Rivian Automotive has been at it since 2009, was chosen as one of the top growing companies in the EV segment, and already has a functional factory ... so what's the story?
As we've previously reported, Rivian has been working as a covert operation for quite some time. Back in 2009, RJ Scaringe followed his dreams and started the soon-to-be electric car entrant. He completed his studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Sloan Automotive Laboratory, completing a Masters degree, as well as a PhD in mechanical engineering. His focus is on improving manufacturing technologies and promoting innovation in the segment.
Rivian Automotive is currently working out of a headquarters in Livonia, Michigan (Image Credit: Rivian)
The company began its journey in Florida, under the name Avera Motors, but has since relocated its corporate headquarters to Livonia, Michigan and taken on the new moniker. The company had early plans to release a vehicle with industry-leading fuel efficiency around 2013 or 2014. However, with a new focus on electric vehicles, and the recent acquisition of a fully functional factory, the timeline has changed.
When Rivian (Avera) first started to move forward in Florida, Tesla was essentially the only electric automaker making any waves. It's not surprising the RJ chose to mirror some of the Silicon Valley automaker's steps. Rivian acquired the former Mitsubishi Plant in Normal, Illinois and is in the process of readying it for production by 2019.
There's no official word as to whether or not the Livonia headquarters will be relocated, but the company chose it as an ideal location due to its proximity to suppliers and to Detroit's automotive focus. Rivian also has a San Francisco location, which is focusing on the "tech" side of things. It's said to be working on autonomous vehicles development and testing in California, among other engineering pursuits.
Since Rivian continues to operate in somewhat of a stealth mode, very little verified information is available. The company has not shared anything with the media in regards to funding, other than the fact that it is being handled. However, a person close to the company shared:
“They have substantial liquid assets. They are well-positioned financially.”
Two of the most notable pieces of the puzzle -- which help to secure a startup's success -- are real estate (in this case a working factory, as well as multiple functional locations) and funding. These are two pieces that seem to be missing from most other EV startups, and seem to be solidified for Rivian.
Rivian had about 100 employees at the end of 2016 and increased these numbers by 28 percent as of June 2017.
Present & Future
The outlook is increasingly encouraging and it would be fantastic to see another successful EV startup enter the segment. Having such an automaker near Detroit, and separated from the EV activity in California, is also positive as the segment seeks to gain a foothold across geographic markets.
Flip forward to today, with the big reveal of the Rivian R1T electric truck and the whole electric car world now seems shocked. Truth is, Rivian is old. What's new here is that now the automaker in on the map. And in a big, big way.
And guess what? Tomorrow holds yet another EV shocker from Rivian. Stay tuned.