Rivian Overview Updated November 9, 2021

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

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166 'Rivian' stories

January 2017 - October 2022

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. R1T deliveries were pushed yet again, this time into September.

September came, 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.

Electrek was able to test drive the R1T and we loved it. Check it out:

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 $75,500, 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.

Now that R1T deliveries have begun, we can expect to see the R1S sometime thereafter. Perhaps in October or November of 2021.

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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.

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.

Most recently, Rivian opened its first retail “hub” in Venice, CA with plenty more to follow.

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 Today

Rivian (RIVN) announced that it produced 7,363 electric pickups and SUVs during the third quarter of 2022. It’s a significant ramp for the automaker, but at what cost?

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Rivian Stories September 22

Rivian’s network of DC fast-charging stations, called the Rivian Adventure Network, is slowly but surely expanding with a new station this week. Other automakers should pay attention and possibly follow the same strategy.

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Rivian Stories September 19

American EV automaker Rivian is rolling out a new all-electric fleet of mobile service vehicles to support the growing number of R1T pickups and R1S SUVs hitting roads around the US. In addition to the images we’ve captured below, you’ll see a video posted by CEO RJ Scaringe, showing Rivian Vans and R1Ts being outfitted with a range mobile service equipment.

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Rivian Stories September 8

Rivian and Mercedes-Benz announced today that they have signed a memorandum of understanding to create a joint venture to produce an electric van together.

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Rivian Stories September 2

After teasing a new “Camp Mode” feature earlier this week, Rivian has rolled out its latest software update to include the new function along with a bunch of cool features to try out during the long holiday weekend. Check it out footage from Rivian below.

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Rivian Stories August 27

The Rivian R1T has been out to the public for months now, and the R1S has seen several employee deliveries. But this week we saw the first non-employee customer deliveries of the new R1S SUV.

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Rivian Stories August 18

We were lucky to receive an update from Rivian today on the new R1 series Ocean Coast interiors. The EV startup is excited to announce a few critical design updates, but there’s a catch.

The automaker also increased the price of the quad motor option from $6,000 to $8,000 and removed its Explore Package trim.

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Rivian Stories August 12

On its Q2 earnings call yesterday, Rivian gave us a glimpse into what we can expect from its newest R2 platform. Rivian is burning through cash as its ramps production of its flagship R1T EV truck model.

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Electric pickup truck maker, Rivian (RIVN), released its highly anticipated Q2 earnings yesterday, confirming a $1.7 billion loss as the EV maker races the competition towards profitability.

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Rivian Stories August 11

Back in 2019, when Rivian was just another EV startup, it delivered a tidal wave of virality by teasing “tank turn,” in which a shiny new R1T pickup drove in, spun in place, then drove off. A recent patent shows that Rivian may be developing a similar mode, called “front dig mode,” that turns more tightly and may be easer for EV drivers to use. It’s probably just as likely to destroy a bunch of precious trails though.

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Rivian Stories August 2

Rivian (RIVN) commented on the new EV federal tax that is expected to be adopted, and the American automaker said that it is not happy to be left out of the new incentive.

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Rivian Stories July 28

Rivian (RIVN) announced this week that it is laying off 6% of its workforce in order to focus on its electric pickup truck production ramp.

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Rivian Stories July 12

Inflation and global supply chain constraints continue to take their toll on EV automakers, especially those based in the United States. Young automakers like Rivian and Arrival have announced plans to restructure their businesses, hinting at potential layoffs. Meanwhile, EV veteran Tesla has laid off hundreds of employees the past month and continues to do so.

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Rivian Stories July 6

Rivian announced that it produced 4,401 electric vehicles during the last quarter – a significant ramp-up as supply chain issues are subsiding according to CEO RJ Scaringe.

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One simple fact is going to tell you more than all of the Rivian R1S Review words, images, and video below: I’m in line to buy a Rivian R1S, and after a few days on and off the roads of upstate NY, I’m more excited than ever to get my hands on it.

But if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to tell you about this mighty, electric seven-seat off-road SUV and why it is on my, and many many others’ dream car list – from the perspective of someone who is test-driving their next vehicle.

