Rivian established a first mover advantage in the electric pickup truck market when it launched the R1T in 2021. Having won the coveted Motor Trend Truck of the Year award for 2022, Rivian, we believe, held the market share lead in EV pickup trucks as of the end of 2022.
Fresh on the heels of having won the Motor Trend Truck of the Year for 2023, Ford announced on January 5th that it has sold 15,617 F-150 Lightning trucks since the vehicle was unveiled to customers in May of last year. Ford has not so quietly been claiming that in each of the last two months it has sold more EV pickups than any other manufacturer.
By the end of Q1 2023, it is likely that Ford will pass Rivian to become the overall leader in electric pickup sales in the United States. This is not necessarily surprising, as Ford’s classic F-150 has been the best-selling truck in the United States for 46 consecutive years. Importantly, Ford offers the F-150 in multiple model variants that range in price from $40K to $90K. And Ford has many years of brand equity from which to draw. Moreover, while both Rivian and Ford are relatively inexperienced at building EVs, Ford has a demonstrated ability to produce vehicles in large volumes—something that Rivian has struggled with.
Another headwind facing Rivian is the inevitable launch of Tesla’s Cybertruck. To be clear, the Cybertruck is way behind schedule, relative to original estimates provided by Tesla, but it now appears that limited production will begin this summer. Rather than go head-to-head against Rivian and Ford in the market for conventional-looking EV pickup trucks, Tesla is taking a risk with a unique body style that is sure to electrify some, yet conceivably turn-off others. The angular, space-age body of the Cybertruck is equipped to handle any type of terrain, will supposedly feature a bullet-proof body, and will be manufactured with a unique mix of light-weight aluminum and ultra-hard 30x cold-rolled stainless steel.
From what we can gather, fly-over drone footage available over the Internet of Tesla’s Gigafactory in Texas revealed the recent delivery of at least part of a 9,000-ton Giga Press, which will be used to cast aluminum parts in the first production run. Elon Musk has said the Cybertruck, when available, will be the car he drives to work in Austin. The Cybertruck has the potential to put a freeze on the electric pickup truck market, as consumers will be curious to learn more about it before purchasing a rival vehicle. This is especially true for prospective Rivian buyers who desire an elite luxury pickup truck. While a case can be made that the R1T and Cybertruck may ultimately appeal to different buyers, it is likely that consumers who are interested in the R1T would also consider the Cybertruck for similar reasons. Could this be part of the reason why Rivian stopped disclosing its backlog?