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Cash is king for EV makers as soaring battery prices drive up vehicle production costs



Production of electric Rivian R1T pickup trucks on April 11, 2022 at the company’s plant in Normal, Ill.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

In the transition from gas-powered vehicles to electric, the fuel every automaker is after these days is cold hard cash.

Established automakers and startups alike are rolling out new battery-powered models in an effort to meet growing demand. Ramping up production of a new model was already a fraught and expensive process, but rising material costs and tricky regulations for federal incentives are squeezing coffers even further.

Prices of the raw materials used in many electric-vehicle batteries — lithium, nickel and cobalt — have soared over the last two years as demand has skyrocketed, and it may be several years before miners are able to meaningfully increase supply.

Complicating the situation further, new U.S. rules governing EV buyer incentives will require automakers to source more of those materials in North America over time if they want their vehicles to qualify.

The result: new cost pressures for what was already an expensive process.

Automakers routinely spend hundreds of millions of dollars designing and installing tooling to build new high-volume vehicles — before a single new car is shipped. Nearly all global automakers now maintain hefty cash reserves of $20 billion or more. Those reserves exist to ensure that the companies can continue work on their next new models if and when a recession (or a pandemic) takes a bite out of their sales and profits for a few quarters.

All that money and time can be a risky bet: If the new model doesn’t resonate with customers, or if manufacturing problems delay its introduction or compromise quality, the automaker might not make enough to cover what it spent.

For newer automakers, the financial risks to designing a new electric vehicle can be existential.

Take Tesla. When the automaker began preparations to launch its Model 3, CEO Elon Musk and his team planned a highly automated production line for the Model 3, with robots and specialized machines that reportedly cost well over a billion dollars. But some of that automation didn’t work as expected, and Tesla moved some final-assembly tasks to a tent outside its factory.

Tesla learned a lot of expensive lessons in the process. Musk said later called the experience of launching the Model 3 “production hell” and said it nearly brought Tesla to the brink of bankruptcy.

As newer EV startups ramp up production, more investors are learning that taking a car from design to production is capital-intensive. And in the current environment, where deflated stock prices and rising interest rates have made it harder to raise money than it was just a year or two ago, EV startups’ cash balances are getting close attention from Wall Street.

Here’s where some of the most prominent American EV startups of the last few years stand when it comes to cash on hand:


Production of electric Rivian R1T pickup trucks on April 11, 2022 at the company’s plant in Normal, Ill.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

Rivian is by far the best-positioned of the new EV startups, with over $15 billion on hand as of the end of June. That should be enough to fund the company’s operations and expansion through the planned launch of its smaller “R2” vehicle platform in 2025, CFO Claire McDonough said during the company’s earnings call on Aug. 11.

Rivian has struggled to ramp up production of its R1-series pickup and SUV amid supply chain snags and early manufacturing challenges. The company burned about $1.5 billion in the second quarter, but it also said it plans to reduce its near-term capital expenditures to about $2 billion this year from $2.5 billion in its earlier plan to ensure it can meet its longer-term goals.

At least one analyst thinks Rivian will need to raise cash well before 2025: In a note following Rivian’s earnings report, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said that his bank’s model assumes Rivian will raise $3 billion via a secondary stock offering before the end of next year and another $3 billion via additional raises in 2024 and 2025.

Jonas currently has an “overweight” rating on Rivian’s stock, with a $60 price target. Rivian ended trading Friday at roughly $32 per share.


People test drive Dream Edition P and Dream Edition R electric vehicles at the Lucid Motors plant in Casa Grande, Arizona, September 28, 2021.

Caitlin O’Hara | Reuters

Luxury EV maker Lucid Group doesn’t have quite as much cash in reserve as Rivian, but it’s not badly positioned. It ended the second quarter with $4.6 billion in cash, down from $5.4 billion at the end of March. That’s enough to last “well into 2023,” CFO Sherry House said earlier this month.

