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Sparks

Rivian Is Having a Normal One

The electric vehicle maker has delivered another 15,500 cars since June. Yet trouble is brewing.

A Rivian plant.
Heatmap Illustration/Rivian

After a slow start, production at the electric truck maker Rivian is revving up. The company announced today that it made 16,304 new vehicles in the third quarter of 2023 and delivered about 15,500 of them.

That’s about 2,000 vehicles better than Wall Street analysts were expecting, according to CNBC, and it puts Rivian on target to beat its goal of shipping 52,000 vehicles this year. Rivian’s consumer vehicles — the R1T, a pickup, and R1, a three-row SUV — go for about $80,000 a pop. The company also makes delivery vehicles for Amazon. This quarter, Rivian made all its vehicles in its factory in Normal, Illinois, although it’s received the go-ahead to build a second facility in Georgia.

We won’t learn more about the company’s financials until next month, when it unveils its full quarterly earnings. But just because Rivian is shipping expensive trucks doesn’t mean that it’s making money off them. From April to June, the company lost $30,000 for every vehicle that it sold, The Wall Street Journal reported today, and R.J. Scaringe, its CEO, is now “rushing to slash expenses and slim down operations.” The company made nearly 14,000 vehicles in the second quarter and lost $1.19 billion.

Earlier this year, Scaringe told me that Rivian was still trying to rebound from rolling out its production vehicles amid the pandemic. “I don’t think you could have designed a more complex environment to do that in,” he said. “The supply chain catastrophe that was 2022 was our launching ramp here. And then managing the build-out of a large, 5,000-plus person workforce to produce vehicles in our first plant, in the middle of a pandemic, was also really hard.”

Rivian’s stock fell 2.55% in trading today, while the S&P 500 was essentially flat.

Robinson Meyer

Robinson is the founding executive editor of Heatmap. He was previously a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covered climate change, energy, and technology. Read More

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