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Tesla Faces 'Serious Competition' From a Detroit Startup, According to Morgan Stanley

Erik Sherman

Tesla could lose its electric car king crown soon.

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas, an expert in the market, said that Tesla’s dominance of the U.S. electric car market—with 80% of unit sales and 90% of revenue— is “unsustainable” and faces “serious competition” from a Plymouth, Mich. startup, Rivian Automotive. The company has “access to talent & capital,” according to Jonas, as reported by CNBC, and is focused on the sweet spot in auto sales these days: pickup trucks and SUVs.

Founded in 2009 by now-36-year-old CEO R.J. Scaringe, Rivian initially worked to develop an electric sports coup.

The company spent years setting up its organization, supply chain, and manufacturing and hired top talent. Rivian’s director of engineering came from supercar manufacturer McLaren Automotive and the vice president of design worked at Jeep and oversaw the development of Grand Cherokee and Wrangler.

Rivian has said that its R1T electric truck pickup will have a 400-mile range, go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds, offer all-wheel-drive, and tow up to 11,000 pounds. The R1S is an electric seven-passenger SUV, also with a 400-mile range.

Bigger is better for U.S. auto sales. In 2017, vehicle unit sales were 65% trucks, crossovers, and SUVs and only 35% passenger cars.

Although Tesla’s products are popular with buyers, they have been in the passenger car category so far. Tesla’s specifications for its Model X SUV show a 295-mile range. The company has yet to introduce a pickup.