By last year, the world was supposed to have three-wheeled electric cars powered by roof-mounted solar panels. Cities were to see electric buses flooded with natural light and padded by soothing grays reminiscent of a luxury Manhattan apartment. Commercial deliveries would zip across the nation in matte electric vans, carrying more stuff for less money.
EV startups, the subject of seemingly limitless industry buzz, raised millions of dollars from investors and would-be customers who were told that an electric future was just around the corner.
Instead, many of the stewards of that future are struggling to pay their bills. They are contending with higher costs, government probes, lawsuits, C-suite turnover and investor burnout in a high-interest-rate environment. For many, the EV startup boom is turning into a bummer.
"There's definitely a sense of fatigue," said Jeff Osborne, a senior analyst focused on the sustainability and mobility technology sectors at TD Cowen, an American investment bank owned by Canada's Toronto-Dominion Bank. "These stocks, putting it bluntly, are dramatically out of favor. It's very unclear who's going to win."