Lordstown Motors shares tumbled Tuesday after the company severely cut its annual production guidance and said it needs to raise more money as it aims to start production on its electric pickup truck this year.
The company late Monday said it remains on track to begin producing its Endurance truck in late September, at limited capacity.
“However, we have encountered some challenges,” the company said. These include significantly higher-than-expected expenditures for parts and equipment.
It said it needs additional capital to execute on its plans and projected having $50 million-$75 million in cash and cash equivalents at the end of the year, which is less than the $200 million it projected in March.
Shares of the company dropped much as 19% to $7.88 as Tuesday’s session got underway. The shares have pulled back from a mid-February high to register losses of roughly 51% so far this year.
Lordstown forecast Endurance production this year would be “at best” 50% of its previous expectations.
The EV startup for the first quarter ended March 31 posted a loss of $0.72, wider than the loss of $0.16 per share a year ago.
Tesla shares dropped Tuesday after the electric vehicle maker’s monthly sales in China fell by on a double-digit percentage basis, setting the stock on course for a second consecutive session of losses.
The company sold 25,845 vehicles made in China in April, a fall of 27% from the 35,478 vehicles sold in March, the China Passenger Car Association reportedly said Tuesday.
In a separate report from Reuters, Tesla, due to uncertainty created by tensions between the US and China, has put on hold plans to buy land to expand its flagship plant in Shanghai into a global export hub. The report cited people familiar with the matter.
Tesla dropped as much as 7.3% to $583.20 during premarket trade then pared the fall to 1.7% after the regular trading session began. Losses on Tuesday would add to the stock’s 6.5% drop on Monday when fears of rising inflation prompted a selloff in the broader tech sector. The shares, however, have jumped by roughly 288% over the past 12 months.
The company’s market share gains stagnated against domestic vehicle makers Nio, Xpeng, and Li Auto in April as the company faced “a handful of negative PR issues in China” related in part to safety issues and a protest at the Shanghai Auto Expo, said Wedbush analyst Dan Ives in a note Tuesday.
“Taking a step back, Tesla is clearly facing chip shortage issues which is putting more pressure on production and logistics to fulfill demand globally and speaks to more cars heading to Europe this month than the Street expected,” Ives said, adding that Tesla’s overall China demand appears on track for an annual run rate of at least 300,000 units and is poised to represent about 40% of deliveries for Tesla by 2022.
“That said, clearly Musk & Co. need to play nice in the sandbox with Beijing and smooth out PR issues in the region which have been a black eye for Tesla over the last month and clearly impacted China sales negatively in the month of April,” said Ives, referring to Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk. Wedbush maintained its outperform rating on Tesla and its $1,000 price target.
Local officials have revealed new details about a violent Tesla crash that killed two people in Spring, Texas, on April 17.
An incident report from the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office confirms that neither of the two occupants were in the driver’s seat when authorities arrived on the scene. Still, questions remain about whether or not Autopilot – Tesla’s suite of advanced driver-assistance features – was enabled at the time of the crash.
According to the report, the gray 2019 Model S “sustained a significant front-end collision” that damaged its battery, power distribution systems, or heat-management systems, causing the car to catch fire. Investigators found the vehicle in direct contact with the trunk of a large tree and with its hood, front doors, front body panels, A-pillars, and roof “completely destroyed.”
Investigators did not determine the initial ignition source but were able to conclude that the vehicle was not set ablaze intentionally. The car’s interior had extensive damage to most combustible materials and was littered with melted debris, they said.
Fifty-nine-year-old William Varner and 69-year-old Everette Talbot were found dead inside the scorched car. Varner was found sitting in the left rear passenger’s seat leaning backward “with both arms rolled back in a pugilistic pose.” Talbot was found sitting in the front passenger’s seat leaning forward with his chin pressed against the dashboard.
The report is consistent with what Constable Mark Herman initially described to local media following the crash. He told KHOU that nobody was found in the driver’s seat and that investigators were confident that nobody was driving the car at the time of impact.
Tesla has disputed Herman’s account of events.
Elon Musk tweeted that the car had not engaged Autopilot, and Tesla vice president Lars Moravy said on a Monday conference call that the company believes someone was driving the car due to the seatbelts being unfastened and deformation in the steering wheel. The fire marshal’s report did not make any mention of what caused the crash.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment about the report.
Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have announced probes into the incident that are ongoing.
A new ride-hailing service is looking to take on Uber and Lyft in New York City with a fleet of electric vehicles.
