The race to see what company would build the first battery-electric pickup for a customer is over and the winner is … Rivian. The startup began production the “Launch Edition” of its R1T pickup for buyers from its plant in Illinois today.
The first truck, an appropriately named Rivian Blue “Launch Edition” model, rolled off the line at the company’s facility, the former Mitsubishi plant in Normal, Illinois while dozens of plant employees cheered.
“After months of building pre-production vehicles, this morning our first customer vehicle drove off our production line in Normal,” Rivian CEO R.J. Scaringe tweeted. “Our team’s collective efforts have made this moment possible. Can’t wait to get these into the hands of our customers.”
Getting the first one off the line is a feat, but as the head of another EV maker famously noted, automobile “production is hard.” Scaringe and his group will be looking to avoid many of the same manufacturing issues the previously referenced CEO Elon Musk did. So difficult was the process, he described it as “production hell” at one point.
Pot of gold at the end of the rainbow
Despite the difficulties, Musk and Tesla are the best-selling EV company in the U.S. currently with the top two sellers, the Model Y and Model 3, outselling the next 10 EVs combined — twice. Tesla is currently the most valuable automaker in the world with a market cap hovering around $733.5 billion, with its stock price trading in the low $740 range.
Tesla’s market cap is almost 2.5 times greater than the next closest automaker, Toyota, which is at about $303.5 billion. Its stock is at about $180 a share in early morning trading today.
Rivian isn’t necessarily expecting to approach those numbers, but officials are trying to convince Wall Street investors the nascent EV maker — with vehicles it’s actually delivering, albeit slowly — could be worth as much as $80 billion as it moves toward its initial public offering, tentatively set for November.
That number is a bit more than General Motors is worth, but only by a little at $74.4 billion. Ford is a bit further off the pace at $51 billion. By comparison, Fisker Inc., another startup, comes in at $3.9 billion. However, the most apt comparison is Lucid Motors, which currently boasts a market cap of $31.3 billion.
Lucid’s got some things going for it that Fisker does not, or at least, not yet. First is first vehicle, the Lucid Air is viewed by many as a real competitor to Tesla, in terms of performance. The company’s boasted for some time it expects its top-level vehicle, the Dream, to meet or surpass the performance metrics of Tesla’s top vehicle, the Model S Plaid.
Rivian’s got its own selling points, starting with an impressive group of companies that have already invested billions of dollars into the fledgling company, including Amazon and Ford.
The company is also expected to produce 100,000 battery-electric delivery vans for … Amazon. The vehicle, which the online retail giant helped to develop, is currently undergoing real world testing. There is no finite time frame for when it will begin production.
However, Rivian is already hunting for a place to build a second factory, which may suggest the time is getting very close. Early betting is on it joining Tesla in Texas, but no commitments have been confirmed by Rivian officials.