya, and about $10,000 less than the Tesla Model Y, which starts at around $50,000
You may recognize the Fisker name from founder Henrik Fisker’s previous venture, Fisker Automotive, which made the radically swoopy Fisker Karma plugin hybrid sedan. Fisker Automotive went bankrupt a few years ago, but various assets — including some unassembled Karmas — were bought up by Chinese investors who started a new company, Karma Automotive. Karma’s new and improved version of Fisker’s old car is now called the Karma Revero.
Earlier this week, Fisker’s new venture, Fisker Inc., announced a $2.9 billion deal with private equity firm Apollo Global Management that would result in it becoming a publicly traded company. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.
Rivian is one of the best known of Tesla’s future competitors. Ford and Amazon are among its biggest investors, and Rivian recently raised an additional $2.5 billion in funding. Prior to that, it had raised some $700 million in one round and $500 million in another earlier round.
Rivian said it plans to begin producing its off-road-capable pickup, the R1T, and SUV, the R1S, next year.
Michigan-based Rivian will also be busy producing electric delivery vans. In addition to its hundreds of millions of investment dollars, Amazon has also placed an order for 100,000 Rivian electric delivery vans to help the car startup get going.
Nikola’s big plans mostly have to do with semi trucks, both purely electric and hydrogen-powered.
Nikola also now plans to produce a pickup truck called the Badger, which the company says will run on a combination of electricity stored in batteries and electricity produced from compressed hydrogen. That combination, the Arizona-based company claims, will allow the Badger to drive a total of 600 miles before needing to recharge or refill.
The Badger is supposed to be produced in cooperation with a major automaker, Nikola has said, but no deal has been announced yet.
Nikola’s stock was recently listed on the Nasdaq exchange through a reverse merger, a process that has historically received criticism over a lack of transparency for investors when compared to a traditional initial public offering. Nikola’s share price reached nearly $80 right after the company began trading on the stock exchange. It’s now trading around $55 a share.
Los Angeles-based startup, Faraday Future, drew its name from Michael Faraday, a 19th century British scientist who described electromagnetic induction, one of the basic principles that make electric motors work.
Faraday (the company) made a splash in 2017 when it unveiled its first electric vehicle, the FF 91, a luxury sedan that Faraday says is designed for autonomous driving. But progress has been slow since then. Founder YT Jia filed for bankruptcy in October 2019, but came to an agreement with creditors this month.
Deliveries of the FF 91 are aimed to start roughly nine months after it completes a fundraising round, according to the company. Faraday has said it plans to produce the FF 91 in Hanford, California, but whether that comes to fruition remains unclear.
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