EV Notes: Ford Cuts Lightning Production, Rivian Inks Telecom Partnership

Dec. 20, 2023
Also: A high-level executive departs Lucid while Blue Bird posts record numbers.

Although the year may be winding down, news in the EV space continues to flow. In case you missed it, here’s a rundown of some news from the past few weeks.

Lucid Group Inc. announced the departure of CFO Sherry House to pursue other opportunities. However, she is remaining at the company through Dec. 31 in an advisory role to assist with the transition. Gagan Dhingra, an accounting VP at Lucid, will serve as interim CFO and Principal Financial Officer during the search for a replacement.

I am confident in Lucids future and grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute to its success to-date, said House. There is so much exciting innovation happening at Lucid, and I look forward to watching the company continue to grow and achieve new milestones. It was an honor to work with Peter and the Lucid team.

House has been with Lucid since 2021 and helped the EV startup go public that same year. Prior to her time at Lucid, she served in a variety of corporate development and finance positions, including Waymo and Deloitte.

 On the electric truck side of things, Ford Motor Co. executives have told suppliers for its F-150 Lightning that, beginning in January, output will be halved at its Rouge EV plant in Dearborn, Michigan. The company had been targeting an annual production of 150,000 at the facility for 2024, which would have it assembling roughly 3,200 vehicles per week, but now that number will be closer to 1,600.

Ford said in a statement that the reduction was to [match] production to customer demand and it points to a trend for the company over the past quarter in regards to EVs: Executives idled one of three shifts at the Rouge plant in October, affecting roughly 700 jobs, and pushed back $12 billion of investments, including by reducing production of the Mustang Mach-E and halting work at one of the battery plants it planned to open with SK On.

In contrast, electric pick-up truck maker Rivian Automotive Inc. continues its recent string of positive headlines through a partnership with AT&T. The telecom giant announced a new pilot program to cut transport emissions as well as costs by switching its fleet over to EVs, starting with Rivian’s commercial electric delivery vans (EDVs) and R1 vehicles. Rivian previously only provided the EDVs to Amazon through an exclusivity deal but executives recently announced the exclusivity element of that agreement had come to an end. AT&T is the first customer since that announcement, although the company said it had a lot of interest and demand in the vans. 

While AT&T’s first Rivian vehicles are expected to start appearing in the road in 2024, neither company offered much more clarity on the specifics of the program, such as how many would be used or any financial details. In addition to the fleet collaboration, Rivian will also use AT&T as its exclusive provider for vehicle connectivity in North America.

Around a quarter of CO2 emitted in the transportation sector in the U.S. comes from commercial vans, so it’s imperative we do all we can as soon as possible to help cut emissions [...] We’re very much looking forward to expanding our relationship with AT&T to help them achieve their climate goals,said Dagan Mishoulam, Rivian’s strategy and fleet VP.

School bus manufacturer Blue Bird Corp. surpassed analysts’ expectations with a record fourth quarter that saw the company generate $303 million in revenue and sell more than 2,000 units. Both adjusted EBITDA for the quarter ($41 million) and full year ($88 million) were the best numbers the company had posted to date.

Executives also raised their guidance for Blue Bird’s 2024 fiscal year.

Our business transformation is already generating record levels of profitability compared with historical levels, and more improvements are still to come,” said Razvan Radulescu, Blue Bird’s CFO. With the strong finish to 2023 and better line-of-sight into 2024, we are raising our fiscal 2024 guidance to net revenue to $1.15-1.25 billion, adj. EBITDA of $105-125 million and adj. free cash flow of $50-60 million. Additionally, we are reconfirming our long-term outlook of profitable growth towards ~$2 billion in revenues and adjusted EBITDA margins of 12%+.

The earnings news came hot on the heels of the company establishing a joint venture named Clean Bus Solutions with Generate Capital, a sustainable investment and operating company. The goal of the venture is to make it easier for school districts to upgrade to advanced electric vehicles through fleet electrification-as-a-service. A range of Blue Bird’s electric school buses and charging infrastructure will be available for a monthly fee as a turnkey electrification solution.

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