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Rivian Stories June 29

In 2022, electric vehicle sales continue to boom. Nearly all legacy automakers have set end dates for manufacturing new combustion vehicles and have begun introducing all-electric options into their fleets more and more. This year alone, the world will see over twenty new electric vehicle models ranging from most expensive, to rather affordable. Below is a list of which EVs are or will soon be available, and how expensive they are.

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Rivian Stories June 28

California-based automaker Rivian is best known today for its electric trucks, but could tomorrow’s Rivian be an electric bike? That possibility is looking much more certain now that the former CTO of a major bicycle brand has joined Rivian’s development team.

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Rivian Stories June 27

Rivian is launching its first DC fast-charging sites this week in Colorado and California. The three sites are the first deployments in its US-wide DC fast charging network, which is known as the Rivian Adventure Network. 

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Rivian Stories June 22

Rivian plans to install a 2.8 megawatt wind turbine on the east side of its Normal, Illinois, manufacturing plant. The wind turbine will provide clean energy to charge new R1 vehicles for the first time.

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Rivian Stories June 14

Elon Musk says that electric vehicle startups Lucid and Rivian are tracking toward bankruptcy unless something changes.

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Rivian Stories May 31

A battery pack caught on fire in the testing area of Rivian’s factory in Normal, Illinois this weekend. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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Rivian Stories May 27

Rivian is losing its head of manufacturing engineering at a critical time. The company is trying to sustainably ramp up the production of its R1T electric pickup truck as it reorganizes its leadership.

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Rivian Stories May 20

Rivian gave us a loaner R1T for four days last week to drive around and enjoy. We took it from the Brooklyn delivery center through New York City, into the Adirondacks, and back through the mud, suburbs, and traffic.

For background, we’re already gushing over the R1T from our first drive of it, naming it Electrek’s vehicle of the year 2021, but now we’ve gotten some alone time with it and have seen some of the software updates that have moved into production vehicles – and we’ve got a whole new appreciation.

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Rivian Stories May 13

Rivian has issued its first recall on its first vehicle, the R1T electric pickup truck. A problem with the passenger seat airbag is affecting just over 500 trucks that need to be recalled.

Even though a small recall in comparison, recalls have often been the thing that breaks automotive startups.

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Rivian Stories May 11

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Rivian R1T production line Source: Rivian
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Rivian has posted its Q1 2022 results and shareholder letter after market close today, showing $95 million in revenue and a loss of $1.593 billion for the quarter ($1.77 per share), up from a loss of $414 million from the same quarter last year. It ended the quarter with nearly $17 billion in cash, largely from its massive IPO late last year.

Rivian also reaffirmed 2022 annual guidance, expecting a total loss of $4.7 billion for the year with 25,000 units of total production and $2.6 billion expected in capital expenditures. While RIVN dropped 9.6% during trading hours today, the market has responded positively after market close, with the stock recovering by 5.5% in after hours trading.

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Rivian Stories May 2

Rivian announced today that it secured the incentive packaged, expected to be worth up to $1.5 billion if fully realized, for its upcoming electric vehicle factory in Georgia.

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Rivian Stories April 18

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe is warning that the upcoming battery shortage is going to make the current chip shortage look like a “small appetizer.”

The warning comes almost a decade after Tesla announced plans for a battery gigafactory when the automaker sent similar warnings to the auto industry.

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Rivian Stories April 14

A Rivian R1T electric pickup has been spotted impressively pulling a semi truck that appeared to have gotten itself stuck on the side of the road.

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Rivian Stories April 5

American EV automaker Rivian has shared production totals for Q1 of 2022 less than a month after sharing revised production goals for the year. Despite a slow ramp-up of EV production, Rivian stated that it remains on track to achieve its 2022 output numbers.

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Rivian Stories March 28

When the Rivian rolled up to our house for delivery last week, it was the first Rivian I had seen in the wild. WOW, I was pleasantly surprised by its striking and imposing look. Like the Lucid Air I saw in Santa Clara, the Rivian R1T just looks like it’s from the future. 

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Rivian Stories March 10

Rivian has released its Q4 2022 earnings today and confirmed that it lost over $2.4 billion during the last quarter as it still faces significant challenges in ramping up production.

The automaker has revised its production target for 2022 to 25,000 and it plans to lose money on those.

