Rivian Completes First Production Vehicles Intended for Customers
Despite EV startups taking a lot of flak for habitually overpromising, sometimes on a level that approaches criminal fraud, things appear to be going rather well at the Rivian factory. Founder and CEO Robert Joseph “RJ” Scaringe announced that the company started building its very first production units on Tuesday.
With the necessary regulatory certifications in hand, Rivian can now begin delivering vehicles directly to customers and the timing couldn’t be much better. The electric brand had said it was basically done with prototypes and ready to spin up the assembly lines for the final product late last month. While this still placed it a bit behind schedule, the company now says it has all the necessary certifications from the relevant regulatory agencies (NHTSA, EPA, CARB, etc.) and an automobile that’s been federally approved for sale.
Considering most EV startups never even deliver a finished automobile, this is already an achievement of note. Though Rivian has some incredibly strong backing, with ties to both Amazon and the Ford Motor Company, it’s typically wise not to make assumptions. But Scaringe had indeed promised the public that September would be the month when the business went from being a prospective automaker to a real-deal manufacturer and it’s nice to see someone in the industry delivering on their word.
“Over the last several months we have been focused on not only ramping our production rate, but also dialing in our quality across each of the five areas of our plant: stamping, body, paint, assembly and propulsion (battery and drive units). This challenging process involves multiple build phases – many of the vehicles from these non-customer build phases have been seen out testing across a range of environments during the last year,” the CEO explained in August. “These validation, tooling tryout and pilot build vehicles are critical for our ongoing mileage accumulation program that has helped us drive refinements to the product. With all of this, I am excited to report we have started producing vehicles that reflect all of our quality iterations and design refinements. We are currently working with various governing agencies on the final approvals needed for us to make the first deliveries to preorder customers in September.”
That makes it sound as though Rivian was ready to rock and simply need regulators to give it the go-ahead. However, the months leading up to that quote were loaded with talk about supply chain issues. In fact, the company told customers it would need to delay its all-electric SUV (the R1S) to contend with parts shortages and ensure that the pickup (R1T) would be out by September.
“After months of building pre-production vehicles, this morning our first customer vehicle drove off our production line in Normal [Illinois]!” Scaringe wrote on Tuesday. “Our team’s collective efforts have made this moment possible. Can’t wait to get these into the hands of our customers!”
While we don’t know who will be receiving the first models, or when the delayed R1S is supposed to commence assembly, Rivian has managed to position itself more favorably than its direct rivals. Legacy automakers will soon be delivering full-size electric pickups of their own and it’s looking like Rivian will be the only competition they’ll have until Tesla’s Cybertruck arrives.
Meanwhile, the Rivian Forums have begun reporting that the company’s first charging stations have begun to appear at a campsite near the off-road trails in Moab, Utah. They’re only Level 2 chargers (and exclusive to patrons of the venue) but they’re the first such stations we’re aware of and again represent the brand having some forward momentum. The company has previously stated that it wants to install over 10,000 Level 2 chargers, and an additional with an additional 3,500 DC fast chargers (over 200kW), in the United States and Canada by 2023.
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- William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
- Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.
- Marvin Im a current owner of a 2012 Golf R 2 Door with 5 grand on the odometer . Fun car to drive ! It's my summer cruiser. 2006 GLI with 33,000 . The R can be money pit if service by the dealership. For both cars I deal with Foreign car specialist , non union shop but they know their stuff !!! From what I gather the newer R's 22,23' too many electronic controls on the screen, plus the 12 is the last of the of the trouble free ones and fun to drive no on screen electronics Maze !
- VoGhost It's very odd to me to see so many commenters reflexively attack an American company like this. Maybe they will be able to find a job with BYD or Vinfast.
- 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.
To appease the stockholder's Barra and GM jumped into EV's hook line and stinker. However, they weren't ready to do the hard work like creating charging infrastructure and ensuring the technology was reliable. Once again Toyota takes the long term view and is slowly and methodically creating a EV future without decimating their current lineup.
If things go well maybe they will sell 5,000 of these a year. The truth is nobody really asked for an electric truck.