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Rivian’s race to launch its vehicles

Written by Theo Koenig – August 03, 2021

Reviewed by Asaf Kedem

Anyone wondering where to find the party of the automotive world might want to try looking by the California-based electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer joined by Amazon and Ford - Rivian.

Founded in Florida in 2009 by current CEO RJ Scaringe, Rivian originally started as a company building a combustion engine sports car. Years of development, a couple of changes to the name, and one electric coupe later, and the company is now on the cusp of launching its vehicles after announcing billions of dollars in funding. There’s just one little hitch, they have yet to deliver a vehicle. And a few weeks ago, the company announced yet another delay to the launch of their two flagship vehicles which were to debut earlier this year.

Currently the company offers two vehicles: the R1T all electric pickup truck, and the R1S all-electric SUV. In July, Rivian cited the pandemic and especially the ongoing shortage of semiconductor chips as prevailing reasons for the latest delay. Both vehicles should officially roll out to customers by the end of this year, according to the latest developments. Nevertheless, enormous hype surrounds the vehicles, with reservations already long gone.

Rivian R1T- Pickup

The five-seater, all-wheel drive R1T pickup centers itself as the perfect vehicle for outdoor and off-road adventure.

The drivetrain platform features four motors delivering instant power and independently adjusting torque at each wheel. The pickup is built for utility and durability but features all kinds of crafty innovations, notably a fold-out camp kitchen, as well as a gear tunnel compartment.

Rivian R1S- SUV

The seven-seater R1S, meanwhile, focuses on being one of the rare all-electric SUVs, focusing on practicality and utility.

Between the versatile cabin and the front truck, the R1S boasts over 108 cubic ft. (3.05 m3) in available cargo space. It’s powered by the same drivetrain platform as the R1T pickup, meaning it also features all-wheel drive and independent torque.

The cut-throat electric vehicle market has seen its fair share of unfulfilled promises. Recent EV startups that went public vias SPACs without having ever produced vehicles have seen turbulent times and stagnating stock prices. No vehicles, means no revenue, means the company’s true valuation can become very speculative. Nikola’s hydrogen dream, which now hangs by a thread after a scandalous CEO resignation, serves as a primary example. Rivian have done things differently, however, and rather than go public too early, opted to hold out financially for big contracts and investment through rounds of funding.

Deal with Amazon:

In 2019 Amazon awarded a contract for the development of an electric delivery van to Rivian. The order is for 100,000 vans, with deliveries starting as early as 2022 and ending in 2030. Latest statements from the company confirm that production will begin this year with testing of the electric delivery vans already spotted in San Francisco. Rivian’s production facilities in Normal, Illinois will have 2 separate production lines, one for the Rivian vehicles and another for the Amazon delivery vans.

Latest rounds in funding:

Beyond the order for the electric delivery vans, Amazon have also backed Rivian financially, to the tune of $700 million, in 2019. Ford Motor Company also joined the party in 2019, as did Cox automotive and funds managed by BlackRock. The leading backer, T. Rowe Price Associates and its accounts, however, are the main reason behind Rivian’s whopping $10.5 billion in funding since 2019.

Rivian can take also comfort the latest market developments. Rivian’s direct competition in the form of Nikola’s Badger, Lordstown Motor’s Endurance and Canoo, are embroiled in financial and legal turmoil. Meanwhile, the GMC’s all-electric Hummer isn’t due before 2023, and the Ford F-150 Lightning and Tesla’s Cybertruck won’t come until next year. This puts Rivian in the opportune position of being ahead of the heavy-weights to hit the market (assuming no more further delays).

Competition will come to the forefront quickly, however, and Rivian will have to rely on their vehicle quality and sales. Direct comparison of vehicle specifications put them directly within the market average. The R1T is placed perfectly against its direct competition in terms of technical specifications and price. Although the R1T is more expensive than the base model of the F-150 Lightning, it

However, in terms of price, it is considerably more expensive than the base model of the F-150 Lightning, however. and is priced further towards the upper-end pickup market.

such as the EV Hummer. The R1S is also well placed within the SUV market, although it does lose out in terms of range to its nearest rival – the Tesla Model X.

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Auto Trendy’s take:

The potential for an IPO after the company begins seeing revenue from its sales is very high. Rivian has previously stated its intent to expand on its existing charging infrastructure across the U.S. while also continuing to develop their existing vehicles. If other EV companies such as Tesla are anything to go by, then Rivian’s growth will come at a cost that cannot be sustained solely by outside investors. Therefore, the success of the R1T and R1S in terms of sales, cannot be underestimated. Not only will sales generate revenue for the company to reinvest, but they would also allow for fewer speculative actions concerning its stock price. Signs of revenue could have Rivian avoiding the current skepticism in EV start-up stock, and instead set the company on course to reach the highs of Tesla.

The latest delay to the R1T and R1S roll-out therefore come as a big blow to both customers and Rivian’s short-term plans. Yet the reality is that Rivian only has one shot to impress customers who might otherwise be tempted to wait for established players such as Ford or Tesla. If that means taking some more time to finalize the roll-out, then it could yet prove to be a shrewd long-term decision.

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