Like Rivian, Lucid has struggled to ramp up production since launching its Air luxury sedan last fall. It’s planning big capital expenditures to expand its Arizona factory and build a second plant in Saudi Arabia. But unlike Rivian, Lucid has a deep-pocketed patron — Saudi Arabia’s public wealth fund, which owns about 61% of the California-based EV maker and would almost certainly step in to help if the company runs short of cash.

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

For the most part, Wall Street analysts were unconcerned about Lucid’s second-quarter cash burn. Bank of America’s John Murphy wrote that Lucid still has “runway into 2023, especially considering the company’s recently secured revolver [$1 billion credit line] and incremental funding from various entities in Saudi Arabia earlier this year.”

Murphy has a “buy” rating on Lucid’s stock and a price target of $30. He’s compared the startup’s potential future profitability to that of luxury sports-car maker Ferrari. Lucid currently trades for about $16 per share.


People gather and take pictures after the Fisker Ocean all-electric SUV was revealed at Manhattan Beach Pier on November 16, 2021 in Manhattan Beach, California.

Mario Tama | Getty Images

Unlike Rivian and Lucid, Fisker isn’t planning to build its own factory to construct its electric vehicles. Instead, the company founded by former Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker will use contract manufacturers — global auto-industry supplier Magna International and Taiwan’s Foxconn — to build its cars.

That represents something of a cash tradeoff: Fisker won’t have to spend nearly as much money up front to get its upcoming Ocean SUV into production, but it will almost certainly give up some profit to pay the manufacturers later on. 

Production of the Ocean is scheduled to begin in November at an Austrian factory owned by Magna. Fisker will have considerable expenses in the interim — money for prototypes and final engineering, as well as payments to Magna — but with $852 million on hand at the end of June, it should have no trouble covering those costs.

RBC analyst Joseph Spak said following Fisker’s second-quarter report that the company will likely need more cash, despite its contract-manufacturing model — what he estimated to be about $1.25 billion over “the coming years.”

Spak has an “outperform” rating on Fisker’s stock and a price target of $13. The stock closed Friday at $9 per share.


Nikola Motor Company

Source: Nikola Motor Company

Nikola was one of the first EV makers to go public via a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. The company has begun shipping its battery-electric Tre semitruck in small numbers, and plans to ramp up production and add a long-range hydrogen fuel-cell version of the Tre in 2023.

But as of right now, it probably doesn’t have the cash to get there. The company has had a tougher time raising funds, following allegations from a short-seller, a stock price plunge and the ouster of its outspoken founder Trevor Milton, who is now facing federal fraud charges for statements made to investors.

Nikola had $529 million on hand as of the end of June, plus another $312 million available via an equity line from Tumim Stone Capital. That’s enough, CFO Kim Brady said during Nikola’s second-quarter earnings call, to fund operations for another 12 months — but more money will be needed before long.

“Given our target of keeping 12 months of liquidity on hand at the end of each quarter, we will continue to seek the right opportunities to replenish our liquidity on an ongoing basis while trying to minimize dilution to our shareholders,” Brady said. “We are carefully considering how we can potentially spend less without compromising our critical programs and reduce cash requirements for 2023.”

Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner estimates Nikola will need to raise between $550 million and $650 million before the end of the year, and more later on. He has a “hold” rating on Nikola with a price target of $8. The stock trades for $6 as of Friday’s close.


Lordstown Motors gave rides in prototypes of its upcoming electric Endurance pickup truck on June 21, 2021 as part of its “Lordstown Week” event.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

Lordstown Motors is in perhaps the most precarious position of the lot, with just $236 million on hand as of the end of June.

Like Nikola, Lordstown saw its stock price collapse after its founder was forced out following a short-seller’s allegations of fraud. The company shifted away from a factory model to a contract-manufacturing arrangement like Fisker’s, and it completed a deal in May to sell its Ohio factory, a former General Motors plant, to Foxconn for a total of about $258 million.

