Rivian Automotive (RIVN -1.61%) stock opened higher Friday morning, and has continued to climb as the day wore on, reaching a 3.8% gain as of 11:15 a.m. ET.
With archrival Tesla (TSLA -1.36%) preparing to enter the electric pickup market at any moment, you might expect the opposite result and think that Rivian stockholders would be feeling nervous right about now. But as Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe explains, Tesla's arrival doesn't really worry him, because "our success doesn't require someone else's failure, and vice versa." ?
Responding to a question about Tesla's Cybertruck at the Code Conference 2023 on Thursday, InsideEVs reported yesterday, the Rivian CEO demurred that "if you were to think of like the Venn diagrams of customers [considering buying a Rivian truck or a Cybertruck], there's probably not a lot of overlap." And elaborating on his point in a roundabout way, he even complimented Tesla on building "something that's so different" in appearance from Rivian's own R1S electric SUVs and R1T electric pickup trucks.
That's an important point.
In contrast to Tesla's angular Cybertruck, Rivian's luxury electric vehicles -- while futuristic -- do bear a much closer resemblance to the more traditional SUVs and pickups that more traditional automobile buyers tend to favor. Tesla's Cybertruck, in contrast, looks quite different.
And focusing on this difference in appearance, Scaringe is probably correct: Early adopters who favor Cybertruck's radical departure from traditional appearance probably don't "overlap" a lot with Rivian's customer base.
That being said, I wouldn't be quick to totally discount the threat that Cybertruck poses to Rivian's electric truck business.
After all, the sticker price on a new Rivian R1T does still start at $73,000 and can range as high as $100,000 and more depending on configuration. If Elon Musk sticks to his intention to sell the Cybertruck for anywhere near the $40,000 MSRP that he initially promised -- or even goes as high as the sub-$50,000 price he hinted at over the summer?-- style may not be the biggest difference that car buyers notice when Cybertruck hits the car market. Price will matter, too.
And whether investors will continue to favor Rivian stock in the middle of a price war with Cybertruck remains to be seen.