An engineer at UK electric van and bus maker Arrival inspects a specially developed autonomous robot at the startup's low-cost "microfactory" in Bicester, Britain, August 3, 2021. REUTERS/Nick CareyElectric car and van startups racing to become the next Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) all want to avoid Elon Musk’s journey through “manufacturing hell.”

But electric vehicle firms such as UK van company Arrival SA (47K.F) and Fisker Inc (FSR.N) are taking very different roads to overcome the challenges of profitable mass production that almost broke Tesla.

A few have found investors willing to hand over billions to fund their journey. Rivian has raised around $10.5 billion from Inc (AMZN.O), Ford Motor Co (F.N) and others as it ramps up production to build electric vans, pickups and SUVs.

Startups lacking Rivian’s wads of cash need cheaper paths to mass production or risk failing in the EV arms race – a danger Musk highlighted repeatedly on Tesla’s July 26 earnings call.

“The thing that’s remarkable is that Tesla didn’t go bankrupt in reaching volume production,” Musk said. During 2017 and 2018, Tesla struggled to ramp up volume production of the Model 3 sedan, with the then loss-making automaker burning through cash as it contended with an over-reliance on automation, battery issues and other bottlenecks. It even built a new line in just two weeks in a huge tent outside its Fremont, California, factory to meet its production targets.

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