Electric vehicle sales are in kind of a weird spot. Many automakers are doubling back and beginning to favor more transitional hybrids as an interim step, while others are still aiming to go full-tilt into battery-electric tech. General Motors is one of those automakers who believe that this investment into EVs will pay off, and are still all-in—even if it's a tough year to be doing that. 

Welcome back to Critical Materials, your daily roundup for EV and automotive tech. Today, we're talking about GM's push to "flood the zone" with EVs, Airbnb's quest for more EV chargers, and BYD's European entry making Ford nervous. Let's jump in.

30%: GM's Plan To Win EVs: Flood The Zone

2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV RS

GM's blue-collar brand, Chevrolet, plans to win the EV race to the top by taking the anti-Apple approach and flooding the market with something they believe buyers will love: options. The approach is called flooding the zone, which essentially means that GM plans to offer many different vehicles and configurations to potential buyers in hopes of creating something that will inspire EV purchases as sales plateau.

GM is notorious for this approach—not only does it slot in different models at different price points in its Chevrolet marque, but it also tiers in similarly architected models across its other brands like GMC, Buick, and Cadillac. While this has earned GM a reputation of building parts-bin cars, it has also enabled the automaker to flood the zone and become the third largest automaker in the U.S. by catering to consumers' needs.

Chevrolet's Chief Marketing Officer, Steve Majoros, says that the company's approach "actually benefits Chevrolet" instead of hurting its chances.

"We're talking to a lot of first-time EV buyers with the Blazer EV, and a lot of them are dealership employees," Majoros told Business Insider. "They get the first look at these cars, they test drive them and realize, 'This thing's pretty damn good.'"

Now, sure, GM hasn't exactly had the best kick-off to EVs with its Ultium platform. I mean, just look at the mess that happened when our man Kevin Williams got stranded in a Chevrolet Blazer EV last year. But that doesn't mean GM is stuck with bad tech—only a mediocre launch.

Today, GM has committed to building at least nine consumer-facing EVs (Chevrolet has the Blazer, Equinox, and Silverado; GMC has the Hummer EV, Hummer EV SUT, and Sierra EV; and Cadillac has the Lyriq, the Escalade IQ, as well as the uber-expensive Celestiq) and two commercial EVs.

You will read our first drive review of the Silverado EV RST later today, and the Equinox EV next week.

60%: Airbnb Wants More Guests To Plug-In

Lucid Air charging at home charger

Airbnb is seeing a surge of guests looking to charge up their cars while on vacation.

The online housing rental platform says that searches for homes with EV chargers rose 80% year-over-year from 2022 to 2023, indicating that their customers are looking to find somewhere to charge their cars while on-the-go.

Homes with EV chargers have also netted Airbnb (and their hosts) more money. The company says that listings with on-site chargers are often booked longer than homes without chargers.

Here's what Airbnb has to say about how popular chargers have become on its platform:

Listings that offer an EV charger are booked for more nights and generate more income, on average compared to listings without an EV charger, according to internal Airbnb data.

This partnership comes at a time where guests are increasingly seeking access to convenient EV chargers, with California, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Washington and North Carolina ranking as the most popular states for these searches in 2023. This data reflects larger trends around the EV market in the US. From 2022 to 2023, EV sales in the US increased 60% year over year, with California, Florida, Texas and Washington leading the nation with the highest number of EV registrations.

Naturally, this means that Airbnb wants to encourage more hosts to install chargers at their rentals. In fact, the platform says that it's teaming up with ChargePoint to launch a new program in the U.S. and three other countries which will incentivize hosts to install chargers for guests, offering a $200 credit to the first 1,000 hosts to buy a charger. The program also offers up to 36% off of ChargePoint EV chargers and $100 off installation services.

As for guests with EVs, this is a win—so as long as the chargers are maintained. An EV charger is one of the first things I look for when booking an Airbnb, but I have run into instances where the chargers simply aren't functioning or are locked by the host to specific vehicles.

But the idea here for Airbnb is simple: if hotels aren't installing destination chargers quickly enough, maybe the rental marketplace can entice more bookings by customers by encouraging their hosts to. And more bookings mean more money.

90%: Ford Is "Nervous" About Future Of Cheap EVs As BYD Seagull's EU Launch Imminent

BYD Seagull - Shanghai Salon

Chinese EV manufacturer BYD is becoming a rising star around the world for its rather affordable electric cars. In fact, the OEM's lineup has packed in so much bang-for-the-buck that it's effectively put every other automaker on notice—and it's got some of them pretty worried.

When BYD announced the Seagull, it knew it had a hit on its hands. The ultra-cheap EV was its answer to the biggest problem plaguing the shift to electrification: the price. So when it announced that it would bring the car to Europe in 2025 at less than $21,500, it began to draw the attention from young consumers and a bit of worry from companies like Ford.

"We are looking very closely at this model and others coming from Chinese EV makers," said Martin Sander, general manager of Ford's European EV business, in a statement to Bloomberg. "Of course, we are nervous when new competition is coming to the market."

The Seagull is already on sale in China where it starts at around half the price that it's planned to cost in Europe. The $10,000 hatch is also available in Mexico, albeit rebranded as the Dolphin Mini. The Mini starts at $19,780 with 190 miles of range and can be specced with 252 miles of range for just a few thousand dollars more. Plus, it's not subject to import tariffs in Mexico.

That being said, the U.S. is doing everything in its power to keep cheaper Chinese EVs out of the U.S. In its most recent protectionist blow, the Biden administration pledged to quadruple import tariffs on Chinese EVs and components beginning on August 1.

It's not clear how much BYD's cheap commuter would cost stateside, though if the price of the car in Mexico or Europe is any indication, tariffs could raise the price to somewhere around what a BMW 3 Series starts at. Needless to say, that likely wouldn't sell nearly as well as it does in its home market.

100%: Does A Destination Charger Affect Your Travel Plans?

Tesla destination charging

When I travel for work or vacation, I often find myself seeking out hotels with a destination charger. When I find one, I'll book the hotel just for peace of mind to know that I'll be able to leave with full charge just like home.

Except it rarely works that way. Often, I'll arrive and find no chargers open, or the chargers out of order. This kind of defeats paying a premium for a hotel equipped with destination chargers when I could pay just as much (or less) to DC fast charge along my route. The same goes for an Airbnb—the few times I've booked one with a destination charger have never really worked out in my favor.

So, that brings me to my question: does the inclusion or lack-of destination charging affect your plans for vacation or work travel? Let me know in the comments.

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