Rivian has a challenging year ahead — and the first quarter is off to a tepid start.

The EV startup announced Tuesday that it built 13,980 vehicles and delivered 13,588 of them in the first quarter of 2024. Both of those figures are down from the fourth quarter of 2023, where it built 17,541 and shipped 13,972.

Rivian did signal that it plans to make roughly the same number of EVs as it did in 2023. So, if the company can keep apace of 2023 numbers it should meet  targets. Things won’t get easier from here. Rivian plans to shut down its production lines for weeks in the second quarter so it can make upgrades that should help it lower the cost of building its EVs — another critical challenge it must overcome if it hopes to remain a relevant player and stay in the game long enough to bring its next-generation R2 EVs to market in 2026.

Producing and selling vehicles, which includes the R1S SUV, R1T pickup and two versions of a commercial electric van, has never been the company’s only challenge. Lowering the cost of building its EVs is essential to profitability. The company reported in February that it was losing around $43,000 on every vehicle sold in the final quarter of last year.

All this uncertainty is coming at a time when many companies are having trouble meeting the lofty expectations that were set by booming EV sales over the last two years.

Tesla reported its own very weak first quarter sales on Tuesday. Ford has scaled back its ambitions for its flagship EVs. In the startup world, Lucid Motors said in February that it only plans to build around 9,000 luxury sedans this year as it continues to try and establish a market. Fisker has fallen pretty much flat on its face, selling only half of the 10,000 electric SUVs its contract manufacturer made in 2023.

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