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Rivian Stock: 3 Things the EV Maker's CEO Wants Investors to Know

The EV maker Rivian released its first-ever earnings report as a public company on Dec. 17. Here's some highlights from the CEO's remarks.

Rivian (RIVN) - Get Rivian Automotive, Inc. Class A Report has a $92 billion market cap even as it had produced only 652 vehicles and delivered 386 of those at the close of its first quarter as a public company. 

The company, of course, isn't trading based on what it has done so far, but instead on what investors expect the brand to deliver.

That's still a very high bar for the company to reach as its market cap exceeds that of both Ford (F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report and General Motors (GM) - Get General Motors Company Report

Chief Executive RJ Scaringe, however, seems excited about the challenge and spoke enthusiastically about what his company has accomplished and what it expects to do going forward. He talked about his plans in the company's first-ever earnings call on Dec. 17.

Rivian Has Ambitions Beyond Profit

Like Tesla (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report CEO Elon Musk, Scaringe sees EVs as more than just a way to earn a profit. He's pretty passionate, or at least he appears to be, about the impact his company can make on the environment.

Our generation will have profound impact on the planet and the world our kid's kid's kids will inherit. We can spend a lot of time on the specifics of climate change, but the reality is we as society are rapidly changing the composition of the atmosphere. If we want life as we know it to thrive for many generations, for now we must change. This is what inspired me to start Rivian and this is what drives the decisions we made as an organization including the decision to become a public company. The challenge of shifting on fossil fuels is as big as it comes, and it's going to require people, companies and entire industries to come together in ways we never had before. From day one, our focus has always been to maximize impact, to keep the world adventurous forever.

Those are bold statements, but people who buy EVs often do so because they feel as if they're doing right by the planet.

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Amazon Plays a Big Part in Rivian's Plans

Amazon (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report backed Rivian early and has placed a huge order for vans, but it can back out of taking delivery if the EV company can't deliver on its promises. Scaringe made clear that he understands the stakes.

In the commercial market, we are bringing to market the Rivian Commercial Van platform. Our first vehicle on this platform will be our 700-cubic-foot electric delivery van, or EDV 700. We designed these vehicles working closely with Amazon, who has placed an initial order of 100,000 EDVs. Our commercial vehicles are designed with a focus on safety, comfort and ease of operation. They offer a step change in driver experience while also delivering a lower total cost of ownership. Every commercial vehicle sold to Amazon is complemented by FleetOS, our proprietary end-to-end centralized fleet management platform with a recurring monthly subscription fee. The 700-cubic-foot EDV has achieved a range of 201 miles based on internal testing using official EPA test procedures.

Basically, Rivian succeeds or fails based on its ability to keep Amazon happy. The online giant won't be the only customer for its vans, but it will be the biggest and will serve as a bellwether for any other company that considers buying one (or many) for its fleet.

Manufacturing May Be the Biggest Challenge

Rivian has ambitious plans and it has to move quickly to achieve its goals and not see its market cap plummet. Scaringe laid out one of the biggest hurdles facing his company.

Launching and ramping production of three different vehicles within a few months is an incredibly tough challenge. This production ramp requires the simultaneous ramp of our supply chain, hiring and training of our product workforce, equipment bring-up, and rapid iterations through production quality loops. These challenges have been exacerbated, given the state of our global supply chain, tight labor market, and of course the complications from Covid.

The company, he said, will fall a few vehicles short of its stated goal to produce 1,200 cars and vans by the end of 2021. He says that the company should be able to ramp up quickly in the new year.

Just as we're scaling our manufacturing facility, hundreds of our suppliers are also scaling their production to match our vehicle ramp rate. Our procurement team has remained nimble and continues to work with our supplier partners across all tiers to mitigate issues stemming from our supply chain delay of market delay to market and the Covid pandemic. Given the uncertainty within the supply chain, we decide to carry higher inventory levels than presumably assumed to help ensure we consistently have parts to build. The good news is we do not believe any of our supply chain challenges represent long-term systemic issues.

Rivian in 2022 also plans to begin building a second U.S. factory, in Georgia. That factory, however, won't produce saleable vehicles until 2024.