Rivian Overview Updated September 24, 2021

Rivian: The history and future of an up-and-coming EV automaker

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115 'Rivian' stories

January 2017 - October 2021


The history of Rivian

The electric automaker Rivian was originally founded as Mainstream Motors in 2009 by CEO RJ Scaringe, an MIT grad who studied engineering and lean manufacturing. Scaringe grew up near Melbourne, Florida, where he would work on cars with his neighbor, and spend much of his time outdoors hiking and exploring.

As Scaringe grew older, he found himself driving miles into nature to hike, and became aware that he was contributing to the pollution of an environment he looked to preserve. As a result, the company was born.

How did Rivian get its name?

After the original name was briefly changed to Avera Automotive, before Scaringe and his small team dropped the alliteration approach and finally settled on Rivian. The name comes from the Indian River, where Scaringe spent much of his youth exploring on his rowboat in Florida.

Although the company’s focus has always been on cars, it prides itself that it does not look or act like a car company. Due to Scaringe’s deep focus on the environment and sustainability, Rivian holds its goal to make a difference over everything else.

Prototypes and manufacturing facilities

Two years after being founded, Rivian was immersed in both electric vehicle technologies and autonomous driving capabilities. From day one, the automaker set out to create luxurious and battery-powered vehicles, but the rugged outdoorsy SUVs we see today weren’t always the focus.

In 2011, Rivian unveiled a sporty coupe prototype before the entire project was scrapped. While it seems the coupe was a working prototype, it’s probably for the best that Rivian shifted its initial focus to SUVs, as several other EV startups have taken the luxury EV sedan route.

An early coupe prototype from Rivian

By 2015, Rivian had received enough funding to operate research facilities in California’s Bay area, as well as Michigan. The latter soon became home to Rivian HQ to stay close to suppliers in the Midwest. The automaker then shifted its manufacturing focus to a holistic ecosystem of electric vehicles built for the outdoors.

By early 2017, the company had completed its purchase of a former Mitsubishi facility in Normal, Illinois, to become its North American manufacturing hub. As a result, the company received grants and tax abatement from state government for bringing jobs to Southern Illinois, although it had less than 200 total employees at the time.

By the end of 2017, Rivian announced its two alpha prototypes were complete. Less than a year later, the R1T pickup and R1S SUV debuted at the LA Auto Show with production scheduled to begin in 2020.

Recently, Rivian moved its headquarters to Irvine, California, along with a lot of its research and development. A lot of of technologies are is still being developed in Michigan, but Rivian slowly seems to be phasing everything over to its new California facility.

The automaker’s retrofitted manufacturing facility in Normal, IL

Amazon and Ford join the party

By 2019, Rivian had over 1,000 employees and facilities in the UK in addition to Michigan, Illinois, and California. Among several investors and debt financiers, Amazon invested $700 million on top of an order of 100,000 electric vans specifically developed by Rivian.

Ford Motor company also invested $500 million shortly after, but terminated its contract during the COVID-19 pandemic, taking its production back in-house. Both parties have said they maintain a strong relationship and plan to work together in the future, however.

Since then, Rivian has seen additional investments from Cox Automotive for $350 million, and two rounds of funding from T. Rowe Price totaling almost $3 billion.

Rivian is currently valued at nearly $28 billion and is focused on producing 10,000 electric vans for Amazon by 2022. Furthemore, it has its sights set on rolling out its first two EVs sometime 2021, although the delivery dates keep getting pushed.

Current and future EVs from Rivian

Rivian currently has one EV joining roads across the US, and two more in the pipeline for this summer. Below is a breakdown of each as well as a small rumor mill about what the future may hold for the automaker and its next round of EVs.

Rivian factory Europe

Amazon’s electric van from Rivian

As previously mentioned, the tremendous Amazon order was a condition of the marketplace’s investment in Rivian, and has since become a huge priority for the automaker. Just over a year after the announcement, prototypes of the Rivian van began popping up around Los Angeles.

This past February, the vans began rolling out official deliveries in Los Angeles. Not to be outdone, Amazon expanded its fleet operations to San Francisco to see how the Rivian vans fared among the hilly terrain.

Since then, Amazon vans have been spotted in the Denver metropolitan area as well as Topeka, Kansas.

With 16 cities planned for the initial 10,000 van rollout, we are sure to see more and more electrified Amazon deliveries over the course of the next year.


