Rivian shares slide after company cuts 2021 EV production expectations

Shares of Rivian Automotive plummeted 10% in after-hours trading Thursday after CEO RJ Scaringe and other executives reported a surge in customer reservations but cut vehicle production expectations for the year.

Rivian said it expects to fall “a few hundred vehicles short” of its 2021 production target of 1,200 vehicles. The company said it faced supply chain issues as well as challenges ramping up production of the complex batteries that power the vehicles.

“Ramping up a production system like this, as I said before, is a really complex orchestra,” Scaringe told investors Thursday. “We’re ramping largely as expected, the battery constraint is really an artifact of just brining up a highly automated line, and, as I said, it doesn’t present any long-term challenges for us.”

The updates come alongside Rivian’s first quarterly report as a public company and confirmation of plans for a new $5 billion plant in Georgia that’s expected to come online in 2024.

Aside from the production snags, Rivian said total reservations for its electric R1T pickup and R1S SUV increased to 71,000 as of Dec. 15, up 28% compared with the most recent tally of 55,400 vehicles in November. That’s a higher rate than what the company expected, officials said.

The company said it has produced 652 R1T and R1S vehicles and delivered 386 of those, including the production and sale of the first two R1S SUVs earlier this week.

Q3 results

Rivian’s third-quarter results fell in-line with Wall Street revenue expectations and with estimates the company previously released as part of its recent IPO.

For the third quarter, Rivian reported an operational loss of $776 million and a net loss of $1.23 billion. The company had previously predicted an operational loss between $745 million and $795 million and a net loss between $1.21 billion and $1.28 billion.

The company posted a loss per share of $12.21 on revenue of about $1 million.

Wall Street analysts expected the company to report a $5.52 earnings per share loss on revenue of $1 million, according to a handful of estimates compiled by Refinitiv. CNBC does not compare reported EPS to Wall Street analysts for a company’s first report since going public because of uncertainty around share counts.

New plant

The new battery and assembly plant announced Thursday will be east of Atlanta and is expected to facilitate production of up to 400,000 vehicles per year, Rivian said. Construction on the facility is expected to begin in summer 2022, and the start of production is slated for 2024. 

Rivian, whose stakeholders include Amazon and Ford Motor, was the first automaker to go to market with an all-electric pickup truck called the R1T. It went public through a blockbuster IPO in November.

Wall Street analysts have set a high bar for Rivian, comparing CEO Scaringe to Superman and saying the company’s “the one” capable of challenging EV leader Tesla.

Rivian is still a growth story, though. It expects capital expenditures of about $8 billion through 2023, with some analysts such as BofA Securities’ John Murphy forecasting Rivian won’t turn an operating profit until at least 2025.

— CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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