At Rivian, Product Tops Promises
Among electric vehicle startups, Rivian is the nonconformist. Compared to its braggadocious contemporaries, many of which are still years away from building anything, the Michigan-based company is well-poised to deliver a drivable product within a year’s time, with only scant attention paid to the possibilities of going public on a raft of promises.
We’ve already seen what Rivian plans to offer. Metal has met eyes. An assembly plant is already gearing up, with a list of suppliers on hand to pull off production of the R1S SUV and R1T pickup, and, most important of all, there’s money to fund it. It all sounds so… conventional.
Speaking to CNBC, Rivian founder and CEO R.J. Scaringe claims he has no plans for an IPO at the present moment, claiming that taking the company public is something he’d only consider if future scale-up efforts require it.
“We’re in a position where we’re well-capitalized to launch the products but we are rapidly expanding and growing and accelerating some of our future products,” he said. “We’re seeing demand being significantly higher than what we initially anticipated, which is leading us to capacitive for higher levels of volume.”
Delayed by the pandemic and springtime lockdown, the R1S and R1T are due to arrive in the early to middle part of next year. Greasing those models’ wheels is nearly three billion dollars in private funding amassed in 2019, with big names such as Amazon and Ford topping the list of financers. Boasting long ranges afforded by a list of large batteries and an innovative skateboard platform that was once expected to underpin a Lincoln, the Rivian duo impress on paper.
The wild Wall Street antics of such rivals as Tesla and Nikola, the latter of which doesn’t plan to build for years, doesn’t impress Scaringe.
“We’re focused on making sure that we deliver,” he said from the confines of his very real assembly plant in Normal, Illinois. “We really value active humility and letting our actions speak louder than our words.”
Imagine that! It’s refreshing to hear someone in the EV space say such a thing, though the stratospheric valuation of both Tesla and Nikola has led others, including Fisker, to consider an IPO. Investors can’t seem to get enough when it comes to rosy electric promises from almost anyone.
Yet while investors salivate over startups, analysts and engineers applaud Rivian’s ability to actually get things done.
“At this stage, they’re farther along than pretty much anybody,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal research analyst at Navigant. “They’ve been working at this and developing this truck and platform for quite a long time. Certainly, longer than Tesla has been working on the Cybertruck or Nikola has been working on the Badger.”
If Rivian does go public, it won’t be soon, Scaringe hammered home.
“Priorities one, two and three are launch the products,” he said.
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This outfit seemed pretty solid (at least from what you can read in the biz press) until recently when they announced a move to California right in the middle of their product launch ramp. That sounds like a recipe for trouble.
"Yet while investors salivate over startups, analysts and engineers applaud Rivian’s ability to actually get things done." Tesla's not a startup, and has sold over a million cars, so you must be referring to the likes of Nikola, Fisker, and Faraday. Sure, Rivian looks promising, but don't mistake their corporate humility for success just yet.