Rivian Closes at Lowest Since IPO as EV Competition Mounts
(Bloomberg) -- Rivian Automotive Inc., the electric pickup maker backed by Amazon.com Inc., closed at the lowest level since it started trading in November amid the prospect of growing competition in the EV market.
The move -- which sent shares briefly below the initial public offering price -- extends a drop from Wednesday, when Amazon announced a deal with Stellantis NV to buy electric delivery vans. While Rivian and Amazon said their partnership is unchanged, the deal follows the startup’s own plan to build electric vans for the e-commerce giant and could increase competition for future Amazon orders.
Irvine, California-based Rivian is a leading member in a large pack of EV startups chasing market incumbent Tesla Inc. The company has been closely followed and its products highly anticipated, in part because of the investment and backing from Amazon, which has an order for 100,000 delivery vans due by the end of the decade.
Rivian’s IPO was the sixth biggest in U.S. history and the largest of 2021. After a listing price of $78, the stock climbed as high as $172.01, giving the company a market value of more than $100 billion -- making it more valuable at the time than both Ford Motor Co., also an investor, and General Motors Co.
The company’s shares closed down 3% Thursday after paring an earlier loss of as much as 17%.
Under the terms of Amazon’s deal with Rivian, the e-commerce giant has exclusive rights to the vans for four years, from the point of delivery of the first unit, according to an Oct. 1 regulatory filing. Deliveries were due to start in December. Amazon has right of first refusal to any vans built for an additional two years after that.
But Amazon is also free to work with other automakers. The Stellantis deal “highlights Rivian’s vulnerability to rising competition and its reliance in the early days on a nonexclusive contract that is skewed in favor of the online retailer,” Kevin Tynan, an automotive analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence, said in a note.
Still, Amazon has a history of sourcing vans from multiple automakers and it plans to expand the fleet beyond the existing 100,000 number, Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner wrote in a note to clients on Thursday.
“We view its relationship with Stellantis not as a deviation from existing commitment to its partnership with Rivian, but more as an effort to secure EVs necessary to meet its global carbon-neutral goal by 2040,” said Rosner, who has a buy rating and $130 price target on Rivian stock.
Since listing in November, Rivian has made limited progress on its debut consumer EV, a battery-electric pickup called the R1T. In December, the company revealed in its first quarterly earnings a slower-than-expected ramp in production which it attributed to supply chain challenges.
Rivian said then that it would fall “a few hundred vehicles short” of its full-year goal to produce 1,200 EVs in 2021.
However, the company has made progress in other areas. As of Dec. 15, preorders for the company’s two consumer models, also including the R1S SUV, had risen to 71,000, from 55,400 at the end of October. Rivian also announced a new $5 billion plant in Georgia to help support growth and boost its long-term output.
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