Newsflash: Hyundai ontkent breuk met Rimac

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+++ HYUNDAI plans to build a new electric-vehicle manufacturing plant in the United States and has held discussions with officials in Georgia, near existing plants for the Hyundai and Kia brands, people with knowledge of its plans told. Hyundai confirmed an imminent plan for a new EV plant but declined to comment on any details, including site negotiations. “We are excited to announce a new EV plant plan in the United States soon, but we do not have details to share at this stage”, Hyundai said in a statement when asked about its investment plans. Hyundai has been in advanced discussions with state officials to build a dedicated EV facility in Georgia, 3 people with direct knowledge of the talks told. Details of the investment, including its projected cost and the number of jobs it would be expected to create, were not immediately known. The new Georgia EV facility, if it is finalized, would serve both Hyundai and Kia as the brands move to roll out a pair of fully electric SUVs (the Ioniq 7 and EV9) aimed at the U.S. market, the 3 people with knowledge of the plans told. The announcement of an investment deal by Hyundai would come at a time when the administration of president Joe Biden has been pushing for more investment in EVs and related suppliers to create jobs and drive a clean-energy agenda. It would also mark a major economic development win for Georgia, which has pushed to establish itself as a regional hub for the emerging EV industry. Hyundai had been working to announce its U.S. investment in EV manufacturing sometime later this month to coincide with Biden’s planned visit to Seoul, another person with knowledge of the plans said. Hyundai announced a $300-million investment last month to manufacture the all-electric Genesis GV 70 and a hybrid version of the Santa Fe at its Alabama plant. The Genesis model would be Hyundai’s first EV made in the United States. Hyundai’s comment was the company’s first confirmation that it was nearing an announcement on a site for a new EV plant. Hyundai affiliate Kia also said last month that it was looking to shift production to the United States but was not considering a dedicated EV factory on its own. Kia has said it will have 14 EVs by 2027. Hyundai has said it will roll out 17 by 2030, including six for its luxury Genesis brand. Hyundai’s battery supplier, SK Innovation’s battery unit SK On, has just built 2 adjacent plants in Georgia. The first, which mostly supplies Volkswagen, kicked off production in the first quarter. The second, which will supply batteries for Ford, is set to begin production early next year. SK On will supply the battery for the Ioniq 7, a person with knowledge of that contract told. SK On said it cannot comment on supply deals involving specific customers. Biden is set to travel to South Korea on May 20 for meetings with South Korea’s incoming president Yoon Suk-yeol, an advocate of steps to shore-up South Korea’s ties with the United States. The Biden administration has said it will allocate more than $3 billion in infrastructure funding to finance EV manufacturing. Biden wants half of vehicles sold in the United States to be electric by 2030. Other Asian companies that have announced plans to build U.S. battery plants include Korea’s LG Energy Solution and Samsung SDI. CATL, the world’s largest battery maker, was in talks to open battery plants that would serve BMW and Ford with potential sites in South Carolina and Kentucky. A South Korea media report said Yoon was also planning a follow-up visit to Washington after Biden visits Seoul, where he would be accompanied by leaders of South Korea’s top conglomerates including Hyundai and SK to discuss investment in the United States. +++