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Rivian Stories March 3

Just two days ago, Rivian announced it would be either increasing the price of reservation holder vehicles $12,000+ or making reservation holders wait until 2024 at the earliest and giving them a smaller battery with a slower drivetrain and only two motors. Not the type of note Rivian reservation holders were hoping to see before their delivery.

The backlash from reservation holders, some from as far back as 2018, was alarming. In polls we and others took, a significant majority of reservation holders dropped their reservations. Most of the rest were waiting to see what Rivian did. Just two days later, we have an answer…

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Rivian Stories March 2

A poll shows that Rivian buyers are canceling their reservations at an alarming rate after significant price increases for the R1T electric pickup truck and R1S electric SUV.

(Update: Rivian has backtracked on the price hikes)

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Rivian Stories March 1

Rivian today announced several significant price increases for its R1T electric pickup truck and R1S electric SUV that have resulted in the cost of many reservation holders’ configurations rising by more than $12,000. The price increases come as Rivian is trying to ramp production and make its electric vehicle profitable while adding lower component tiers that will arrive as early as 2024.

(Update: Rivian has backtracked on the price hikes)

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Rivian Stories January 26

American automaker Rivian reportedly halted its production lines in Illinois to fix some issues and streamline its manufacturing processes. After a difficult start to R1T production amidst COVID-19 and supply chain shortages, Rivian looks to hit higher output targets, aiming for 200 deliverable EVs a week.

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Rivian Stories January 19

Rivian announced a new partnership with Under Canvas to bring EV charging to some of the most beautiful campgrounds in the US.

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Rivian Stories January 13

EV charging nonprofit Adopt A Charger has announced a collaboration with American automaker Rivian to provide free Waypoint chargers to the public in Yosemite National Park and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA).

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Rivian Stories January 12

Site plans uncovered by a member of Rivian Forums reveal that the American automaker’s second manufacturing facility in Georgia is going to be huge. In fact, the current plans account for nearly 20 million square feet across nearly 2,000 acres – over five times the size of Rivian’s plant in Normal, Illinois.

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Rivian Stories January 11

Rivian announced that it has now produced just over 1,000 electric vehicles, mainly its R1T electric pickup truck, since it started producing them in September.

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Rivian Stories January 10

Rivian has filed a new trademark for its brand in a new category that signals a move to make electric bikes.

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Here we sit on the precipice of 2022, which is hopefully a shiny new start and not “2020 II.” One of the more optimistic outlooks we can share in the new year is the prospect of further EV adoption, led by an absolute slew of new EV models from all of the major names in vehicles. Below are some of the most anticipated electric vehicles scheduled to arrive in 2022, along with a little blurb about each so you can start planning which ones you want to test drive first.

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Rivian Stories December 28, 2021

Rivian has confirmed that buyers of its R1T electric pickup truck and R1S SUV are going to have to wait until 2023 if they want the biggest battery pack option.

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Rivian Stories December 17, 2021

This pickup truck has everything – faster than most sports cars, a roomy interior with lots of storage and extras, and it can go off-road where no other production vehicle can go. It’s the first time electrification has hit the off-road pickup in a meaningful way, and it proves why electric is king both on-road and off.

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Rivian Stories December 16, 2021

Rivian has released its first earnings report since going public and revealed a lot of interesting new information in the process, including that it started deliveries of the R1S electric SUV.

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Rivian announced a new $5 billion electric vehicle factory just outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

The electric automaker plans to start production at the new plant in 2024.

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Rivian Stories December 9, 2021

As Rivian’s flagship EV continues to be delivered to its first customers around the US, Electrek got another opportunity to experience the R1T close up and tinker with all of its unique features. Additionally, I got a chance to test drive the Rivian R1T for the first time on both an airport tarmac and some rocky SoCal terrain.

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Rivian Stories November 23, 2021

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Rivian R1T production line Source: Rivian
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Rivian sent out emails to Launch Edition reservation holders today with two-month delivery windows for their vehicles. The windows start as early as March 2022, but some vehicles will be delivered as late as September 2022 (or possibly later).

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Rivian Stories November 19, 2021

Ford and Rivian cancel plans for joint EV

Ford and Rivian had been planning to develop an electric vehicle together, but those plans have been canceled, Ford CEO Jim Farley told Automotive News.

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