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To GOEV, or Not to Go EV (Hunter Field Editor’s Note)

Hunter Field Editor's Note
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Institutions and media outlets across the state — this one included — have been treating Canoo like an Arkansas company ever since it announced three years ago that it was moving its headquarters to Arkansas.

The electric vehicle manufacturer made the announcement with substantial fanfare, touting hopes of a close partnership with Walmart, and entered into a $17.1 million lease agreement at a Bentonville warehouse.

But, as Assistant Editor Kyle Massey revealed recently, Canoo never moved in and appears to have dropped any plans to become an Arkansas company.

That’s too bad for Canoo, and it’s too bad for the state.

But it isn’t surprising. No, Canoo’s arc as a company is fairly representative of the broader EV sector.

Canoo’s technology is very cool and would solve a variety of problems. Unfortunately, the infrastructure and logistics just aren’t there yet, and the company hasn’t been able to ramp up production.

All of this has had Canoo’s stock (GOEV) in free fall since 2021 when it was trading at more than $280 a share. In March, shares bottomed out at 21 cents before a 1-for-23 reverse stock split to stay above the Nasdaq exchange’s $1-per-share minimum.

While not as severely, other pure-play EV stocks have been trending the wrong direction in 2023 and 2024, including Tesla.

There are a lot of reasons for this, ranging from a volatile regulatory environment to poor charging infrastructure and an uneasy consumer base.

The value proposition of EVs can also be confusing:

EVs are much better for the environment, but mining for the materials needed in batteries creates substantial pollution.

EVs will stabilize the grid, some say, while others worry EVs could harm the grid.

These are all nuanced issues, of course, that all depend on how, and if, EVs reach scaled adoption.

There is a tendency by those enthusiastic about the future of EVs to dismiss those who have concerns about the future and wide acceptance.

I would love to start driving a Tesla and avoid the weekly wringing at the pump. Unfortunately, there’s not a cost-effective option for someone like me who has a lengthy commute and needs the ability to pull trailers and assist with other farm work. I am confident that technology will advance and that sooner rather than later there will be viable options.

I see less of an EV future for the commercial transportation industry, which has legitimate doubts about the practicality and costs of shifting to electric-powered tractor-trailers, as our Assistant Editor Marty Cook documented earlier this month. But again, perhaps innovation will breed a solution.

We should hope it does because there are indisputable advantages to a future with more EVs.

Email Hunter Field, editor of Arkansas Business at hfield@abpg.com
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