A company called Alpha Motor has unveiled a new electric pickup truck called the Electric Wolf. The two-door vehicle looks something like a Dodge Ram 50 from the ’80s, but with modern features unique to electric cars, like a front trunk for extra storage and a proposed solar panel in the flatbed that could presumably be used to charge the truck.
It’s said to get between 250-275 miles of range on a charge and has a max towing capability of 3,000 lbs. But all of these figures remain to be proven, as there’s no actual truck out there to buy yet. That’s a common problem in the nascent EV market, where companies hoping to emulate Tesla’s success are able to woo investors, keen for the same sort of stratospheric returns Elon Musk’s car company has delivered.
The Electric Wolf has received notable press attention since being unveiled, as excitement over the electric car industry hits a fever pitch. But a story from Electrek raises important questions about Alpha Motor and whether or not its $38,000 truck will ever see the light of day. Notably, the company was only established in October 2020, and there’s scant information regarding its management or workforce. Alpha’s incorporation documents yield little information about its founders, and a LinkedIn search for the company returns only two employees with threadbare profiles.
Smoke and mirrors — This wouldn’t necessarily raise alarm bells — maybe the company just wants to keep a low profile. But the industry has seen a recent spate of companies come out with big promises to produce innovative electric cars, only to hit a wall.
Anyone who might consider investing in Alpha Motor without first seeing concrete results should look to Nikola as a cautionary tale. That company exploited financial loopholes to go public on the stock market with ambitious plans to produce the world’s first hydrogen-powered semi-trucks. But Nikola effectively collapsed after the firm Hindenburg Research reported that founder Trevor Milton had exaggerated and lied about Nikola’s progress.
GM, which had once intended on investing in Nikola and producing its Badger electric pickup, backed away from its involvement with the company. Milton stepped down amid the scrutiny but kept his shares in the company that made him a billionaire.
Many everyday people invested in Nikola in hopes of seeing the Tesla-like gains, but Tesla is so valuable precisely because it’s so difficult to mass-produce vehicles. Even though Tesla might not be worth the valuation it’s at today, its accomplishments thus far are nothing but remarkable and demonstrate that it’s not out of the question that the company could someday rival the legacy automakers.
Tesla is an exception to the rule. Just about every other new entrant into the electric car market has failed, from Faraday Future to Fisker — and that’s despite receiving billions in investment.
Be careful — Nikola isn’t the only electric car company to go public recently only to be called a fraud. Lordstown Motors, which is similarly attempting to create an electric pickup truck, was today accused by Hindenburg of pumping up its pre-order numbers in order to generate investor interest. "Lordstown is an electric vehicle SPAC with no revenue and no sellable product, which we believe has misled investors on both its demand and production capabilities.” Lordstown is worth more than $2.6 billion; its stock price has fallen more than 15 percent on the report.
Another company, Aptera Motors, has raised more than $60 million from investors claiming it will produce a funky, three-wheeled electric car that can run on solar energy alone. The company, which was founded in 2006, has run into engineering problems and repeatedly missed deadlines, forcing it to refund customer deposits, and leaving plenty of people wondering if it's peddling vaporware.
Praying for a payday — Alpha could surprise everyone and produce a car, but there’s a clear playbook for how it could use these 3D models to raise a bunch of money and then quietly fade away. According to Electrek, one of the two employees of Alpha previously wrote press releases for Neuron EV, a fly-by-night electric car startup that unveiled concept designs back in 2019 before disappearing.
It’s very easy to create fake hype today. Companies like Alpha pay PR Newswire to distribute a press release, which then gets syndicated to Yahoo News, Forbes, or elsewhere. And it’s possible to go public on the stock market with little scrutiny. Don’t be fooled by it. Tesla or one of the legacy automakers is a safer bet if you’re looking to get in on the electric automotive boom.
On its website, Alpha Motors allows interested buyers to place a reservation, but it doesn’t appear the company is charging a deposit. There’s no production timeline listed.