Toyota and Nissan EV tax credit, Vinfast US plant, breaking down the EV partisan divide: The Week in Reverse

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Which automaker announced plans to build electric SUVs in North Carolina?

What is the most expensive material widely needed for EV batteries?

This is our look back at the Week In Reverse—right here at Green Car Reports—for the week ending April 1, 2022.

Toyota and Nissan are both soon offering intriguing new EVs—the bZ4X and Ariya, respectively. But they’re both also nearing their 200,000-vehicle ceiling that soon triggers the end of the full $7,500 EV tax credit. We took a look at how the timing might work out. 

2023 Toyota BZ4X

2023 Toyota BZ4X

It was a big week for regulatory and policy pieces to lock into place. On Friday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finalized tougher fleet fuel economy standards that will bring the passenger-vehicle and light-truck fleet to about 49 mpg in 2026. These standards, steeper in their yearly advances versus an earlier Biden administration proposal, replace standards introduced by the Trump administration and might lead to about 17% EV and plug-in hybrid sales by 2026. Earlier in the week the federal government reinstated higher penalties—and their collection—for automakers that fail to meet the standards. That could assure Tesla of a “lucrative revenue stream” from emissions credit sales—and, perhaps, a higher value for those credits. And amid all of this, an alliance of 16 states and ethanol groups continue to challenge the EPA emissions rules, alleging that they signal the EPA is favoring one technology over another. 

USPS Next Generation Delivery Vehicle - Oshkosh Defense

USPS Next Generation Delivery Vehicle – Oshkosh Defense

The U.S. Postal Service is effectively doubling its order of electric mail trucks

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, in a surprise move that throws another wildcard into a confusing hand surrounding its next-generation trucks, which will start being used on routes in 2023.

If the U.S. builds policy around all-electric passenger vehicle sales by 2035 and all-electric heavy-duty trucks by 2040, the American Lung Association this week projected a cumulative $1.2 trillion in public health benefits from 2020 to 2050. That’s in addition to global climate benefits. 

VinFast VF 8 Prototype

VinFast VF 8 Prototype

The biggest domestic manufacturing announcement of the week came not from GM or Ford but from the Vietnamese automaker Vinfast announced plans to produce EVs in North Carolina starting in 2024—with a $2 billion plant capable of making 150,000 vehicles a year. 

Stellantis and LG Energy Solution announced plans for a Canadian joint-venture battery plant. Potentially making up to 45 GWh annually—enough for hundreds of thousands of EVs annually—it will be the first large-scale venture for the automaker in North America. 

The battery maker CATL on Wednesday announced a third-generation version of its cell-to-pack technology for helping reduce costs and create packaging advantages. It claims that this version of it produces more power—in the same volume—compared to the latest Tesla 4680-format battery tech. 

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CATL third-generation cell-to-pack tech

CATL third-generation cell-to-pack tech

Cobalt is the most expensive material needed for EVs, and its recent price volatility threatens EV affordability. Did the U.S. let its control of this resource lapse over oil? 

According to a German magazine, Porsche is reportedly working on a version of its 911 sports car powered by solid-state battery tech. Porsche parent Volkswagen Group has been a longtime investor in the solid-state firm QuantumScape and VW suggested that the tech might allow upmarket models with some very fast-charging packs later in the decade. 

Former Tesla CTO JB Straubel, now the CEO of battery recycling firm Redwood Materials, recently suggested that EV batteries should last about 15 years. That’s quite a bit longer than battery warranties. Meanwhile, Straubel emphasized that given the current supply-chain insecurities, the runway for putting the processes in place for recovery and recycling of EV batteries has shortened. 

Lotus Eletre

Lotus Eletre

Lotus revealed the Eletre, its first SUV as well as its first vehicle to be built outside the UK. The performance electric SUV will offer four-wheel steering and 350-kw charging, and is to be built on a new dedicated EV platform and developed with the extensive use of carbon fiber and aluminum—to stay true to Lotus’ lightweight emphasis.

Kia plans to deliver its EV9 electric SUV in Europe in 2023, the company announced this week. The EV9 is one of 14 new EVs due from the brand globally by 2027. Despite earlier hints that the model was U.S.-bound, Kia has not made a similar confirmation of the model for America. 

Kia Concept EV9

Kia Concept EV9

A recent study that underscored how the priorities are different for existing EV owners versus “intenders’ who don’t currently own one. Cost and convenience are higher priorities for the intenders. 

And results from a national poll released Monday by an EV industry trade group suggest that the increasingly partisan divide in Congress over EV policy may be disconnected from reality. It found that there is widespread bipartisan support for “smart policies designed to increase the adoption of electric vehicles,” including consumer incentives and public investments in infrastructure. 

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