BREAKING: EV startup Lordstown Motors Corp disclosed in a new regulatory filing Tuesday that it doesn’t have sufficient cash to start commercial production and has doubts about whether it can continue as a going concern through the end of the year. https://t.co/BSWgqfq9ww— Sawyer Merritt (@SawyerMerritt) June 8, 2021
Elon Musk did not think Tesla would succeed
To be frank, in the early days, I thought there was >90% chance that both SpaceX & Tesla would be worth $0. The press & aerospace / automotive industry at the time (correctly) agreed with me.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 19, 2020
We can see here that Elon Musk did not think Tesla would succeed, giving it a 90% failure chance in its early days. Fortunately, Tesla has survived and is now thriving with strong sales in China, the Model S Plaid, and a large cash reserve.
Tesla has enough momentum now that it's very doubtful it could fail. I would give it a less than 1% chance of failure now that it has multiple Giga factories, including a Giga factory in Berlin, and is on pace to ship close to 1 million vehicles this year.
Recently, there was news of Lordstown motors not being able to meet going concern, which is its financial obligations for the next 12 months.
In its quarterly filing, on 6/8/2021, Lordstown said that its cash on hand, which totaled $587 million, isn't enough to start commercial production and begin selling its vehicle, which is called the Endurance and is a full-sized pickup.
Quoting the CEO as well: "These conditions raise substantial doubt regarding our ability to continue as a going concern for a period of at least one year"
Why did this happen? I think it's very simple. Lordstown Motors hasn't produced a vehicle yet. If you look at how Elon Musk felt about Tesla in its early days, you can bet that other electric vehicle companies are going to face this same challenge.
Prototypes are easy, production is hard— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 3, 2021
Other electric vehicle companies
There's a number of electric vehicle companies. Let's go through some of them and summarize how they are doing now and what their chances of success are in the future:
CCIV (Lucid Motors)
Lucid Motors has at least built prototypes of its Lucid Air car and has a factory getting ready in Arizona. But it has yet to ship an actual production vehicle to a customer. Fortunately, its has several billion dollars of cash on hand. I think it will at least start to ship some cars to customers by next year. Their biggest risk is if they will be able to scale to hundreds of thousands of vehicles and maintain quality.
Arcimoto is an interesting company. They produce a 3-wheel vehicle that is a cross between motorcyle and golf cart, which can go at highway speeds. Their mission is to create affordable and more compact electric vehicles for everyone. Because their vehicles are not completely enclosed, they will likely be in higher demand in more temperate and stable climates. I've seen their vehicles in action and I think this company has a good chance because their vehicles are less complex and cheaper to produce.
Canoo has a variety of truck and van vehicles and their mission is: Canoo has set out to reinvent urban mobility, to simplify people’s lives and make cities easier to navigate. Our vision is a world in which everyone has the opportunity to lead greener and less stressful lives. Canoo plans to sell vehicles in 2022 and also to participate in ride-sharing. However, they have not sold any vehicles to customers, so I'm not sure how they will do in the future...
BYD is a Chinese company that sells electric vehicles, batteries, and solar technology. It's sort of like the Tesla of China. They are selling vehicles and products right now and have been invested in by Warren Buffett. I see BYD staying around and succeeding because they are already shipping volume production of vehicles to customers right now.
XPENG is a Chinese company that produces electric vehicles. They are currently selling electric vehicles in China and because they are already selling vehicles, I think there is a good chance they will be around for the future, but not as good a chance as BYD as their volume is still small.
Li Auto is a Chinese company that produces premium and smart electric vehicles and is similar to XPENG. They are also currently selling electric vehicles in China and because they are already selling vehicles, I think they will succeed at least over the short-term.
Nio is an electric vehicle company in China and is currently shipping cars in China with plans to expand in Norway. Nio is planning to sell cars all around the world and if successful, will be one of the larger electric vehicle companies. I give them a good chance of success, particularly if they can adjust to doing regular battery charging and not just battery swapping.
Elon Musk is right that volume production is hard. Tesla had a low chance of success and made it, but that doesn't mean the other companies will succeed as well. I think a few of the companies mentioned here will make it, with BYD, Nio, and Arcimoto as my top 3 picks.
What do you think about Tesla succeeding in the auto industry? Will any of the other mentioned companies survive the next decade?
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Jeremy Johnson is a Tesla investor and supporter. He first invested in Tesla in 2017 after years of following Elon Musk and admiring his work ethic and intelligence. Since then, he's become a Tesla bull, covering anything about Tesla he can find, while also dabbling in other electric vehicle companies. Jeremy covers Tesla developments at Torque News. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram to stay in touch and follow his Tesla news coverage on Torque News.