Electric vehicle stocks have been among the hottest stocks on the market over the past year, and even new entrants with no revenue are getting huge valuations and some are getting caught up in controversy. Not only did Tesla‘s (NASDAQ:TSLA) 52-week-high nearly triple its 52-week-low, Lordstown Motors (NASDAQ: RIDE), Nikola (NASDAQ:NKLA), and others have hit the market — or will shortly — to both wide acclaim and some derision.
But that isn’t the electric-vehicle-related stock (soon to IPO) that I’m excited about. There is an EV company potentially hitting the market later this year called Rivian and it’s a start-up that’s already raised $8.2 billion from the likes of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Ford (NYSE:F), Cox Automotive, and other big investors with real potential. Bloomberg reports that the company has selected underwriters for an IPO and it could reach the market this fall.
But it’s not the money Rivian has raised that excites me, it’s the products the company plans to offer.
Filling an EV need
One of the biggest gaps in the EV market to this point has been trucks and SUVs. Tesla has dabbled in SUVs with the Model Y and Model X, but they were not really designed as rugged off-road vehicles and operate more as crossover-size vehicles. Ford and General Motors (NYSE:GM) both have electric trucks on the near horizon, but nothing the average consumer can yet access. That means the Rivian vehicles slated for release this month could be the first real truck and SUV manufacturer to hit the market.
What makes the R1T truck and R1S different from most EVs is that they’re purpose-built from the ground up to be electric vehicles. They come with over 300 miles of range, the ability to drive through three feet of water, and acceleration of zero to 60 miles per hour in as little as three seconds. And towing ability of up to 11,000 pounds puts them on par with the best-selling trucks in the world.
The R1S SUV is one of the only EV SUVs that can comfortably fit seven passengers, opening up a large market of buyers who need more space than most of the crossover-size EVs hitting the market from Volkswagen, Ford, GM, and others can offer. And with both its truck and its SUV, Rivian is selling vehicles to buyers already spending over $50,000, so its $70,000 price tag won’t come with much sticker shock for buyers who need the size or capabilities.
A big buyer is already on board
The drivetrain platforms for the R1T and R1S are the same, but they’re not the only vehicles being built. The first vehicles to come off the production line will actually be delivery trucks for Amazon. Here’s what Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe recently Tweeted.
I love these! pic.twitter.com/roAQy4Xff2
— RJ Scaringe (@RJScaringe) July 3, 2021
Amazon’s $700 million investment in 2019 in Rivian wasn’t just for equity, it was meant to build a new supplier for 400-plus-mile-range delivery trucks that could both lower costs and reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
Rivian isn’t just getting cachet from Amazon, the investment brings a potentially huge source of demand. Amazon has reportedly ordered 100,000 Rivian trucks to be delivered by the end of 2030, and that could keep the company running for a long time as it builds out infrastructure to meet consumer demand.
What to expect from an IPO
Rivian isn’t quite a pre-revenue company now that its production line is operating, but it’s close. Outside of limited deliveries to Amazon, the company won’t report much revenue pre-IPO — but that will change quickly. Deliveries of R1T trucks are expected to start soon, with broader deliveries beginning in early 2022.
Bloomberg has reported that Rivian could seek a $70 billion valuation in an IPO, with Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Morgan Stanley signed on as advisors. That’s a lofty valuation for a company this early in its growth cycle, but I do think Rivian is building a valuable brand and products that will appeal to the masses. Only time will tell if this valuation is too high.
I don’t often get excited about pre-IPO companies because we don’t know a lot about their financials and it can be very early to judge what they’ll look like as more mature companies. In the case of Rivian, however, the company has the products to succeed in the auto industry, and that’s a good enough start for me to be excited about the stock, which will hopefully hit the market later in 2021.
This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.
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