+++ The LUCID GROUP  is the latest automaker to up the price of its electric vehicles. The company announced alongside its first-quarter earnings report that it was raising prices of the variants of its luxury Air sedan, beginning June 1. The price hikes push the base price of the Air sedan as much as 13%. All existing reservation holders will not experience price hikes, the company said, noting that updated pricing for Canada will be made public on June 1. Considering that Lucid disclosed it has 30.000 reservations for the Air, it will be awhile before the company sees the benefit from these raised prices. Other automakers like Tesla and Rivian have announced similar increases in price for their electric vehicles, blaming ongoing supply chain issues from the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as inflation, for the rising costs from suppliers, which are now being passed on to the consumer. In Rivian’s case, the company was initially going to raise prices for reservation holders as well, but quickly reversed that decision. “Similar to many companies in our industry, we continue to face global supply chain and logistics challenges, including Covid-related factory shutdowns in China. We are working closely with our suppliers to mitigate the impact of disruptions”, Sherry House, Lucid’s CFO, said in a statement. “While any extended disruptions could result in an impact to our production forecast, today we are reiterating our 12.000-14.000 vehicle production forecast for 2022 based on the information we have at this point combined with our mitigation plans”. Lucid’s guidance for deliveries remain unchanged, and the company said it still expects Air Grand Touring Performance deliveries in June, as well as Air Touring and Air Pure expected later this year. The Project Gravity SUV remains on target to begin production in the first half of 2024, according to Lucid’s CEO and CTO Peter Rawlinson. Last quarter, Lucid lowered its guidance from 20.000 units, a figure it promised in its Q3 earnings. The EV startup said it is experiencing strong demand with more than 30.000 customer reservations as of today, which represents potential sales of $2.9 billion, the company said. Whether it will be able to keep up that demand with its current price jump is another question, but presumably those who are rich enough to buy a Lucid vehicle anyway will see an extra $12.000 as merely pocket change. The company also noted that it recently signed a deal in which the government of Saudi Arabia committed to purchase up to 100.000 electric vehicles from Lucid over the next 10 years. This deal, which was announced last month, follows a loan agreement from the Saudi government that the companies entered into in late February, according to Lucid’s 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The agreement commits Saudi Arabia to provide loans of up to $1.4 billion to Lucid, provided the government can reduce that availability of capital under certain circumstances. Lucid Motors Q1 2022 financials Lucid Motors closed out the quarter with $57.7 million in revenue, which the company says is driven mainly by customer deliveries of 360 vehicles over the three months ending on March 31. That is up massively from the $313.000 the company pulled in during the same quarter last year. It’s also more than analysts’ expectations of $53.43 million. The company experienced a net loss of $81.3 million during the first quarter, an improvement on the loss of $748 million last year. According to a filing with the SEC, Lucid says it expects to continue to incur substantial losses and increasing expenses as it continues to equip and expand manufacturing facilities in Arizona and Saudi Arabia, develop and deploy charging partnerships and generally grow as a company. Lucid’s balance sheet shows nearly $5.4 billion of cash on hand, which the company says is sufficient to fund operations well into 2023. That aligns with analyst expectations around easing of supply chain issues in the second half of the year, which will allow the company to ramp up production and potentially stick to its longer-term growth roadmap, including expanding its production line-up and overseas availability. Despite a somewhat rosier outlook for future production, Lucid shares are down nearly 7% in after-hours trading, which is likely due to the vehicle price increases. Legal updates Lucid has also been dealing with a few lawsuits from investors who largely allege the company made false and misleading statements regarding the expected start of production for the Lucid Air, as well as an SEC probe regarding its SPAC merger with Churchill Capital and Atieva. A Thursday filing also revealed a more recent action against the company filed on April 1 by shareholder Victor Mangino based on similar allegations relating to statements updating projections and guidance provided in late 2021 to early 2022. The case is still ongoing. +++

+++ With NISSAN drawing combustion engine development to a close, one question mark that’s been lingering is what the company plans to do with Nismo. For nearly 40 years the company’s in-house motorsports and tuning shop has churned out some of the wildest street-legal engines in the world. Currently, it’s responsible for the 600 hp Nissan GT-R Nismo, heritage parts for now-classic Skyline GT-Rs, and handling packages on some of the company’s more mundane offerings. However, Nismo will not go quietly into that EV night. “It’s not a gimmick,” Nissan’s European chairperson Guillaume Cartier told at a recent Formula E race. “To use an English expression, it’s not lipstick on a pig”. Nissan plans to spend $17.7 billion introducing 23 electrified cars in the next 5 years, with 15 of them running solely on battery juice. Cartier says the Yokohama-based company is in the process of determining which of these vehicles would be best suited for the Nismo treatment. Among the concepts Nissan has shown, one called the Max-Out is an AWD, open-top, EV sports car. Cartier says the goal is to “bring performance”, citing “specific suspension and powertrain”. Using the example of the upcoming Ariya, he told that it doesn’t just mean a bigger battery. The Ariya already has a performance model, the dual-motor Platinum+ boasting 389 horsepower and all-wheel-drive, which is a 151 horse bump over the front-wheel-drive’s 238. “So we need to go higher that that”, Cartier explained. Other companies have also hinted at performance sub brands for electric cars, whether it’s all-new like Volkswagen’s GTX line or piggy-backing on an existing line like Hyundai’s electric N car. It’s up to each brand to see if they can forge a unique path. Nismo has quite a bit of heritage and capital built up with enthusiasts. It’ll be interesting to see if Nissan can translate that into a new era of performance. +++

+++ Mate RIMAC , the man who founded the Croatian carmaker that bears his name, stressed that an earlier report claiming his firm is no longer working with Hyundai is “fake news”. He added that the 3-year old partnership still stands and Hyundai denied the rumor as well. “Hyundai has commented on the fake-news article which says that Rimac and Hyundai are ending their collaboration because of the Porsche-Rimac collaboration. Both Hyundai and Rimac have said that it is not true. But the media still keeps writing about it. Well, says more about the media than anything else”, the executive declared. Both companies remain strongly committed to the partnership and plan to continue working together in the foreseeable future. Hyundai added that it will “continue to invest in the Rimac Group and can confirm that several partnership projects are currently running at a high level”, though it stopped short of providing specific details. As we’ve previously reported, the Hyundai Motor Group injected about €80 million (which represented around $90 million in 2019) into Rimac to create a pair of high-performance electrified cars. One is believed to take the form of an electric hot hatch, while the other is reportedly powered by a hydrogen-electric drivetrain. The partnership previewed the hydrogen-powered conceptcar called Vision FK in September 2021. +++

