Bad news for Rivian: the electric Ford F-150 is at least pretty good

From November: What edge does Rivian have in the truck or EV market? (market cap: $127 billion)

From January: How is Rivian still worth $78 billion?

The market cap today is $18 billion, an 85 percent loss for those who bought the stock at the time of my November post (or a massive profit for those who went short!).

Today’s Car and Driver review of the F-150 Lightning:

Though this truck has many parlor tricks—a big frunk that can swallow 400 pounds, an optional tongue-weight scale, and BlueCruise hands-free driving—none are as impressive as how quick it builds speed from a standstill, thanks to 775 pound-feet of instant torque. Mat the accelerator and the front tires spin. Actually, the fronts will spin if you floor the accelerator at any speed below 50 mph or so. The effect is amplified as you load the truck closer to its 2235-pound max payload capacity.

It even drives and feels a lot like an F-150. A 50/50 weight balance contributes to very good road manners. … A low center of gravity keeps the truck relatively flat through corners, too.

The base vinyl-lined Pro model starts at $41,769 and comes with the 98.0-kWh battery that’s good for an EPA range of 230 miles, while the upgraded extended-range battery brings 131.0 kilowatts-hours of storage and 320 miles of range. … On the not-so-good front, the Lightning can tow up to 10,000 pounds when spec’d with the Max Trailer Tow package, but it can’t do so for very long between charges. We pulled an 8300-pound boat and trailer at about 65 mph, and the on-board trip computer indicated we were getting less than one mile per kilowatt-hour. This puts the highway range with a trailer of decent size and mass somewhere around 100 miles.

[A friend has a reservation for the F-150 Lightning and they won’t let him order the base model, so the $41.7k price is maybe just a theoretical one. The real price is at least $60k.]

So the Ford product is at least pretty good, is backed by a company from which people have been buying trucks for more than 100 years, and is much cheaper than what Rivian charges for a similar capability.

Ford even shows a great place to run out of battery power:

If this vehicle had dog mode, it would certainly be a better value than anything from Tesla!

Circling back to Rivian… after they run out of Silicon Valley enthusiasts, who is going to pay $100,000 for a non-Ford, non-GM, non-Toyota pickup truck? And what is the stock/company worth?

Rivian stock versus the S&P 500 starting on the date of my first post:

Full post, including comments

Toyota pits all of its engineering prowess against Tesla

One of my enduring theories was that the electric car market would work like most of the markets described in Crossing the Chasm. The pioneering company selling to early adopters gets bypassed when the mainstream companies piled in and sell to mainstream customers who don’t care about the features that the early adopters were passionate about. So Tesla, with its limited engineering capabilities and manufacturing experience, would be leapfrogged by Toyota, Honda, Ford, et al. when it was time for the typical Toyota Camry or Honda Accord owner to buy an electric car.

“Tested: 2023 Toyota bZ4X Gets Toyota into the EV Game” (Car and Driver) proves that I’m wrong yet again. The car is neither significantly cheaper nor significantly better than a Tesla. With all of their marketing experience, Toyota couldn’t even come up with a decent name. Also note that the marketing materials imply that you need a $3 million house before you can think about purchasing (and that bZ4X drivers should adhere to an obsolete cisgender heterosexual nuclear family lifestyle).

Most egregious: no dog mode!

Can we conclude that the only human on Planet Earth capable of doing things in a reasonable way is Elon Musk?

(Like those announcing receiving an award on Facebook, I am humbled and honored that my prediction turned out to be dead wrong. Well, maybe not honored. Just humbled (but not humbled enough to stop making predictions, sadly).)

Full post, including comments

Why is the markup on electricity for charging cars higher than the markup for gasoline?

Electrify America charges 43 cents/kWh in Florida:

That’s 4X the average price to a commercial customer in the state (EIA.gov; which shows that Electrify America’s price is 5X the “industrial” rate, which might be more appropriate for a large and busy charging station). (Let’s ignore the membership price of 3X because you can get a fair price at a gas station without joining any clubs.)

Retail gasoline is about 10 percent over cost (source), i.e., 1.1X.

The gas station needs to dig a tank, maintain pumps, insure against environmental calamity, fire, etc. The electric charging station just needs a few parking spots, some wires, and some high-power/high-voltage components.

For people who live in apartments and/or do most of their charging on trips, do these huge charging station markups eliminate the purported fuel cost savings for high-cost electric cars? (we almost never see a Tesla used as an Uber, right?)

Full post, including comments

12 Hours of Sebring, a perfect Florida fly-in destination

Since small aircraft are generally inferior to a 2009 Honda Accord as a transportation tool, it is worth celebrating the situations in which it make sense to fly. The Sebring, Florida race track is actually built on part of what was once a vast military airport and is now a medium-sized civilian airport. Therefore, if you are landing on Runway 1 you’ll see the race before even getting out of the plane. You’ll hear the race as soon as you’re on the ramp (remember to pack earplugs, though they also sell them at the race). After walking through the beautiful modern GA terminal you’re a 20-minute walk from the event entrance, but the kind folks at the airport run a shuttle so you’ll be there almost immediately.

