Rivian 'making progress' on production ramp-up, sets market share goal

Rivian introduces all-electric pickup and SUV at LA Auto Show in Los Angeles
R.J. Scaringe, Rivian's 35-year-old CEO, introduces his company's R1T all-electric pickup and all-electric R1S SUV at Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November 27, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

DETROIT, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Rivian Automotive (RIVN.O) is "making progress" in the increase of production for electric vehicles at its Normal, Illinois, assembly plant and is aiming to take 10% share in the EV market by 2030, Chief Executive Officer R.J. Scaringe said on Thursday.

"We're absolutely making progress," he said during a Wolfe Research conference of the push to increase vehicle production. "The plant is starting to ramp nicely."

Scaringe said Rivian, whose shares closed up 10.7% at $63.71, idled the plant for the first 10 days of January to make changes on the production lines in a move to boost output.

Scaringe, responding to a question about how big Rivian could become by 2030, said the company had the brand position "to build out a portfolio ... to allow us to really work toward building a position of 10% market share within the EV space."

He called the global semiconductor chip shortage the "most painful" constraint in the push to build production. The California-based startup produced 1,015 vehicles last year, coming up short of its target of 1,200 due to supply-chain constraints. read more

Scaringe said Rivian had replaced some chipsets in certain parts with other chipsets that are easier to get. He said the global shortage would be a factor through the rest of the year.

Rivian's stock slumped after it outlined during its first quarterly earnings report as a public company its struggles with the manufacturing of its R1T pickup and R1S SUV. It also has a contract to build 100,000 electric delivery vans by 2025 for Amazon.com , which has a 20% stake in Rivian. read more

Back in December, Scaringe pegged production challenges to global supply-chain constraints, the COVID-19 pandemic, a tight labor market and short-term issues around building electric battery modules. read more

Scaringe said Thursday Rivian was building a pilot line for in-house production of battery cell production and also plans to co-invest with a supplier on production as well. Rivian's cells are currently supplied by Samsung SDI (006400.KS). He also said automakers will need to work on securing critical battery materials like lithium and nickel.

"It's not a choice. It's a requirement," he said.

Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Leslie Adler, Bernard Orr

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