U.S. automaker Rivian, in the past few weeks, has become a hot topic in the UK as there is a possibility that the EV manufacturer will build a Gigafactory near Bristol.
As WhichEV reported, the company is currently in talks with ministers about the construction of a plant that could include a big state support package. This would ultimately help the country become Europe’s main hub for the electric revolution.
Probably, to many readers, Rivian is not a well-known company, because it has sold a grand total of zero vehicles in the past year. However, the American automaker truly has the chance to become one of the biggest brands in the electric vehicle market.
Unlike Nikola, which is based on a series of intricate lies, Rivian is a company with real proprietary technology, a solid product and a detailed plan for the future and that is why two giants, Amazon and Ford, have funnelled millions of dollars to partner up with the company on different projects.
Rivian was founded in 2009 by Robert Joseph Scaringe, who decided to take on some of the biggest manufacturers in the whole world and it seems quite possible that he will be able to do so. After finishing his doctorate in mechanical engineering from the prestigious MIT, RJ Scaringe wanted to build his own car company, but after seeing the climate problems related to building conventional engines, he switched to battery electric.
His first and most important decision was to change his mind from building a super-quick two-door sports car to tackling a segment of the market that was really lacking options – electric SUVs and pickups.
Currently off-road capable SUVs are one of the most popular segments of the market. However, there is a lack of battery electric options and here is where Scaringe realised that it was the perfect terrain for Rivian to thrive.
The first two models from the company were supposed to reach customers by mid-2021 but they have been delayed to the autumn due to the global semiconductor shortage that has hampered the operations of virtually every single manufacturer in the world.
The R1T truck and R1S SUV are very close to arriving on the American market. The company has recently released videos of a few costumers invited to Rivian’s plant in Normal, Illinois, to test out the new truck and marvel at its off-road capabilities.
The launch versions of the Rivian vehicles will have a range of 300+ miles. At a later point, a 400+ miles version and a more affordable 250+ miles version should launch. The R1T is also supposed to be incredibly quick, as the company claims that it can go from 0 to 62 mph in just 3 seconds, on any type of terrain, thanks to over 800 horsepower. Rivian says that every R1T can tow more than 11,000 pounds (5,000kg), too, and offer a payload capacity of 1,760 pounds (800kg).
The American market loves a rugged pickup truck and the R1T with those capabilities and a starting price of $75,000 promises to be an incredible homerun for the company.
The R1S SUV is also based on the same skateboard platform engineered for the R1T, which has been created by Scaringe, and offers similar range and power to the pickup. The company explained that the vehicles are powered by a Rivian quad-motor drive that is comprised of two dual-motor drive units — one for the front axle and another for the rear. Powering the front axle is a compact 415 horsepower unit with 413 ft lbs. of torque. In the rear, a higher torque derivative delivers 420 horsepower and 495 ft lbs. of torque.
Glancing at the pictures and videos, the R1S looks like it will fiercely compete in the same market alongside Jeep and Range Rover.
The creation of these two models has been possible thanks to the fact that since 2019 Rivian has been able to raise $10.5 billion to further develop the company. Bloomberg estimates that the company is now worth over $30 billion. The R1S and R1T are expected to be the first models of a larger portfolio that will exponentially grow over the next few years. In fact, Rivian has filed six trademark applications for the R3T, R4T, R5T, R3S, R4S and R5S. There is an expectation that the company will make three new trucks and three new SUVs, likely aimed at different levels of the market.
The company however has other big plans as it has partnered up with Amazon. As part of a huge $700 million investment from Bezos’s company, Rivian is building a fleet of 100,000 electric delivery vans that will revolutionize the company’s commercial market. The goal is to have at least 10,000 of these new electric vans on the road by the end of 2022.
Ford also invested $500 million in Rivian, and the original plan was to build an electric SUV together under the Lincoln brand, but that idea has been tossed aside as Ford has decided to build it on its own. The two companies haven’t divulged yet what the new plans are, but both CEOs have spoken highly of each other and vowed to work together on future projects.
Rivian is also already looking at the future and multiple reports have suggested that the company is looking for a site in the US to build a second Gigafactory. It is believed that Rivian is planning to invest around $5 billion to support its ambitious expansions plans.
The plant, dubbed “Project Tera,” would require an estimated 10,000 acres of land according to a document seen by Reuters. If that figure is right, it would make Rivian’s factory the biggest plant in the whole country – by a lot. In comparison, the biggest plant currently in the US is in South Carolina and it is owned by BMW. It sits on just 1,200 acres.
Rivian is currently in a sweet spot. The company has secured billions in funding, multiple lucrative partnerships, and the debut of its vehicles is in a matter of weeks. Rivian is also tackling a fertile market with virtually no competition. Scaringe’s company is on the launching pad to become a key player in the all-electric revolution. Barring future manufacturing issues, Rivian could really be the next big thing.