Rivian is validating the early build of three major electric vehicles that will hit the market in the second half of this year, even as CEO RJ Scaringe is working on an expanded portfolio. The electric vehicle startup showed its seriousness about mass production when it bought an assembly plant in Normal, Illinois from Mitsubishi in 2017. Under Scaringe, Rivian not only retrofitted the 2.6 million square meter plant, but also expanded it by a further 800,000 square meters. Even that might not be enough to make his future plans come true.
First: Rivian R1T Electric Pickup in June
Pilot versions of the 2021 R1T five-passenger, full-size electric pickup are being built for real-world validation and testing in preparation for the June launch of vehicles slated for customers. It’s a slight delay from pre-COVID plans to start production in December 2020.
The three-row electric SUV R1S will be launched in August. The vehicles had impressive standards: the Porsche Cayenne for driving dynamics, Jeep Wrangler and Land Rovers for off-road capability and Audi for quality. Both vehicles are equipped with driver assistant technology as well as connectivity for robust health diagnosis to assess and prevent problems and hopefully fix them with wireless updates.
Rivian already has an order book to fill. A configurator went live in November. Launch editions sold out quickly. Scaringe doesn’t want to say how many orders have come in, but he says it is enough that some customers have to wait for production to catch up with demand.
Start Green Popular Color for Rivians
Scaringe shares some interesting details about how consumers configure vehicles. The exterior color Launch Green is very popular. White and silver are often chosen for both the truck and SUV, but there are differences when it comes to lighter colors like Rivian Blue (Scaringe’s favorite) and Compass Yellow. “Trucks tend to be a little wilder in colors,” he says. SUV customers are a little more conservative.
While Rivian is busy with three vehicles (R1T, R1S, and Rivian Amazon Prime Van) starting within six months, Scaringe is also focused on the bigger picture.
“I founded Rivian to make an impact, and to make an impact we need a broad portfolio of vehicles,” he said in an interview with MotorTrend. “What we will build in the next five years goes far beyond what we see today.”
Rivian R1 family followed by R2, R3
The R1 family of vehicles includes Halo products, but cheaper models are planned. Scaringe says there will be a whole range of products and the naming convention will continue, which means that next, an R2 series of at least two smaller EVs will fall onto the smaller platform they will ride on, and then another Platform for R3.
Rivian hasn’t shown any of the future products, but the company is focused on adventurous trucks and SUVs. Execution means additional production capacity, different form factors, as well as different price points and markets, says Scaringe. It is reasonable to assume similar body types, but in different sizes.
Rivian’s electric delivery truck for Amazon Prime
Rivian has also worked with Amazon to build large electric vans for Prime. A small fleet of Prime vans specially designed for Amazon is now on the move to test deliveries to customers and collect feedback. It will rise to a large fleet in late fall when Rivian increases the volume.
The range of 150 miles is tailored to Amazon’s usage cycle in order to optimize the size, weight and costs of the commercial vehicle. Rivian has three battery sizes, but Amazon starts with just one of them.
Rivian Workforce continues to grow
Rivian now has 3,600 employees, adding about 100 per week. Many are in the Normal plant, which continues to set up equipment and operate preproduction vehicles. Some parts of the plant work around the clock. The plan is to start with one shift producing series vehicles and quickly add a second shift.
The layout of the facility provides for separate lines for the Rivian commercial vehicles and the Amazon commercial vehicles.
Two assembly plants in one
Each assembly line handles a different platform or structural skateboard. “It’s like two plants in one,” said Scaringe. “There is a consumer vehicle line where we build the structural skateboard and put the battery, chassis, and powertrain for our consumer vehicles into that skateboard, initially just the trucks, the R1T and the R1S.”
There is a separate line for commercial vehicles, starting with the large Prime Van. Again, Rivian builds the structure for the skateboard (which is the steel rather than aluminum of the R1), then assembles the battery, chassis, drivetrain and suspension, and then drives down their own assembly line.
All vehicles share a common stamping system with six large presses and a common paint shop as well as huge tanks for the e-coating process, in which vehicle bodies are immersed to prevent corrosion. It is an amazing sight to see large delivery trucks through the somersault. Rivian had to dig a deep pit to house the 30-foot vans.
Aggressive Amazon Prime Van rollout
The Prime Van is in a sprint to series production to bring vehicles to 15 major markets this year, says Ross Rachey, director of Amazon’s global fleet and products who worked with Rivian. The goal in 2022 is to have electric vehicles wherever Amazon has gas vehicles.
The deal with Rivian differs from electric vehicles that Amazon has used in the past in that the new van covers the entire route from Amazon.
“Rivian is our great dance partner when it comes to electric vans,” said Rachey. Amazon has ordered 100,000 vans and, according to Rachey, success is critical given the size of the contract. The goal is to get at least 10,000 units on the road by 2022 and get the rest out as quickly as possible. In preparation, Amazon has built charging stations on its property.
Rivian welcomes competition
“We want to see competition,” said Rachey. Scaringe agrees, saying, “From the perspective of my children, children and children, we need to electrify as a planet as soon as possible. It’s important that the entire industry start with this shift. We need to replace 100 million cars a year.” It’s good to see others come in. The size of the cake is enormous. “
Future plans with Ford Unknown
Ford and Rivian’s relationship has not ended yet, but no future products have been announced. Scaringe does not reveal any secrets about what his company will do with Ford in the future. “We have a very good relationship with Ford, but we haven’t announced anything together yet.”
The production downtime of the Lincoln did not harm Rivian, who will need additional capacity in the future. “The breadth of the product portfolio that we will build over the next five years requires a lot of production capacity,” said Scaringe. “When I say breadth, it’s not just in terms of volume, but also in terms of the number of different types of vehicles. Normal was an excellent platform for us; it’s what we’re going to start with for R1 and the Amazon program but that’s it. ” serves only as a basis for future production lines and future production. “
Rivian Direct Sales and Charging Network
Rivian will follow the Tesla model of direct sales to customers, which most states allow. Rivian is committed to changing policies in states where franchise laws prohibit direct selling to protect the retailer model. Even in these states there are opportunities to bring vehicles to customers. You still see Teslas in Michigan and Texas, Scaringe says. It’s just less efficient to get vehicles to customers.
The other growth area is charging stations. Rivian would like to develop the Rivian Adventure Network of Chargers to connect every point on the m. A network of this size will take some time to build, so Rivian will focus on the highest transport corridors first. Exact locations will be published in the coming months. Hundreds are planned over time.