The Rivian R1T pickup truck

The R1T pickup is scheduled to be the first Rivian consumer EV to deliver for the company, and much hype has already surrounded it. This five seat, fully electric pickup offers some unique and exciting features centered around the outdoors, along with some unique exterior color choices.

Beginning in three initial trims starting with the Launch Edition in 2021, the R1T’s will come with Rivian’s mid-tier battery pack, which the automaker claims to offer a range of 300+ miles.

When Rivian first unveiled its lineup, it said that its vehicles were going to be offered with 105 kWh, 135 kWh, and 180 kWh battery packs enabling “230+ miles, 300+ miles, and 400+ miles.” That being said, only the large (300+ mi) and max (400+ mi) packs are currently available in the R1T configurator.

The Launch Edition R1T is fully reserved, but is priced starting at $75,000. It will be followed by the Adventure Package next January for the same price, as well as a less expensive Explore Package for $67,500. Electrek previously covered a potential extended cab R1T spotted in winter test footage from Rivian, but the company has made zero comments about it to date.

While the original release date of the R1T was June of 2021, Rivian later pushed deliveries a month into July. Most recently, R1T deliveries have been pushed yet again, this time into September.

September has now arrived, and Rivian has in fact begun producing R1T pickups for actual customers. CEO RJ Scaringe captured the pivotal moment for the nascent automaker on Twitter with footage of the very first customer EV rolling off the assembly line at Rivian’s Normal, IL facility.

With this feat, Rivian has become the first electric pickup maker, beating the likes of Tesla, Ford, and others to the finish line.

most expensive electric vehicles

Rivian’s R1S SUV

The R1S will sit upon the same propriety skateboard platform, but with more room for seating and cargo that the R1T. This seven-seat option is due to deliver just months after its pickup truck sibling, and offers tremendous interior space, as demonstrated by RJ Scaringe himself.

The R1S hasn’t made as many headlines so far in comparison to the pickup version, but it may soon prove to be the more popular option in Rivian’s small family. The luxury SUV market remains a saturated one, but Rivian’s R1S promises to offer luxury, range, and the threshold for rugged terrain many automakers may soon struggle to compete with.

Especially after seeing footage of the upcoming R1S scale a 45-degree slope like it’s a simple driveway.

Similar to the R1T, the R1S will initially roll out in three variations starting with the Launch Edition this year. Concordantly, the Launch Edition R1S is also sold out, but promises a range of 300+ miles on all three versions including the Adventure Package and Explore Package due in January 2022.

The Launch Edition is priced at $77,500, slightly higher than its pickup counterpart, which coincides with the Adventure Package. The Explore Package will arrive slightly lower at $70,000. Note that all prices listed are before and tax incentives or state grants, so consumers could pay even less for their new Rivian.

What’s different about the Rivian R1S is that is currently only comes with the mid-tier battery back offering 300+ miles. The Max Pack is not available in the R1S configurator at this time.

With aforementioned delays to the R1T delivery, we can expect to see the R1S sometime thereafter. Perhaps in October or November of 2021.

A fan rendering of what a possible Rally EV may look like.

Future models

While we do not have exactly confirmation as to what may be next from the automaker, we do know that it has plenty in the works. Last summer, the company filed for two additional trademarks for unknown vehicles.

The first was titled the “R1V” filed under the “land vehicles and parts” category at the trademark office.

The second was an “R2X” filed under the same category, and has been speculated to be some sort of rally car like the rendering above.

Furthermore, rumors have also circulated about Rivian using numbers in its model naming scheme moving forward, such as the R2T and R2S. This has not yet been confirmed by Rivian, but many believe a smaller pickup called the R2T is in the works.

Rivian’s plans for the US

With Amazon vans already delivering across the US, and two new EVs just months away from first deliveries, Rivian has a lot of exciting things going on.

Much will hinge on the success of the R1T and R1S vehicles, but with limited numbers of each in the Launch Edition, the world may not truly be able to garner Rivian’s impact on the auto industry until the other packages arrive in early 2022.

Rivian also continues to expand its own charging infrastructure that it calls its “Adventure Network,” beginning with every state park in Colorado.

