In-Depth Look At Rivian’s History, Funding & Present

Rivian Automotive


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

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.

15 photos

Source: NextMobility via Teslarati, Rivian

Categories: Rivian

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41 Comments on "In-Depth Look At Rivian’s History, Funding & Present"

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Thanks for keeping us updated on this mysterious company. It’s a stretch to call the facility in Illinois a “working factory”, though.

Rivian keeps very quiet and still manages to under-deliver. Most recently he told the Normal city council “you’ll be hearing a lot about us in the next 12 months”. That was 9 months ago. I wish them well, but Rivian just feels weird. I’d be willing to bet the founder is a book-smart guy with family money who has no clue how to build and run a company.

Well, it may turn out that you’re right, but I certainly hope you’re wrong.

Let’s not forget that Tesla had to announce three times a delay in getting its first car, the Roadster, into production. There were even people calling it “vaporware” after the third delay.

Guiding a startup to success is hard; most fail. Guiding an automobile manufacturing startup to success is very, very hard. I suggest cutting Rivian some slack. At least they’re not making crazy, over the top claims like Faraday Future, nor are they advertising a slick concept car without having the funding to put it into production, like Lucid.

Maybe Rivian won’t succeed, but to me it looks like it has a much better chance of success than most of the other EV startups reported in InsideEVs articles, or at least most of the others outside China.

Yeah, this guy is a calmer version of Musk – no less brilliant, charismatic and visionary, but seemingly more deliberate and thoughtful. You’re not going to see pedo tweets from this guy.

I want to see EVs with bigger batteries but at least 18 months Tesla will be on the top untill some competition from Lucid air and Fisker

LOL fisker?? seriously?

Rivan has leased their Normal, Ill. parking lots to VW for recalled diseasel storage. A deal to convert those late model VW TDIs to electric could kick-start their production lines.

That makes too much sense, so it probably will not happen.

Making gasmobiles (or diesel-mobiles) into conversion EVs will never be anything more than a cottage industry. Compelling EVs are built from the ground up; they’re not made by removing the ICEV powertrain and trying to shoehorn an EV powertrain into the holes.

Just look at Via Motors; how is it doing these days? Not well! Nor likely to do better in the future.

I certainly hope that Rivian will do something with a better chance of success than trying to convert “dirty diesels” into EVs.

VW already had cars stored there when the factory was deserted.

But the factory truly did have all the equipment for making cars there, when Rivian first looked at this they were originally only interested in the equipment and not the building, it’s a big facility.

It was only after that, they became interested in the entire facility and also kind of a bonus, there are quite a few experienced auto workers still around Normal, IL so
They should have no problem getting a workforce put together.

Just a smart move to make a few bucks with land you aren’t ready to use, yet. I’m reasonably certain that they aren’t going to retrofit anything, if the R1T is any indication.

Wasn’t there some fallout due to corruption/scam in Florida hence the move?

Thanks for the article, as a Floridian I am used to the hypocrisy of Florida’s politicians mainly republicans, I’ll share one example…they cut FLORIDA Medicaid on one hand and fund Florida farmers with the other hand. The Rivian example happens all the time here.

I don’t pretend to know the details, but it looked to me like at least part of what motivated that “hit piece” article from a Florida advocacy website was sour grapes over the fact that Rivian developed their prototype in Florida, partially funded by public funds, then bought an abandoned auto assembly plant in Detroit, and moved the company there.

While that certainly is unfortunate for Florida, so far as I can see Rivian did not violate its agreement with the State, and moving to Detroit would seem to me to give the startup a much better chance of success. Rivian’s deal with Florida was to develop a working prototype EV while providing a certain number of good paying jobs there. Reportedly at least, Rivian delivered on both promises.

Hit piece? That was corruption when the politician gave $2 million to her fiancee. As a Floridian, I see it all the time LOL…our governor Rick Scott became rich by stealing from Medicare before he ran for governor and he was elected twice. Moral of the story is get rich by stealing from the tax payer in private and in public say you’re for cutting taxes LOL


So they’ve got funding, and a mfg plant. BUT DO THEY HAVE A PRODUCT?
Seems to me you need 3 things to be successful: Funding, a Mfg facility, and a Product. Lucid and Faraday are both missing at least one component. These guys haven’t demonstrated that they’ve got all 3 either.

