On our latest episode of the Vehicle 2.0 Podcast, we are excited to dive deep into the world of electric vehicles with Loren McDonald, Electric Vehicle Analyst at EVAdoption. While Loren has built up a reputation in marketing and PR, his passion for the last several years has revolved around EVs. That passion fed into a blog that would become EVAdoption.com, serving as an excellent resource for anyone interested where EVs are headed in the near future.
We’re excited to offer a selection of highlights from our interview with Loren below. If you’re interested to hear more, give the episode a listen and subscribe to stay tuned for future episodes!
Loren on his career path and the beginning of EVAdoption
Scot: Let's talk about your career path. What, what got you into this automotive motive space and writing on this topic?
Loren: Yeah! So I'm a complete outsider, if you will, to the automotive and EV worlds. I started my career in marketing and PR way, way back in 1984. So 35 years into my marketing consulting career have been CML marketing executive consultant at a variety of companies over the years - mostly sort of BD2B professional services - but the last sort of 15-20 years in the marketing technology space. And really kind of the last 15 years spent functioning as a marketing evangelists, sort of flying around the world, speaking at conferences, meeting with clients, doing a lot of writing and research and stuff. And ultimately that's kind of the transition to what I'm doing in the electric vehicle space.
About five years ago I started a blog where I was writing about all things green. What I was doing was writing about a bit of everything and sort of the green space. Everything from how to reduce packaging, increase recycling and reduce the use of water - this was back in the days of the drought in California - solar power, and electric vehicles. And what I quickly found was as I couldn't sort of be an expert on all of those topics and I decided to sort of pick electric vehicles and that was the one that I was sort of most intrigued by about. How are we going to sort of solve this problem, right? What is going to drive people to actually want to transition to electric vehicles?
So that sort of started about three years ago, the EVAdoption site and as you mentioned also sort of writing for Clean Technica, etc. And so I really have, you know, taken my career as a sort of a marketer, consultant, strategist, somebody focused on research and data, and have tried to focus on that aspect of it. Solving the problem of “when are consumers going to adopt electric vehicles in a really significant way?” by using data.
Loren on the emerging EV pickup truck space, led by Rivian and Workhorse
Scot: You talked about a pickup trucks and Tesla’s working on one. A lot of people are skeptical of the latter, given they're always announcing things and not delivering on time. But another one that we've been watching closely as Rivian. Do you think they'll get to market first with their pickup truck?
Loren: They probably will. There's another company called Workhorse out of the Midwest that was been working on a pickup truck, but they've been having some financial issues and stuff lately, so it's unclear what's going to happen with them. But yeah, Rivian is a really exciting company; Amazon and some other companies invested a $700 million into them, as well as Ford is now invested in them. So they're at a really sort of exciting company to watch, unlike sort of Tesla and Faraday Future and some of the other sort of EVs startups.
They sort of remained in stealth mode for many, many years. And then finally came out and showed their sort of concept versions of their pickup truck and an SUV, they're actually gorgeous and really sort of amazing looking. They've designed them literally from the ground up as EVs. So there's like spots where you can put golf clubs through the side of the vehicle and add on camping accessories to tap into the battery power. So they're very exciting.
The problem with them is that they're basically $70,000-100,000 pickup trucks. And so while they’re sort of dream pickup trucks, they're not gonna take the Midwest by storm, which is ultimately what what we need, right? So these are going to still be a lot of Silicon Valley and people on the coast who might've purchased a Tesla or similar sort of electric luxury vehicle, now getting excited about being the first one on their block to own a Rivian electric pickup truck that I think is actually going to be amazing. 300 to 400 miles of range and just amazing features.
But I think it's gonna prove that you can build an amazing pickup truck and that'll sort of push some of the other automakers to sort of speed up, but it's only going to take away sales from the very end high like Ford Raptors, right? That are in that sort of $70,000 or $80,000 range. In other words, it's not going to directly compete with that $40,000 kind of Ford F-150 or Chevrolet Silverado or whatever it is.
Loren on federal EV tax credits and when they phase out for automakers
Scot: You’ve talked about costs and for a while there we had a national subsidy. And then I think those have gone away, but there's still some state subsidies. Where are we on subsidies for enticing people to jump into the pond?
Loren: Actually no, the federal electric vehicle tax credit is, or what we sort of commonly refer to it is still available. The way it works is that it's based on each manufacturer and the amount of the federal tax credit varies by IRS, who basically has a formula for it. But if the battery pack is of kind of a certain size, so it can be a plugin hybrid or a full electric, then the maximum tax spread you can get a $7,500. And then the smallest I think is about $1,750.
But once an automaker sells 200,000 electric vehicles, beginning from 2010, it starts kind of a complicated phase out. Not to get too into the weeds, but basically that tax credit phases out over nine quarters and gets cut in half. And Tesla actually, as of today, their tax credit was cut in half twice. So it's down now like 1,350 or something like that. And so this is the last two quarters where you can get any kind of tax credit on Tesla models. General Motors also reached the 200,000 vehicle threshold, but they did it a couple of quarters behind so you could still have several more quarters for their models. Beyond that, there's basically nobody else close. Nissan and Ford are still about 80,000-90,000 vehicles away and they don't have sort of any volume of EVs.
And so the tax credit in essence for the other 30 manufacturers or so is still sort of widely available and will be for many years. I should mention there's a lot of momentum by certain people in oil companies to get rid of that federal tax credit and then by proponents of it to actually extend it and change how it's actually calculated so that there isn't that 200,000 threshold.
As you mentioned, a lot of states actually have either rebates or tax credits. California for example, has one, and a lot of utilities also have them. So like the Pacific Gas and Electric here in California has different ones, but it tends to be about like $500. Many states have tax credits of say $2,500, or $1,000. And then there are also many other sorts of incentives and benefits, such as access to the HOV lane and things like that. So there's still a lot of opportunities to in essence reduce your, your overall cost of that electric vehicle through these various incentives.
We here at Spiffy were thrilled to have Loren as a guest on the Vehicle 2.0 Podcast. It was exciting to dig into several topics revolving around electric vehicles and we hope you enjoyed learning more about the growing market segment.
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