In July of 2021, we reported that Rivian was in fact on the hunt for a second manufacturing facility in the US to compliment its current plant in Normal, IL.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk offered some insight as an EV company that barely survived scaling production, suggesting the company focus on getting the first factory running before expanding.

Most recently, we found evidence of Rivian expanding its service center presence in Orange County, CA. The proposed permits would allow the facility to perform routine maintenance 24/7 and inspect EVs from the production like before they are delivered to customers.

Will Rivian expand to Europe?

Although the company is homegrown, it by no means has plans to limit its reach to the US. Last February, Rivian was reportedly scouting sites for a European facility.

That was followed up by news in August of 2021 that the automaker was in negotiations for a UK facility.

In March, the Rivian Forums pointed out that the company was hiring battery experts to develop solid-state batteries for the company, hinting at possible technology in future EVs from the automaker.

Here are some other happenings at Rivian HQ to keep you in the know:

Rivian Stories October 21

Electric vehicles are booming. Shortened supply chains, making parts in-house, and advanced battery technologies have significantly helped manufacturers lower the costs of their electric vehicles. Consumers may soon see multiple EVs for sale under $30,000, which is exciting. But let’s forget about all of that promise right now, and visit the other end of the spectrum. What are some of the most expensive electric vehicles you can buy? Below is a list of what’s currently out there, and what EVs will soon be available for big bucks.

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Rivian Stories October 15

As electric vehicles look to gain an even larger portion of the automobile market in 2021, consumers will look at a number of factors as they choose to go electric. One major specification on any EV data sheet is the estimated range i.e. the amount of miles your new vehicle can travel on a single charge. Naturally, you’re going to want the most battery for your buck. Below is a list of the current EV options for 2021 sorted by longest range.

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Rivian Stories October 12

Fresh off the heels of delivering its flagship R1T electric pickup to first customers, Rivian has shared details of its first hub, centered in Venice, California. Rather than existing as solely a retail space, Rivian hopes this first of several hub locations will offer a space for public gatherings and encourages its community to visit and connect. If you happen to order a $70,000 EV while you’re there… well that’s a welcomed option as well.

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Rivian Stories October 4

Tesla, which is already suing Rivian and former employees hired by the electric pickup truck startup, is expanding its lawsuit against the company.

It now claims that Rivian is stealing its “trade secrets” about battery technology.

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Rivian Stories September 20

Images discovered by a member of Rivian Forums show Rivian has filed a patent with the US Patent and Trademark office for a sliding door on a dual-guide-rail. Interestingly enough, the images in the patent show the door on a minivan-style vehicle. Before speculation runs rampant, we want to point out that this patent is one of hundreds filed by the automaker and likely does not allude to a future Rivian minivan. However, it does present a growing niche Rivian would be well suited to fill.

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Rivian Stories September 14

A Tweet by Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe shared a pivotal moment for the nascent EV automaker as its first R1T pickup destined for a customer rolled off the production line today. Images show a large group of Rivian’s staff at its Normal, IL facility cheering on the flagship EV completing assembly ahead of customer deliveries this month.

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Rivian Stories September 3

Rivian has released the EPA range rating for their upcoming R1T and R1S electric truck and SUV. For vehicles with the “large pack” configuration, the R1T pickup truck will have a range of 314 miles and 70mpg and the R1S SUV will have a near-identical 316 miles of range and get 69mpge.

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Rivian Stories August 30

In a recent tweet from Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe, its upcoming flagship R1T pickup can be seen driving through a “lazy river”-like pool of water, submerged up near its hood. The company and its CEO continue to hype the EV as its initial Launch Edition sits on the precipice of deliveries in September.

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Rivian Stories August 27

Rivian, better known as an electric pickup truck startup, has filed for a public offering (IPO) at an impressive $80 billion valuation.

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A member of Rivian forums recently got the chance to have an informative call with his “Rivian Guide” this week, where he asked a ton of questions, all of which were answered to some degree. This included everything from R1T and R1S delivery updates, a possible Rivian store, and more details about Apple Carplay compatibility. Here’s everything we know so far.

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Rivian Stories August 23

Rivian says that its R1T electric pickup is basically ready for production and it is now waiting for government approval to start deliveries.

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Rivian Stories August 11

Elon Musk has commented on Rivian’s effort to build a second electric vehicle factory in the US. Tesla’s CEO wisely suggested that they get their first factory working first.

