Rivian: Automaker on a Roll
Rivian’s Business Profile
The age of electric vehicles has arrived, and with it, we are seeing a much-needed fresh infusion of ideas in the automotive sector; an industry that has been struggling to shake off the image of being old and passe for a few decades. While many well-established players in the market have started dipping their toes in the electric vehicle (EV) segment; Rivian, recently started rolling out the first of its electric adventure vehicles in September 2021.
Founder and CEO of Rivian, RJ Scaringe, is an outdoor enthusiast with a mission for creating a sustainable auto brand. Founded in 2009, and currently headquartered in Irvine California, Rivian has finally found its niche in the electric adventure vehicles space, with the first two vehicles in their product line being, the R1T outdoor pickup truck, and the R1S, which fills the electric adventure Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) requirement.
Rivian’s Defining Traits
Every company goes through a process of iterations, some ideas work well, while others do not pan out; and Rivian’s strengths have emerged in the following areas:
Focus on Sustainability
The company is clear about its focus on the environment and changing the trajectory of the carbon footprint in the auto industry. They aim to be perceived as “one with nature” in their vehicles, from the vehicle color choices, and stories behind them, to the many conveniences fitted into their trucks for outdoor and adventure enthusiasts. Scaringe founded Rivian mainly due to his personal passion for the outdoors, and his hope to reduce the human footprint in nature, especially the harm caused by vehicles emissions to the environment.
Clarity of Market Segment
The luxury EV market has been the new focus of many automakers. Although their initial prototype was in the already crowded luxury sedan segment, Rivian has been smart to move away and expand into an untapped but highly promising adventure EV market. One of the obvious issues that need solving before electric vehicles can gain acceptance in the mainstream market is mileage range, as battery charging continues to be a pain point for automakers. Rivian claims a range of 314 miles per charge, and a battery system that can operate in hot and cold weather from 130ºF to -25ºF, both of which are essential traits for rugged terrain vehicles, electric or otherwise. Additionally, just like their competitors in the EV space, Rivian offers customers the ease of customizing and configuring every aspect of their truck and SUV online.
Rolling in Slow and Steady
Bringing their first car into the market took over ten years as Rivian worked behind the scenes in the R&D stage, not afraid to scrap ideas that did not work. Even with the roadblocks placed by a global pandemic as they approached their first delivery, Rivian kept an eye out for one of the biggest challenges for a new brand in the auto industry - building consumer trust with a final product, that exceeds expectations set during the marketing stage. This aspect becomes even more relevant for Rivian’s adventure vehicles, which need to go off the beaten path!
Partnership and Investors
Rivian has attracted the attention of a steady stream of investors, even during their iteration stages. Early on, they partnered with Amazon to make 100,000 vehicles for them by 2030 and use their cloud services. After becoming a publicly-traded company in Nov 2021, Rivian continues to draw prominent investors like Soros Fund Management and Viking Global.
Key Takeaways from Rivian
In order to truly make a mark and stand out, Rivian chose to move away from the crowds, into the adventure and outdoor segment of electric vehicles. This headstart has already served the company well, as it wins accolades like the Motor Trend Award for 2022 for their R1T pickup truck.
A clear purpose is essential for the success of a business. And in Rivian’s case, this mission is lofty and bold - to protect the planet from auto emission, and create a sustainable future for the upcoming generations. And while we are aware that electric vehicles alone don’t solve a problem where the entire chain uses fossil fuels; Rivian can be lauded as it joins other partners in the ecosystem, by doing its part to move away from fossil fuels as a source of energy.
An enthusiastic team that works towards the success of its brand is essential for a new company’s culture. Rivian is still working on this aspect, as they build up from a small dedicated workforce to a team of more than 10,000 employees across its current locations in California, Michigan, Illinois, and the UK.
As production ramps up and investors pour in, the story of Rivian continues to be built on a strong mission. In the words of the founder "The scale of the challenge is enormous, but we're lucky to be a part of this — to be able to help solve how we shift our planet’s energy and transportation systems entirely away from fossil fuel."
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