Foxconn plans to use the factory to manufacture EVs for other companies, including Lordstown’s Endurance pickup and an upcoming small Fisker EV called the Pear.

Despite the considerable challenges ahead for Lordstown, Deutsche Bank’s Rosner still has a “hold” rating on the stock. But he’s not sanguine. He thinks the company will need to raise $50 million to $75 million to fund operations through the end of this year, despite its decision to limit the first production batch of the Endurance to just 500 units.

“More importantly, to complete the production of this first batch, management will have to raise more substantial capital in 2023,” Rosner wrote after Lordstown’s second-quarter earnings report. And given the company’s difficulties to date, that won’t be easy.

“Lordstown would have to demonstrate considerable traction and positive reception for the Endurance with its initial customers in order to raise capital,” he wrote.

Rosner rates Lordstown’s stock a “hold” with a price target of $2. The stock closed Friday at $2.06.

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From Cartel to Evangelist: The Inspiring Journey of Juan Reyes, Puerto Rico’s Entrepreneur and Author



Juan Reyes

In the realm of entrepreneurship, few stories are as captivating and inspiring as that of Juan Reyes, a self-made entrepreneur and author hailing from Juncos, Puerto Rico. Despite being born into a low-income family, Reyes defied the odds and carved his path to success through sheer determination, hard work, and an unwavering commitment to his goals. From establishing thriving businesses to becoming a renowned author, Reyes’s journey exemplifies the transformative power of entrepreneurship and the indomitable spirit of an individual driven by faith and dedication.

A Journey Born out of Necessity

Growing up in Juncos, Puerto Rico, Juan Reyes faced significant challenges stemming from his family’s financial limitations. To support himself and contribute to his family’s well-being, Reyes began working from a young age. However, he never allowed his circumstances to dampen his dreams or extinguish his ambition. Determined to change his destiny, Reyes embarked on a path that would not only uplift his own life but also inspire countless others.

A Multifaceted Entrepreneur

Reyes’s entrepreneurial acumen led him to establish several successful ventures that have made a profound impact. Among his notable accomplishments are King of Credit Repair LLC, KCL Clothing Inc, and Shalom Renovation LLC. These enterprises not only generated substantial revenue but also provided employment opportunities for others. Reyes’s astute understanding of business markets, coupled with his expertise in real estate, notary services, modeling, and preaching, contributed to his ability to transform businesses from scratch into multi-million dollar ventures.

Authorship and Beyond 

In addition to his entrepreneurial pursuits, Juan Reyes is also a respected author. His debut book, “From the Cartel to the Evangelist,” has garnered significant attention and acclaim. This captivating literary work chronicles Reyes’s personal journey, from overcoming adversity to finding redemption and purpose through his faith. The book serves as a testament to Reyes’s resilience and unwavering determination, inspiring readers to believe in their own potential and navigate their own paths to success.

From Cartel to Evangelist

Sponsored by Christian Faith Publishing

Reyes’s literary endeavors have received a significant boost through the sponsorship of Christian Faith Publishing. This collaboration has allowed Reyes to reach a wider audience with his powerful message of transformation, faith, and the pursuit of entrepreneurship. The partnership between Reyes and Christian Faith Publishing (visit the website here) has opened doors for him to inspire and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals seeking personal growth.

Empowering Others

Recognizing the significance of his own journey, Juan Reyes has made it his mission to give back to society and uplift others. Through speaking engagements and mentoring programs, Reyes shares his knowledge, unique ideas, and experiences with business leaders and young individuals alike. His teachings have become a beacon of hope for those who have faced similar challenges and made similar mistakes, demonstrating that even a fallen business can rise to great heights.

The Pride of Juncos, Puerto Rico

Juan Reyes remains deeply connected to his roots in Juncos, Puerto Rico. His success story has not only become a source of pride for the local community but also an inspiration for the youth in the neighborhood. Reyes’s achievements serve as a testament to the transformative power of entrepreneurship, instilling hope and motivating aspiring entrepreneurs to strive for greatness despite their circumstances.