Brooklyn startup Revel, known primarily for its app-based moped-sharing service, is expanding into the taxi business, the company announced on Wednesday. The service will launch with an initial fleet of 50 Tesla Model Y crossovers that users can order through the Revel app starting in late May. It’s also building an in-house charging network to power them.
Revel says getting into ride-hailing is the next logical step in its plan to expand zero-emission transportation options.
“Our mission has always been to electrify cities,” Frank Reig, Revel’s co-founder and CEO, told Insider. “As you think about a company that is trying to create an electric-vehicle ecosystem – electrify every single trip in a city, A to B – rideshare for us was really just a natural next step in that process.”
The service will at first be limited to Manhattan below 42nd Street, but Revel expects it will grow much like the company’s original moped business, which has expanded from a small area of Brooklyn to six major markets since 2018.
In addition to being served exclusively by company-owned EVs, Revel’s ride-hailing platform sets itself apart in that it will be staffed by employees rather than independent contractors. Drivers will be entitled to guaranteed wages, paid time off, health insurance, and other benefits that self-employed drivers for rival services don’t get, but many have demanded for years.
Managing its own fleet and bringing on professional drivers as employees should drive down costs by reducing driver turnover and liability risk, Reig says. Pricing will be competitive with other companies in the space, but Revel promises a slightly more premium experience.
Each of the Model Y taxis has the front seat removed for extra legroom and features a touchscreen for passengers to toggle climate controls and music.
The cars will hit streets as Revel works to get another project off the ground: A network of fast-charging stations for electric cars called Superhubs. By launching both businesses simultaneously, Revel COO and co-founder Paul Suhey told Insider, Revel’s taxis get a place to charge overnight and its first Superhubs get enough business to make them profitable to operate.
Revel’s first Superhub will open in Brooklyn in June and will eventually be the largest universal fast-charging station in North America, according to the company. Revel also announced a $99-per-month e-bike leasing service in February.
Ride-hailing customers will need to join a waitlist due to limited availability to start. Over the next year, Revel plans to expand its fleet and add additional electric models to meet rider demand.
Shares of Fisker and Lordstown Motors dropped Thursday after Goldman Sachs downgraded the ratings of both electric-vehicle makers. The firm cited increasing competition and concerns about product timing.
Fisker was cut to sell from a neutral rating, and its 12-month price target was lowered to $10 from $15. Lordstown was cut to a neutral rating from buy, and while its target was cut to $10 from $21.
Fisker dropped as much as 12%, while Lordstown lost 5% at intraday lows.
Goldman said the downgrades come as multiple companies including General Motors, Ford and Volkswagen plan to accelerate their transition toward EVs as they seek to completely exist the internal combustion engine market.
Meanwhile, the firm noted that several big tech companies such as Apple, Xiaomi and Baidu are considering a larger role in the auto market with a branded product, or through a collaboration with an original-equipment manufacturer.
“Established EV OEMs such as Tesla are also scaling quickly,” said Goldman Sachs equity research analysts led by Mark Delaney. “Several of these companies are committing billions of R&D dollars to both powertrain technology and software.”
For Fisker specifically, Goldman said while it appreciates the steps it’s taking to try to differentiate its upcoming products “we are incrementally concerned about what we believe is the company’s late time to market … as competition increases.” Fisker is preparing to enter the EV industry in the fourth quarter of 2022 with its Ocean SUV.
The bank pointed out that Fisker has announced a plan for a “unique follow-on vehicle” with Apple supplier Foxconn that could enter the market around the fourth quarter of 2023. However, “by the time this vehicle may be ramping, the competitive landscape could be even more challenging (including the potential for new big tech entrants via partnerships).”
On Lordstown, Goldman said it’s “now more cautious on the ramp for the Endurance truck,” after the vehicle ran out of battery after about 40 miles during an off-road race in Baja California, last week. That “suggests to us that there could be more development work to do on the powertrain than we had expected,” said Goldman.
“This factor, coupled with the global auto supply chain challenges that are making it difficult to obtain parts, could increase the probability that the company’s market entry will be delayed and/or could occur at a more measured pace than we had expected,” said the bank, adding that Lordstown is aiming to start vehicle production in September.
Fisker is “standing out even with plenty of fish in the ocean of new EV automakers,” Bank of America says.
In a note to clients on Tuesday, Bank of America initiated coverage on shares of Fisker with a “buy” rating and a $31 price target.
The price target implies a potential ~116% rise from Tuesday’s intraday high of $14.45 per share.
Analysts led by John Murphy, CFA, said they believe rising reservations and a boom for the EV industry as a whole will help boost Fisker moving forward.
