By on September 14, 2020

Following a scathing report from Hindenburg Research that called Nikola a fraudulent company largely dependent upon the blind excitement surrounding electric vehicles, the accused has finally issued a response. On Monday, Nikola released a bulleted letter suggesting the report was the act of an opportunistic short seller that was attempting to take advantage of the period immediately proceeding the announced partnership with General Motors. While Hindenburg didn’t exactly hide that aspect of itself in its own report, it frames the business as only profiting off companies that weren’t above board to begin with. It also received support from Citron Research, which said it likewise thought Nikola needed to be scoped out by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and promised to help pay for half of any legal fees incurred as a result of Hindenburg’s reporting.

Meanwhile, Nikola was crafting its rebuttal after founder Trevor Milton explained he had to wait on a comprehensive response because he was already in contact with the SEC. As his constant Twitter updates started to become counterproductive, this was likely a wise decision. The response dropped on Monday, clearing a handful of items up while making a bunch of other aspects seem even more suspect. (Read More…)

By on September 11, 2020

While we’ve suspected that electric vehicle startups and green tech, in general, is probably a little overvalued, we’ve never accused anyone of outright fraud. Burgeoning automakers have a tendency to over promise and under deliver. Throughout history, this has occasionally gotten them into serious trouble. But it’s also how the game is played, especially when you’re new to the scene and need to distinguish yourself from giant entities who would just as soon crush you in lieu of risking the eventual competition. Nikola is a perfect example of this and built a hype train so swift that legacy brands could only hope to buy it out or invest and share in the fruits of its labor before it sped away.

But what if it wasn’t ever growing any industrial fruit?

That’s the claim being made by Hindenburg Research — which specializes in short selling, pointing to firms on the cusp of financial disaster (hence the name), and attempting to bust businesses the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) might be interested in. The financial research firm has suggested that Nikola founder Trevor Milton had misrepresented what the company was actually capable of in terms of product, with the intent to mislead investors into thinking the company should be incredibly valuable. It reads like a hit piece and was accused by Milton of being just that. However, there are issues brought up in the report that are still worth examining.

(Read More…)

By on June 30, 2020

Chinese electric car startup Byton will reportedly idle production next month as it attempts to reorganize itself. While the coronavirus emerged as a villain in this play, the issues confronting Byton actually seem pretty dire. The company isn’t just idling factories to address a health crisis, it’s shutting things down for six months while it engages in more fundraising and tries to pay what’s owed to employees.

That’ll be tough with no normal income. Byton has already furloughed a large portion of its staff in California and plans to cease all production in Nanjing. While we knew the PRC’s approach to electrification would ultimately result in countless EV startups going under, we didn’t expect Byton to be among them. Slick products, good marketing, and interesting designs made it seem like it could go the distance — now it seems wholly preoccupied with survival. (Read More…)

By on June 9, 2020

Nikola, the Phoenix-based EV startup that hopped on the Nasdaq last week, finds itself awash in capital despite not having much to show for itself it terms of sellable product.

No matter, as it doesn’t take a sound business model or originality to thrive on Wall Street. Nikola hasn’t even seen fit to come up with a unique moniker for itself and instead uses the scraps left by Tesla Motors’ not using the full name of the inventor that serves as its inspiration. However, Nikola is designing battery/hydrogen-driven semi trailers and pickup trucks — which are the freshest fad in the industry at present. Investors took notice and pushed Nikola’s market cap past $26 billion on Monday. It just kept climbing, too, with only the eventual promise of product and profitability to spur them on.  (Read More…)

By on October 31, 2019

Fisker recently announced plans to debut the first of three affordable electric vehicles it wants to sell. The model, which founder Henrik Fisker said would be an SUV named Ocean, is scheduled to land on the North American market in 2021. “More info” is coming on November 27th and a near-production prototype is supposed to manifest in January.

The EV was originally supposed to appear in December, making this a modest delay. Normally we wouldn’t bat an eyelash at such a meager postponement, but Fisker has a poor track record for delivering on its promises.

Back when the company was still Fisker Automotive, it was building the Karma. Unfortunately, luxury plug-in hybrid didn’t sell and was plagued with quality issues. This author only recalls seeing one Karma outside of automotive trade shows, parked clumsily at a Massachusetts golf corse during the 2014 PGA Tour. While there were plans for the company to eventually build the more-practical Atlantic with help from BMW, things did not pan out.  (Read More…)

By on October 15, 2019

Faraday Future FF 91 rear

The founder of Faraday Future, Yueting Jia, has filed for bankruptcy and restructuring under Chapter 11 in the United States, according to a statement released by the company. The decision allows Jia (known within the company as “YT”) to address his debts in China, which can be measured billions, so his ownership of FF can be transferred to creditors.

Due to Faraday’s repeatedly broken promises and clandestine way of doing business, we’ve never had an overabundance of faith in the company. While that view hasn’t changed, the corporate statement frames Jia’s U.S. bankruptcy as a positive.  (Read More…)

By on September 24, 2019

Despite assuming the role of one of China’s most promising electric vehicle startups, NIO is struggling. The first quarter of this year was a mess. Worried about bad publicity stemming from battery fires, NIO recalled 4,800 vehicles ⁠— more than it sold in Q1. It also endured a noteworthy sales decline, a drop in share price, sold off its Formula E racing team, and announced it would cut around 10 percent of its workforce.

