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Rivian upholds 2022 production targets as net loss widens

Electric vehicle maker Rivian affirmed Wednesday that the company is on track to hit its annual production target of 25,000 vehicles despite unpredictable supply chain crunches and component shortages.

The startup-turned-public company remained committed to its production goal even as industry-wide challenges, supply chain snarls and macroeconomic forces have conspired this year to keep automakers from satisfying a strong consumer appetite for cars, trucks and SUVs.

Rivian reported that its third-quarter production rose 67% over the same period a year ago, for a total count of 15,000 vehicles, including the automaker’s truck, SUV and Amazon delivery vans, through September 30. During the quarter, the company produced 7,363 vehicles, boosted by the addition of a second shift at its Normal, Illinois, factory. It delivered 6,584 of them -- a significant jump from the 4,467 vehicles Rivian delivered in the second quarter of the year.

Like other automakers, and especially other startups, Rivian has struggled this year, with founder and CEO RJ Scaringe forced in July to lay off 6% of its workforce, or roughly 900 employees.

For the third quarter, Rivian reported a net loss of $1.72 billion on revenue of $536 million. That compares with a net loss of $1.23 billion on revenue of $1 million the same period a year ago.

In October, Rivian was forced to recall nearly all of its vehicles ­to fix a steering defect. Meanwhile, the company is gearing up for long-term supply chain constraints it foresees in the battery supply chain. The industry’s ongoing semiconductor chip shortage is “an appetizer to the degree of the sort of supply chain constraint we’re likely to see across the battery supply chain over the next 15 years,” Scaringe said from the TechCrunch Disrupt conference stage later in the month.

However, the demand for Rivian’s vehicles remains, with more than 114,000 preorders in the U.S. and Canada as of Monday. That’s on top of Amazon’s initial order of 100,000 electric vans.

Rivian pointed to several segments where it sees potential growth, including the 2026 launch of its next-generation R2 EV platform, a partnership with Mercedes-Benz to build electric vans at scale and the hiring of former Waymo and Zoox executive James Philbin to lead Rivian’s efforts in AI and automated driving technology.

The near-term economic challenges are putting pressue on EV makers of all sizes. British electric vehicle startup Arrival, which restructured its business amid a cash crunch and pivoted to develop commercial vans for the U.S. instead of Europe, said Tuesday it doesn’t expect to earn revenue until after 2023.

Also on Tuesday, Lucid Motors reported a net loss of $530 million for the third quarter, on $195.5 million in revenue. The startup confirmed it’s on track to build between 6,000 and 7,000 of its Lucid Air luxury sedans in 2022, down from an initial target of 20,000.

Tesla nearly doubled its third-quarter income, to $3.3 billion compared with the same year-ago period, but said production remains hamstrung by supply. The record-setting $21.45 billion revenue Tesla reported for the quarter still fell below analyst expectations.

Rivian, Tesla and the others also face competition from strong legacy automakers that continue to launch electric trucks and SUVs, such as the Volvo EX90 revealed Wednesday morning, on their quest to go fully electric by the end of the decade.