“Our cross-disciplinary design team uses various prototyping processes to rapidly iterate solutions that address customer needs, functional requirements and the supporting ecosystem.”
Well based on this quote from the website, a picture of a tail light, and other teasers on the website, it seems they have something in the works. How close they are to announcing a production bound product is yet to bee seen.

They do now. Two, in fact.

Great to see another article about Rivian, and this one that actually has some details! From what little that has been reported, it looks like Rivian is the company best positioned to follow Tesla to success as an EV startup.

“Faraday Future has had significant money troubles and cancelled its factory plans, however with new CFO Stefan Krause at the helm, the company has followed suit with Tesla and Rivian…”

Faraday Future and Rivian; two company names which should never, ever appear in the same sentence… like President and Trump.

Lol,45. Thank God I live in Canada.

Are you aware of what 45 (“four five”) means in South African slang?

It seems rather appropriate…

and yet it does, lol, just sit back and enjoy 6 more years.

Being from Illinois, I wish Rivian success. Bloomington-Normal is a very pro-EV area, so the community will offer as much assistance to them as they possibly can. I am looking forward to seeing what kind of product they are going to try and build in that factory.

“Bloomington-Normal is a very pro-EV area”

Hardly saw any PEV or hybrids (non-plugin) there last time I visited it during 2014.

I’ve never been there, but 4 years is a long time in the EV world.

One thing mentioned on their website was how they are working on ways to share vehicles so that they are not just sitting around most of the time. I wonder how they plan to do that in a way that hasn’t already been tried.

In time, it will be reveled who “the money” is behind this effort and you will have that “I should have seen that coming” moment. Its real.

It looks a lot like a Tesla, to me.

Yep, a sharp engineer with a clear vision and sound business plan. Unless they have different intentions than what it seems thus far, I would expect Rivian to be the size that Tesla is now in the same or less time – maybe 2023?

Trucks and SUVs of all sizes and shapes are crazy popular here in the US. Demand should be the least of Rivian’s problems, like with Tesla.

(Model S sales started in 2012, then in 2018 cleared 200k cumulative sales of all models in US alone).

Go to abetter route planner.

Plug in a Model x p100d.
Now plan a ski trip with the ol’ family from Dallas to Taos. Just for fun, give yourself a 28 degree day with a 15 mph headwind.

I don’t care how rich you are, or how much you love your new $120,000 ride, …. do that trip once and I’ll bet you take the other car next time.

786 miles , that drive isnt fun in any car with your family. But yeah 3 plus hours of charging and lots of stops.
no fun whatsovever , can you fly next time?

I wouldn’t make a 700+ mile drive in any vehicle, I would fly. But even if I were to make that drive, I would split it into 2 days and drive 300-400 miles per day. Find a place to charge overnight while you sleep and that is easily doable in a Tesla (at least in my LR Model 3) with minimal inconvenience.

Driving 700+ miles in a single day is an edge case. If you are saying EVs aren’t good for all edge cases (yet) then you’re right.

Worked on construction/renovation of their building before they moved in to their new HQ in Plymouth , Mi. They spent a lot of money on the inside, huge live plants, 65in tv’s in every room etc. New exposed piping, ductwork etc. (the newest fad), Yet they didn’t want to spend the money to get new HVAC units, opting to move some 20yr old units from another building to use on their “new” HQ. The distinct impression I got was that they don’t plan on being there long. My guess is that they are spending research money, or they actually have some ideas/patents, and hope to be bought ought by a bigger company. Something definitely didn’t feel right.

I just watched a Bloomberg interview with R.J. Scaringe (Rivian CEO) where he says they have 450 employees.
The interview was from Aug 2018, so the number is definitely higher by now.

And by the way, after watching another interview with R.J. Scaringe, he is certainly NOT charismatic, even kind of boring to listen to.
He is very articulate and obviously intelligent, but lacks the charisma of Elon Musk.

Elon’s carisma brought SEC to the company.
If it would be for me to meet the two without knowing them and having to choose one of them for an investment, I would choose Scaringe without blinking.

Musk’s huge following proves he has charisma, but listening to him is excruciating.

The recent press releases all say “over 600” employees (across all locations, which also include London, UK)

“And guess what? Tomorrow holds yet another EV shocker from Rivian. Stay tuned.”

Another EV model?

On funding, both ALJ and Sumitomo are invested in Rivian. They definitely have their financials in pretty good shape capital wise.