Foxconn pushes deeper into automotive with an electric pickup and crossover

Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturing giant that makes Apple’s iPhones, unveiled Tuesday two electric vehicle concepts at its third annual Hon Hai Tech Day as the company tries to diversify its business and take on the automotive market.

The two vehicles, a Model V electric pickup truck and Model B electric crossover hatchback, is a message to automakers (and specifically, Tesla): Foxconn is open for business.

At the event, Foxconn’s chairman Liu Young-way said the company wanted to replicate its level of success manufacturing consumer gadgets into producing EVs for automakers. Young-way even said he hopes Foxconn will one day make cars for Tesla.

Foxconn EV pickup

Foxconn’s Model V electric pickup. Image Credit: Foxconn

In the U.S., the company is already working with Lordstown Motors and Fisker to produce EVs on their behalf, and is also partnering with Taiwanese automaker Yulon Group to build its Model C, an electric SUV that was first revealed this time last year at Foxconn’s last Tech Day.

While the main event was the Model B crossover and the Model V pickup, Foxconn also showcased the Model C, which the company says can travel from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.8 seconds and a range of 435 miles. Foxconn expects the Model C to be delivered to Yulon in Taiwan in the second half of next year.

Foxconn Model B electric crossover

Foxconn Model B electric crossover. Image Credit: Foxconn

The Model B crossover will be based on the Model C platform, but will come with a new body design, according to the company. It will have an S-duct design, which is often seen on aircraft, a streamlined roof and an air curtain that will reduce air turbulence and allow for a drag coefficient of 0.26. The Model B will have a range of about 280 miles, Foxconn said.

Details for the Model V were scant, but Foxconn says it will be Taiwan’s first self-developed electric pickup and will have a payload of up to 1 ton and a towing capacity of 3 tons (of course no word on how that towing will affect range).

The all-terrain EV pickup will have a double-cab, five-seat configuration, and will feature a range of sensors around the vehicle which Foxconn says “not only improves safety, but offers intelligent technology to users.” We’re interpreting that as an advanced driver assistance system.

Foxconn’s strategy leans heavily into vertical integration. The plan is to standardize software and hardware that will be shared across its vehicles as well as help its automaker customers like Lordstown Motors and Fisker.

Vertical integration isn’t certainly not new. Tesla is famous for it. Today, an increasing number of automakers including legacy companies like General Motors, are pushing even deeper into that strategy.

Foxconn says its HHEV.OS software platform will help shorten the development time of vehicles for a more rapid launch.

“We used to make PCs and mobile phones. From now and into the future, we will create EVs,” said Young-way in a statement. “In the EV industry, we are resolute about CDMS: This means contract design and manufacturing service. This commitment will not change. In the next 10 years, Hon Hai in the EV industry will redefine CDMS in the automotive field and continue to promote vertically integrated technology services.”

Foxconn pushes deeper into automotive with an electric pickup and crossover by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

Rivian raises $10.5B in one of the hottest IPOs of 2021

Electric automaker Rivian has priced its initial public offering at $78 a share, pushing it far above its targeted share price as investors dove in the year’s most highly anticipated IPO.

The regulatory filing has yet to be posted and is expected this evening, according to sources familiar. The WSJ was the first to report the IPO pricing, citing unnamed sources.

The company, which is backed by Amazon, said in a filing earlier this month that it planned to offer 135 million shares at a price between $57 and $62. Underwriters also had an option to buy up to 20.25 million additional shares. It then upped the range to between $72 and $74 due to investor interest in company.

The IPO sale raised $10.5 billion. The sale values Rivian at $66.5 billion. However, Rivian’s market cap could hit $68.1 billion if underwriters exercise those options.

On a fully dilated basis, that places Rivian’s valuation at more than $77 billion.

Rivian filed October 1 to become a publicly traded company in the United States. The S-1 document did not disclose the targeted share price at the time. An amended document filed Monday provided the new information, which included interest from repeat backer Amazon and newcomer Blackstone in Rivian.

Amazon, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Coatue Management, Franklin Templeton, Capital Research Global Investors, D1 Capital Partners LP, Third Point LLC, funds affiliated with Blackstone Alternative Asset Management, Dragoneer Investment Group LLC and certain entities affiliated with Soros Fund Management LLC have indicated an interest in buying up to $5 billion of shares of Class A common stock.

A recent filing by Amazon shows the e-commerce giant already holds more than a 20% stake in Rivian.

Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup reservations surpass 120,000

Ford and its F-150 pickup, the automaker’s best-selling vehicle, have consistently inspired brand loyalty from pickup truck owners. According to the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Automotive Brand Loyalty Study, Ford has a 54.3% loyalty rate. Now as the automaker moves to electrify its fleet, it seems to be bringing in fresh buyers.

Ford released Wednesday its second quarter earnings for 2021, which besides containing a surprise profit despite the ongoing chip shortage, revealed that its F-150 Lightning electric pickup has generated 120,000 preorders since its unveiling in May. Ford reported revenue of $26.8 billion, slightly below expectations, and net income of $561 million in the second quarter.

