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Gas prices are up, and the good news for automakers is that more Americans than ever are searching for EVs. The bad news is that automakers are having a hard time keeping up with demand.
“If you want an electric vehicle today, the fact is you should have signed up for one six months ago,” Ram Chandrasekaran, head of road transport at Wood Mackenzie, told Emerging Tech Brew in April. “Nobody’s looking at the price at the gas station and immediately getting their hands on an electric vehicle.”
EV availability has been constrained since the second half of 2021, he said, due in part to supply-chain issues that are affecting all cars, such as the semiconductor shortage.
But on top of those headaches, EV makers are facing significant challenges in the relatively new battery supply chain as the cost of materials soar and companies race to build enough production capacity to power all these new EVs.
Tesla wait times stretch into 2023 for some models. While Ford says it’s beginning deliveries of its electric pickup trucks and EV startups like Lucid and Fisker are planning to ramp up production later this year, expanding the manufacturing volume won’t happen fast enough to meet growing demand.
Reservations for these vehicles show promising interest, but updates over the last few weeks reveal just how long customers may have to wait to receive an EV.
Ford started production of its F-150 Lightning on April 26. It’s the first automaker to bring a full-size electric pickup truck to the mainstream market, according to the company, and it has 200,000 interested buyers in the queue. When Ford stopped taking reservations for the F-150 Lightning in December, that list represented as much as a three-year wait to purchase the truck.
- Last month, the automaker announced plans to increase its production target from 40,000 trucks per year to 150,000 per year by the middle of 2023.
Other EV makers are updating their outlooks for production this year as well. First-quarter earnings reports from Nikola, Fisker, Lucid, and Rivian reflect the current mismatch between demand for their vehicles and manufacturing capacity.
Nikola announced that it began series production of its electric semi-truck in March, at least a year ahead of the delayed Tesla Semi.
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The Arizona-based automaker only plans to deliver 300–500 of its Nikola Tre BEVs to customers this year, but its manufacturing facility in Coolidge, Arizona, has the capacity for about five times as many. Nikola is already working on expanding that facility, which could increase production to 20,000 trucks annually.
Fisker announced a third EV model last week, but the company has not yet delivered its first, the Fisker OCEAN electric SUV, to customers.
There are already more than 45,000 reservations for the Fisker OCEAN—a 50% jump from the previous quarter, according to the company—and growth that CEO Henrik Fisker attributes in part to higher gas prices. But those new potential customers will be waiting for quite a while.
“We’re pretty much sold out now for next year, which is why we’re trying to increase the volume,” he told Emerging Tech Brew. “We originally planned about 40,000 to 50,000 [vehicles] next year, and then 50,000 [in] ’24 and we are actually now planning to triple our production volume in ’24 to 150,000 units.”
Fisker is leaning on manufacturing partner Magna’s relationships with suppliers to try to reach that goal, he said. Magna plans to begin producing the Fisker OCEAN for the company in November 2022.
Lucid Group also reported its first quarter results last week. The company has more than 30,000 existing reservations for its luxury electric sedan, the Air, which it expects to begin delivering in June.
But less than half of those customers have a chance at receiving the EV this year. At the end of 2021, Lucid lowered its production target from 20,000 vehicles to between 12,000 and 14,000 units in 2022.
Rivian started deliveries of its electric pickup truck in September, but its struggle to get them out to customers is causing some investors to lose confidence.
- Rivian had more than 90,000 reservations for its electric trucks as of May 9.
- In the first quarter of 2022, the company produced about 2,500 units and delivered ~50% of those. It delivered fewer than 1,000 trucks in 2021.