Rivian to Go the Subscription Route?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
rivian to go the subscription route

Rivian, the Michigan-based startup that aims to get electric pickups and SUVs into the hands of consumers starting late next year, may choose a controversial avenue to ownership.

The automaker’s CEO, RJ Scaringe, claims the automaker is seriously thinking about offering a subscription service when it begins rolling out vehicles from its Normal, Illinois assembly plant in 2020. Without a dealer network, Rivian’s plan was always to send vehicles directly to buyers, no doubt earning it the ire of dealer groups country-wide.

Speaking to private industry types at Cox Automotive’s HQ, Scaringe said he saw benefits to joining the growing list of automakers offering a range of vehicles for an all-encompassing fee.

“We talk about inflection points, and this is one that allows us to interact in different ways with the customer,” Scaringe said, as reported by Automotive News. “You may use one solution to get to and from the office during the week. But on the weekend, you may want a subscription program.”

Not counting the massive order for custom EV delivery vans earmarked for big-bucks investor Amazon, Rivian’s vehicle range will commence with two products: the R1T pickup and R1S SUV. Both vehicles will emerge with three battery pack options; the topmost affording buyers up to (or more than) 400 miles of range.

Subscription services, popularized by certain premium European brands, bundle monthly ownership costs into a single fee, but also allow subscribers to pick and choose which vehicle they drive at a given point in time. With two vehicles initially on offer, the choice afforded to Rivian fans will be small. Certainly, with no models starting below $69,000, and longer ranges requiring an outlay far greater than that, Rivian can consider itself a premium automaker, which might help the subscription idea go over easier.

Committing his company to a direct-sales model, Scaringe didn’t delve into how his company’s relationship with Cox, Ford, and Amazon might impact how vehicles get to consumers.

“If you look at the type of shareholders we’ve brought in, Amazon, Ford and Cox are all very strategic in supporting us in creating products but also in creating really sticking and powerful customer experiences,” he said.

“Cox is really an impressive company in its ability to deliver on robust customer processes, whether that’s service or thinking about the future of charging. There are a lot of aspects to the relationship that we’re excited about.”

[Image: Rivian]

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4 of 15 comments
  • Indi500fan Indi500fan on Sep 30, 2019

    It would be nice to access an SUV most of the time and a pickup when needed. But when pickups are used for what pickups are used for, they often get beat up...that's one factor to consider if these 100,000 dollar rigs come back in looking like Home Depot daily rentals.

    • DenverMike DenverMike on Sep 30, 2019

      It's no different than for Platinum/Titanium Editions. Just occasional industrial/offroad use and it's the 2nd or 3rd owners that bang them around. Or after X years they're rotated into the grind.

  • Master Baiter Master Baiter on Sep 30, 2019

    All companies want to turn you into a subscriber. I bought a Sharp TV yesterday and I had to set up a Roku account to get the TV to do anything. Never mind that I have no intention of using Roku. I just want it to function as a dumb HDMI monitor.

    • Vulpine Vulpine on Sep 30, 2019

      Simple fix. Go to the Roku website and cancel your account. The Sharp TV won't know the difference and if it does, contact Sharp and demand a refund (and buy yourself a set that doesn't force you to sign up for undesired services.)

  • VoGhost I'm clearly in the minority here, but I think this is a smart move. Apple is getting very powerful, and has slowly been encroaching on the driving experience over the last decade. Companies like GM were on the verge of turning into mere hardware vendors to the Apple brand. "Is that a new car; what did you get?" "I don't remember. But it has the latest Apple OS, which is all I care about." Taking back the driving experience before it was too late might just be GM's smartest move in a while.
  • VoGhost Can someone Christian explain to me what this has to do with Jesus and bunnies?
  • Del My father bought GM cars in the 60's, but in 1971 he gave me a used Datsun (as they were called back then), and I'm now in my 70's and am happy to say that GM has been absent from my entire adult life. This article makes me gladder than ever.
  • TheEndlessEnigma That's right GM, just keep adding to that list of reasons why I will never buy your products. This, I think, becomes reason number 69, right after OnStar-Cannot-Be-Disabled-And-It-Comes-Standard-Whether-Or-Not-You-Want-It and Screw-You-American-Car-Buyer-We-Only-Make-Trucks-And-SUVs.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic Does this not sound and feel like the dawn of ICE automobiles in the early 20th century, but at double or triple speed speed!!There were a bunch of independent car markers by the late 1910’s. By the mid 20’s, we were dropping down to 10 or 15 producers as Henry was slashing the price of the Model T. The Great Depression hit, and we are down to the big three and several independents. For EVs, Tesla bolted out of the gate, the small three are in a mad dash to keep up. Europe was caught flat footed due to the VW scandal. Lucid, Lordstown, & Rivian are scrambling to up production to generate cash. Now the EV leader has taken a page from the Model T and is slashing prices putting the rest of the EV market in a tail spin. Deja vu……