Elon Musk predicted that startups

Elon Musk predicted that startups

It’s being billed by investors as the tale of two EV makers.

Armed with wealthy backers, Rivian founder RJ Scaringe and Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson both floated shares in their car companies in the latter half of 2021 with the promise to follow in the footsteps of Elon Musk—only to falter right out of the gates.

Now their paths appear to be diverging.

While Rawlinson missed expectations across the board and cut his forecast for the number of Lucid Air cars he would build in 2023 “to prudently align with deliveries”, Scaringe surprised the market.

First the Rivian CEO raised his production target for the year by 2,000 vehicles amid a narrower loss than expected, before announcing—in news welcomed by investors—that he had freed himself from the exclusivity of a van deal with his largest shareholder, Amazon, that limited growth.

The result is Rivian expects to manufacture 54,000 vehicles this year, six times the number Lucid anticipates.

In his call with investors, Scaringe said he was enthusiastic about the outlook as his company prepares to deliver in 2026 a smaller, more affordable SUV priced around $45,000 and positioned in the booming mid-size segment. “I think there is a overreaction to some of the short and medium term headwinds we see,” he said, downplaying risks from soaring interest rates and geopolitical instability.

This gives investors hope that Rivian could yet survive a possible shakeout in the EV industry as demand cools amid a growing affordability problem for a new vehicle that Musk himself has cited.

If so, it could escape a prophecy last year from a gloomy Musk that foresaw the duo potentially filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The two EV startups were then struggling with one characteristic of the brutally competitive car manufacturing industry—that a carmaker’s fate often depends on suppliers. At the time, both Lucid and Rivian found that they could not rely on their suppliers to deliver everything from critical microchips to some of the most basic parts like footwell mats.

“Unless something changes significantly with Rivian and Lucid, they will both go bankrupt,” Musk said last June during a podcast.

Lucid’s Saudi owners provide floor for the stock

Still scarred from his own near-death experiences, the Tesla CEO knows full well what the two are enduring amid investor expectations for high growth. In the very same interview, Musk admitted his own two new factories in Germany and Texas were “gigantic money furnaces” burning Tesla cash.

That’s why Tuesday’s news that the two smaller rivals appear to be on diverging trajectories when it comes to production outlook is so important. In the auto industry, the utilization rate of a factory’s installed capacity is the most critical lever for determining profitability.

Factors such as pricing trends or the sales mix of the model range are also important, but at the end of the day most carmakers will always prioritize running their production plants at full tilt whenever possible.

Shares in Scaringe’s Rivian are consequently poised to jump some 6% at the start of trade Wednesday. Lucid meanwhile has developed a reputation for consistently lowering production targets, and its shares are set to drop 4%.

Lucid can count itself lucky however that speculation its majority owner, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund PIF, could take the company private provides some sort of floor to the stock.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest