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Electric Vehicle Checkpoint: Tesla Will Raise Price of Self-Driving Feature

See the latest news for the top stocks in the electric vehicle space including Ford, Rivian, Lucid, Nio, and more.

Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report and General Motors  (GM) - Get General Motors Company Report recently grabbed the headlines for their self-driving options, but both manufacturers still insist that a human driver must remain alert and supervise the system in case they need to take back control suddenly.

GM describes its Ultra Cruise feature as a "door-to-door" hands-free driving system that will allow users to keep their hands off the wheel in 95% of all traffic situations. It will function on most roads, including city streets, subdivision streets, and paved rural roads in addition to highways, without the need for pre-mapping. 

Tesla's FSD beta is a system of driving assistance features, like automatically changing lanes and making turns. The software does not make Tesla vehicles fully autonomous. Elon Musk himself said during a 2019 earnings call that Teslas with FSD are "able to drive from one’s house to work, most likely without interventions. So it will still be supervised, but it will be able to drive." 

Over on Real Money, contributor Stephen "Sarge" Guilfoyle calls Ford's moves to have the capacity to produce 600,000 battery EVs a year "electrifying." Read more of his investing ideas and his EV trading strategies. 

It has sophisticated features like “smart summon” which lets drivers call their car from a parking spot to come pick them up, using their smartphone and the Tesla app like a remote control.

The FSD software has drawn a fair amount of scrutiny and criticism. The California Department of Motor Vehicles and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are investigating different aspects of Tesla’s FSD development and technology.

FSD also has a Beta tier, which includes even more advanced features.

Telsa's CEO Elon Musk this past week tweeted that the electric vehicle maker plans to raise the price of its Full Self-Driving autopilot option to $12,000 on Jan. 17.

In a series of tweets, Musk wrote: "FSD price will rise as we get closer to FSD production code release. Just in the US. Tesla FSD price rising to $12K on Jan 17."

The Full Self-Driving option for Tesla EVs is currently priced at $10,000. The company last raised the price of FSD in November 2020 from $8,000 to $10,000.

The EV company rolled out its most recent 10.8 beta software for the FSD feature on Dec. 23 to certain Tesla owners. Musk tweeted that an updated 10.9 version of the software should be ready in about a week.

Elon Musk Built A Tunnel Under Las Vegas

Musk built a tunnel under Las Vegas with The Boring Co., which might change transportation and end traffic. He envisions taking traffic off the streets of America's crowded cities and moving it underground or in the air, although Boring Co. hasn't shared any flying car solutions yet. 

The LVCC Loop system — a three-station transportation system consisting of 1.7 miles of tunnel — was built in approximately one year (using the now-legacy Godot Tunnel Boring Machine). LVCC Loop's cost was approximately $47M (firm-fixed pricing) for the two tunnels and three stations (two surfaces and one subsurface).

Musk might be trolling all of us or maybe he's unable to tell his good ideas from his bad ones. Either way, he's a visionary who's also a bit of a prankster and his Boring Co. seems to straddle that line.

Tesla shares were tabbed as a 'top pick' for 2022 by Goldman analyst Mark Delaney following the clean-energy carmaker's record fourth quarter deliveries earlier this month.

Delaney raised his price target on Tesla to $1,200 per share, from a previous peg of $1,125, citing "robust Q4 deliveries" that he sees as a signal for further unit growth this year and next. He also noted the group's vertical integration of hardware and software, alongside its ecosystem of charging stations, as well as its growth potential in solar and storage.

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Related: Why Batteries Are a Lynchpin In the Energy Transition

Here are the top electric vehicle stocks to watch this week:

Tesla

The electric vehicle corporate shuffle hit Tesla Tuesday as the company's Valerie Capers Workman, head of human resources and one of its highest-ranking black employees, left the company. The timing of Workman's departure comes at a time when Tesla has faced multiple high-profile lawsuits of its treatment of black employees and subcontracted workers at the company's plant in Fremont, California. “I am proud of all that I was able to accomplish at Tesla with the support of truly excellent colleagues, especially the People and Legal teams,” Workman said in an email cited by Bloomberg. The EV carmaker has been marred by controversy over the treatment of minorities.

Tesla shares moved higher again Tuesday, trading firmly over the $1,000 mark, following data from China showing record December sales in the world's biggest car market. The China Passenger Car Association said Tesla sold 70,847 China-made cars last month, nearly three times that total recorded last year and more than a third ahead of November's pace. Tesla said on January 2 that global deliveries for the three months ending in December rose 70% from last year to 308,600 units, its sixth consecutive quarterly record, taking the 2021 total to 936,172 units

TheStreet Quant Ratings rates Tesla as a Hold with a rating score of C+.

