Amazon-Backed Electric Car Maker Rivian Files For IPO

Amazon-backed electric vehicle maker Rivian has filed for an initial public offering, weeks before it plans to deliver its first electric pickup trucks to customers.

The company, founded in 2009, which is seen as a significant challenger to Tesla and also counts Ford as a major backer, is seeking a valuation of more than $70 billion (£50bn), reports said.

Rivian declined to comment on the figure or to say when the listing might happen. Goldman Sachs is leading the offering.

Rivian has raised more than $10bn from Amazon, Ford, T Rowe Price and others, including a $2.5bn investment led by Amazon in July and a $2.65bn round in January that valued the company at $27.6bn.

Rivian’s R1S electric SUV. Image credit: Rivian

Shipping delays

Manufacturing its vehicles in a former Mitsubishi plant in Normal, Illinois, Rivian says it currently expects to ship its first pickups in September, with an SUV to follow soon afterward.

The deliveries have been repeatedly delayed by the pandemic and other factors, founder R.J. Scaringe acknowledged in a letter to customers last month.

“Everything from facility construction, to equipment installation, to vehicle component supply (especially semiconductors) has been impacted by the pandemic,” he wrote.

The company is also developing 100,000 custom delivery vans for Amazon, with the first models being added to Amazon’s fleet this year and at least 10,000 due on the roads by the end of 2022.

When Amazon’s Jeff Bezos rode into space aboard his Blue Origin rocket last month, he and the crew travelled to the launchpad in a Rivian vehicle.

Expansion

In July Rivian said it’s looking to build a second US plant and is also reportedly considering a European facility.

Amongst its smaller facilities is an engineering office in Woking in the UK that handles “advanced concepts, body and lighting”.

A $70bn valuation would be higher than that of Ford, making Rivian one of the highest-valued auto companies in the world.

However, it would pale in comparison to Tesla, by far the biggest electric car maker, which is valued at about $700bn.

Competitor Lucid Motors, which recently went public through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), is valued at about $34bn, half the market value of General Motors, in spite of having never delivered a vehicle.

Off-road focus

Industry watchers consider Rivian well-placed in the emerging electric car market because, unlike Tesla, it focuses on “adventure” vehicles such as trucks and SUVs that are made for driving off paved roads.

More than two dozen companies producing electric vehicles, batteries and chargers have gone public or intend to do so through SPAC mergers, according to Dealogic.

But the more rigorous process of a conventional IPO would allow Rivian and its existing investors to retain more control and ownership than a typical SPAC deal, in which the SPAC takes a significant portion of ownership in exchange for streamlining the process of bringing the company onto a stock exchange.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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