Rivian EV buyers can customize orders but the wait could be long
Are you toying with the idea of ordering one of Rivian Automotive Inc.’s upcoming electric models? Starting today, anyone can log onto the EV company’s website, and use a configuring tool to choose features, such as color, interior, battery range, wheels and tires. You even can add a $5000 pull-out kitchen and cooktop powered by the car’s battery.
Those choices are quick—what won’t be so fast is delivery of the vehicle. Rivian already has sold out the first batch of EVs it plans to build in 2021 and, because of limited production capacity, most prospective buyers are unlikely to receive their purchase before the first quarter of 2022 or later. Timing will vary, depending on how far down the order list one’s name appears, the buyer’s location and the model chosen.
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Given the backlog, Amazon.com Inc.-backed Rivian has accelerated its plan for ramping up production. But the complexity of launching two types of EV from scratch, in multiple variants, means it will take time.“We [will be] supply constrained for a very long time," Rivian chief executive officer RJ Scaringe said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “Currently, with the orders we have, it will be in queue far longer than we like. We originally planned on a ramp-up that had excess demand, massive supply constraints through 2023." The company’s decision to offer different models with different specs, rather than just one standard model, means development is taking longer, Scaringe said.
The sold-out Launch Edition versions of Rivian’s R1T pickup ($75,000 before tax incentives) and R1S SUV ($77,500) will both be capable of more than 300 miles (483 kilometers) of range on a single charge. U.S. deliveries of the pickup are due to start in June. Deliveries of R1S—a five or seven-seat SUV—will start in August. The company will expand delivery of both models to Canada in November 2021. Vehicles with a slightly cheaper equipment package and trim will start shipping in the U.S. in January 2022. Scaringe said the company will also roll out a 400-mile battery pack for the pickup truck at that time (but not for the R1S).
The timeline means Rivian has a shot at being the first company to bring a battery-electric pickup—one of the most anticipated vehicle categories—to the U.S. market. Tesla Inc. has said deliveries of its Cybertruck, first unveiled a year ago, could start as soon as the end of 2021. Ford Motor Co. will electrify its F-150 pickup—the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. over the last four decades—which will go on sale in 2022. And General Motors Co. will begin production of its $80,000 EV Hummer next fall.
Scaringe bills his pickup as an “electric adventure vehicle," one that’s attracting demand from owners of all vehicle types. Rivian is seeing “a surprising number of new EV customers, ones that haven't previously owned an EV," he said. The company later expects to produce a longer-range version of its SUV, along with lower priced base models of both vehicles which will have around 250 miles of range.
(Also read | Amazon shows off new Rivian electric delivery van model)
To service the next generation of EV pickups and SUVs, Rivian will roll out 41 service centers across the U.S. next year. Still, Scaringe sees 80% of servicing being done remotely—at an owner’s home or workplace. Rivian is building a fleet of customized Ford Transit vans to get the operation set up quickly but later plans to produce its own electrified service fleet.
A nationwide network of fast-charging stations also is in the works. Rivian plans to install and open the stations sometime in the next year. They will be based on the Combined Charging System (CCS) standard and will be capable of adding 140 miles of range in around 20 minutes.
In addition to its consumer EVs, Rivian also is at work developing 100,000 delivery vans for Amazon, one of its investors. Both companies have said the first vans will be on the road delivering packages next year. Amazon showed off one of the three models Rivian will build in a blog post last month but gave few details about the vehicle’s capabilities. An Amazon spokeswoman told Bloomberg the vans will have range of about 150 miles per charge.
Rivian has global ambitions. In Europe, its strategy will focus on lower-priced, smaller models, according to Scaringe. The same approach will be taken with China.
Rivian has raised around $6 billion from various institutional and strategic investors, including T. Rowe Price, BlackRock, Fidelity, Soros Fund Management LLC, Ford and Amazon. Scaringe declined to comment on whether the company plans to go public.
“We are seeing a major inflection of EV demand globally with our expectations that EV vehicles ramp from ~3% of total auto sales today to 10% by 2025," Wedbush analyst Dan Ives wrote in a note to clients on Sunday. Among the companies best positioned to profit from this, Ives wrote: “auto stalwarts such as GM and Ford, as well as innovative players such as Rivian."