Rivian, the electric vehicle maker that went public last year with big ambitions to take on Tesla and others, said Wednesday that supply chain issues had hampered it in the first quarter, but it maintained its production forecast for this year.
The company’s shares have fallen more than 80% this year as investors grew nervous about its prospects. The price rose 7% in after-hours trading on Wednesday, with quarterly results broadly in line with expectations.
Rivian detailed ongoing problems in obtaining semiconductors and other parts. And since late March, the company said, shortages have forced it “to shut down production for longer periods than planned, resulting in the loss of about a quarter of planned production time due to suppliers”.
Rivian said it plans to make 25,000 vehicles this year, a forecast made in March. Without supply constraints, the company said in March it could produce twice as much.
Production to date stands at 5,000. “We’ve done all of this in one of the toughest operating environments in decades,” Rivian chief executive RJ Scaringe said on a call. with analysts after the release of quarterly results.
All automakers face supply chain constraints, but smaller ones like Rivian that don’t have long-term relationships with suppliers may find it harder to deal with them. The difficulties present more risk for new automakers, which could struggle to gain a meaningful share of the electric vehicle market before more established companies introduce dozens of products in the coming years.
Given these hurdles, investors will be watching for any signs that Rivian may miss its 2022 production target. “It’s still achievable, but it could be overkill,” said Garrett Nelson, analyst at research firm CFRA. which covers Rivian. He added that Rivian’s plummeting stock market value could make it a takeover target for a company looking to enter the electric vehicle market.
Rivian posted a net loss of $1.6 billion in the first quarter on sales of just $95 million. In the first quarter of last year, Rivian had no sales and a loss of $414 million. The company is reporting major losses as it spends colossal sums to ramp up production of its three vehicles: a truck designed primarily for recreation, a sport utility vehicle and a delivery van for Amazon, one of the earliest investors in Rivian and one of the main shareholders.
The company said it received more than 90,000 orders for its truck and SUV, up from about 83,000 in March.
Amazon ordered 100,000 delivery vans, but Rivian was reluctant to say how many it shipped. On Wednesday, it only said it was “increasing production and deliveries.” On the call with analysts, Scaringe said he expected pickup trucks to make up about a third of the 25,000 vehicles in the 2022 production forecast.
In many ways, Rivian epitomizes the stock market’s sharp downward turn this year.
In November, investors crowded into its initial public offering, in which the company raised $13.5 billion, and its shares then soared, briefly giving Rivian a market value almost as large as Ford’s. Motor and General Motors combined.
But the stock plunged this year after the company slashed production targets. The 80% drop in Rivian shares is much steeper than a 31% drop in Tesla shares over the same period and a 38% drop for Ford, which is launching its own electric truck.
Rivian manufactures vehicles in Normal, Illinois, and plans another plant in Georgia. Building and operating assembly lines requires huge amounts of cash, so new automakers can find themselves in financial trouble if production is behind schedule and sales are insufficient. Even Tesla, which sells more electric cars than any other company, has sometimes found itself short of funds.
In the first quarter, Rivian used $1.45 billion of cash to run its business and invest in new plant and equipment, far more than the $800 million it consumed in the first quarter of 2021. The company had $16.4 billion in cash on its balance sheet at the end of the first quarter, compared to $18.1 billion at the end of last year.
The decline in Rivian shares has reduced the value of the stakes held by its major shareholders. Amazon’s 18% stake is worth $3.2 billion, down from $16.8 billion at the start of the year. Ford, another early investor, sold some of its shares on Monday, and its remaining stake is worth $1.9 billion. He was reportedly worth $9.7 billion at the end of last year.
Rivian said it took more than 10,000 orders for its truck and SUV after raising prices in March. Those orders had an average price of more than $93,000, the company added.
But with Rivian’s vehicles selling at relatively high prices, analysts have wondered what demand might be if inflation continues to eat away at household purchasing power. “It remains to be seen what appetite consumers have for the price of a Rivian,” Nelson said.