By Ed Ludlow and Chester Dawson | Bloomberg
Rivian Automotive Inc. is rapidly ramping up production of its electric SUV, which the company’s chief financial officer says is on track to overtake output of the startup’s plug-in pickup this quarter.
The Irvine-based EV maker has faced manufacturing setbacks with its debut models, but expects to build some 50,000 vehicles this year, double its production volume in 2022. It makes the battery-powered R1S SUV, R1T pickup and an electric van it builds for Amazon.com Inc., one of its largest shareholders.
“We’ve seen significant progress in our ramp of R1S,” CFO Claire McDonough said Thursday at a Deutsche Bank AG conference. “It’ll be the first quarter in which R1S will be the majority of our production volume.”
McDonough said the SUV accounts for about 70% of Rivian’s pre-orders and that the increased output stems, in part, from its workaround to the semiconductor shortage. The company has been able to ease that supply chain bottleneck by developing a two-motor powertrain in-house known as Enduro, she said, which is supplementing a four-motor design made by Robert Bosch GMBH that has faced lingering backlogs.
“The Enduro ramp continues to be slightly ahead of plan,” the CFO said, adding that Rivian has just begun output of two-motor SUVs in recent weeks.
The R1S is one of a handful of three-row battery-powered SUVs currently on the market in the US, including Tesla Inc.’s Model X and Model Y. But legacy automaking giants Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. all have announced plans to enter the segment.
Read more: Toyota Plans 3-Row Electric SUV for Its First US-Made EV Model
Shares of Rivian rose 3.4% to close regular trading in New York on Thursday at $15.24. The stock is down about 17% this year.
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