A few days ago, Rivian announced it plans to capture 10% of the electric vehicle market by 2030. It says its factory in Normal, Illinois, will be able to produce 200,000 vehicles a year and its new factory in Georgia will crank out double that number. Well, maybe.
According to Autoblog, while founder, CEO, and head honcho R.J. Scaringe is busy putting a gloss on the company’s public image, changes to the company’s online configurator offer both good news and bad news for future Rivian customers.
First, the good news. The configurator now lists the entry level R1T in Explorer trim as having dual motors and a range of 260 miles with the Standard battery pack. There are no specifics about that battery, however, nor does the price include a destination charge, which is unknown at this time. The drivetrain offers 600 horsepower and 600 pounds-feet of torque but no 4-wheel steering. The base price is listed as $67,500.
Stepping up to the Adventure package adds a nicer interior with ventilated seats and ash wood accents plus some items every adventurer needs, such as tow hooks. It also adds $6,000 to the price. The number of motors and battery size are the same as the Explorer model.
Customer can add the 4-motor option and a larger battery pack to either the Explorer or Adventure package, giving them about 320 miles of range. Each upgrade costs $6,000. In other words, a 4-motor base model with the larger battery is now $79,500 and the upgraded model with those options now lists for $85,500. The R1S sport utility from Rivian is priced $5,000 above a comparable pickup truck model. But wait, there’s more.
When the Max Pack battery that gives the truck 400 miles of range arrives in about a year, it will cost $16,000 extra. (We presume that means $10,000 more than the Large battery pack option, but if you want more information, contact Rivian. Current news reports are somewhat ambiguous on this point.)
That, sports fans, is a serious chunk of change. If Rivian intends to capture 10% of the EV market with this truck and its SUV cousin, people must have a lot more money to spend on such baubles than we imagined. No doubt, Rivian is keeping a close eye on the competition, which suggests it thinks the Ford F-150 Lightning, Silverado EV, Ram REvolution, and Tesla Cybertruck will all be similarly priced. GM’s new Hummer EV can cost as much as $112,000, so maybe the Rivian is a relative bargain? But at these prices, it’s hard to see the EV revolution really taking off, unless folks plan to sell their homes and live in these all electric beasts of burden.
Where Will Rivian Get Its Batteries?
The first question CleanTechnica readers ask when hearing about a new electric vehicle is “Who will supply the batteries?” Grand announcements about spiffy new models is just blah, blah, blah without such details. We reported in January that Samsung SDI has broken off talks with Rivian about building a battery factory together and decided to do business with Stellantis instead.
CNET Roadshow says Rivian now intends to build its own battery cells as it follows the Tesla vertical integration model. It is currently using electric motors supplied by Bosch, but also plans to build its own motors, which it claims have few parts, making them lighter and cheaper to manufacture.
A Political Flap In Georgia
Nothing should surprises us when it comes to politics today, where left is right and up is down. Ordinarily, one would think a company wanting to make a $5 billion investment in a state would be welcome news that all could celebrate. But not so, in today’s superheated political environment.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is in a tight race with former senator David Purdue. The challenger, who is backed by a disgraced former president, has come out against the proposed Rivian plant and aligned himself with local residents who say they don’t want the factory, which will be built on a 2,000-acre site in a rural part of the state 45 miles east of Atlanta. The factory is expected to create 7,500 jobs for Georgia workers.
Purdue has blasted the project and vilified George Soros, a favorite whipping boy of right-wing fringe groups, who made a large investment in Rivian. “Kemp didn’t just sell us out, but he sold out to somebody who doesn’t have our best interest at heart,” Purdue told rural voter recently, according to a report by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Soros is always painted as a communist by his detractors, and many in the audience wore bright red T-shirts to indicate that fact.
The opposition is surprising to many political observers, who say Georgia has been trying for decades to attract new industries, only to lose out to neighboring states like South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi. It finally landed what most consider to be a prize commitment from Rivian and now the locals are up in arms. As a result, Rivian has been dragged into a sulfurous political battle it never sought and doesn’t want. Its dreams of a spiffy new factory are now a little further in the distance and may depend on the outcome of the next election.
[The following is this author’s opinion. You can applaud it, decry it, or use it to wrap yesterday’s fish.] It seems that Rivian lately has become a little like some other companies that have appeared on the scene amidst grandiose public pronouncements. Nikola, Fisker, and Faraday Future are but a few such companies. The impression one gets is the company is pedaling furiously to keep its balloon filled with promises, sunshine, and rainbows aloft.
This is not to say that it is not a viable company. It is rather a cautionary warning that the jury is still out on Rivian. Perhaps in a year or two, readers will look back and conclude that I am just a blithering idiot. Or I could hailed as a clairvoyant. In my humble opinion, Rivian today is where Tesla was several years ago when Elon was trying to get Tim Cook on the line to bail out his struggling business. Will Rivian succeed? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.