“Our Buy rating on Fisker is predicated on our view that the company is a beneficiary of, although still one of many participants within, the automotive industry evolution towards electrification,” Murphy wrote.
Murphy’s team said their latest estimates for Fisker’s Ocean SUV reservations hit more than 14,000 recently and that they expect production for the vehicle to start by the end of 2022.
Fisker will follow its new, all-electric SUV with three more EV models through 2025.
The Ocean SUV is expected to have a range of between 250 and 300 miles, accelerate to 60 mph in 2.9 secs (in its quickest version), and start at $37,499.
Fisker also offers lease-like subscription plans which are expected to cost $379 per month for 30,000 miles each year, including maintenance and service.
The Bank of America team highlighted the Fisker-Flexible Platform Adaptive Design (FF-PAD) in their note to clients on Tuesday as well. The FF-PAD is a proprietary design that allows Fisker to utilize third-party EV platforms and outsource its manufacturing to the likes of Foxconn and Magna.
Murphy and his team said the flexible leading program and FF-PAD design method of Fisker are “compelling,” but the firm’s business model may be “overly complicated.”
The Bank of America analysts also noted Fisker faces some serious competition in the now-crowded EV industry, and that Autotech entrants are “riskier investments than auto incumbents.”
Fisker went public in October 2020 through a reverse merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) called Spartan Energy.
Shares of the EV maker have slumped more than 50% over the past six months amid competition in the now-crowded industry.
Despite its recent slump, Fisker holds five “buy” ratings, three “neutral” ratings, and just one “sell” rating from analysts.
The firm’s stock traded up 3.60% as of 1:14 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
For autonomous vehicle startup Cruise, the future isn’t just about artificial intelligence. It’s about machine learning, and that’s why Cruise is teaching its electric vehicles to drive themselves in San Francisco – one of the most complicated urban environments for self-driving cars to operate in.
“Learning how to drive in San Francisco is amazing for AI,” said Hussein Mehanna, the company’s head of AI, noting that the dense and unpredictable streets are ultimately an advantage. “The more interesting the data, the more the machine can learn.”
Mehanna hopes that learning will not only revolutionize autonomous driving, but also plant Cruise at the forefront of the next big thing: AI-based companies.
Taking machine learning to a new level
General Motors bought Cruise back in 2016 for around $1 billion, and through subsequent investment rounds, it’s grown to a nearly $30 billion valuation. The company’s goals are spectacularly ambitious, with CEO Dan Ammann effectively calling for the end of personal-car ownership and spurring Cruise to go after a multi-trillion-dollar future global ride-hailing opportunity.
In order to get there, Cruise needs game-changing hardware and software – a quest overseen by Kyle Vogt, its cofounder and chief technology officer – and high-profile partners, including ones it already has like GM and Honda. But Cruise also needs artificial intelligence and machine learning at a level that, frankly, nobody has seen before.
As powerful as 21st-century AI sounds, Mehanna said it’s only recently that its full capabilities have been unleashed. Advancements in robotics and machine learning have made that possible.
“I always had a fascination with AI,” Mehanna, whose career path to Cruise included stints at Facebook and Google, told Insider in an interview. But where are all the robots we might have expected to see by now?
Mehanna said the kind of AI we see in demonstrations – dancing humanoids robots on YouTube, for example – doesn’t scale.
“They’re scripted to handle a certain number of use cases,” he said.
Enter machine learning, which he said has the critical power to generalize.
This is, to put it mildly, huge. At Cruise, Mehnna’s team is tackling a whole new way of undertaking computer science, led by those autonomous EVs cruising through San Francisco.
If it all comes together and Cruise is able to successfully commercialize its service, then Mehanna said that the company could notch an unprecedented achievement: becoming what he termed the first “AI-native company.”
Dreaming of robots that can do much, much more
“It’s a new concept, and we’re inventing it,” he said. The analogy that leaped to mind for him was being able to handle HTML coding for the internet of the late 1990s.
“If you knew HTML, you were a rocket scientist,” he said. The skillset led to internet-native companies such as Google. That history is now staged to repeat with Cruise.
“In five to 10 years, AI natives will be the status quo,” he said.
The endgame of this process should be what he called a “general-purpose robot,” able to learn as humans now learn. It could drive a car, fly a plane, or attend to more mundane tasks.
“My dream,” he said, “is to get my laundry folded by a robot.”
