The Biden-Harris Administration has announced that it will issue $623m in grants, to flesh out and ramp up EV charging infrastructure and hydrogen fuelling infrastructure. The administration has set itself a target of creating over 500,000 publicly accessible EV chargers by 2030. This program has highlighted 47 projects across 22 states (so far) that it will support. For example, $70m has been set aside for Texas to ramp up hydrogen fuelling stations for freight trucks in major cities. $15m has been set aside for California, for EV chargers at county library branches. For the last c18 months, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has been the poster child for all things EVs, however, these grants are from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s (BIL) $2.5bn Charging and Fuelling Infrastructure Discretionary Grant Program. We expect the BIL will play a bigger role in deploying capital this year by investing in more EV infrastructure projects, alongside the continued rollout of the IRA. It appears it is a solid one-two combo, as the BIL focuses on expanding the EV charging network and the IRA focuses on ramping up EV adoption.
Kia and Uber have signed an MoU which will focus on collaborating on developing and deploying electric purpose-built vehicles (PBVs) for ride-hailing. This strategic partnership will leverage Kia’s deep expertise in EV manufacturing to develop PBVs tailored to the specific needs of Uber drivers and its passengers. Uber will leverage its extensive network and history to provide insights and data to help nurture the development process. This should help Uber drivers access affordable EVs and thus help ramp up adoption in the coming years and decades.
BYD has begun talks with Sigma Lithium (a Brazilian lithium producer) regarding a supply agreement so it can access raw battery materials, such as lithium spodumene ore. Interestingly the talks are not only about a potential JV but also potentially about an acquisition. BYD has identified Brazil as a key market for its overseas expansion and has committed to setting up 3 plants in Brazil. Sigma has announced it plans to triple its annual capacity to 270,000 tonnes. Both companies are growing in Brazil and there appears to be some natural synergies so we would not be surprised if Sigma is acquired but we also champion the potential JV!
Sainsbury’s announced it has launched a new business unit called Smart Charge, which will focus solely on EV charging. Smart Charge will oversee the deployment of ultra-rapid EV charging points across c750 charging bays in more than 100 store locations by the end of 2024. The technology and equipment will be supplied by Kempower, a Finnish-based EV charging provider. This rollout comes after a Sainsbury’s survey found that c80% of EV drivers stated they avoided long journeys due to issues with the UK’s charging infrastructure.
The EU has passed a new law stipulating that all EVs will have to show a digital passport (QR code) in order to enter EU countries. This will come into effect from February 2027 although what exact information the QR code will have to show, is still up for debate. This legislation stems from the new battery regulation laws, which are meant to ensure EV batteries have a low carbon footprint, use minimal harmful substances, need less raw materials from non-EU countries, and are collected, reused, and recycled to a high degree in Europe.
LG Electronics has announced it has opened its first plant that will be focussing on assembling and producing EV charging products, in Texas. This plant is capable of producing 12,000 units annually and initially, it will be focussing on producing its level 2 AC charger and then in spring it will also start assembling its Level 3 DC charger. This is good news, as it strengthens America’s EV charging infrastructure supply chain, we expect more OEMs will be announcing plants/projects focusing on EV charging products in 2024.
Volvo has announced it has launched 2 PhD scholarships that will focus on hydrogen combustion engine technology research. These will be awarded in Q1 24, working in conjunction with 2 Swedish universities: Chalmers University of Technology and Lund University. These PhD research scholarships will fund research from 2024-2029. We champion this idea and believe it will help prove the (commercial) viability of hydrogen-powered vehicles. Europe has been very proactive in investing in R&D research projects, as in 2022 Germany alone, invested €16bn on R&D which focused on transitioning from ICEs to EVs.
BYD announced, on the Auto Trader What's New On The Road To 2035 webinar, that it intends to deliver an EV in every segment of the UK market, by H1 2025. This bold statement is in keeping with the company's ambitious plans for 2024. Regarding its retail strategy, BYD intends to follow a traditional franchised retailer model, as the company has no desire, currently, to use a D2C approach. BYD intends to partner up with established retailers, so it can leverage their local knowledge and existing customer relationships. BYD is planning to open up to 60 retail sites across the UK by mid-2024.
Xos and ElectraMeccanica have announced they have entered into a definitive arrangement agreement. Xos will acquire all the issued and outstanding common shares of ElectraMeccanica in an all-stock transaction. ElectraMeccanica’s shareholders will own c21% of Xos when this deal closes. This strategic merger will materially boost Xos’ balance sheet as it will be able to access the cash balance of c$48.5m that was/is sitting on ElectraMeccanica’s balance sheet. This will help Xos ramp up its output of zero-emission medium-duty electric trucks going forward.
Finn, a Munich-based car subscription platform, has announced it has raised €100m in a Series C round, giving it a post-money valuation of €600m. Planet First Partners lead the round, with HV Capital, Korelya Capital, UVC Partners, White Star Capital and Picus Capital also participating. The startup has c25,000 subscriptions on its platform, across Germany and the USA. Finn has set itself a target of having 80% (vs 40% today) of its car inventory to be EVs by 2028. The capital raised will be used for working capital purposes.