Rivian Continues to Fall Apart

Among the worst-performing companies in terms of share price in 2022 was electric vehicle (EV) maker Rivian Automotive Inc. (NASDAQ: RIVN). Its stock plunged by 80% and has fallen so far this year. The company failed to make an extremely modest delivery target for last year, another sign Rivian will never be a competitor in the EV sector. That means it may be no competitor at all.

Rivian management said it would produce 25,000 of its electric pickups last year. The final number was 24,337. However, it only delivered 20,332. Rivian’s chief executive, among the worst in the car industry, said supply chain problems kept 700 from being completed. To make matters worse, the company’s target for production was 50,000 earlier in 2022.

When Rivian released its third-quarter numbers, management said it had a preorder backlog of 114,000 vehicles as of November 7. A preorder is meaningless. A customer can cancel it at any time. Frustrated customers may buy alternatives, like the widely well-regarded Ford F-150 Lightning.

Those third-quarter figures proved Rivian was a trainwreck. It lost $1.7 billion on $536 million. Rivian has $13.8 billion in cash. While that is an impressive balance, Rivian still has to make and deliver vehicles to make the sum matter over the long haul.

Rivian still has an absurd market capitalization of $15.3 billion. Ford’s market cap is $47 billion, and it sold almost 4 million vehicles in 2021. That number almost certainly improved in 2022.

Rivian cannot win. Its sales are too small, its backorder count is meaningless, and the market has started to fill up with competition. That competition will increase further this year and become a torrent by 2024.

Rivian had its chance, particularly a year ago. Management bungled that and cost Rivian its future.

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