The era of electric cars is well underway, and the stock market is certainly excited (some would say overexcited). While so far we’ve seen competition between some nifty sedans and a variety of SUVs, next up is a battle royale over another key segment of the market: the plug-in pickup truck.
Handicapping the race is no easy task. Here are some Data Sheet odds for the first player to have an electric pickup truck for sale to regular consumers by the end of 2021:
Tesla: In the realm of the newly self-proclaimed “Technoking of Tesla,” Elon Musk showed off his science fiction contender back in 2019 (you may recall a certain unbreakable glass issue!). The Cybertruck will come in three versions, with up to 500 miles of range and a crazy 14,000 pounds of towing power in the most expensive model. Musk has often missed deadlines, but the first Tesla entry in the pickup sweepstakes is supposed to be out by year end. On Tesla’s fourth quarter analyst call, Musk said he’d need to “get lucky” to deliver some Cybertrucks this year. But the Technoking is already producing hundreds of thousands of EVs a year, so it still seems pretty likely. Odds: 2-1.
Rivian: For a sleek though more traditional-looking electric pickup, look no further than the well-funded Illinois factory of startup EV maker Rivian. CEO RJ Scaringe has been aiming to win the electric pickup race for years and has raised more than $8 billion from Ford, Amazon, and others. Lately, he’s been showing off three models, including the R1T pickup, expected to go on sale in a few months. Based on RJ’s Twitter feed, either he’s going to make the deadline easily or he’s even more “Technoking” than Musk. Odds: 4-3.
General Motors: Don’t count out traditional carmakers, though I’m less-than-enthused about the looks and pedigree of GM’s Hummer EV, which will come in both SUV and pickup models. A very expensive “Edition 1” version with 1,000 horsepower is supposed to hit the market this year, with a wider range of offerings in 2022. Odds: 5-1 (for a pickup model).
Ford: Speaking of old-school automakers, Ford makes the universe’s best-selling gasoline-powered pickup, the F-150. Ford has been signaling that an electric version is on the way, which seems like a no brainer at some point. But it’s pretty iffy for 2021. Odds: 10-1.
Bollinger: Did I say Ford was old school? The designers at Bollinger have come up with a pickup dubbed the B2 that looks like something out of the 1950s. No touch screens, no flowing metal curves, no power windows? Hmm. Another startup aiming for “late 2021.” Odds: 10-1.
Lordstown: The king of the SPACs has been taking $1,000 deposits for its semi-futuristic Endurance pickup. Range for the $50,000 truck is only 250 miles, though they’ve entered it in a 290-mile desert race next month. There have been delays already, so don’t bet the house on driving one off the lot this year. Odds: 12-1.
Nikola: If Lordstown is the king of SPACS, Nikola must be the fool. Its traditional-looking Badger was supposed to have a range of up to 600 miles. But that joint venture to build it with GM? Not looking so good. Odds: 1,000-1.
Who did I leave out? Do you have any interest in buying an electric pickup? Let me know.
Maxing out. Even the most highly valued EV startups in a euphoric investment climate can't keep up with boring payments startup Stripe. The creation of the brothers Collison raised $600 million in a deal valuing the company at $95 billion.
From the land of nope. There are some misleading talking points on the latest COVID relief bill. Danielle spent her Friday checking whether it was true that the bill raised taxes on gig workers, as some headlines screamed. Nope. Elsewhere in politics, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is in favor of workers at Amazon in Alabama forming a union. Strange times.
Promise me no promises. We heard from Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile on consecutive days last week, as each carrier sketched out plans for growth in 2021 and beyond for Wall Street. A few tidbits: Verizon will bring its fast version of 5G to about 100 million people within 12 months. T-Mobile plans to cover twice as many people, 200 million, with fast 5G this year. And AT&T talked more about adding fiber, not wireless, connections. Oh, and HBO's adding ads. (HBO Max, that is.)
A quiet place. Buzzy (I love that word) social audio startup Clubhouse is making some privacy improvements, including plans to stop sucking up all your phone contacts, add a button to delete previously scarfed contacts, and allow users to invite new users who aren't in their phone contacts. Sensing a theme? Speaking of privacy, Google lost a bid to dismiss a lawsuit seeking $5 billion of damages over browsing data the company collected from users of Chrome's incognito mode. The company says it plans to "defend ourselves vigorously.” And the previously delayed trial of former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes is likely being delayed by another six weeks, until late August, because the indicted exec is pregnant and due to give birth in July.
Undo. Despite the Bloomberg report from last week about who paid $69 million for a non-fungible token linked to Beeple's work Everydays: the First 5,000 Days, other outlets are reporting a different buyer. CNBC says the winning bidder was an anonymous crypto investor known as Metakovan.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
While you're pondering purchasing an electric pickup truck, don't overlook some of the heady promises the startups have made about how fast their sales will grow. Eliot Brown has a nice piece with great charts in the Wall Street Journal outlining just how aggressive and even unrealistic some of those forecasts may be:
Before the companies deal with demand, some investors say a stumbling block could come from manufacturing, a particularly challenging endeavor given the complex auto supply chain.
Gavin Baker, a large investor in Tesla in the early 2010s when he was portfolio manager at mutual-fund company Fidelity Investments, said it is unlikely the companies “are going to be able to ramp at a rate two-to-three times faster than Tesla did” after it launched its Model S. “It is easy to make PowerPoint slides; it’s relatively easy to make a few prototypes that look good and drive well,” said Mr. Baker, now the chief investment officer at Atreides Management LP. “It’s mass producing high-quality, reliable cars that’s hard.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
The virtual pizza party startup that staged a major revival during the pandemic shutdowns By Rachel King
This may be the future of farming, say Bill Gates and the founder of Impossible Burger By Shawn Tully
Karen Lynch got the big job at CVS. Now comes the big challenge: Vaccinate America By Emma Hinchliffe
‘Crypto kryptonite’: A digital euro would be dual threat to banks and fintechs, a critical new report warns By Adrian Croft
Facebook reveals A.I. that is already improving Instagram video recommendations By Jeremy Kahn
Big changes are coming to the U.S. Postal Service—and advocates remain skeptical By Nicole Goodkind
In sun-blessed Greece, a movement to save summer emerges. It involves vaccine passports By Stelios Bouras
(Some of these stories require a subscription to access. Thank you for supporting our journalism.)
BEFORE YOU GO
Vaccinations against COVID-19 are getting easier to find. Some good folk getting the jab in western Massachusetts got an extra special treat on Saturday: Famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma was getting his second shot and brought along his instrument for an impromptu performance. The Berkshire Community College, which was hosting the vaccination clinic, posted a video via Instagram. Super sweet!