The situation has not improved for Q2. According to reports from the manufacturer, losses expanded 83.1 percent from the previous year to about 3.3 billion yuan ($463 million). Despite NIO’s recent addition of the ES6 crossover, Q2 sales were down 7.9 percent from Q1 ⁠— resulting in a grand total of 3,553 deliveries. NIO now believes it will have to sheer 20 percent of its workforce to save costs. (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2019

Nio, one of China’s biggest EV startups, is confronting difficult times, though the primary reasons for its plight are less than obvious. Automotive startups have a low survival rate, but Nio was presumed to be the next big thing in vehicular electrification. It looked poised to become one of the few EV companies that would survive in Asia, likely serving as China’s response to Tesla, and even had a successful Formula E racing team to showcase its engineering might.

We sad had because Nio sold that team this year. It also needed to recall 4,800 vehicles after reports of three catching fire, endured a sizable sales drop, witnessed its share price plummet, announced plans to layoff 10 percent of its workforce, and just lost one of its co-founders.  (Read More…)

By on April 30, 2019

Faraday Future FF 91 rear

Faraday Future, the contentious automotive startup that always seems to find (and then lose) sizable amounts of cash, has announced it has once again managed to secure new funding. According to its press release, Faraday says will receive $225 million in bridge financing via a funding round led by Birch Lake Associates.

While the bulk of the cash will go towards paying off vendors, some of which have filed lawsuits, around 40 percent will be left over to help get the FF91 to market and prove the company can actually build a car. The strategy seems risky, but it may be Faraday’s best bet at this point.  (Read More…)

By on April 16, 2019

Over the past several years, the Chinese government embarked on an aggressive electric vehicle push, hoping to mitigate the nation’s severe air pollution, reduce its reliance on oil imports, and foster a high-tech manufacturing sector that could put the rest of the world to shame. The result of these efforts? Hundreds of new EV companies, propped up by Chinese subsidies and investors, with no real future.

While it was known that most of these startups would never make it to the finish line, estimates of their survivability rate has grown increasingly bleak. For a time, it was assumed that most would die out — leaving anywhere between 5 and 10 percent to reach the assembly phase. However, NIO Capital’s Ian Zhu posited that the number was likely closer to 1 percent last August.

China is now pulling back its support, with many believing the industrial bubble is about to pop. And they have the math to back it up.  (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2019

With Faraday Future and Evergrande Health having officially settled their bitter legal dispute late last year, the once-again independent automaker could finally get back to hunting for new investors. Despite Faraday’s entire existence being overshadowed by financial missteps and bizarre business dealings (resulting in an inability to deliver product), it’s extremely good at scrounging up funds. Breaking ties with its primary financial partner might have seemed like bad news, especially after so many near-death experiences, but this is where the company shines the brightest.

On Sunday, Faraday Future signed into a 50-50 partnership with Shanghai-based internet gaming operator The9 — which amassed its fortune after gaining exclusive licensing rights to operate and distribute the extremely popular World of Warcraft in China. Faraday said the deal marks the first step in its plan to officially launch its dual-home-market strategy in both China and the United States.  (Read More…)

By on January 2, 2019

ff91

Faraday Future, the Chino-American EV developer that’s always in dutch, said Monday it has established and signed a new restructuring agreement with its main investor, Evergrande Health Industry Group Ltd. The deal concludes a rather ugly legal dispute between the two — one which placed Faraday’s intellectual property and finances in serious jeopardy.

Following the departure of co-founder Nick Sampson in November, the automaker found itself seeking new financing opportunities. Evergrande, which purchased a majority take in the EV firm via its summer acquisition of Season Smart, attempted to block new investments while Faraday accused the company of attempting a forcible takeover of the automaker by withholding funds earmarked for outstanding debts. Those funds were essential in helping it reach agreed-upon production targets.  (Read More…)

By on November 4, 2018

ff91

Faraday Future’s path to glory has been complicated to say the least. A series of ludicrously ambitious moves have been plighted with failure, followed by renewed hopes that were ultimately dashed. Incredibly, the aspiring automaker still exists and intends to begin production of its first electric vehicle once its money troubles are over.

Unfortunately, the company is currently engaged in a bitter legal battle with its biggest investor, China’s Evergrande Group, after a planned $2 billion investment went south. The reasons as to why are as foggy as the memory of a heavy drinker but Faraday wanted to trudge onward anyway. Initially, that seemed impossible — especially considering Evergrande held the ability to block any additional investments into the company. However, an interim ruling by a Hong Kong arbitration court has granted Faraday relief to seek financing without approval.  (Read More…)

By on October 31, 2018

Faraday Future FF 91 rear

Faraday Future co-founder Nick Sampson has quit his executive post as the aspiring automaker continues struggling with finance issues relating to its latest financial backer and China’s second-largest real estate developer, Evergrande Group.

That leaves CEO Jia Yueting as the company’s only founding executive left on staff. But it would appear he might also leave, albeit under duress, if Faraday’s largest shareholder gets its way. While it’s not obvious exactly who shot first, the electric vehicle firm and Evergrande are at each other’s throats — ruining a $2 billion deal that was supposed to save the company and get its ambitious debut model, the FF 91, into production. Apparently, it was all too much for Sampson. (Read More…)

By on October 22, 2018

Faraday Future FF 91 profile

Following a previous article about Faraday Future, the manufacturer reached out to yours truly to clarify a few things. First of all, the company deemed the headline and body a bit “jagged.” Understandable, as no manufacturer wants to be called “America’s Worst Automaker” by some bespectacled creep sitting behind a keyboard. Faraday’s spokesperson also noted that deliveries would not begin in December and that the vehicle fire we referenced was a “minor incident” involving a pre-production model undergoing testing at the firm’s Hanford manufacturing facility.

Actually, that makes things sound a little worse than initially reported, as it appears the company doesn’t have a production date anymore. But I will acquiesce that I could have been clearer with that’s going on with its new financial backer, Evergrande. The pair have been at each other’s throats over money for a while, which is important because the spat is now costing people their jobs. We really need to get into the nitty gritty as to why.  (Read More…)

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