11 min read

Newsletter | Electric RVs – CATL starts batteryswaps – Polar bears get some quiet

Newsletter | Electric RVs – CATL starts batteryswaps – Polar bears get some quiet

Another electric week almost behind us. Lots to see.

In the newsletter below, you'll find

  • Electric RVs and trailers that will make you want to go on an adventure.
  • Updates for our 2021 Global BEV Sales Spreadsheet - new #2 maker!
  • CATL starts battery swapping, polar bears get some quiet and so do construction sites.

Don't worry, it's only 2582 words ;)

Grab a zappee* and let's go!

- Jaan

*I'll name our first EV Universe merch-drink this. Coming soon?

Coming In Hot: Electric Camping

There aren't almost any viable options for electric RVs and trailers out there.

Sure, you could take the Rivian R1T for an adventure with its outdoor tent and gear-tunnel kitchen system. Or even hope for the Cyberlandr to land soon, along with Cybertruck itself. Sometimes these just don't really cut it. You just want a home on wheels.

My mouth started watering immediately because lately, I have been tinkering with the idea of running The EV Universe from the road with my kids and wifey.

Also, I'm not one to share too many concepts in this newsletter due to, well, them being concepts, but this one excited me - and it seems executable too.

Airstream unveiled its

eStream Travel Trailer Concept

Chassis eStream

... and I think it's frunking great. They've essentially turned the towable trailer into an electric vehicle.

It will be using ZF's electric drive axle to increase the combined range between the trailer and the EV that is towing it (a Model X in the intro video). And it can be parked easily after detaching, with its electric motors by moving some buttons around in an app (shown live here).

Here's the website and the trailer's....trailer (video)

Thor Vision Vehicle

If you want to skip the own-a-model-X-first part, Airstream's parent company Thor Industries unveiled the Thor Vision Vehicle (TVV), built on the van-life friendly Ford Transit chassis:


Same ZF motors and Li-ion batteries as in eStream, but it will also feature a hydrogen fuel cell to get to 300 mi range. Can I get it without the fuel cell? Notice there are no big side mirrors. Cameras solve that, along with a rearview camera. Here's a good "exploding CGI" for the van (0:06) to see how it's built.

Winnebago e-RV

At the same time, we were hit with another concept to hit the road fully electric. Winnebago e-RV:

Winnebago e-RV

This one comes off from the Ford Transit chassis too - but via Lightning e-Motors that already has converted Transit before for electric cargo vans & shuttles (I remember discovering its builds for our EV industry Map).

It will pack a 86 kWh battery that gives it a 125mi range, but they are leaving room for "mileage range increases are anticipated with further developing". That's rightfully so, as they claim themselves that the customers expect a ~200mi range. This concept looks very much like something that Winnebago would be able to produce right now. You'll be able to find the features of it here and a walkaround here.

Who else?

Too bad Lordstown (almost) went under... they had some bigger electric RV plans too. I'm also rather optimistic for the future. If you recall the newsletter back in November, I introduced the new startup Lightship from two guys with Tesla and Proterra backgrounds (perfect combo if you ask me).

I know we'll get to a spot where we'll only get to choose from electric RVs. I just can't wait.

More on 2021 EV sales

I've received a few more data points for our 2021 BEV Sales spreadsheet. A reminder - I'm talking about battery-electric vehicles only here (you know me).

New countries added

🇫🇷 France EV sales grew by 46% to 162k EVs, which is 6.63% of the overall car sales. France looks to be Europe's 3rd biggest EV market in terms of sales volume, right after Germany and UK. The top models were Tesla M3 with 24,911 sales, a close call with Renault Zoe that had 23,573 sales, and Peugeot e-208 with 17,859 sales. Source: Avere-France.

🇮🇹 Our avid reader and longtime EV owner that goes by the nickname F205V was kind enough to send us the Italian numbers: A proper year-over-year growth of 111% got them to 67,542 EVs. As you'd expect, the best-sellers came from the A-segment, with Fiat 500 in the lead (10.7k), followed by Smart ForTwo (6.1k) and Renault Twingo (5.8k). Source: Unrae.it.

I also specified some numbers on the sheet, e.g the Netherlands (source EV-Volumes via Cleantechnica).

New automakers

I also got some numbers from the automakers we were missing.

Most notably, we scored the final data of the famous Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV, which made a splash with 395,451 total deliveries in 2021. This puts the SAIC-GM-Wuling (SGMW) joint venture, the one making the mini vehicle, right on the 3rd place globally and comes in even 2nd if not taking the whole WV Group into account.

