Rivian started a tough year on a flat foot

Rivian has a tough year ahead – and the first quarter is off to a slow start.

The EV startup announced Tuesday that it built 13,980 vehicles and delivered 13,588 in the first quarter of 2024. Both numbers are down from the fourth quarter of 2023, when it built 17,541 and shipped 13,972.

Rivian has reported that it plans making roughly the same number of electric vehicles as in 2023. So if the company can keep pace with the 2023 numbers, it should meet its goals. Things won’t get any easier from here. Rivian plans to shut down its production lines for weeks in the second quarter so it can make upgrades that should help it reduce the cost of building its electric vehicles – another critical challenge it must overcome if it hopes to remain a relevant player and stay in the game long enough to bring its next-generation R2 electric vehicles to market in 2026.

Producing and selling vehicles, which include the R1S SUV, R1T pickup and two versions of a commercial electric van, has never been the company’s only challenge. Reducing the cost of building electric vehicles is essential to profitability. The company announced in February that it was losing about $43,000 on every vehicle sold in the final quarter of last year.

All of this uncertainty comes at a time when many companies are struggling to meet the high expectations sparked by the boom in electric vehicle sales over the past two years.

Tesla reported its own very weak first-quarter sales on Tuesday. Ford has lowered its ambitions for its flagship electric vehicles. In the startup world, Lucid Motors said in February that it planned to build only about 9,000 luxury sedans this year, while continuing to try to establish a market. Fisker has fallen flat on its face, selling only half of the 10,000 electric SUVs its contract manufacturer will make in 2023.


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