Rivian EV production expands but falls short of 2022 goal

EV upstart produced 24,337 vehicles at its factory in Normal, Ill., last year, as Rivian pursues second factory in Georgia
Manufacturing workers assemble electric vehicles at Rivian in Normal, Ill., on July 20, 2022. (Photo for the Atlanta Journal Constitution by Ron Johnson)



Manufacturing workers assemble electric vehicles at Rivian in Normal, Ill., on July 20, 2022. (Photo for the Atlanta Journal Constitution by Ron Johnson)

Electric vehicle maker Rivian announced late Tuesday it fell short of its reduced 2022 production goal despite continually increasing assembly throughout last year.

The California-based EV upstart produced 10,020 vehicles at its manufacturing facility in Normal, Ill., during the last three months of 2022, a 36% jump over the quarter that ended in September. It brings Rivian’s total production for last year to 24,337, just shy of the company’s 25,000-vehicle goal.

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said in an email to employees that another 714 EVs were near completion but couldn’t be counted in the company’s official year-end total, according to an email shared with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Still, he called it “an incredible achievement and testament to the commitment and passion of our entire team.”

Rivian, which plans to build a $5 billion factory an hour east of Atlanta, has struggled with supply chain issues that have vexed many industries and hampered production at its first factory in Illinois. At one time, Rivian said it expected to produce 50,000 combined R1T trucks, R1S SUVs and electric delivery vans this year.

The automaker ultimately cut its production goal in half amid the global supply chain squeeze.

Scaringe’s email said the Illinois plant had to completely close or shut down production early for 70 days last year due to supply chain issues. He was optimistic about 2023′s outlook.

“As we look ahead to 2023, I’m more confident than ever in our success and ability to continue to ramp thanks to the drive and dedication of our team,” the email said.

Automotive manufacturing is a capital- and labor-intensive business, and Rivian, as a startup, has had to learn the ropes of mass production amid a supply chain crunch, growing competition in the EV marketplace and an uncertain economy marked by inflation and efforts by the Federal Reserve to tame high prices.

Rivian posted losses of roughly $5 billion through the first nine months of 2022, but it had an order book of more than 114,000 as of Nov. 7, the company has said. Rivian should release its financial information for the fourth quarter of 2022 in the coming weeks.

The proposed 16-million-square-foot Georgia plant is expected to manufacture a new vehicle model, the R2 crossover, starting in 2026. The vehicles, which will be sold at a lower price than the company’s current consumer models — the R1T and R1S — are crucial to expanding Rivian’s customer base.

In late December, the company and a local joint development authority were granted a federal wetlands permit to grade the entire 2,000-acre site in southern Morgan and Walton counties. Rivian and state leaders have said the factory will create 7,500 jobs. State and local leaders offered Rivian some $1.5 billion in incentives to locate in Georgia, though local property tax breaks are currently the subject of litigation.

A note of disclosure

Cox Enterprises, owner of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, also owns about a 4% stake in Rivian and supplies services to the company. Sandy Schwartz, a Cox executive who oversees the AJC, is on Rivian’s board of directors and holds stock personally. He does not take part in the AJC’s coverage of Rivian.