Rivian Overview Updated July 16, 2021

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

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102 'Rivian' stories

January 2017 - July 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.

For now, those lucky reservation holders will hopefully see their deliveries come this year. In the meantime all can begin perusing all the accessories that will soon be available, too.

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.

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 Rivian 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.

Will Rivian expand to Europe?

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.

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.

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

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 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 July 3

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 July 2

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 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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