Charging remains a challenge for all companies introducing electric vehicles. While stations are available in many urban centers, their numbers are fewer in suburbs and many less densely populated areas have no charging infrastructure. That could be a particular issue for Rivian since it expects owners to take its vehicles out into the wilderness where the nearest charging station could be many miles away.
The big question hanging over young electric vehicle companies is whether they have enough cash on hand to finance their expansion when sales are still low. Rivian used up $3.5 billion of cash on operations and capital spending from the start of 2020 through the end of June this year. But Rivian appears to be able to finance its expansion into the near future. It had just over $5 billion of cash on hand at the end of September, and the I.P.O. will bring in nearly $12 billion.
Rivian’s I.P.O. was one of the largest in recent years, exceeding Uber’s 2019 offering, which raised $8 billion. But it is smaller than Facebook’s 2012 offering, which raised $17 billion. So far this year, companies have raised $290 billion in 901 deals, compared with $169 billion raised in 457 deals in all of last year, according to the data service firm Dealogic. The stock market is playing a crucial role in funneling money into new sectors of the economy, including companies deploying green technology.
But to some analysts, investors are just throwing money at what’s hot, and not doing enough to discern which companies are actually strong. “The market’s pricing mechanism is broken and you can’t see the real successes,” said Mr. O’Rourke of JonesTrading.
But Mr. MacDuffie. the Wharton professor, said he believed there was enough potential growth in the electric vehicle market for many companies to succeed. “It’s not so much a winner-takes-all market,” he said. “We are probably more at a rising tide lifts most boats, if not every boat.”
Investors that took an early stake in Rivian, Ford and Amazon included, are sitting on big gains. Ford’s Rivian shares were worth $10 billion at Wednesday’s closing price and Amazon’s at least $16 billion.
And Mr. Scaringe, Rivian’s chief executive, is also sitting on a fortune. His shares in Rivian are worth over $1.7 billion. And this year, Rivian’s board approved a new stock award for Mr. Scaringe that could be worth over $7 billion if the stock trades as high as $295.