Looks like this little Mini EV is a force many of us didn't see coming. Hard to ignore if you put it in the perspective above.

Here's a picture from the Wuling Mini EV tuning scene, just a little eye candy:

Wuling MINI EV
Found it from this thread by @ElliotChina

The numbers from Hyundai are also in: 120,523, which currently puts them at 7th-largest-EV-maker in the world*, growing 20% year-over-year. Hyundai was able to ramp up the Ioniq 5 sales to 65,906, most of which went to Western Europe (I drove one too, video). The second was Kona Electric with 43,457 sales and somehow the Ioniq Electric is still alive and selling at 9,077 vehicles.

I've also learned CUPRA has managed to deliver 3,300 of its Born EV, which went on sale in November. I saw it's available for test drives near me --- who wants a review?

*I expect Renault might beat it for 2021 (and lose in 2022) but we'll see. I've received all of the sales numbers but have yet to chew through them. Expect it on the sheet shortly. I'm also still missing the final numbers from Stellantis and Nissan that might be on the ~middle part of the table.

What's Zappening

🇪🇺 Renault CEO, Luca de Meo, said at a media event that Renault will become 100% electric in Europe in 2030. Meanwhile, he said that the subsidiary "Dacia will become electrified "at the last possible moment" in a way that respects the brand's "value for money" selling proposition." (link) Well... the Dacia Spring was the best-selling EV in November in France and best-selling-anything in Romania, so I think the respect might be there already.

🇨🇦 If these guys can do it, anybody can. Frontiers North Adventures, the Canadian tourism company organizing tours to see the (reducing numbers of) polar bears, decided to convert its 12 diesel Tundra Buggies to fully electric.

The 1st Buggy, which they had to retrofit themselves, already hit the ice in November. (link) EVerybody, including the bears, win with this one.

Tundra Buggy

🌎 A study by Deloitte with 26k participants from over 25 countries says 69% of the consumers want to keep ICEing (post with pdf). Do we live in a bubble? Or was it just a matter of how questions were asked? Join the discussion.


🥀 Pay respects: The Bollinger Motors B1&B2 might not come to market. Bollinger delays its EV truck plans to focus on commercial delivery vans (link). Their website is now also geared towards showing the chassis, while there's a "Looking for B1 & B2?" button on the header. I get why they go this route. The company has struck me as one focusing hard on the underlying e-chassis from the start. Still would have loved to see these on the road:

Bollinger B1&B2

⚡ COMMUNITY: Well this went out of hand fast. NIO launched the first swap station in Norway with a little dance/musical event... and it somehow stirred up the Chinese internet community making it viral by recreating the same dance act with a different musical background. Here's the original video of the launch:

And here are the recreations listed via CnEVPost (link).

⚡🔋 On the battery swap topic: CATL, the universe's biggest EV battery maker, launched via its subsidiary CAES a modular battery swap solution called EVOGO. It claims the drivers will be able to change the batteries in one minute. It will start in 10 select cities (press release).


Designed to look like a bar of chocolate, "Choco-SEB (swapping electric block)" is a mass-produced battery specially developed for EV battery-sharing. You'll be able to choose 1-3 packs that hold ~200km range each. The traditional 'charging' will still be possible for the cars. "The battery block can be adapted to 80 percent of the world's models already on the market and those developed on pure electric platforms to be launched in the next three years," CATL claimed.

NIO, the OG in battery swapping in China, commented

"Innovations and business models that benefit the ease of use and ease of travel for EV owners are welcome"

CATL and NIO have been working together through a battery leasing joint venture called Mirattery, but it does seem CATL is going to be a direct competitor to NIO's system here.

🔋 CATL also said, after scrutiny over its capital raises, that it will have a capacity gap of a massive 430 GWh in 2025, based on future capacity demand and its current capacity profile. Scale: in 2021, CATL installed 80.5 GWh worth of batteries into EVs in China dominating the biggest EV market of the world with a 52.1% market share. (link)

🔋 Tesla added Model Y and Model 3 structural battery pack to the latest online manuals in terms of proper use for jacking procedure (link) - likely ahead of Giga Berlin opening and flooding us in Europe with new Model Y.

⚡ Looks like Reilly Brennan's prediction on our last week's newsletter was spot on - EV software companies will get the spotlight this year. This time it's on the charging side:

Just this week, we saw Driivz, the charging network management software with >1M users (like the partnership with EVgo listed on our industry Map or also Enefit Volt that's known for our Estonian readers), being acquired for $200M by Gilbarco Veeder-Root. Volvo also got a nice exit from this deal.