To be clear, these are not orders and don’t reflect exactly how many of these vehicles Ford will sell. Customers can reserve one of these EVs by placing a refundable $100 deposit.

However, it does provide some insight into demand.

Importantly, three-quarters of those new orders come from customers that are new to Ford, according to the earnings release. During the call on Wednesday, CEO Jim Farley also said two out of five Lightning preorders are going to trade in an ICE pickup.

Not only does this potentially affect Ford’s sales, it also validates the company’s recent forays into battery production. Automakers across the world are engaging in battery joint ventures with cell and chemistry companies, and Ford is no different. The company has a partnership with SK Innovation to manufacture battery cells on American soil and is creating a battery R&D center in Michigan, a part of its $30 billion investment into electrification.

Increased sales can also help with Ford’s expensive undertaking to invest in embedded electrical architecture upgrade that allows Ford to more easily update future EVs and enable new connected capabilities, according to Farley.

“So when we talk about upgrading our electric vehicles, it’s much more fundamental than just the investment in the tooling and the engineering of the electric vehicle and its components and propulsion,” said Farley during the call.It also includes a completely new approach to an embedded software and hardware system.”

The F-150 Lightning comes with a lot of upgrades that make it attractive to Ford newcomers willing to pay more than the $40,000 base price. It’s got the same torque and power as its gas counterpart, plus a hands-free ADAS BlueCruise system, a comprehensive infotainment unit and enough battery capacity to power your whole house in the event of an outage.

Farley also said during the call that the new Ford Maverick, a compact hybrid pickup which starts at $20,000, already has around 80,000 orders. The hybrid is marketed toward people who aren’t exactly pickup truck people, but who maybe want to dip their toes into that utility pool.

“The demand for our first round of high-volume EVs clearly has exceeded our most optimistic projections,” said Farley. “We’re now working around the clock to break constraints and increase our manufacturing capacity for these red-hot new battery electric vehicles”

According to the earnings report, the combined U.S. customer-sold retail order bank for the electric Mustang Mach-E and other Ford vehicles was seven times larger than at the same point last year. With demand increasing, Farley said the business is “spring loaded” for a rebound when semiconductor supplies stabilize.

Rivian delays deliveries of the R1T Launch Edition by one month

Rivian said that deliveries of the R1T Launch Edition, the limited edition release of its first series of “electric adventure vehicles,” will be delayed by a month, according to an update on its website.

Customers who preordered can now expect to start receiving their pickup trucks in July instead of June, with Launch Edition deliveries to be completed by Spring 2022. The change was first spotted by the Rivian Forum.

The Amazon-backed EV startup told preorder holders in July 2020 to expect deliveries of the truck in June 2021, with R1S electric SUV deliveries starting two months later in August. The delivery timeline has already been extended once, after Rivian suspended construction work on its factory due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It also appears that the R1S SUV has been delayed by several months, according to the website, which states that all R1T and R1S Launch Edition preorder holders will hear from their designation Rivian customer rep “by the end of November with their expected delivery timing.”

Rivian did not immediately respond with a request for comment. TechCrunch update the article, if they do.

Despite the delay, it looks like Rivian will still be first to bring an electric truck to market among both new EV entrants and legacy automakers. Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns said in an investor call last week that deliveries for the company’s “Endurance” truck are still on track for September (despite slashing production numbers in half). Ford’s F-150 Lighting, the electric version of its nameplate pickup, is expected in 2022. And Tesla recently confirmed that its Cybertruck will start production late this year.

Rivian also said it will be starting its drive program in August, which will let customers schedule at-home drives or attend a tour event. The company will be releasing details on launch dates and reservations for the tour events in the coming weeks. Rivian selected Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Detroit and Seattle as the first batch of cities on the tour.

In addition, it released a few product updates. Customers now have the option to add an Off-Road Upgrade to their vehicle configuration for an additional $2,000. Every Rivian will now also come with an onboard air compressor, previously available only with the Off-Road Upgrade.

Customers can also add Rivian Adventure Gear to their configuration. These include a rooftop tent, cargo bars, and camp kitchen (that now comes with a 30-piece kitchen set).

GM to build an electric Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck with more than 400 miles of range

GM is adding an electric Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck to its lineup, as the automaker pushes to deliver more than 1 million electric vehicles globally by 2025.

GM President Mark Reuss said Tuesday that the Chevrolet Silverado electric full-size pickup will be based on the automaker’s Ultium battery platform and will have an estimated range of more than 400 miles on a full charge. It should be noted this is GM’s forecast not an official EPA figure.

GM is positioning the full-sized pickup for both consumer and commercial markets. Reuss said that retail and fleet versions of the Silverado electric pickup will be offered with a variety of options and configurations.

“I’m particularly excited about its potential in the fleet and commercial space, a crucial part of the EV market, especially initially,” Reuss said during a presentation at the company’s Factory ZERO assembly plant in Detroit and Hamtramck.

The electric Silverado will go head to head with Ford’s upcoming electric F-150. And while new EV entrant Rivian is not going after the commercial market, its electric RT1 pickup will also provide competition in the space. Rivian is expected to begin deliveries of its electric RT1 pickup truck this summer.

