Faraday Future stops building Nevada factory

Stefan Krause, Faraday Future's CFO, quoted in an article by the Nevada Independent:

“We have decided to put a hold on our factory at the Apex site in North Las Vegas. We remain committed to the Apex site in Las Vegas for long-term vehicle manufacturing.

We at Faraday Future are significantly shifting our business strategy to position the company as the leader in user-ship personal mobility — a vehicle usage model that reimagines the way users access mobility. As a result of this shift in direction, we are in the final stages of confirming a new manufacturing facility that presents a faster path to start-of-production and aligns with future strategic options.”

Krause's statement is full of vague buzzwords such as 'user-ship personal mobility' with no substance behind them, and the firm's commitment to 'long-term vehicle manufacturing' is a nice euphemism for the minuscule chance that it will ever put a vehicle into mass production. The death knell is sounding for this vapourware peddling company. 

Volvo to include electric motor on every vehicle from 2019

From the Volvo press release:

"Volvo Cars will introduce a portfolio of electrified cars across its model range, embracing fully electric cars, plug in hybrid cars and mild hybrid cars.

It will launch five fully electric cars between 2019 and 2021, three of which will be Volvo models and two of which will be high performance electrified cars from Polestar, Volvo Cars’ performance car arm. Full details of these models will be announced at a later date.

These five cars will be supplemented by a range of petrol and diesel plug in hybrid and mild hybrid 48 volt options on all models, representing one of the broadest electrified car offerings of any car maker."

This is another significant development for Volvo, which has lately been having a renaissance under the ownership of Geely in forging its own, differentiated identity. To go from zero fully electric vehicles in 2018, to five by 2021, a space of only three years, will be a big achievement. More importantly, it is a substantive acknowledgment by a 'traditional', mainstream automotive manufacturer that the writing is on the wall for the internal combustion engine. 

It's understandable that a mainstream manufacturer such as Volvo may not desire to leave existing customers (that live in areas with poor electric vehicle charging support) to hang out to dry by immediately ceasing support and development of combustion engined vehicles. But what is more important to understand is that hybrid vehicles that marry an electric motor to a combustion engine are a mere transition point, and not the final solution to achieving sustainable transport.

The only pragmatic option for sustainable transport is a fully electric vehicle powered by electricity from a renewable energy source. The sooner the automotive industry realises this, and follows Tesla's lead in independently building the requisite infrastructure, or forms a partnership with government to do so, the better. At this early stage, however, it's applaudable that Volvo has looked to the future and boldly taken a bet on a powertrain that currently only makes up a minuscule, albeit growing, share of the global automotive market.

Above: From left to right, the Volvo S90, V90, XC60 and XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid range. These vehicles represent Volvo's current range of only partial electric vehicles. 

Polestar to become a separate high-performance brand

From the Volvo press release:

"In the future, Polestar will offer Polestar branded cars that will no longer carry a Volvo logo, as well as optimisation packages for Volvo’s range of cars under the Polestar Engineered brand.

Polestar will enjoy specific technological and engineering synergies with Volvo Cars and benefit from significant economies of scale as a result of its connection to Volvo. These synergies will allow it to design, develop and build world beating electrified high performance cars."

Above: The new Polestar logo.

Whilst it's unclear as to whether the models sold under the Polestar brand will be derivatives of existing Volvos or new, independently developed models, this is a positive step for the marque. Newly launched Volvos such as the XC90, S90, V90 and XC60 are evidence of a renaissance for the brand, which has developed a 'differentiated premium' image through a focus on honest design, advanced safety features, autonomous driving and electrification. Through its T8 powertrain, Volvo remains the only brand where the most powerful, top of the range Volvo currently available is a plug-in hybrid. Separating Polestar to focus on performance electric vehicles creates further differentiation from the mainstream 'big three' German trio of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, and is a relatively unique proposition that is perhaps matched only by Tesla.

These are exciting times for the automotive industry, and with manufacturers being bold enough to explore new avenues such as autonomous driving and electric vehicles, the potential for innovation and change in the industry is greater than ever before.