The first production Rivian R1T electric pickup truck in “Rivian Blue” rolled off the assembly line Tuesday morning at the company’s Normal, Ill., Plant, marking a decade-long milestone for the automaker. automobile and its founder and CEO, RJ Scare.
The company, which started in 2009 as Mainstream Motors before adopting the Rivian name two years later, has seen explosive growth in terms of people, funders and partners in recent years.
Rivian operated in relative obscurity – that is, in stealth mode – for years before revealing prototypes of its all-electric R1T truck and R1S SUV at the Los Angeles auto show in late 2018.
Since then, Rivian has raised billions of dollars ($ 10.5 billion in total); expanded its Normal, Illinois plant; hired thousands of employees; landed Amazon as a business customer; and, most recently, filed in confidence for an IPO. Today, in addition to its Illinois plant, Rivian has facilities in Palo Alto and Irvine, California; and Plymouth, Michigan; and an office in the UK
When he first revealed the two electric vehicles in 2018, Rivian had around 600 employees. Today, it has more than 7,000.
Rivian’s announcement on Tuesday, which marks the official start of production of R1T for customers, comes after at least two delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the global chip shortage. Earlier this summer, Scaringe wrote in a letter to customers that deliveries of the R1T would begin in September, with the R1S set to follow “shortly.”
Rivian juggled the dueling priorities of preparing and producing the R1T and R1S for consumers and commercial delivery vans for Amazon. The Illinois plant has two separate production lines producing vehicles. One is dedicated to R1 vehicles and the other to its commercial vans.
Amazon has ordered 100,000 of these vans, with deliveries starting in 2021. Earlier this year, Amazon began testing the electric delivery van in several cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Earlier this month, Rivian announced that the first edition of the R1T pickup truck has an official EPA range of 314 miles, while its R1T SUV reaches 316 miles.
The official range and fuel economy values posted on the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s website match Rivian’s previous estimates, reported at 300 miles.
The timing is also important because it means that Rivian has the advantage of being the first electric truck on the market. Ford’s F-150 Lightning, which is not expected to hit the market until spring 2022, has a targeted range of 230 miles in the standard version and up to 300 miles in the extended version. The EPA has not released official ranges for the Ford Lightning.
The R1T truck and the R1S “Launch edition” SUV from Rivian are equipped with a 135 kWh battery bearing the “large battery” mark. Launch Edition vehicle deliveries are expected to begin this month.