The news also follows a string of announcements over the past 18 months, including the GM’s Ultium battery platform and the launch of BrightDrop, an a new business unit to offer commercial customers — starting with FedEx — an ecosystem of electric and connected products. BrightDrop will begin with two main products: an electric van called the EV600 with an estimate range of 250 miles and a pod-like electric pallet dubbed EP1.

Last year, GM committed more than $27 billion to EV and AV product development, including $7 billion in 2021 and plans to launch 30 EVs globally by the end of 2025, with more than two-thirds available in North America.

Reuss said that the company will build the Silverado electric pickup truck at the company’s Factory ZERO assembly plant in Detroit and Hamtramck, Michigan. He confirmed that the GMC Hummer EV SUV, which was unveiled over the weekend, will also be built at the factory. GM renamed its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant “Factory ZERO” in October 2020 and later said it would invest $2.2 billion in the factory to produce a variety of all-electric trucks and SUVs.

The facility, which is is undergoing a complete renovation and retooling and has expanded to more than 4.5 million square feet, will also produce the GMC Hummer EV pickup and the Cruise Origin, a purpose-built, all-electric and shared self-driving vehicle. Production of the GMC Hummer EV pickup will begin later this year.

Lordstown Motors accused of faking EV truck orders by short-seller firm Hindenburg Research

Hindenburg Research, the short-seller firm whose report on Nikola Motor led to an SEC investigation and the resignation of its founder, is targeting another electric vehicle company. This time it’s Lordstown Motors, the Ohio electric automaker that went public after merging with special-purpose acquisition company DiamondPeak Holdings Corp., with a market value of $1.6 billion.

Hindenburg said in a report Friday that it has taken a short position on Lordstown Motors, causing shares to plummet 21%. Shares have recovered slightly and are now down about 15% from the previous day’s trade. Hindenburg’s short position is based on a company that it says has “no revenue and no sellable product, which we believe has misled investors on both its demand and production capabilities.”

In a report issued Friday, Hindenburg disputes that the company has booked 100,000 pre-orders for its electric pickup truck, a stat shared by Lordstown Motors in January. The short seller says that “extensive research reveals that the company’s orders appear largely fictitious and used as a prop to raise capital and confer legitimacy.” The firm goes further and alleges that Lordstown founder and CEO Steve Burns paid consultants for every truck pre-order as early as 2016 while he was leading Workhorse.

The report also provides photos and a 911 call of an incident in January when a Lordstown prototype vehicle burst into flames during a test drive.

Lordstown Motors could not be reached for comment. TechCrunch will update the article if the company responds.

Lordstown has an interesting history for company that is less than two years old. Lordstown Motors is an offshoot of Burns’ other company, Workhorse Group, a battery-electric transportation technology company that is also publicly traded. Workhorse holds a 10% stake in Lordstown Motors.

Workhorse is a small company that was founded in 1998 and has struggled financially at various points in its lifetime. Most recently, Workhorse lost a bid to become the supplier of electric vehicles to the U.S. Postal Service, which caused shares to fall nearly 15% in the days following the news. Workhorse shares are now hovering around $16.58, down 60% from its record price of $42.96 reached February 4.

Lordstown Motors acquired a 6.2 million-square-foot factory from GM in 2019. The company has said it plans to produce 20,000 electric commercial trucks annually, starting in 2021, at the former GM Assembly Plant in Lordstown, Ohio.

Lordstown revealed its Endurance electric pickup in a splashy and political-leaning ceremony in June 2020. At the time, the company didn’t provide details on the interior, performance or battery of its planned electric pickup truck. The entire second half of the event took a 90-degree turn away from the truck and centered on its special guest, former Vice President Mike Pence, who spoke for 25 minutes about former President Trump’s policies on jobs and manufacturing, China and the COVID-19 response.

Despite those lack of details, Burns told the crowd in June that it had received 20,000 pre-orders. That would mean the entire first year of production would be locked in if every customer who pre-ordered the truck followed through and bought the vehicle. Lordstown Motors said, at the time, that a number of potential customers had sent letters of intent, including AutoFlexFleet, Clean Fuels Ohio, Duke Energy, FirstEnergy, GridX, Holman Enterprises and ARI, Summit Petroleum, Turner Mining Group and Valor Holdings, as well as several Ohio municipalities.

Burns later said pre-orders had reached 100,000. Hindenburg disputes those claims.

From the Hindenburg report:

Our research has revealed that Lordstown’s order book consists of fake or entirely non-binding orders, from customers that generally do not even have fleets of vehicles. According to former employees and business partners, CEO Steve Burns sought to book orders, regardless of quality, purely as a tool to raise capital and confer legitimacy. In addition, we show how, in desperation to claim there was demand for the proposed vehicle, he paid for customers to book valueless, non-binding pre-orders.

We detail conversations with Lordstown “customers” who were eager to explain that the letters of intent (“LOI”s) with the company were “promotional”. Others assured us they were “not committed to anything” and that the pre-order commitment size recorded by Lordstown was “totally impossible”. One CEO at a ‘key’ customer told us our outreach was the first he had heard of any arrangement with Lordstown.