US EV Startups Rivian & Lucid Struggled in Q1 2023, Despite Some Encouraging Signs
Tough External Environment
The US auto industry faced a difficult external environment in 2022 amidst elevated inflation, which diminishes disposable income, higher interest rates that make financing more expensive and recession fears that puts off buyers. These factors persisted this year as the US Fed continued its rate-hiking cycle, inflation is far still from its 2% target, despite cooling down and GDP growth slowed to 1.1% in the first quarter according preliminary data.
The recent banking turmoil along with the central bank's restrictive monetary policy, caused tighter lending conditions in Q1, which are expected to continue through the rest of the year, according to the latest survey . Furthermore, Fed staff projected a "mild recession" this year, as reveled by the accounts of the previous meeting in March. 
Start-ups such as Rivian Automotive and Lucid Group Inc, are even more vulnerable to such headwinds, since they are not profitable and need to invest in equipment and facilities.
Q1 2023 Results
Given the challenging backdrop, the two US electric vehicle makers have been trying to rein in costs, with their efforts including workforce reductions , . This week we got an updated look into their financials, since they released their results for the first quarter.
Rivian Automotive reported financials that offered some optimism, since its Net Loss narrowed to $1.349 billion and Revenues of $661 million were roughly unchanged from Q4, but were much higher than a year ago. The firm's cash of $11.78 billion at the end of March, marked a decline though. 
Lucid Group's results did not seem to have any particularly encouraging spin to them. Net Loss ballooned to more nearly $800 million and Revenues of $149.43 million dropped on sequential basis, even though they rose from year ago. The firm ended the quarter with $3.4 billion in cash, with total liquidity of approximately $4.1 billion, which would suffice for at least another year. 
The electric vehicle market is booming, with more than ten million units sold in 2022 globally according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), which expects 35% y/y growth during the current year . However, the challenging environment has created demand fears over the past several months.
The EV leader Tesla Motors Inc produced 440,808 vehicles in the first quarter, but handed over a lesser amount of 422,875 units. This production/delivery gap that has been going on for a few quarters, is an indication of weak demand. Partly because of that, Tesla made a series of price cuts that had a negative impact to its profitability. 
Rivian Automotive manufactured 9,395 vehicles in the first quarter, but delivered only 7,946 , while reaffirming the 50K production target for the year. Lucid Group is facing demand headwinds, as it produced 2,314 cars during the same period, but handed over just 1,406 . Furthermore, its over-10,000 units manufacturing guidance is far lower than the 28,000 reservations it had reported in February. 
Both startups made an impressive entry into the electric vehicle market, since Rivian's R1T was named 2022 Truck of the Year  and Lucid's Air sedan 2022 Car of the Year by MotorTend . Other startups as well as legacy automakers from the US and abroad, are making strides though, whereas the leader of the pack, Tesla, looks untouchable for now.
Rivian beat everyone to the punch with its R1T truck and also produces the R1S SUV, as well as delivery vans. As already referenced, it delivered 7,946 units in Q1, but does not provide model breakdown. The Ford Motor Company only launched its own electric truck – the F-150 Lighting – around a year ago and along with the Mach-E SUV, had combined deliveries of nearly 9,700, easily beating its startup rival. 
Lucid plans to enter the widely popular SUV segment with the Gravity which is expected to launch next year, but for now it only offers the Air sedan. There, it competes with Tesla's Model S, the i4 of German luxury automaker BMW and more, while Volkswagen recently announced the ID.7. 
The two EV startups made a splash with eye-catching and critically acclaimed models, but completion has been increasing. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the number of available electric car models reached 500 in 2022 . Furthermore, their financial are not inspiring as they face and adverse external environment and despite some encouraging signs, this week quarterly results largely alluded to that. However, inflation is coming down in the US and the Fed hinted to a pause of its aggressive tightening cycle.
Both companies went public in the second half of 2021 and their performance has been disappointing, as markets don't seem to be attracted. After a losing 2022, RIVN.us lost around 30% in the first four months of the current year, having set new record lows in April. LCID.us is basically flat during the same period, as its January rally was earased.
Senior Market Specialist
Nikos Tzabouras is a graduate of the Department of International & European Economic Studies at the Athens University of Economics and Business. He has a long time presence at FXCM, as he joined the company in 2011. He has served from multiple positions, but specializes in financial market analysis and commentary.
With his educational background in international relations, he emphasizes not only on Technical Analysis but also in Fundamental Analysis and Geopolitics – which have been having increasing impact on financial markets. He has longtime experience in market analysis and as a host of educational trading courses via online and in-person sessions and conferences.
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