Rivian is a fellow automotive industry innovator that’s been exciting to watch.
In January of 2021, the first Rivian trucks rolled off the assembly line. In June of this same year, the first all-electric pickup trucks will be delivered to customers in the United States.
It has been a long and sometimes tortuous development path and certainly an agonizing wait for would-be owners. But it now appears that the Rivian R1T model is about to become the first-ever pickup powered exclusively by electricity available to the masses.
And its specs are impressive.
It can go over 400 miles between charges and shift from speeds of zero to 60 mph in a lightning-fast three seconds.
The Rivian R1T was designed for the 90% of all truck buyers who use their vehicles to drive around town, as opposed to the 10% who use their pickup trucks for heavy-duty work.
Today, we’re diving into the beginnings of the Rivian brand, looking at what promises to be a landmark year for the company, and even taking a peek at what the future might hold for the EV market.
Building the Rivian Brand
The Rivian brand is named for a river in Florida, near where inventor RJ Scaringe grew up. It was there that he first began pondering ways to reduce the carbon footprint — something we all contribute to.
An automotive engineering student at MIT, Scaringe first hit upon designing an electric car but eventually realized that it was an already crowded marketplace. Instead, he did an about-face to design and develop light-duty vehicles such as pickup trucks and SUVs.
Research had shown him that pickup trucks were the three most popular vehicles on the road in the United States, followed by several SUV models. That meant it was a market just waiting to be explored. The fact that a disproportionately high percentage of all carbon emissions came from these same vehicles made it a very attractive target for improving the carbon footprint by making an electric version of those types of vehicles.
After a full decade of research, development, and plenty of trial and error, the Rivian brand now finds itself poised to enter the light-duty marketplace, first with an all-electric pickup truck — the R1T — and an all-electric SUV, the R1S.
It won’t have the market to itself, though. Hummer will soon follow with its entry, the GMC Hummer EV in the fall of 2021. Tesla will counter with its now-infamous Tesla Cybertruck slated for release in 2022.
Tracking Rivian: Key Milestones
Here are some of the most important dates in the developmental path for Rivian:
RJ Scaringe experiments with the notion of reducing carbon footprint. He recognizes that most people are not ready to fully commit to reducing their own footprint. He posits that a vehicle could be developed that will accomplish it for them.
The Rivian brand name is founded, and a research and design center is established in Plymouth, Michigan. Other centers will be added later in San Jose, CA, and Irvine, CA, to address battery technology and other supporting technologies.
Rivian drops its pursuit of electric-powered cars and switches to developing light-duty vehicles such as pickup trucks and SUVs.I t has become clear that these vehicles are the biggest gas guzzlers on the road at around 16 miles per gallon, yet are also the most popular vehicles being purchased. The biggest environmental impact can be made by developing light-duty electric vehicles, and it seems the market would support such an entry into the EV marketplace.
A great deal of research into the most appropriate design and performance characteristics is put into developing what Rivian hopes to be a successful group of light-duty vehicles.
At the Los Angeles Auto Show, the R1S and the R1T are unveiled in prototype mode, generating significant buzz among show attendees.
The first Rivian pickup trucks will be made available to purchasers in the US. The Launch edition premiered in January, with delivery to the first customers slated for June. Soon after the debut of the R1T, Rivian will also debut the R1S, which is a 7-passenger SUV vehicle having specs similar to the R1T. Delivery for the R1S is expected to begin in August of 2021.
The Explorer model is scheduled to debut, being a somewhat less expensive version of R1T and hopefully filling its own niche for appealing to light-duty vehicle owners.
Promising Investments Make Rivian Ready to Compete
Rivian has entered the electric vehicle market with a very promising debut and is currently poised to compete with the only other company having enjoyed even moderate success in the industry, Tesla.
Company owner RJ Scaringe has been extraordinarily successful at raising money for his venture, winning an Amazon investment of $700 million in February of 2019. In April of that same year, the Ford company agreed to invest another $500 million in the enterprise.
Later in 2019, Cox Automotive (the giants behind Kelley Blue Book) contributed $350 million, and to top it all off, toward the end of the year, money management titan T. Rowe Price invested a whopping $1.3 billion in the venture. Go back and read that again: that was $1.3 billion, which brought the total investment for the year to $2.85 billion.
If Rivian fails now, it should not be because they could not find investors to support the idea. There have been additional investments since then, including another $500 million windfall from Abdul Latif Jameel. This Saudi company has gone all-in on investing in alternative energy forms and transportation.
All this has brought Rivan’s projected valuation to a staggering $27.6 billion, allowing the company to scale up from 700 employees in 2018 to a robust 2,200 at present.
In 2021, Rivian anticipates delivery of 20,000 units, combining sales of SUVs and pickup trucks, and another 40,000 in 2022. If all goes according to plan, this will net the company approximately $1.4 billion and $2.8 billion in revenue, thereby solidifying its status as a major manufacturer in the electric vehicle market.
Rivian Looks to the Future
Plans are already in the works for Rivian to market at least three more vehicles by 2024. Details are not being released about these three (thanks to the company’s commitment to operate in true stealth mode). However, we do know that one of the models will be smaller in size and considerably less expensive than the $75,000 price tag attached to this year’s R1T model.
It is expected to be the same base model as the R1T, but with fewer amenities, making it more appealing, and accessible, to a broader range of potential customers.
At least one of these three new models is anticipated to be priced below $50,000, If that is indeed the case, there could be a huge market waiting for it. Given that many of today’s gas-based trucks cost between $30,000 and $45,000, the less expensive Rivian electric model could compete nicely in the light-duty vehicles niche.
Rivian’s up against steep competition. Tesla currently accounts for more than 80% of all electric vehicle sales in this country, which will be a difficult prospect to overturn. Hyundai and Kia also have a solid presence in the electric vehicle market. They will be serious competitors to dislodge. It remains to be seen whether Rivian can convince the public about the value provided by their electric vehicles in the same manner they convinced investors.
One thing operating in Rivian’s favor is that the company is without any true rivals in its category (i.e., light-duty electric vehicles). That should give the company a year or two headstart to get itself established before Tesla enters the market with its Cybertruck in 2022. Ford and General Motors will not be far behind, having entries in this category slated within the next several years.
Industry, Interest, and Infrastructure are Paving the Way for Rivian's Success
In the meantime, there are some favorable developments for the electric vehicle industry that should help popularize Rivian’s R1T and R1S.
For one thing, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of available public charging stations. Many homeowners are having charging stations installed at their residences to make charging much easier and more convenient as the EV marketplace grows.
Vehicle range is also expanding, making electric vehicles more appealing to a wider audience concerned about their usefulness and limitations. In addition, the price of electric vehicles is gradually coming down, increasing their appeal and availability to less affluent purchasers and making them accessible to a broader segment of the light-duty-loving population.
Rivian is entering the market with an extremely capable first entry. The R1T is capable of going more than 400 miles on a single charge, can go zero to 60 in three seconds, and it is the only vehicle on the market that can be taken off-road while still performing at a high level.
Rivian is just another example of how the automotive industry is preparing for rapid change in the coming years; Carnomaly is another. To learn more about our efforts in designing blockchain solutions for vehicle trading and ownership, visit carnomaly.io.Learn More