The true fans, either of beer or racing, show up on Wednesday and camp:

Imagine Burning Man with no philosophy…

Here are a Corvette and Lamborghini in 1st and 2nd place (within their class) after about 2 hours. They ultimately finished in the same positions. General Motors (Cadillac) also won all three top spots in the fastest “DPi” class.

A Ferrari appears to chase a McLaren (but they’re actually in different classes):

There is a modest midway of manufacturers’ booths and food. You can develop some new respect for your neighbor with the Hyundai Elantra:

Feel better about your job… there is an actual human zipped into this outfit in the 90-degree Florida sunshine:

Although there don’t seem to have been any drivers who identified as “female”, there apparently was a competition that may have featured some who identified as “women”:

(With the kids in tow, I was unable to stay for this important event and therefore cannot supply photos.)

Chevy’s contestants in the mechanical beauty contest… a flat-plane crank engine and a cutaway Z06 Corvette:

If you’re coming down from Maskachusetts or New York and are anxious to fit in, you might want to take the Hillary, Biden/Harris, Black Lives Matter, #StopAsianHate, and “In this plane we believe…” stickers off the Bonanza.

See you there in March 2023! (the kids are already preparing!)

Full post, including comments

Medical waiver for tinted windows in Massachusetts

A friend is a tinted window enthusiast and mentioned in a chat group that he was having some trouble getting his doctor in Maskachusetts to sign documents that will satisfy the bureaucracy that runs the tint waiver program:

Apparently this should not be too challenging. The tint enthusiast knows of some people who were approved due to doctors using “dry skin” as a justification.

A response from a Californian in the chat group:

Get medicinal marijuana doc to say u r too stoned to put sunglasses on

Separately, is tinted glass necessary on any modern car? For roughly 20 years, at least mid-trim cars have come from the factory with heat-rejecting (sometimes called “solar absorbing”) glass, right?

(Where is aftermarket tint necessary? Airplane windows! Unfortunately, they are plastic and can be destroyed by standard automotive products. Small planes typically have no air-conditioning (costs $30,000 and reduces payload by 10 percent) and the factory windows are greatly inferior in heat-rejection to what’s in a Toyota Corolla (one of which passed us on Florida’s Turnpike the other day going at least 90 mph!). Plane Tint sells a specially formulated product that we applied to our 2005 SR20 before making the Florida move. It has held up well so far.)

Full post, including comments

Waiting 18+ months to get 15 mpg in a Ford Bronco

From what I have observed, there is no better way to tackle the perfectly smooth roads between a suburban Florida house and the perfectly smooth paved parking lot next to the beach than in an off-road vehicle equipped with monster mud-tread tires. The neighborhood elite seem to have been acquiring Ford Broncos for this purpose. I talked to a Ford dealer about what would be entailed in getting an Everglades edition Bronco. No orders can be placed currently. There is no waiting list. When ordering is restarted at some unknown future date, the wait to buy one at MSRP will be approximately 18 months.

Here are the steel tube doors “for off-road use only” that the neighbors are using on the street:

In typical driving, I think this machine would be lucky to get 15 mpg and it is on target for delivery at the same time that gasoline reaches $10 per gallon. How can that be justified? Friends on Facebook who are passionate Democrats have been posting the following meme:

I think that the idea is that nobody should be upset with Presidents Biden and Harris regarding the high price of gasoline ($2.30/gallon in January 2021, at the end of the hated dictator’s rule). But we could also use the above meme to toss aside all concerns regarding climate change. As long as we have the money to buy a pavement-melting Bronco and fill it with dinosaur blood we should be “thankful” and not worry about what is happening to Mother Earth, to those who don’t have the money, etc.

Full post, including comments

Example of a standard car manufacturer’s time lag from invention to implementation (Ford Pet Mode)

“Ford Will Have a ‘Pet Mode’ Similar to Tesla’s, Patent Application Shows” (Car and Driver, 2/24/2022):

Perhaps trying to compete with Tesla’s Dog mode, Ford has filed a patent application for something called Pet mode, which would allow drivers to remotely control things including windows and temperature.

Tesla started offering its Dog mode feature around four years ago as a way for drivers to make sure any animals left inside of one of the company’s EVs don’t get too hot or cold, and that passersby would see a notification that lets them know the car is comfortable for the pet.

The patent application was filed in October 2018, which tells us that Ford had the invention in its possession four years ago. The Mustang Mach-E went into production 1.5 years ago yet still has no Pet Mode, thus encouraging anyone who likes to run errands with a dog in the vehicle to purchase a Tesla instead.

Related:

Full post, including comments

Prius sighting in Florida

Two middle-aged ladies were in front of us at Lion Country Safari:

Biden/Harris, Black Lives Matter, and Eat More Kale plus an Imagine there’s no hunger license plate (proceeds to the Florida Association of Food Banks). The “UU” sticker likely is for “Unitarian Universalism”, a pro-Palestinian church (settler colonialism by Jews in Israel is bad; settler colonialism in North America is not so bad that any Unitarian Universalist church needs to give back its land to the nearest Native Americans).

The next day, we found the “Prius Eater” in the Costco parking lot:

Through the window at Lion Country Safari:

Full post, including comments