Bad news for Rivian: the electric Ford F-150 is at least pretty good

From November: What edge does Rivian have in the truck or EV market? (market cap: $127 billion)

From January: How is Rivian still worth $78 billion?

The market cap today is $18 billion, an 85 percent loss for those who bought the stock at the time of my November post (or a massive profit for those who went short!).

Today’s Car and Driver review of the F-150 Lightning:

Though this truck has many parlor tricks—a big frunk that can swallow 400 pounds, an optional tongue-weight scale, and BlueCruise hands-free driving—none are as impressive as how quick it builds speed from a standstill, thanks to 775 pound-feet of instant torque. Mat the accelerator and the front tires spin. Actually, the fronts will spin if you floor the accelerator at any speed below 50 mph or so. The effect is amplified as you load the truck closer to its 2235-pound max payload capacity.

It even drives and feels a lot like an F-150. A 50/50 weight balance contributes to very good road manners. … A low center of gravity keeps the truck relatively flat through corners, too.

The base vinyl-lined Pro model starts at $41,769 and comes with the 98.0-kWh battery that’s good for an EPA range of 230 miles, while the upgraded extended-range battery brings 131.0 kilowatts-hours of storage and 320 miles of range. … On the not-so-good front, the Lightning can tow up to 10,000 pounds when spec’d with the Max Trailer Tow package, but it can’t do so for very long between charges. We pulled an 8300-pound boat and trailer at about 65 mph, and the on-board trip computer indicated we were getting less than one mile per kilowatt-hour. This puts the highway range with a trailer of decent size and mass somewhere around 100 miles.

[A friend has a reservation for the F-150 Lightning and they won’t let him order the base model, so the $41.7k price is maybe just a theoretical one. The real price is at least $60k.]

So the Ford product is at least pretty good, is backed by a company from which people have been buying trucks for more than 100 years, and is much cheaper than what Rivian charges for a similar capability.

Ford even shows a great place to run out of battery power:

If this vehicle had dog mode, it would certainly be a better value than anything from Tesla!

Circling back to Rivian… after they run out of Silicon Valley enthusiasts, who is going to pay $100,000 for a non-Ford, non-GM, non-Toyota pickup truck? And what is the stock/company worth?

Rivian stock versus the S&P 500 starting on the date of my first post:

12 thoughts on “Bad news for Rivian: the electric Ford F-150 is at least pretty good

  1. Ford should sell an optional engine to carry in the frunk to charge the battery so that your friend can get back out of the mountains. They could call it a generator.

  2. It looks a lot like that Doug DeMuro “The Rivian R1T is the Coolest Pickup Truck Ever Made!!!” video from November ’21 was the Kiss of Death. Thanks Doug! That’s Quirky as ***k!

    I really can’t blame DeMuro, though. He is who he is and he can’t help himself.

    I’m glad to hear it for Ford. They are using the knowledge they’ve gained since the 2005 Escape Hybrid to build some impressive EVs and Hybrid vehicles, even if the Mustang Mach Zzzzzzzz is not a Mustang. I’ll know when someone from my Rod and Gun Club buys one that it has achieved true, grudging acceptance.

  3. It is, however, a SUPER PORKER: “…a curb weight starting at some 6400 pounds…”

    I’m not going to buy a pickup truck that is carrying around 1500 pounds of extra crap before anyone puts anything in it.

    • I’ll go even further, just because: I think what we’re headed for is another Huge Government Bailout operation on all these porky, ugly and hobbled trucks and cars that seem to zoom around fine in the first 10 minutes but are packed to the rafters with dead weight. Soon come.

    • You might night have a “need” for a truck that weighs that much, but most people don’t “need” most of the vehicles on the road now.

      My neighbors with 1 kid and 2 dogs have a Cadillac ESV to carry around their crap when they’re not driving around their G wagon or AMG convertible, none of which they need.

      I don’t “need” my 7800 pound Ram pickup either, but I want to fit 6 people and pull a boat or an RV trailer with it, and it works pretty well for that. Without the trailer it gets about the same 22mpg as my 2-door Audi that I also don’t need.