Another software platform for EV charging optimization and connected cars, Smartcar, just raised a $24M Series B led by Energize Ventures (link).

Check out Reilly's thread on the extremes of EV charging monetization - how some EV chargers lose money perpetually while others can pay back in < 3 years and one of Trucks' investments in the space: stable.auto.

🤦‍♂️ An ad in the New York Times stirred up quite a lot of talk in the EV and AV scene, claiming Tesla's FSD Beta would kill millions of people if it were driving every car. (link) I especially like this part: "The Dawn Project has analyzed "many hours of YT videos made by users of FSD".

Dan O'Dowd, the man who placed the ad, is the CEO of Green Hills Software, a supplier company of competing solutions for the 2022 BMW iX. I'll let you draw your conclusions:

Dawn Project


📅 Don't miss it: Tesla's Q4 and 2021 live Earnings call and Q&A takes place next Wednesday, 26th January at 4:30 p.m. Central Time. (link) Probably the most anticipated details we'll hear are regarding the Cybertruck - Elon promised an updated roadmap.

⚡ BP claims that EV charging stations are already almost as profitable as petrol filling (link). BP's charging arm, BP Pulse could be profitable on its own by 2025. Last week I argued Fastned is on the brink of becoming profitable too.

🌎 Tesla’s request for tougher penalties on automakers that fail to meet U.S. fuel economy standards was thrown out by a U.S. appeals court on Thursday. (link)

🚌  Moscow plans to add another 500 e-buses to its already 1k-strong fleet. (link) I'd guess it's the world's 2nd biggest e-bus fleet, next to Shenzen?

🚌 As of September, there were 1,738 Electric School Buses running in the US. Read more from "Zeroing In On Electric School Buses" from CALSTART (pdf). This is a mere 0.36% of the total 480k school buses in the US, but the momentum is building fast.

📚 Here's a good, longer read via Cleantechnica: "5 Ways US States Can Get More Electric School Buses On The Road" (link)

🚌 And to fit our bus topic, here's the first-ever fully African designed and made the electric bus and the first e-bus in Kenya. Built by Opibus:

👷 Caterpillar unveiled an all-electric 26-ton excavator with a giant 300 kWh battery pack (link in Norwegian).


👷 And at the CES, we also saw the new all-electric Bobcat T7X Compact track loader, running on a (surprisingly big) 62kWh battery, which allows for a 4-hour continuous use. (link)


🔋 Benchmark Minerals, a company whose research I rather respect, predicts that most EVs are unlikely to use more powerful solid-state and lithium-metal batteries this decade, as the technology will struggle to compete on costs. (link)

🔋 LG Energy Solution's IPO in South Korea is reportedly highly oversubscribed. (link)

🚛 Nikola Tre semi is now eligible for CARB's HVIP $120k-per-truck incentive for customers operating in California. (link)

Speaking of: the $100k+ HVIP incentive seems to have reportedly tripled the interest in the last three months for the all-electric truck lineup of Kenworth Truck Co (link). 🚛 Also notable - Nikola's Tre BEV and Tre FCEV semis will be powered by Proterra's battery technology. First Proterra Powered semi-trucks will be produced in Q4 2022 (link). In my eyes, this increases Nikola's potential to actually get somewhere - Proterra is a strong and reliable (and I think a bit underrated) player in heavy-duty batteries for trucks and buses.

👀 Watch: The Arrival Van prototype was test-driven by Rory Reid of the Fifth Gear Recharged (video). Shoutout to the Arrival team members reading this - I see you ^^

🌎 I made another Map Drop, adding ~300 elements/connections to the EV industry Map with proper descriptions. Currently available to premium members only at our Map Space. See the description here on how to see all changes and adds of the latest patch highlighted.


Quote of the week


The words of Carlos Tavares, Stellantis CEO:

"What is clear is that electrification is a technology chosen by politicians, not by industry. Given the current European energy mix, an electric car needs to drive 70,000 kilometres to compensate for the carbon footprint of manufacturing the battery and to start catching up with a light hybrid vehicle, which costs half as much as an EV"

Tweet of the week

Mike Levine, Ford's North America Product Communications director (or also known as the guy from Ford who stirs EV stuff up on Twitter a lot), made a not-so-subtle marketing jab, by taking a picture of the F-150 Lightning which just happens to be in front of the Tesla's California HQ (seen on the left):

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