Rivian is an American automaker and automotive technology company. Founded in 2009, the company develops vehicles, products and services related to sustainable transportation. The company has facilities in Plymouth, Michigan; Normal, Illinois; San Jose, Irvine, and Carson, California; Vancouver, Canada; and the United Kingdom. In 2017, Rivian announced it was building an electric sport utility vehicle (SUV) and pickup truck on a platform that executives claim can be modified for future vehicles or adapted by other companies. Both vehicles will be semi-autonomous and are designed for both on-road and off-road driving.
The company was founded in 2009 by CEO Robert "RJ" Scaringe, who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a doctorate in mechanical engineering. After being renamed Avera Automotive and then Rivian Automotive, the company began focusing on autonomous electric vehicles in 2011. Rivian received a large investment and grew significantly in 2015, opening research facilities in Michigan and the Bay Area. Relocating headquarters to Livonia, Michigan to be closer to key suppliers, Rivian began working exclusively on electric autonomous vehicles, specifically building an "entire ecosystem" of related products. It also began gearing its prototypes towards the "ride-sharing and driverless car markets."
It was reported in September 2016 that Rivian was negotiating to buy a manufacturing plant formerly owned by Mitsubishi Motors in Normal, Illinois. In January 2017, Rivian acquired the plant and its manufacturing contents for $16 million, with the plant to become Rivian's primary North American manufacturing facility. Rivian's acquisition of a near production-ready facility instead of building a new factory has been likened to Tesla's acquisition of the NUMMI plant in California. The company received a $1 million grant and a five-year tax abatement from Normal contingent on meeting employment targets and investing $40.5 million over five years. Rivian also received $49.5 million in tax credits from the state government; these credits are also contingent upon meeting employment targets and investing at least $175 million into the site by 2024.
Rivian employed around 100 people at the end of 2016, and that number grew to 160 by August 2017. Sumitomo Corporation made a "strategic investment" in Rivian in December 2017, and Rivian reported that its alpha prototypes were complete and undergoing testing. Also that month, Rivian revealed its first two products: an electric five-passenger pickup truck and an electric seven-passenger SUV, provisionally named the A1T and A1C respectively. With both vehicles unveiled at the LA Auto Show in November 2018, production is scheduled to begin in 2020 with the truck to launch first. Both vehicles were described as ready for rough terrain and semi-autonomous, and the company outlined a plan for its next generation of models to be fully autonomous.
Rivian had 250 employees at the start of 2018. In May 2018, Rivian received $200 million in debt financing from Standard Chartered Bank, bringing total raised funds to upwards of $450 million. Other investors at the time included Abdul Latif Jameel. As of February 2019, Rivian employs 750 people across facilities in Michigan, Illinois, California, and the United Kingdom. Around 50 of those employees were in Normal, putting Rivian ahead of its local job-creation targets.
In February 2019, Amazon announced it would be leading an investment round of $700 million into Rivian. The round included participation from existing shareholders as well. In April 2019, Ford Motor Company invested $500 million. As of June 2019 the company employed over 1,000 people. As a result of the fallout surrounding the 2020 Covid-19 heath crisis, Ford has terminated the Rivian contract. While the manufacturer will be shifting production to their Lincoln Motors team, they are also maintaining the relationship with Rivian.
In September 2019, Cox Automotive invested $350 million into Rivian, bringing the total raised in 2019 to $1.5 billion. Rivian remains independent, but Cox Automotive plans to add a representative to Rivian's board as part of the investment.
Later that month, Amazon ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian, as part of its plan to convert its delivery fleet to 100% renewable energy by 2030. Delivery of the vehicles will begin in 2021. Amazon expects to have 10,000 electric vans in operation by 2022, but is not slated to take delivery of the entire 100,000 Rivian vans the contract calls for until 2030.
In April 2020, Rivian reached 2000+ employees.
Rivian raised capital of US$2.85 billion during 2019, through four major investments, including a US$500 million investment by Ford in April, which "plans to use the Rivian skateboard for a new battery electric vehicle," and US$1.3 billion investment round led by T Rowe Price announced in December to get the R1T truck and R1S SUV into production by late 2020.
In May 2018, Rivian stated that they had dubbed their upcoming truck with the working name A1T and their SUV with the working name A1C. In November 2018, the truck and SUV were renamed the R1T and R1S, respectively. Designed to be capable off-road, both models have 14 inches of ground clearance. The truck was claimed in early testing to be able to sprint from 0 to 97 km/h (60 miles per hour) in under 3 seconds, wade through 1.1 m (3.6 feet) of water and climb a 45 degree incline. The vehicles are Level 3 autonomous, and have extra features such as automated trailer backup. According to Engadget, “the most expensive models will reach around 450 miles on a charge and feature the 800HP electric motor Scaringe said would beat Italian supercars.” Rivian has said it is designing the vehicles to facilitate “car-sharing” with their autonomous features.
Chassis and batteries
Because of a shared electric chassis, the R1T and R1S designs were aiming to have 91% shared components as of 2018. The chassis includes braking, suspension, and cooling systems with a battery in the center. Rivian refers to the relatively-flat, low-center-of-gravity base chassis as a "skateboard," which makes for a chassis that is more straightforward to customize for various body types that might be placed above it. Rivian intends to license the electric chassis to other manufacturers as a design base for machinery such as cars and other components.
The company currently has four primary locations. Its headquarters in Plymouth, Michigan are dedicated to finances, engineering, and design. A facility in Irvine, California focuses on batteries, electrical hardware, and vehicle control software, while a facility in San Jose, California develops self-driving technology and data. The 2.6-million-square-foot factory in Normal, Illinois manufactures vehicle components such as battery packs. The Normal plant has a paint shop, robotics, stamping machines, and other production equipment, such as injection molding. The company has additional office locations in Carson, California and the United Kingdom designated for electric power conversion and advanced engineering, respectively.
On 20 December 2018, professional rock climber Alex Honnold announced his partnership with Rivian as a brand partner and collaborator. During a live stream on 15 June 2019, Rivian announced plans to collaborate with the Honnold Foundation and nonprofit Casa Pueblo on a solar project aiming to establish a microgrid in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, a city that was severely affected by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Rivian plans to repurpose used battery packs from its development vehicles into stationary energy storage units. The microgrid is intended to grant residents access to electricity for core business and will be used daily to mitigate the high cost of energy in Puerto Rico, which is twice the U.S. national average. The project is expected to launch in 2020.
- GMC Hummer EV
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Media related to Rivian Automotive at Wikimedia Commons