Rivian ‘First’ To Build EV Pickup Decades After Ford And GM

I am still salty about the Ranger EV and electric S-10

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It’s real, y’all.
It’s real, y’all.
Photo: Rivian

Long after Ford and Chevy stopped making their own fully-electric pickup trucks, a startup has stepped in to take their place. This sounds familiar. All that and more in The Morning Shift for September 15, 2021.

1st Gear: Rivian Just Got Government Approval For Production, Had Been Waiting Since Mid-August

OK so the big news is that Rivian, the EV pickup/SUV startup linked with Ford and Amazon, has started building production cars for customers, as the boss tweeted:

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The deeper news is that Rivian got government approval to start sending these trucks out to customers, as Bloomberg reports:

Rivian Automotive Inc., the electric pickup maker backed by Amazon.com Inc., says it has received full regulatory certifications and can start delivering its debut electric vehicle to U.S. customers.

“Rivian vehicles are fully certified by NHTSA, EPA and CARB, and are ready for sale in all 50 states,” a Rivian spokesperson wrote in an email.

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Depending on who you ask, Rivian was either ready to make these trucks back in August and was waiting on Federal approval...

From Electrek:

Rivian says that its R1T electric pickup is basically ready for production and it is now waiting for government approval to start deliveries.

The R1T was supposed to be delivered earlier this summer, but Rivian has run into some production issues as is to be expected when launching a new vehicle program and especially from a new startup that hasn’t delivered a consumer vehicle before.

The company has since been guiding a start of deliveries in September.

... Or it was stuck waiting on components.

From Bloomberg:

Rivian Automotive Inc., the electric pickup maker backed by Amazon.com Inc., is pushing back production of its debut vehicle by two months to September because of supply-chain bottlenecks.

The startup also shifted the timeline for its second planned model, an electric sports-utility vehicle, from August until an unspecified time in the fall, according to a letter to customers on Friday. The company cited a shortage of components.

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Both are probably true.

In any case, Ford made 1,500 all-electric Ranger EVs from 1998 to 2002, and Chevy made its own S-10 EVs, but neither committed to their programs through the era of cheap gas.

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2nd Gear: Workhorse Gives Up On USPS Drama

This has been a weird one, with a small company claiming corruption, or, uh, unfair dealing on a big government contract that went to an existing large government contractor. That kind of thing never happens in America!

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Anyway, the little guy has given up, as David Shepardson reports in Reuters:

Electric vehicle company Workhorse Group voluntarily dismissed on Tuesday its legal challenge against a U.S. Postal Service move to award a multibillion-dollar contract to Oshkosh Defense for delivery vehicles.The 10-year contract announced in February could be worth more than $6 billion and allows for delivery of between 50,000 and 165,000 vehicles. Workhorse had proposed building an all-electric vehicle fleet for USPS, while Oshkosh plans a mix of internal combustion-powered and battery-electric vehicles.Workhorse’s legal challenge, filed in June, had been set to face arguments before a judge on Wednesday in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

Workhorse and Oskhosh did not immediately respond to requests for comment late Tuesday. USPS declined immediate comment.

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3rd Gear: Apple Supplier Foxconn Also Gives Up On EV Partnership

Speaking of giving up, a Apple’s big supplier has given up on its automotive aspirations just as Apple’s own path to automaking has stuttered. From Reuters:

Apple supplier Foxconn’s electric vehicle project with Byton has been put on hold due to the Chinese startup’s worsening financial situation, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified sources with knowledge of the matter.

“The project is not officially terminated yet, but it is very challenging to proceed at this moment,” one of the sources told Nikkei Asia.

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4th Gear: Germans Can Drive As Fast As They Want And Are Still Mostly Driving Under 80 MPH

I am always interested in the world of managing drivers. How we set speed limits, how we calm traffic and design roads themselves — all of this feels like it’s done wrong in America. But what about in that beacon of automotive infrastructure, Germany, where village streets are filled with traffic calming measures and major highways have sections of unrestricted, no-speed-limits driving.

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Perhaps surprising is that Germans aren’t even taking advantage of this, according to a new study, as Der Spiegel reports:

[O]nly a small proportion of people even have the need to rush down the streets at a speed of more than 130 kilometers per hour.

That is the result of an analysis by the employer-related Institute of the German Economy (IW) in Cologne . According to the institute, experts evaluated real-time data from motorway sections without a speed limit for the survey. The data comes from automated motorway counting stations in North Rhine-Westphalia , from the period from mid-May to the end of August. A total of 1.2 billion car movements were included in the analysis.

This shows: Even without a speed limit, 77 percent of the cars on the motorways were driving slower than 130 km / h at the time of the sample. Twelve percent drove at 130 to 140 kilometers per hour. Nine percent of the drivers orientated themselves to a speed between 140 and 160 kilometers per hour. According to the study, less than two percent of drivers traveled at more than 160 kilometers per hour.

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130 km/h is about 80 miles per hour, 160 km/h is about 100 mph. The truth is that there isn’t a lot of the German Autobahn that’s unrestricted, and when it is you don’t always want to be doing more than a buck.

5th Gear: This Feels Wrong

I am not sure what feels so wrong about this but all of my warning flags are going up. From the Detroit News:

Ford Motor Co. and Argo AI on Wednesday announced they are teaming up with retail giant Walmart Inc. to offer an autonomous-vehicle delivery service in three U.S. cities beginning later this year.

The last-mile delivery service, which according to the companies marks Walmart’s first multi-city autonomous delivery collaboration in the U.S., is slated to start off in Miami, Austin and Washington, D.C. Walmart customers within defined services areas of the cities will be able to order groceries and other items online, with delivery provided by Ford vehicles that are equipped with Argo’s self-driving system.

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Reverse: Only A Few Years Before The Railroad Is Linked

From History:

On September 15, 1858, the new Overland Mail Company sends out its first two stages, inaugurating government mail service between the eastern and western regions of the nation.

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Neutral: When Else Did Major Manufacturers Give Up An Early Advantage?

You could sort of say that Jeep squandered an early lead in China’s SUV boom, but that would only be if you hadn’t read the case study in corporate mismanagement that is Beijing Jeep.