What happened

July was a big month for U.S.-based electric vehicle (EV) stocks. While the S&P 500 jumped more than 9%, shares of Rivian Automotive (RIVN 4.92%) and Ford (F 0.41%) trounced that with returns of 33.3% and 32%, respectively, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

They weren't the only domestic EV makers with monster gains in July, either. Tesla and several others also rocketed higher. But some EV specialists got left out of the rally. The American depositary shares of Chinese electric automaker Nio (NIO 0.62%) were actually down over 9% for the month. 

So what

There were several catalysts for clean energy stocks in the U.S. in July. One that could boost the entire sector is newly proposed legislation that would include more than $300 billion to address climate change, including incentives to increase EV sales. But the increased likelihood of the Inflation Reduction Act garnering enough support from Congress to pass didn't occur until the final week of July. Both Rivian and Ford had other news that helped boost their shares, too.

Now what

Rivian has had its share of struggles as it works to ramp up production. It was forced to cut its production volume guidance for 2022 due to shortages of parts and equipment. It also tried to raise prices on its vehicles to compensate for rising raw material costs, but got pushback from consumers that had placed preorders at the original prices. That will force Rivian to absorb those rising costs for its first approximately 80,000 vehicles that were preordered prior to the price increase. 

But Rivian also achieved an important milestone during July. Amazon began using Rivian's electric delivery vehicles and said it will continue to roll them out across the U.S. during 2022. The e-commerce giant plans to take delivery of all 100,000 commercial vans ordered from Rivian through 2030. 

Ford also hit an EV milestone of sorts during July. Along with announcing its 2022 second-quarter earnings, Ford said it plans to be producing EVs on a 600,000 annual run rate by the end of 2023, and at a rate of 2 million per year by 2026. 

The automaker also said its EV sales soared by 169% year over year in July. Even though that was off a low base, the segment -- which currently includes its Mustang Mach-E, F-150 Lightning, and E-Transit van -- grew at triple the rate of the overall EV industry in July, according to Ford.

Nio, of course, wouldn't benefit from any U.S. legislation that supports the domestic EV industry. But it has been facing other headwinds that have taken a toll on the shares lately. It continues to recover from production delays related to Chinese COVID-19-related lockdowns. It also has the overhang of potential delisting from U.S. exchanges along with many other Chinese stocks that will need to transition to adhere to U.S. auditing practices over the next few years.

But the most notable negative development in July was a short-seller report that accused Nio of questionable revenue recognition practices related to its battery-swap subscription service. The company's board has formed an independent committee to look into the situation. Still, the report rattled some investors, and the stock fell on the news.