What is going on with people investing in Electric Car companies?
Who seems to be getting investment money and from where? Silicon Valley has put a $150M into Tesla and Tesla is struggling to build vehicles and are over a year late. So what?
Aptera just got $24M round C funding and Google.org’s RechargeIT program was a small part of this.
Think is working with $76M of funding out of Silicon Valley, too.
Phoenix is still in trouble and still trying to climb out of a hole.
Miles still has a long way to go and they really don’t know where they are either. There is a reason China is slow coming to the US. Miles may not even understand this. Again cars are not in their business experience.
Zenn is struggling and you can go to their financials and see they are selling less than 400 vehicles per quarter. Don’t know what the future holds for them.
And there are others. It does not take a rocket scientist to see the EV opportunity out there and it is growing. It is like 1990’s all over again. EV companies popping up all over, but few survived. Most again were very short on automotive fundamentals.
Do these companies have what it takes to be successful? Success is different for different people. Why are VC’s investing in these companies? It is not for a long term investment; it is all about pumping up the “value” of the company and then introducing “production” vehicles to the market and selling out after the IPO. Then will the companies survive? I believe they will not. Not without the key automotive based disciplines a world class company needs. These companies will be sold based on emotionalism, enthusiasm, and lots of hope and frustration about the World today. The VC’s will be all smiles as they reap great sums of money from an unknowing and unsuspecting public. Most of these companies are very weak on automotive understanding including design, engineering, test and validation. Most can’t wait to learn or do the proper testing. Most will probably end up in severe financial trouble within a couple of years of selling these untested battery systems they are going to use. They will potentially slowly die and disappear. People will be bitter and complain of a conspiracy against EV’s but it is so much more than that.
I worked on the GM EV1 and saw the problems a very large and wealthy corporation can get themselves into. No start up can spend $1,000,000,000 to build 1000 vehicles and then call them all back and crush them. Why did this happen? In addition to all the usual suspects presented in “Who Killed the Electric Car,” GM had other major issues they could not overcome. They pissed off their supply base by having many of the suppliers amortize GM’s tooling costs over unrealistic volumes and then GM shut the program down after building about a 1000 cars. GM never guarantees anything in their contracts. As we used to say in the Tier 1 supplier business, which I joined after GM, “the only thing worse than doing business with GM is not doing business with GM.” So what was the problem? GM did not do enough testing on EV1 and they sort of knew that. (Their lead acid batteries were no good and the Ovonic’s NiMH batteries were $40,000 a pack and those batteries were not very good either! Toyota with Panasonic had them both right. How did GM fix the S10 EV’s? They put in Panasonic lead acid batteries. How did Ford fix the Ranger EV’s, they took out the 8V GM lead acid EV batteries and put in Panasonic NiMH. Toyota and Panasonic did the proper testing and took the proper time to do it.) But then GM eliminated their supplier base, many of who would never build GM another EV1 production or service part ever again. GM had no option but to recall and crush the EV1’s. Bottomline, GM could afford to do this with their huge budgets. No small company will know all of this and know how to solve it, without extensive automotive experience. People from the software industry will take years and years to learn what they need. People from the sales and marketing side, don’t even know what they don’t know about automotive. It will probably kill them and their companies. Do the early VC investors care? No they don’t as long as they can get their money out before the deck of cards falls.
So what is EcoV’s problem? We don’t have the above issues because we are strongly trained and experience in automotive. We have done high and low volume production. We have done testing and validation. We have done the design, engineering and development of automobiles. We have done electric vehicles at the OEM’s. We have the people with experience from the Board Room to the show room. We know how to integrate customer needs with a low cost flexible product design, integrate supplier base, and integrate all the processes to develop, market, sell and service EcoV. These are all things a vehicle company must have.
But we are not sexy. We are not known by past accomplishments. We don’t have powerful investors on our side promoting us to their wealthy friends where everyone is after a quick buck. We are a company on a mission to provide a needed product that we know both fleets and the public wants and needs. We are trying to set up a sustainable business with a focus on still being around serving our customers in 50 years. With a 50 year survival plan you do things differently today than if you do if you have a 3 year plan to get in, pump it up, and get out. We are in it for the long haul not a short flash in the pan. So if these are things you are concerned about and consider important, we need to know and talk!
Do we need and want all of the above companies to be successful? Yes we do! We hope they will be. But they need to get a lot smarter, a lot quicker.
Labels: EV invest EV1 EcoV Tesla Aptera