During the LA Auto Show, Electric car maker, Rivian shocked everyone with the aims of delivering two amazing off road vehicles which runs purely on electricity. While Rivian could be considered as another Tesla competitor, it’s worth noting that the two companies are by no means within the same levels in terms of finances and production. While I’ll talk more about that later, the biggest news is that the Florida company will be launching two powerful electric vehicles; the R1T which is a pick up truck and also a R1S which is a SUV.
The fact that these Rivian vehicles can produce driving powers that can speed from 400 Miles Plus driving range and move from 0 – 60 within 3 – second and 11,000-pound towing capacity would all be great news if those can be true.
The Rivian R1S and R1T will both offer a lot of real estates to keep your luggage while travelling be it on a long journey or short. The fact that these cars can run for a long hours without needing to be charged so often might be a great value for the money.
Rivian moved to the Detroit area from Florida in 2015 and now makes its de facto headquarters, design and engineering center in a former cash-register factory in suburban Plymouth, Mich. “There was literally no sign on the building,” says Ken Shuman, chief communications officer.
Rivian now has four other locations: a battery lab in Irvine, Calif.; a connected car and autonomous research and development center in San Jose, Calif.; a small engineering office in the U.K.; and a manufacturing center under development in Normal, Ill., where the company bought a 2.4-million-square-foot former Mitsubishi factory for a reported $16 million, with plans to sink more than $40 million into the plant by 2022. Production is set to begin there next year.
“We’ve already got a team of around 60 people in that facility,” says Mark Vinnels, the company’s executive director of engineering and programs. “All the tooling, paint shop, everything. Configuring it for how we’re going to build this car. Those guys are intimately involved with the design of all the components, and have been for a couple of years. So the design for manufacturing, the quality aspirations that we’ve got for the vehicle, that’s a key part of that.”
Just where the company is getting all the money necessary to achieve its dreams remains a closely held secret. In May, the Chicago Tribune reported that Rivian had secured a $200 million loan to begin production and had raised $450 million to date. It said investors included Sumitomo Corporation of America and the investment arm of Saudi company Abdul Latif Jameel. It has also received state and local tax incentives in Illinois.
“We’ve got a really strong source of money, financing for the company is solid … good investors who understand motorcars and are in it for the long game, and don’t want to make a quick return and understand that putting cars into production is super difficult and costs a lot of money,” said Vinnels, who joined Rivian 13 months ago after a long stint with McLaren and, before that, Lotus Group.
“That’s gotta be the foundation of building a solid car company. What you’re seeing here is the result of a lot of work that’s already gone on, on a very sound basis, for what we believe will be a groundbreaking, reliable, safe product when it comes to production. And that’s why we’re not racing to production now. There’s still a lot that we need to do. What you see here reflects production intent … but we recognize that we’ve got to make sure the car’s reliable, the quality’s there.”
Vinnels talks a lot about the on- and off-road capabilities of both models, calling Rivian an “adventure brand.” Its off-road specs are bolstered by quad all-wheel drive independent electric motors, each nearly 200 horsepower, capable of delivering independent, instantaneous torque to each wheel. There’s also unequal-length double-wishbone suspension in front and multi-link suspension in the rear, with dynamic roll control, adaptive dampers and adjustable air suspension, so you can stiffen the ride for extra agility and handling on pavement.
He also dished on the evolution of that unique headlight design, which he said the company “spent a ton of time thinking about.”
“We wanted a face,” he said. “We’re a new brand. Nobody knows who Rivian is. What we want is something that people recognize. Maybe when you leave today, you should pretty much be able to sketch it based on the simplicity and elegance of it. I have to say it’s not something we fell upon easily. We had a lot of hard work, a lot of different designs, even when we were a full-size model of this, we hadn’t focused on that design. In fact it was one of the designers who was working on advanced vehicles, a vehicle we were looking at for 2025, 2026, who sketched this, and we loved it. And we said let’s try it on this model.”
Each model will debut with Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities. Similar to Tesla, they’ll get over-the-air software updates. They’ll also have the ability to operate three apps simultaneously, and three screens, including one in the backseat for climate and infotainment.
Order books are now open for a fall 2020 delivery on the R1T pickup and 2021 for the R1S. The former starts at $69,000, or $61,500 after federal EVAutobl tax credits, while the latter starts at $72,500 ($65,000), Shuman said.