USA startup has faced countless obstacles to start delivering its pickup. Now that it is doubling down with the SUV, is Rivian finally getting things on track?
Things have not been easy for EV startups. The simple fact of being a startup is problematic enough; after all, they have to make big investments and work for a long time before dreaming of a profit. Besides, it does not help that car buyers are historically conservative in several ways. Do you think that is enough? The world is also going through issues that end up making EV production difficult and expensive.
Though the scenario is apocalyptic, we know that EVs are still the best way to go in global transportation. As a result, it is refreshing to see that some ventures are, effectively, coming through. After struggling for some years, Rivian is finally delivering its pickup and has just added the SUV. Now that they are becoming a reality for users, it is time to give them a closer look. What do you know about the R1T and the R1S?
A little bit about Rivian
Back in 2009, Robert “RJ” Scaringe founded Mainstream Motors shortly after graduating at MIT. While the original goal was simply to produce cars, he eventually had a key insight. He enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, so he realized that he was helping degrade the nature he loved so much. After some other names, the company became Rivian to honor Florida’s Indian River; he spent much of his youth in that region.
Scaringe wanted Rivian to break with the traditional model of carmakers. Sustainability has always been a priority; the Forever project uses a part of its revenue to help protect the environment. When it comes to products, the first ideas circled around autonomous driving and a hybrid coupé. Fortunately, the company ended moving to the current electric pickup and SUV; they have a much larger sales potential these days.
Over time, Rivian’s business model attracted massive attention and, as a result, big investments eventually appeared; even Amazon and Ford decided to join the venture. The company acquired a former Mitsubishi plant in Illinois in 2017 to be its primary manufacturing facility. Then, we have seen its effort to obtain the necessary funding and keep making progress despite the global crisis caused by all the recent events.
What about Rivian cars?
The company created a “skateboard” platform that only uses electric propulsion. It focuses on maximizing part sharing among several models and will make car-sharing easier over time. The initial two models are essentially the same project and have undergone extensive testing. In fact, MotorTrend journalists crossed the TransAmerica Trail (7,686 mi) in a stock pre-production R1T last year to test its off-road capabilities.
Rivian’s project uses one electric motor on each wheel, which generates very high power compared to the category’s standard. Besides that, the cutting-edge platform stores the batteries flat on the central part of the floor; lowering the center of gravity improves stability and makes it easier to adapt new body styles. A nice trick is Tank Turn, which comes from a software that manages torque application on each wheel.
As you can imagine, the models make extensive use of technology. The dashboard is essentially a pair of touchscreens through which the driver views and controls everything. There are several driving modes to cater to different situations, and some limited functions for autonomous driving. The company also offers unique accessories such as cooking/dining equipment which can be stored in the R1T’s gear tunnel.
What can we expect from now on?
Right now, the company is undergoing a restructuring plan that may lay off some workers after years of growth. However, it keeps ambitious plans like increasing its production pace to 25,000 units per year by the end of this year. That is still not enough considering the waiting list of 90,000 orders for both models. However, accumulating so many reserves has already become a go-to strategy in the automotive world.
The R1T has already gotten excellent reviews, including Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year award in 2021; the R1S has everything to get similar reception soon. Now, we can expect Rivian to broaden its market scope by giving the models new versions; there will be larger and smaller battery packs, and a dual-motor setup. This way, the automaker can work at more price ranges and have its products attract more customers.
Although Tesla is surrounded by controversy, we cannot help but admit that it paved the way for startups like Rivian. Now that the public is accepting EVs more, the environment is favorable for them to establish themselves in the market. Once those automakers with new business models effectively begin to sell well, we will see many changes in the market. Which of them seems the most promising in your opinion?