+++ Shares of RIVIAN opened at a record low, down 14%, after a report that early investor Ford would be selling a part of its stake in the electric-car maker. Rivian’s shares were trading at $24.77, a far cry from their record of $179.50 in November last year. Ford is selling 8 million of its Rivian shares as the stock’s lockup period expired on Sunday. Ford was Rivian’s fourth largest shareholder with a 11.4% stake, according to Refinitiv data. Rivian is struggling with a supply chain crisis that has limited its production just as it was starting to get underway at its factory in Illinois. The company earlier cut its planned 2022 production in half to 25.000 vehicles due to supply chain issues. The Irvine, California-based company has lost roughly 3-quarters of its value this year, while delivering only 1.227 cars in the first quarter. Amazon.com Inc, Rivian’s second-biggest shareholder with a 17.7% stake, recorded a 59% fall in operating income in its first quarter, largely hurt by its investments in the carmaker. Amazon is also one of Rivian’s key customers and is expecting to receive 100.000 delivery vans by 2024. JPMorgan Chase also plans to sell a Rivian share block of between 13 million and 15 million from an unknown seller, CNBC reported, priced at $26.90 a share, similar to Ford’s. The companies were not immediately available for a comment. Shares of other new electric-car makers have also declined as investors worry whether these start-ups can manufacture enough electric vehicles to meet soaring demand amid supply chain issues and rising material costs. Lordstown Motors shares fell 13% after the company said it needed more funds to put its Endurance pickup truck on the road. +++

+++ STELLANTIS is not considering splitting its electric vehicle (EV) business from its legacy combustion engine operation, its finance chief said, as the carmaker presented above-expectation revenue data for the first quarter. Chief financial officer Richard Palmer told analysts he did not see huge benefits in the kind of separations pursued by rivals such as Renault and Ford. “We need to manage the company and the assets we have through this transition”, he said. “There are benefits to having the cash flow being generated by the internal combustion business for the investments we need to make”. Palmer said the group, formed by a merger last year of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Peugeot SA, was not averse to considering adjusting its structure “but we aren’t anticipating any big changes”. Palmer’s comments came after the world’s 4th largest carmaker said its net revenue rose 12% to 41.5 billion euros in the January-March period, as strong pricing and the type of vehicles sold helped offset the impact of the semiconductor shortage on volumes. That topped analyst expectations of 36.9 billion euros. The impact of the chip crunch was evident in the decline in shipment figures which fell 12% in the quarter to 1.374 million vehicles. Stellantis, whose brands also include Citroën, Jeep and Maserati, confirmed its 2022 forecasts for a double-digit adjusted operating income margin, after 11.8% last year, and a positive cash-flow despite supply and inflationary headwinds. Morgan Stanley analysts said after the results that Stellantis had better management than many peers and benefited from its significant exposure to a stronger U.S. economy and a European recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. They also said it was less affected by a slowing Chinese economy. Palmer said it was important for the group to maintain double-digit margins and keep delivering positive cash flows. “A 12% increase in revenue with a 12% decrease in volumes indicates a very strong performance on price and mix, which augurs well for our margin performance”, he said. He said semiconductor supply problems were expected to ease this year with continued improvements in 2023. “But honestly I cannot give a date for when they are solved”, he added. Raw material costs would also weigh, Palmer said, with the group likely to raise its initial forecast for 4 billion euros of extra related costs this year. “I will give you a better view with first-half results but the impact is going to be probably up to 50% higher”, he said. +++

+++ VOLKSWAGEN and partners will invest €10 billion to make electric vehicles and batteries in Spain, its chief executive said. That’s 3 billion euros more than it had previously committed. The company also announced a partnership deal with Spain’s largest power utility Iberdrola, which will set up a solar park to partly power the battery plant to be built in the municipality of Sagunto near Valencia. Iberdrola will invest 500 million euros in the electrification plan, its chief executive officer Ignacio Sanchez Galan told reporters, without giving further details. Volkswagen said in March it would invest 7 billion euros to build a battery plant and produce electric vehicles at its two car factories in Spain, but CEO Herbert Diess said that figure had been raised to 10 billion with new partners on board. “We will electrify the second-largest car producer in Europe (Spain) with a new giga-factory of batteries and the production of electric cars in 2 plants”, Diess told an event in Sagunto, adding the plan was to create “a full ecosystem of suppliers from lithium extraction to the assembly of batteries”. Diess spoke during a visit with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to the site where the factory will be built. Volkswagen aims to start building the 40-gigawatt-hour (GWh) plant in the first quarter of 2023, with serial production to start by 2026. By 2030, the site will employ more than 3.000 staff, the company said. Spain, Europe’s largest carmaker after Germany, last month launched a bidding process for about 3 billion euros in loans and grants to promote electric vehicle (EV) production. Volkswagen and its Spanish unit Seat have presented a bid. Winners of the Perte funds, as the program that consists mostly of European Union pandemic relief funds is known, will be chosen this year. The company will invest 3 billion euros in the plant in Sagunto, another 3 billion euros in 4 Seat factories, including the Martorell plant near Barcelona, and 1 billion in Pamplona, it said. Volkswagen’s Spanish brand, Seat, currently does not sell an electric vehicle (its Mii electric city car has sold out). +++

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