Juan Reyes’s journey from a humble upbringing in Juncos, Puerto Rico, to becoming a renowned entrepreneur and author is a testament to the triumph of resilience, determination, and faith. Through his businesses, writing, and mentorship, Reyes exemplifies the boundless potential that lies within every individual. He reminds us that with unwavering dedication and a strong belief in oneself, anyone can rise above adversity and create a life of purpose and success. Juan Reyes is an inspiration, not only to entrepreneurs but to all those who dare to dream big and overcome the odds.

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Disney CEO Bob Iger rips Ron DeSantis over ‘anti-Florida’ retaliation



Bob Iger, CEO, Disney, during CNBC interview, Feb. 9, 2023.

Randy Shropshire | CNBC

Bob Iger on Monday called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ actions against The Walt Disney Co. retaliatory, “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.”

The feud between DeSantis and the company escalated earlier Monday, when the governor asked the state’s inspector general to determine whether the House of Mouse’s sly move to retain control over the outer limits of Orange and Osceola counties is legal – and whether any of the company’s executives were involved in the scheme.

During the company’s annual shareholder meeting Monday, Disney CEO Iger addressed investor inquiries about the ongoing dispute between the company and Florida legislators. He noted that Disney has more than 75,000 employees in the state, and has created thousands of indirect jobs, as well as brings around 50 million visitors to Florida every year and is the state’s largest taxpayer

“A year ago, the company took a position on pending Florida legislation,” Iger said, apparently referring to what critics called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. “And while the company may have not handled the position that it took very well, a company has a right to freedom of speech just like individuals do.”

He added: “The governor got very angry about the position Disney took and seems like he’s decided to retaliate against us, including the naming of a new board to oversee the property and the business. In effect, to seek to punish a company for its exercise of a constitutional right. And that just seems really wrong to me.”

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Iger said Disney plans to spend more than $17 billion in investments at Walt Disney World over the next decade, which would create around 13,000 jobs at the company and generate even more taxes for Florida.

“Our point on this is that any action that supports those efforts simply to retaliate for a position the company took sounds not just anti-business, but it sounds anti-Florida,” he said. “And I’ll just leave it at that.”

Last week, DeSantis’ newly appointed board of the Reedy Creek district, now named the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, revealed that the previous Disney-allied board signed a long-lasting agreement that drastically limits the control that can be exercised over the company and its district.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during ‘The Florida Blueprint’ event on Long Island, New York, United States on April 1, 2023. Ron DeSantis made comments on the Grand Jury’s indictment of Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States in Manhattan, New York. 

Kyle Mazza | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The agreement was signed on Feb. 8, the day before the Florida House voted to put DeSantis in charge. DeSantis replaced all of the Disney-allied board members with five Republicans on Feb. 27. It was only then that Disney’s new binding agreement was discovered.

The agreement includes a clause that dates back to 1692 in Britain. The “Declaration shall continue in effect until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England, living as of the date of this declaration,” the document said.

The governor’s letter calls the board’s agreement an attempt to “usurp the authority of the CFTOD board” and “nullify the recently passed legislation, undercut Florida’s legislative process, and defy the will of Floridians.”

He said at the agreement also has “legal infirmities” including inadequate notice, improper delegation of authority and ethical violations.

Disney, however, has said that all of the board’s maneuvers were completely legal — the agreement was discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums, in compliance with Florida’s Sunshine law.

The development in DeSantis’ conflict with Disney marks just the latest move in one of several partisan battles being waged by the Republican governor.

DeSantis is widely believed to be laying the groundwork to launch a 2024 presidential campaign. That move is expected to come not long after the current Florida legislative session ends in early May. Polls show that DeSantis is the most competitive of the potential opponents for former President Donald Trump in a GOP primary.

