At Rivian, Product Tops Promises

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
at rivian product tops promises

Among electric vehicle startups, Rivian is the nonconformist. Compared to its braggadocious contemporaries, many of which are still years away from building anything, the Michigan-based company is well-poised to deliver a drivable product within a year’s time, with only scant attention paid to the possibilities of going public on a raft of promises.

We’ve already seen what Rivian plans to offer. Metal has met eyes. An assembly plant is already gearing up, with a list of suppliers on hand to pull off production of the R1S SUV and R1T pickup, and, most important of all, there’s money to fund it. It all sounds so… conventional.

Speaking to CNBC, Rivian founder and CEO R.J. Scaringe claims he has no plans for an IPO at the present moment, claiming that taking the company public is something he’d only consider if future scale-up efforts require it.

“We’re in a position where we’re well-capitalized to launch the products but we are rapidly expanding and growing and accelerating some of our future products,” he said. “We’re seeing demand being significantly higher than what we initially anticipated, which is leading us to capacitive for higher levels of volume.”

Delayed by the pandemic and springtime lockdown, the R1S and R1T are due to arrive in the early to middle part of next year. Greasing those models’ wheels is nearly three billion dollars in private funding amassed in 2019, with big names such as Amazon and Ford topping the list of financers. Boasting long ranges afforded by a list of large batteries and an innovative skateboard platform that was once expected to underpin a Lincoln, the Rivian duo impress on paper.

The wild Wall Street antics of such rivals as Tesla and Nikola, the latter of which doesn’t plan to build for years, doesn’t impress Scaringe.

“We’re focused on making sure that we deliver,” he said from the confines of his very real assembly plant in Normal, Illinois. “We really value active humility and letting our actions speak louder than our words.”

Imagine that! It’s refreshing to hear someone in the EV space say such a thing, though the stratospheric valuation of both Tesla and Nikola has led others, including Fisker, to consider an IPO. Investors can’t seem to get enough when it comes to rosy electric promises from almost anyone.

Yet while investors salivate over startups, analysts and engineers applaud Rivian’s ability to actually get things done.

“At this stage, they’re farther along than pretty much anybody,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal research analyst at Navigant. “They’ve been working at this and developing this truck and platform for quite a long time. Certainly, longer than Tesla has been working on the Cybertruck or Nikola has been working on the Badger.”

If Rivian does go public, it won’t be soon, Scaringe hammered home.

“Priorities one, two and three are launch the products,” he said.

[Images: Rivian]

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5 of 7 comments
  • Indi500fan Indi500fan on Jul 10, 2020

    This outfit seemed pretty solid (at least from what you can read in the biz press) until recently when they announced a move to California right in the middle of their product launch ramp. That sounds like a recipe for trouble.

    • Chocolatedeath Chocolatedeath on Jul 10, 2020

      If they are only moving the headquarters then I dont believe it will be of any significance. However if its production, unless its to a larger more modern facility that would be an issue.

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jul 10, 2020

    "Yet while investors salivate over startups, analysts and engineers applaud Rivian’s ability to actually get things done." Tesla's not a startup, and has sold over a million cars, so you must be referring to the likes of Nikola, Fisker, and Faraday. Sure, Rivian looks promising, but don't mistake their corporate humility for success just yet.

    • See 1 previous
    • Boowiebear Boowiebear on Jul 10, 2020

      @mcs They are not prepared for biotech and have no RNA bioreactor. It is more speculative ideation. I work in medtech, the Tesla approach of build and have users beta test and iterate will not work. It is process, paperwork, documentation and regulation at every step. He does not like anyone being the boss of him.

  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).
  • Master Baiter New slogan in the age of Ford EVs:FoundOnRoadDischarged