Ford

The stock of Ford Motor Co.  (F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report has the potential for more growth even after a stellar run in 2021, argues Real Money's Stephen “Sarge” Guilfoyle, who sees longer-term appreciation in the cards as demand for electric F-150s surges. Part of Ford’s potential lies in its leadership with Jim Farley at the helm serving as CEO. "He understands the needs of consumers," according to Guilfoyle. “Farley is just a car guy,” Guilfoyle wrote recently on Real Money. "Farley saw the opportunity in a brand that still had a little something, that still meant something to the American consumer, and most of all... because he is a car guy, Farley understood that both legacy and electric automobile manufacturers had forgotten to build cars that regular people like.”

The company recently said it plans to nearly double the production of the F-150 Lightning electric pickup due to heavy demand from drivers. Ford is warning it will literally pull the plug on any dealer that tries to cut a side-deal and take extra cash for the new Lightning F-150 all-electric pickup, according to a note to dealers sent this past week. That means no selling of “early delivery” slots at a premium, and, most importantly, no added dealership markups, or so-called ADMs, that give one customer an F-150 Lightning over another because they’re willing to pay a markup.

TheStreet Quant Ratings rates Ford as a Buy with a rating score of B.

Rivian

Electric vehicle maker Rivian  (RIVN) - Get Rivian Automotive, Inc. Class A Report said Monday its chief operating officer, Rod Copes, has left the company. Separately it reported production figures in line with lowered guidance it offered last month. The Amazon-backed  (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report company said in emailed comments that “Rod began a phased retirement from Rivian several months ago, affording the team continuity as we moved toward production ramp.” Copes’ “duties have been absorbed by our leadership team,” the company added. 

In a statement Monday, Rivian said it had produced 1,015 vehicles by the end of 2021. It said it had delivered 920. And, the company's shares briefly dipped this past week below their November initial public offering price. That came after Amazon announced that it will buy electric delivery vans from Stellantis  (STLA) - Get Stellantis N.V. Report, bypassing Rivian, its original electric-vehicle purchase partner. Amazon has ordered 100,000 Rivian vans to be delivered by 2030, and it owns a 20% stake in the company. The agreement with Stellantis doesn't represent a slight toward Rivian, Amazon said.

TheStreet Quant Ratings does not have a rating for Rivian.

Nio

NIO  (NIO) - Get NIO Inc. (China) Report has made some moves recently, including listing a number of jobs that suggest it plans to enter the U.S. market in 2022. The company also said that it will enter Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden in 2022, and reach 25 countries by 2025, at its annual Nio Day event.

Nio delivered 25,034 vehicles in the fourth quarter and 91,429 in 2021, and the electric carmaker expects to begin delivering the ET7, a premium electric sedan, in March. And two weeks ago, Nio unveiled the ET5, a midsize electric sedan, and said it would begin delivering it to customers in September. The company's deliveries rose 50% in December and 44% in the fourth quarter and they doubled for the full year. In December, Nio reported, 10,489 electric vehicles were delivered, up 50% from a year earlier.

TheStreet Quant Ratings rates Nio as a Sell with a rating score of D.

Lucid

Lucid Motors  (LCID) - Get Lucid Group, Inc. Report delivered its first vehicles in the third quarter of 2021 and plans to ramp up in 2022, expecting to sell 20,000 vehicles by the end of the year. The company has added 2.85 million square feet to its Arizona manufacturing facility and it plans to have 20 studios and service centers open by the end of 2022. The company has also set a goal of expanding beyond the U.S.

Lucid recently proposed to offer $1.75 billion of convertible senior notes. The notes, due 2026, are to be sold in a private offering to institutional buyers. Lucid also expects to grant the initial purchasers an option on an additional $262.5 million of notes. The company intends to use the proceeds from the offering to "finance or refinance, in whole or in part, one or more new or existing 'Eligible Green Investments.'"

TheStreet Quant Ratings does not have a rating for Lucid.

Xpeng

XPeng  (XPEV) - Get Xpeng Inc Report deliveries doubled in December and tripled in Q4 and full-year 2021. The Guangzhou company delivered 16,000 EVs in December 2021, exceeding its monthly delivery benchmark of 15,000 “despite ongoing global supply chain challenges.” For the month, customers took delivery of 7,459 of the model P7 sports sedan, 5,030 of the P5 family sedan, and 3,511 of the G3 and G3i. In particular, Xpeng said deliveries of the P5 “ramped up steadily” and the order backlog for the model is “solid.” The company delivered 41,751 cars in the quarter, more than half of them (21,342) the P7. And for the year, deliveries reached 98,155.

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Xpeng's Chinese EV rival Li Auto  (LI) - Get Li Auto Report also saw deliveries more than double last month and in the fourth quarter. The company's deliveries nearly tripled for the year. Li delivered 14,087 of the Model One in December; 35,221 in the quarter and 90,491 for the full year.

TheStreet Quant Ratings does not have a rating for Xpeng.