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Rivian Stories August 5

US EV automaker Rivian has submitted a permit application to the Planning Commission of the City of Costa Mesa in Orange County, California. According to the application, Rivian has requested a conditional use permit (CUP) to revamp an industrial building to support 24/7 maintenance and receive new EVs for inspection before they’re delivered to customers.

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Rivian Stories August 2

In a new video, we can watch Rivian’s latest R1S electric SUV prototype climb an insane 45-degree slope like it’s nothing.

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A report out of the UK has revealed that US EV automaker Rivian has been in secret talks with the British government about a potential factory outside of the US. This pending Rivian plant could eventually happen, thanks to a proposed support package from the government, although European countries nearby still have proposals on the table.

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Rivian Stories July 23

Rivian announced that it closed a $2.5 billion investment round with investments from Amazon, Ford, and others.

The automaker also confirmed that it’s looking for a location for a second electric vehicle factory in the US after the media reported on the project.

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Rivian Stories July 21

Rivian has announced a new partnership with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) to deploy charging stations at all state parks.

It’s the electric automaker’s latest move toward deploying charging stations in a place where its electric buyers can have adventures.

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Rivian Stories July 16

Rivian has confirmed that it is delaying its first deliveries of the R1T electric pickup truck, which were supposed to start this month, to September.

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Rivian Stories June 30

Rivian has released a closer look at its insanely engineered $5,000 camp kitchen that fits inside its R1T electric pickup truck.

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Rivian Stories June 24

Once again, members on Rivian Forums have found new details hinting at what the EV automaker has in store next. According to a list of job locations for planning engineers, there are several potential spots picked out in Northern and Central California for the Rivian Adventure Network. Rivian has previously shared a map of its 3,500+ DC fast chargers coming in the next two years, but the public has not seen many specific addresses of those locations.

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Rivian Stories June 22

One lucky person has a neighbor that works at Rivian. Better still, their Rivian neighbor was generous enough to allow them to go for a spin in an R1T and capture some footage from their phone of the interior, including the upcoming EVs User Interface (UI) and other controls.

If you blink, you might miss it, though, as the videographer must have been so giddy with excitement experiencing the Rivian R1T that they couldn’t hold the camera still.

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Rivian Stories May 27

Rivian is preparing its buyers for the first deliveries of its R1T electric pickup truck, which the automaker has now confirmed will be delayed to July.

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Rivian Stories May 26

Thanks to some excellent sleuthing by someone on a Rivian forum through the NHTSA database, we now have a Rosetta Stone in deciphering VIN coding on upcoming R1Ts. Furthermore, the motor options listed in the VIN document hint at the possibility of a more affordable, dual-motor Rivian R1T on the horizon.

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Rivian Stories May 12

The Electrification Coalition delivered a letter to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer Wednesday, backed by 58 businesses, including Rivian, Volvo, EVgo, and Arrival, to name a few. The letter urges the governor to join the Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding, which would expedite the electrification of trucks and buses throughout the state.

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Rivian Stories April 30

The Denver metro area of Colorado is the next major city to see Amazon packages delivered by Rivian electric vans. The vans were spotted this past week across Denver and its surrounding cities, such as Boulder and Aurora. The capital of Colorado remains one of 16 cities currently planned for a rollout of Rivian vans by Amazon.

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Rivian Stories April 23

Rivian’s electric vehicles, the R1T electric pickup truck and R1S electric SUV, are made for adventure, and the company is planning lots of accessories to make those adventures easier.

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Rivian Stories April 15

Rivian is announcing today the launch of its own insurance arm: Rivian Insurance.

It’s the latest in a series of moves that are extremely similar to initiatives previously launched by Tesla.

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The Rivian R1T electric pickup truck is still a few months away from customer deliveries, but it looks like Blue Origin already has its own fleet of Rivian R1Ts.

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Rivian Stories April 12

Rivian announced today that Samsung SDI is going to be supplying the battery cells for its electric pickup truck and upcoming electric vehicles.

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Rivian Stories April 1

Rivian announced its service plan today, and it’s following Tesla into mobile service and app-based scheduling.

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Rivian Stories March 29

In a lawsuit filed in Cook County Court, Illinois, Rivian and Lucid Motors are being sued for their direct-to-consumer business model. The suit also lists Illinois secretary of state Jesse White as a defendant. It claims his office “has abandoned its enforcement role.”

