Truck-maker Rivian goes public; here’s what electric vehicles have to do to compete with gasoline-powered vehicles

There were big swings Tuesday afternoon following an IPO for Rivian, the electric-truck maker. After initial trading prices of $15 a share, Rivian’s shares surged 33 percent to close at $19.05. American trucking companies…

Truck-maker Rivian goes public; here's what electric vehicles have to do to compete with gasoline-powered vehicles

There were big swings Tuesday afternoon following an IPO for Rivian, the electric-truck maker. After initial trading prices of $15 a share, Rivian’s shares surged 33 percent to close at $19.05.

American trucking companies have taken notice of Rivian. Companies such as Royal Caribbean Cruises, DHL, and ArcBest have used the startup to develop new, more environmentally-friendly freight trucks. With such a big stake in the electric truck market, Rivian’s success on the public market this week will give more visibility to the tech world’s latest class of high-tech vehicles.

Tuesday’s performance may represent a market recovery for the electric-vehicle industry, which saw a large loss in 2018. The Green Car Congress predicts industry-wide sales of full-size pickups will fall from more than 860,000 units in 2017 to roughly 50,000 in 2019. Truck companies who started rolling out vehicles in the past few years, including Navistar and Mack Trucks, are now looking to retire their entire fleets.

Some experts attribute the recent market downturn to concerns over the future of battery-electric vehicles. While manufacturers have made major progress in the development of a battery-powered car that can be recharged on the fly, there are still ancillary costs and charging issues that come with that. Those same analysts have predicted that 2019 could be the final year that electric vehicles are competitive with gasoline-powered vehicles, noting that carmakers have made significant investments to integrate electric technology into their existing fleets. The Navistar, for example, has brought onboard a 45 million gallon hybrid fuel system, which is expected to provide a 10 percent fuel economy boost while cutting carbon emissions by 30 percent.

When Rivian released its IPO documents, it projected sales of up to 12,000 vehicles in 2020. The privately-held company has developed a number of electric trucks in its first few years of operation. The first model from Rivian, the R1T, is slated to hit the market at the end of this year. This latest success may help put the startup in good stead for longer-term success.

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