Rivian's EV registrations rise as startups Lucid, VinFast stall

Vietnamese automaker VinFast added 19 new registrations in July for its imported VF 8 two-row crossover, bringing the January to July total to 170. Early this year, VinFast said it had imported about 2,000 units of the crossover to California ports from Vietnam. The first shipment arrived in December 2022.

But according to Experian data, the VF 8 had one new registration in February, 16 in March, 66 in April, 45 in May, 23 in June and 19 in July.

VinFast began trading on the Nasdaq exchange in August through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, and saw its stock price surge in the subsequent days and weeks.

The young automaker, which only started making internal combustion vehicles in 2019, has aggressively pursued global expansion plans that include building an assembly plant and battery factory in North Carolina to produce three models starting in 2025. In the meantime, it plans to import the three-row VF 9 crossover this year and the compact VF 7 next year.

Another young automaker, Fisker Automotive, had 30 new registrations for its Ocean midsize crossover in July for a total of 37 in the January to July period, Experian said. Fisker delivered its first Ocean vehicles in the U.S. in June.

Fisker this month said that more than 450 Oceans in the U.S. had been either delivered to customers or were in the process of being delivered, Reuters reported. The crossovers are manufactured in Austria by the vehicle assembly arm of Canadian automotive supplier Magna International.

Fisker ranked last of the 26 EV brands on the Experian new registration list for July due to its recent appearance in the U.S. market. The startup has plans to sell a midsize pickup based on the Ocean, as well as a smaller crossover in the U.S. by mid-2025.

For the rest of this year, Brauer of iSeeCars sees tough times for the startups as EV adoption is still in the early phases.

“I see far more forces pushing against electric vehicles sales than for them in the near term,” said Brauer, citing higher interest rates and increasingly strict rules for automakers to qualify for the $7,500 federal tax incentive that has helped spur EV sales. “Gas prices have climbed in the past month, which helps EVs a bit, but it really takes dramatic swings in the price of fuel before people start running toward electric alternatives.”

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