Is Rivian Worth $80 Billion? Elon Musk Doesn’t Think So.

The most consequential EV startup since Tesla is planning an IPO

A silver Rivian R1T electric truck sitting still in the desert against a blue sky. The EV company is planning an IPO for November 2021.
The electric R1T truck from Rivian.

What makes a car company valuable? Is it how many vehicles they sell? If so, General Motors would far outstrip Tesla in the U.S., and Toyota would dominate Elon Musk’s electric vehicle maker in global numbers. But GM’s value, according to today’s stock market, is around $72 billion, Toyota’s is around $279 billion, and Tesla is over double the worldwide leader in sales with $718 billion.

So it comes as no surprise that Rivian, the most consequential EV startup since Tesla, is seeking an $80 billion valuation for its initial public offering, according to Bloomberg. That would make the electric truck and SUV company more valuable than GM and Ford (which will soon have its own electric F-150), even though it has yet to deliver a single production vehicle to a customer. 

As we explained a month ago, investing in EV companies that haven’t sold a single car is commonplace in 2021, though Rivian is reportedly looking to launch its IPO after it starts delivering vehicles to customers who have already placed orders. Bloomberg reports that the company is eyeing the Thanksgiving holiday for the stock market launch, citing confidential sources, and that they’re hoping to deliver the first 100 vehicles well before that in September.

That delivery schedule comes after Rivian has delayed the official launch of its R1T truck and R1S SUV multiple times, due at least in part to pandemic-induced supply chain issues. Despite the postponements, the company shows huge promise thanks to investment and orders from Amazon (in fact, some of the delivery vans built in partnership with Jeff Bezos’s behemoth are already on the road), as well as backing from other influential financial and automotive players like T. Rowe Price, BlackRock and Ford.

One person who isn’t convinced? Elon Musk. After the news of the IPO plans broke, the Tesla CEO took to Twitter to weigh in.

“Don’t want to be unreasonable,” he wrote, “but maybe they should be required to deliver at least one vehicle per billion dollars of valuation *before* the IPO?”

While Musk may seem like a poor critic considering many have deemed Tesla overvalued at various times during its wild stock market run over the last two years, Bloomberg notes that it took the EV leader almost 20 years and the production of almost a million vehicles before it reached a value of $80 billion. 

Despite his conflict of interest, we’ll have to side with Elon on this one.

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