We often say Tesla has its plate full, but this also applies to potential EV startups. At this point in time, Rivian arguably appears to be the most promising upcoming entrant, and its goals for the year ahead stand to be the ultimate proof of that.
Electric cars are hard. This has been proven time and time again, as many legacy automakers struggle to get things right and then eventually launch EVs that are seemingly unfinished. However, it seems Rivian is well beyond being on the right track. The year ahead for the electric pickup truck maker will likely be historic.
Rivian has been around for many years, though it has changed names and added and subtracted locations along the way. Some people have criticized the electric pickup truck maker for dragging the development process out for so many years. However, we're confident they'd rather have a very compelling and fully fleshed-out EV than something that was rushed to market teeming with issues, and we're not talking about panel gaps here.
If Rivian's 2021 plans play out as intended, it will find a place in the history books as it launches three new EVs, officially launches its factory, and goes public without the help of a SPAC.
According to a recent article in Bloomberg, Rivian's factory hasn't mass-produced cars for over six years. The electric automaker purchased the former Mitsubishi plant in Normal, Illinois, and has been working to ready it for EV production. As far as we understand, it's already capable of building cars, but we don't have a solid grasp of what else needs to be done to officially "open" the factory for serial production.
Regardless, Rivian has a lot in store for the future. It will launch its R1T electric pickup truck, R1S electric three-row SUV, and Amazon delivery van in a few months. All of these vehicles have been revealed in production-intent from, and they're out testing as we write this article. Rivian was working to launch a fourth vehicle with investment partner Ford, but it will wait on that. Ford’s product development chief Hau Thai-Tang shared in an interview:
“They’ve got their hands full. We’ve got to let them get through that first.”
People familiar with Rivian's efforts noted that it's planning for an annual production capacity of 300,000 vehicles, though they also said it will build up to 40,000 in the first full year (800 per week). For comparison, after Tesla launched the Model 3, it ramped up first full year production to an average of 5,000 cars per week. However, it took many months for Tesla to finally increase production on a grand scale. CEO Elon Musk recently tweeted:
“Prototypes are easy, production is hard & being cash flow positive is excruciating.”
Rivian isn't stopping there. In its push to become a force in the EV industry, its reportedly already looking for locations for a European factory. In addition, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe substantiated plans to take the automaker public before the end of 2021. The company is estimated to be valued at $50 billion when it IPOs.
The company hasn't had to worry too much about finances thus far, and there was no need to rush to go public via a SPAC. This is because Rivian has completed a massive amount of successful fundraising over the years, with support from many major companies, such as Amazon, Ford, and Cox Automotive, among others.
Vice President of Global vehicle forecasting for AutoForecast Solutions Sam Fiorani pointed out:
“Getting off the ground alone is a big deal for an EV startup, but Rivian takes on the added complication of having three models come out in the same year. How many American automotive companies have started since World War II and been successful? It’s a list of one -- Tesla.”