In-Depth Look At Rivian’s History And Future Vision

3 months ago by Steven Loveday 19

Rivian Automotive

RJ Scaringe, founder of Rivian Automotive (Image Credit: Rivian)

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.

Lucid Motors doesn’t have a factory at this point, though preliminary fundraising is underway to build one. The company is also looking at the potential to be acquired by another company. 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, and just recently acquired a factory.

Rivian had about 100 employees at the end of 2016 and increased these numbers by 28 percent as of June 2017. Currently, the company employees about 160 people. 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.

Source: NextMobility via Teslarati, Rivian

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19 responses to "In-Depth Look At Rivian’s History And Future Vision"

  1. Doggydogworld says:

    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.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      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.

  2. Bul_gar says:

    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

  3. Jay D says:

    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.

    1. SJC says:

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

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        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.

  4. Tesla4theWin says:

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

      1. Mister G says:

        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.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      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.

      1. Mister G says:

        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

  5. PHEVfan says:

    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.

    1. JeffD says:

      “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.

  6. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    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.

    1. Courtney vegan says:

      Lol,45. Thank God I live in Canada.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

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

        It seems rather appropriate…

  7. JeffD says:

    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.

  8. JeffD says:

    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.

  9. incognito says:

    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.

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