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In a Tweet over the weekend, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe shared images of his family camping in an R1T. From the images, you can clearly see a yellow rooftop tent donning both the Rivian and Yakima logos. The photos confirm at least one Rivian accessory in a partnership with the leading rack manufacturer, Yakima.

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Rivian Stories March 18

Rivian reveals more details about its plan for charging, including a map of planned stations in its “Rivian Adventure Network,” its wall charger, and more.

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A Rivian Van making deliveries in San Francisco

E-commerce giant Amazon is now testing its custom-made Rivian electric vans in San Francisco. It’s now the second city where Amazon is using its Rivian vans, behind Los Angeles.

Amazon chose San Francisco as its No. 2 city because it wanted to put its e-vans to the test on the city’s steep hills and in its variable climate.

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Rivian Stories March 10

Rivian’s CEO RJ Scaringe Tweeted a video of himself surrounded by R1S electric SUVs. In the video, he explains how the second and third-row seats fold down and shares perspective of how much room future drivers will actually have.

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Rivian Stories March 2

Rivian’s R1T, the upcoming electric pickup truck, was spotted driving on public roads in Suwon, South Korea.

While we don’t know why it’s there, the area is nearby both Samsung SDI and LG Chem R&D centers, two battery suppliers that work with several EV manufacturers.

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Recent job posts on Rivian’s career page reveal the automaker is searching for manufacturing engineers to develop solid-state batteries. The five positions currently listed are all for Rivian’s Palo Alto facility in California. Solid-state batteries have been touted for their potential of higher capacity compared to conventional lithium-ion batteries EV automakers currently use. That includes Rivian.

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Rivian Stories March 1

Last week, Rivian released a slew of winter test footage of its upcoming R1T pickup. Fans in Rivian’s forums have managed to catch an interesting anomaly in the shared content. One of the R1T EVs in the background appears to have a smaller cab and different wheelbase. Could it be a first glimpse at an R1T extended cab from Rivian?

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Rivian Stories February 27

American EV automaker Rivian released test footage of its R1T pickup in temperatures below freezing on the frigid Minnesota – Ontario border. Rivian explains that its engineers bundled up and headed north to test and refine R1T vehicle dynamics and battery performance. Unfortunately for them, the tests were in a place where temperatures regularly drop below -30°F.

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Rivian Stories February 26

The specs of the Rivian Adventure Network, the electric pickup truck startup’s upcoming charging network, have been revealed with a higher capacity than expected.

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Rivian Stories February 22

Rivian is just a few months away from delivering the first all-electric pickup trucks in the US, and it started releasing a lot of footage of its electric vehicles during testing.

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Rivian Stories February 11

Rivian continues its recent run of occupying headlines and social feeds. This comes as the automaker inches closer to the debut of its first two consumer EVs this summer. Most recently, the Amazon and Ford backed manufacturer has been reportedly exploring locations for a Rivian factory in Europe.

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Rivian Stories February 10

Electric pickup truck maker Rivian is said to be looking at an IPO to be publicly traded later this year at $50 billion.

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Rivian Stories February 9

American automakers Rivian and Lucid Motors have both recently revealed locations in expanding their retail presence in the United States. Both electric vehicle manufacturers have large aspirations to compete with Tesla, although either has yet to deliver a consumer EV so far.

The announcements of retail and service spaces opening for for Rivian and Lucid, show how both automakers are looking to grow customer bases quickly. Furthermore, each company’s proposed list of future locations show how each is taking a similar distribution approach to emulate the current industry leader, Tesla.

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Rivian Stories February 3

Amazon has officially started using the first Rivian electric vans to make customer deliveries in Los Angeles.

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Rivian Stories January 27

Tesla has lost one of its top manufacturing engineers behind its battery cell production, Victor Prajapati, to electric pickup truck startup Rivian.

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Rivian Stories January 19

Rivian has already been impressing us with its capacity raise money, and the electric pickup truck startup is not slowing down, as it has a new $2.6 billion investment.

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Rivian Stories January 12

Rivian’s upcoming Amazon delivery van has been spotted in the wild in the Los Angeles area, seemingly being used in some sort of test capacity in the real world.

It looks about as we expected it would, but one surprise stands out: a loud “pedestrian-warning” noisemaker that sounds as unpleasant as our worst fears.

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