There’s not only Nikola (which took the other half of inventor Nikola Tesla’s name), which briefly overtook Ford in terms of market value, despite never having produced a vehicle for sale. But there’s also Rivian, Fisker, Byton, Faraday Future, and a whole lot more. Some are more established than others and some are further along in their product cycles.
Most of these companies are staying out of the sedan market altogether — despite Tesla’s success with the Model S and Model 3 — opting to make trucks, crossovers or vehicles that blur the boundaries between traditional categories instead.
Here’s a rundown of the increasingly crowded electrical vehicle start up world and what’s coming next.
You may recognize the Fisker name from founder Henrik Fisker’s previous venture, Fisker Automotive, which made the radically swoopy Fisker Karma plugin hybrid sedan. Fisker Automotive went bankrupt a few years ago, but various assets — including some unassembled Karmas — were bought up by Chinese investors who started a new company, Karma Automotive. Karma’s new and improved version of Fisker’s old car is now called the Karma Revero.
Rivian said it plans to begin producing its off-road-capable pickup, the R1T, and SUV, the R1S, next year.
Michigan-based Rivian will also be busy producing electric delivery vans. In addition to its hundreds of millions of investment dollars, Amazon has also placed an order for 100,000 Rivian electric delivery vans to help the car startup get going.
Nikola’s big plans mostly have to do with semi trucks, both purely electric and hydrogen-powered.
Nikola also now plans to produce a pickup truck called the Badger, which the company says will run on a combination of electricity stored in batteries and electricity produced from compressed hydrogen. That combination, the Arizona-based company claims, will allow the Badger to drive a total of 600 miles before needing to recharge or refill.
The Badger is supposed to be produced in cooperation with a major automaker, Nikola has said, but no deal has been announced yet.
Los Angeles-based startup, Faraday Future, drew its name from Michael Faraday, a 19th century British scientist who described electromagnetic induction, one of the basic principles that make electric motors work.
Deliveries of the FF 91 are aimed to start roughly nine months after it completes a fundraising round, according to the company. Faraday has said it plans to produce the FF 91 in Hanford, California, but whether that comes to fruition remains unclear.
Byton has also said the car could be controlled with hand gestures in the air and voice controls, features similar to those already in cars made by BMW.
But Byton has suspended operations for the foreseeable future, a move that a spokesman said was a byproduct of the pandemic’s impact on fund raising. The company isn’t sure when production of the car might start.
Lucid Motors, which was founded in 2007, plans to unveil a luxury vehicle called the Air in September that it has said will have a range of more than 400 miles and be able to go from zero to 60 miles per hour in under 2.5 seconds. The company said the car will cost more than $100,000.
Lucid began construction on its Casa Grande, Arizona, manufacturing facility in December 2019, and it’s expected to complete the first phase of the building later this year. It has another location suitable for developing a single vehicle.
The startup has raised more than $1 billion from Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund.
Lordstown Motors is unique because of its controversial decision to use motors located in the pickup’s four wheels, which are called hub motors. It’s also stood out for earning the attention of the Trump administration, as Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the Endurance’s unveiling last month, lauding it as a symbol of American manufacturing.
The company received a $40 million emergency loan from GM, and is attempting to raise $450 million to begin production of the Endurance at a rate that it says will be profitable.