It comes as no surprise Rivian is struggling like most startups do, especially in the automotive space. As the company is now on the heels of announcing its Q4 earnings, it's clearly struggling with cash and the demand for its vehicles, and it doesn't look like it's going to get any easier in the near term.
As more and more EV startups come to market, it's almost a given that they'll struggle for years. Heck, most automakers that have been established and "successful" for decades are struggling right now. The auto industry is tough, Rivian is trying to sell a brand-new product, and prices are quite high, not to mention the economy has had lots of ups and downs of late.
Gallery: 2022 Rivian R1T: First Drive Review
According to Automotive News, Rivian is burning through cash, executives are leaving, and the demand for its vehicles isn't likely picking up. What's more, the current economic situation, rising interest rates, and the growing potential for a recession are all complicating the issues.
Rivian is one of the first companies to bring an electric pickup truck to the US market in its R1T, and it also recently launched its fully electric R1S three-row SUV. The products are luxurious, well-built, and outstanding performers. However, they're geared more toward a niche audience, and they're not cheap. Rivian is also producing electric delivery vans for Amazon.
Gallery: 2022 Rivian R1S First Drive
Analysts expect Rivian to announce that it delivered around 8,000 EVs in Q4 2022. The company is also expected to report revenue of some $720 million, along with an overall financial loss of as much as $2 billion.
Rivian had Ford on its side early on, and it even looked like the two might collaborate. However, now with the Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck's success, the Blue Oval is arguably Rivian's biggest competitor. Ford has also cashed out most of its early stake in Rivian, and it doesn't seem there's going to be any sort of partnership down the road.
While there are few fully electric three-row SUVs on the market to compete with the Rivian R1S, it does have to go to bat against the Tesla Model X. Mercedes' EQS electric SUV is also in the mix, and Polestar aims to bring its "3" to market later in 2023. It won't be long before a whole host of automakers bring larger electric SUVs to market, and many early examples appear to be compelling, not to mention more affordable than the R1S.
Rivian seemed to be in good shape as it first came out of the gate thanks to much support and many investments. It moved on to go public, but since production started, that early stockpile of cash is fading quickly.
The stock price is down about 75 percent over the last 12 months, which clearly isn't helping the situation. Still, Rivian said after Q3 2022 that it still had around $14 billion in cash after delivering over 20,000 EVs. Managing partner at Short Hills Capital Partners Steve Weiss shared:
"They've got a lot of cash, but they're going to go through it. No. 1, I don't find the vehicles particularly attractive. No. 2, they've had major problems. No. 3, they've lost a lot of executives and talent."
In the midst of several executives leaving Rivian, the automaker has also had to initiate layoffs twice already. Between the two rounds, the automaker has reportedly gotten rid of around 12 percent of its employees.
Many agree it's going to continue to be a long hard road for Rivian. It took Tesla many years to find success, and the company hung over the edge of bankruptcy on at least a few occasions. Executive analyst Karl Brauer at iSeeCars shared:
"I still consider Rivian one of the most promising startups out there. But I don't consider them as promising as they were even a year ago."
"The financials for Rivian are just painful right now. They're spending lots of money and not coming anywhere near paying for it with sales."