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Rivian Automotive’s public value skyrockets for off-road EV startup

Rivian Automotive’s public value skyrockets for off-road EV startup

Rivian has gone public on the New York Stock Exchange – and it’s surged higher than expected.

Rivian Automotive’s (‘RIVN’) debut on the Nasdaq Global Select Market sold 153 million shares, giving the startup a US$1.9 billion (A$2.59 billion) funding boost to produce its electric R1T ute, R1S SUV and EDV van, develop its own DC/AC charging network in North America, and invest in future energy products.

Rivian is now worth more than US$100 billion (A$136 billion).

That’s already surpassed traditional American automakers like Ford (US$79 billion) and General Motors (US$85 billion), but still well below Toyota, Volkswagen, and Build Your Dreams (BYD). Ditto Tesla, which currently tops the list at more than US$1 trillion.

According to Bloomberg, this is the sixth-largest listing on the US stock exchange, making it the largest initial public offering (IPO) since tech giant Facebook in 2012.

It comes after previous valuation estimates by investors and Rivian itself between US$20 billion (A$27 billion) to US$80 billion (A$109 billion) earlier year.

Rivian opened trading at US$106.75 (A$145.78) per share and closed at $100.73 (A$137.56) per share. It will also allocate 7 per cent of its shares to eligible US customers who had vehicle pre-orders as of September 30.

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This also marks the first time an EV startup has actual vehicles selling while being publicly traded, unlike Faraday Future, Canoo, Fisker, Lordstown Motors, and Nikola.

The firm is backed by big tech giant Amazon (20 per cent) and legacy carmaker Ford (12 per cent).

Don’t expect Rivian to arrive in Australia anytime soon. Although it has mooted Australia as one possible market to expand to, it’ll be until at least 2024 for its off-road EVs to lob Down Under.

That’s despite our thirst for adventure-ready vehicles like the internal combustion vehicle (ICE) powered Suzuki Jimnys, Toyota LandCruisers, and Volkswagen Californias.

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However, Rivian has already lost US$994 million (A$1.35 billion) in the first half of 2021 and expects to lose a further US$1.28 billion (A$1.74 billion) this quarter (Q4 2021).

It’s attempting to fulfill more than 55,000 pre-orders for the premium R1T and R1S by the end of 2023 in the USA, along with 100,000 EDV delivery vans for Amazon by 2030.

Currently, it’s delivering an initial batch of R1T electric pickup trucks to customers (mostly employees), around 10,000 EDVs to Amazon by the end of this year, and will start production for the R1S large SUV by year’s end.

Additionally, a wrongful-dismissal lawsuit was recently issued by Laura Schwab, former executive, vice president of sales and marketing.

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She alleges the company of around 10,000 employees has a “toxic bro culture that marginalizes women and contributes to the company making mistakes”.

Schwab was fired after raising concerns to human resources about gender discrimination. She says she made suggestions to improve the startup’s business plan – including the fact Rivian’s vehicles were not priced high enough to be profitable – only to be rejected and witness men from higher up positions accept the same ideas pitched by male colleagues.

The American EV startup was founded in 2009 by RJ Scaringe and didn’t debut until 2018. It is commonly seen as the battery-electric equivalent of Jeep, with adventure-focused vehicles for consumers.

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It currently manufactures products in Normal, Illinois (a former Mitsubishi plant) and is searching for a second location for production, too. The Normal site is expected to make 150,000 vehicles per year by late 2023 when pre-orders are fulfilled.

The R1T ute starts at US$67,500 (A$90,684) and R1S SUV from US$70,000 (A$94,042) in the USA with dedicated EV ‘skateboard’ platforms, quad electric motors, all-wheel drive, up to 200kW DC fast-charging, ‘Tank Turn’, off-road modes, and more.

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