Investor megabucks chasing an electric future in Rivian IPO

Rivian, the California-based EV startup, may have delivered barely 150 new electric pickups since the firm was launched in 2009, but hold on, because the finances behind its first issuance of stock make clear just how thoroughly the coming of electrification has upended the auto industry in this country. In yesterday’s initial public offering, Rivian put 153 million shares on the market at an opening price of $78 per share. As The New York Times has been reporting today, the equity markets immediately boosted each share to $106.75 when actual trading commenced. That would put Rivian’s potential market capitalization at more than $90 billion, outstripping the value of both General Motors and the Ford Motor Company, which have produced a couple of hundred million vehicles over more than a century between them.

If this seems a little strange, consider that Tesla, which is considerably further ahead in terms of deliveries but is still definitely an automotive newcomer, is capitalized to the tune of just about $1 trillion following its own stock issuance. The teachable lesson here is that investors are willing to bet big – really, really huge – on future profitability on the part of these newcomers. And Rivian, which is beginning to roll out its R1T pickup shown here, is heavily financed by both Ford and Amazon, the latter of which has placed an order with Rivian for 100,000 new electric delivery vans, to augment the blue ocean of hightop Ford Transit vans that are now a fixed part of the landscape. Rivian’s consumer vehicles will also include an all-activity SUV.

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