    • Alex: You raise a great point. For most trips, the would do the job and also provide brilliant handling. It weighs about 1,500 lbs. and was available with factory air conditioning. With a modern engine I don’t see why it couldn’t get 45 mpg. With the biggest engine (about 115 hp), 0-60 times similar to our Honda Odyssey. Stuff in the engine from the Honda Fit (130 hp), which gets 40 mpg on the highway.

    • @philg: I find it alarming that for years and years I read C/D as an adolescent and early adult and part of their criticism was always directed at cars that were needlessly heavy and ponderous. It seems that with EVs, they’re willing to tolerate almost any amount of mass in the service of being green. They barely mention the weight of that truck.

      Well, all that mass has to be lifted up and down hills, accelerated and decelerated, the kinetic energy has to be absorbed and/or transferred in a collision, and then the waste products are going to have to be recycled and remanufactured if possible. You can melt engines down, you can re-use steel, but I am still waiting for a good, authoritative “tip to tail” discussion of what the world is going to do with million of tons of battery packs every year. It seems to me that we are leaping ahead without thinking much about the problems we’re going to face.

      When I first got my Escape Hybrid I thought the battery was big, serving as it does as the floor of the rear cargo compartment. Compared to the batteries in these EV trucks, it’s tiny and it only weighs about 250-300 pounds with all the ancillaries.

      I don’t see anyone really talking about the “elephant in the room.”

    • @Sam: Believe me, I’m not a “to each according to their needs” acolyte when it comes to cars and trucks. I think people should have lots of options and choices, and if they want to spend a lot of money buying something frivolous and only use 10% of its capabilities, that doesn’t really bother me. Heck, I know that my 70+ year old mother only “uses” the AWD capability of her Subaru Outback for a few months every year, and then only for a few days at a time – but when you really need it, it’s awesome.

      On the other hand, I think in this rush to electrify automotive transportation we’re forgetting some very hard-learned lessons. The engineering is dazzling in some ways but we’re not paying much attention to the fact that all these vehicles are carrying around 1000’s of pounds of battery that will, in the final analysis, have to go somewhere. And practically nobody talks about the sustainability of the raw materials. The units are complex and most of the time, hermetically sealed and often contain liquid cooling systems and so forth. You can’t just put them in the crusher.

      Also, even after they “fail” and the car stops working well, they are still high voltage units that can easily kill someone. Get yourself across the terminals of even a semi-discharged and malfunctioning 300VDC battery in my Escape Hybrid and I hope you have paid your life insurance policy.

  4. I haven’t seen any discussion about the effect of vehicle weight on road wear. The weight of the entry level F150 Lightning is 6171 lb, the entry level F150 2WD is 4693 lbs and the 4WD is 4951 lbs. Since the road wear is proportional to the 4th power of weight, the Lightning causes 2.4-3.0x more wear than the ICE F150s and its up to 3.7x for the extended range version. of course this applies to all electric vehicles, which on average are about 2x more damaging to roadways than their ICE equivalents. And no gas taxes to pay for any of it. Worth thinking about.

    • @Wes: That’s a great point, especially because a lot of people who buy these will also use them on unimproved roads that have to be maintained by townships when they become rutted and too perilous to traverse. That costs money, and my little town spends a lot of it every year in an attempt to keep dirt roads from turning into Moonscapes. The heavier the vehicles on them, the faster they deteriorate. Everything has a price.

  5. So other car manufacturers are able to come up with something. I expected this, since Tesla seems to buy its components from everywhere (Lotus chassis, Panasonic battery, Bosch electronics …).

    It seems that the more than tenfold rise of TSLA since January 2020 up to November 2021 was fueled by COVID crony funds (sorry, “relief funds”!).

    Will the grid and popular software protect Tesla? In Europe standardized plugs are mandatory already, and grid sharing happens. Will Tesla become an energy company? Or will it become a data mining company that installs Alexa in every self driving Tesla?

    (Premium Twitter access for Tesla users with automatic blue accounts for further data mining would be another idea.)

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