Talking to Mehanna, one gets that sense that we’re just at the beginning of something radical in changing how the world operates. Cruise has already made huge leaps in teaching a car to drive itself, once the stuff of science-fiction movies. But for Mehanna, those apparent leaps are but small steps toward robotic applications and machine learning remaking numerous aspects of everyday life – aspects that we take for granted or have long assumed would always have to involve natural, rather than artificial intelligence.
In the short term, however, he’s simply contemplating machine learning as a prerequisite to Cruise accomplishing what it set out to do five years ago.
“At Cruise, you can’t have a company without AI,” he said.
A continued rise to record highs in the stock market has some worried that a bubble is forming as valuations appear stretched and rising inflation seems imminent.
But according to a Thursday note from JPMorgan, there is no bubble to be found in the broader stock market. High expectations for historic economic growth amid a reopening of the US economy supports the move higher in stocks, according to the bank, which expects US GDP growth of 6.3% for 2021.
But within certain sectors, there does appear to be pockets of froth that are likely experiencing a bubble, JPMorgan said. These are sectors that “have more than tripled in price over a short period of time,” the bank explained.
These are the five sectors of the stock market that appear to be in a bubble, according to JPMorgan.
1. Clean Energy
Anything related to ESG has seen a boom in prices as investors continue to gravitate towards sustainable investing. Clean energy is one sector that comes top of mind to investors that are looking to invest in a green future, and the top holdings in the iShares Clean Energy ETF represent companies in the fuel cell and wind energy space.
Since its pandemic low last year, the ETF rallied as much as 324% in less than a year, meeting JPMorgan’s criteria for a potential bubble.
Shares of General Motors extended their gains on Tuesday to as much as 4% after the company confirmed plans to sell an all-electric Chevy Silverado pickup truck.
GM made the announcement at a media event at its factory in Detroit, Michigan. The all-electric Silverado will be built in the same factory as the Hummer EV and utilize the same Ultium battery technology platform that is unique to the company.
The move comes as the 112 year-old car manufacturer accelerates its transition from internal combustion engines to battery powered electric motors with the upcoming launch of the Hummer EV.
The electric Silverado will have 400 miles in range on a single charge and is expected to be released in 2023 or 2024, according to a report from Car and Driver.
“The GMC Hummer EV SUV joins its stablemate in the realm of true supertrucks, and Chevrolet will take everything Chevy’s loyal truck buyers love about Silverado, and more, and put it into an electric pickup that will delight retail and commercial customers alike,” said GM President Mark Reuss.
President Biden’s infrastructure plan is set to be released on Wednesday afternoon and some analysts argue it will help revive the EV sector after its recent pullback.
Wedbush’s Dan Ives said in a note to clients on Wednesday morning that he expects a “green tidal wave” from the plan to boost EV stocks.
The analyst said around $200 billion or roughly 10% of President Biden’s plan could go towards electric vehicle initiatives “based on chatter out of the Beltway.”
That’s good news for EV stocks that have been battered recently by a rotation away from highly valued growth and tech names into more value-oriented plays.
Tesla stock is down some 28% from its January 26 highs, while EV names like Nikola and Lordstown Motors are down roughly 22% and 42%, respectively, over the past month alone.
In his Wednesday note, analyst Dan Ives said that “the Street” needs to see two specific components of the infrastructure bill pass through the House and get enacted in order to “change the game” for the EV sector in the US after the pullback.
First, Ives said he hopes to see an expansion of tax credits for EVs “to the $10k range or potentially higher in a tiered system.”
Second, the analyst said he expects to see Biden lift the 200,000 vehicles per manufacturer ceiling on EV credits which would restore the incredibly valuable tax credits for veteran manufacturers like Tesla and GM.
Ives also said that an expansion of charging stations around the US over the next decade would help support a “groundswell EV green tidal wave for consumers/trucking.”
The Wedbush analyst highlighted EV battery companies, recyclers, supercharging infrastructure firms, and commercial EV plays that are set to benefit from the infrastructure plan and EV boom as well.
Ives noted a considerable runway of growth for EVs in the US. EV sales represent just 2% of auto sales in the US compared to 4.5% in China and 3% globally.
According to Ives, the EV market represents a $5 trillion total addressable market over the next decade, which means “many EV OEMs/supply chain players are poised to be major winners over the coming years.”
One thing that wasn’t mentioned in the Wedbush note was that the infrastructure bill is set to be funded by tax hikes for corporations, which may hurt earnings.
Some reports say Biden’s upcoming tax plan could contain up to $3.5 trillion in tax hikes for wealthy individuals and corporations.