The Florida governor took aim at Disney after the company publicly balked at Florida’s HB 1557 law early last year. HB 1557, which critics called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, limits early education teachings on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Republican state Rep. Randy Fine told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” last April that the bill dissolving Reedy Creek wasn’t retaliatory, but then said “when Disney kicked the hornet’s nest, we looked at special districts.”

Until recently, there had been no major public discussion about dissolving Disney’s long-established special district, which it’s occupied for 55 years, leading DeSantis’ critics to question its timing and the speed at which the governor acted against the company.

The fight between DeSantis and Disney shows no signs of slowing down. During a book tour stop in Georgia last week, DeSantis told attendees “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

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WWE near deal to be sold to UFC parent Endeavor, sources say



World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Chairman Vince McMahon appears in the ring during the WWE Monday Night Raw show at the Thomas & Mack Center August 24, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ethan Miller | Getty Images

Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment is in advanced talks to be sold to Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor Group, the parent company of UFC, according to people familiar with the matter.

A deal could be announced as soon as Monday. UFC and WWE are expected to form a new publicly traded company as part of the agreement, according to the people, who declined to be named due to the confidential nature of the discussions.

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Endeavor is slated to own 51% of the new combat sports and entertainment company, while WWE shareholders would get 49%, according to the people. The Endeavor deal gives WWE an enterprise value of $9.3 billion, they said.

Emanuel is expected to act as chief executive of both Endeavor and the new company. McMahon, likewise, is expected to be executive chairman, while Endeavor President Mark Shapiro will also work in the same role at the new company. Dana White will remain as president of UFC, while WWE CEO Nick Khan will serve as president of the wrestling business.

The development comes during the same weekend WWE hosts its flagship live event, WrestleMania, in California. The company has spent the past several months looking for a buyer. McMahon returned to the company as chairman in January to oversee the process. Shares of WWE are up more than 33% so far this year, giving it a market value of more than $6.79 billion.

The deal will effectively end WWE’s decades-old status as a family-run business. McMahon’s father founded WWE in its original incarnation during the middle of the 20th century, and McMahon is the controlling shareholder in the company. McMahon bought the company from his father in 1982. Since then, the company has grown into a global phenomenon, spawing stars suck as Hulk Hogan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dave Bautista and John Cena.

McMahon, 77, retired from the company in July following a string of revelations that he paid several women millions of dollars over the years to keep them quiet about alleged affairs and misconduct. His daughter, Stephanie McMahon, became co-CEO alongside Khan. Paul Levesque, who’s both Stephanie McMahon’s husband and the wrestler known as Triple H, took over creative duties from Vince McMahon.

When Vince McMahon came back in January, Stephanie McMahon stepped down and Khan fully assumed the CEO role. The elder McMahon recently locked in a two-year employment contract, according to a securities filing.

Khan in recent weeks has been making the media rounds to discuss the potential sale. He told CNBC’s Morgan Brennan on Thursday that it’s been a robust sale process, drawing many interested buyers.

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WWE brings with it a robust media and live events business, along with its decades worth of intellectual property. The company generated $1.29 billion in revenue last year, driven mainly by its $1 billion media unit.

UFC has paid off for Endeavor. Last year, the MMA league helped Endeavor’s sports business make $1.3 billion in revenue. Endeavor’s market cap stood at about $10.53 billion as of Friday’s close. The Endeavor-WWE deal values UFC at more than $12 billion.

WWE, at least at a glance, would also fit well with the cultures at Endeavor and UFC. McMahon has a brash public persona, making him an apparently good match for Emanuel and White, who are also known for their outsized personalities.

White, like McMahon, is no stranger to scandal, either. Earlier this year, video emerged showing the UFC boss slapping his wife during a public argument at a New Year’s Eve party in Mexico. White apologized.

Disclosure: Peacock, the streaming service owned by CNBC parent NBCUniversal, carries WWE events such as WrestleMania.

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