How Rivian Dethroned Industry Leaders Ford, Chevy, and Dodge, at Their Own Game

Rivian Automotive stepped into the car scene in 2009. That’s infant years compared to Ford’s archaic 119 years in the game. Today, Rivian is perhaps one of the most valued auto companies in the world, making headlines in 2021 with their versatile R1T EV pickup truck. Nolan Sykes of Donut Media asks critical questions. What makes the Rivian R1T so great? How have they dethroned the big three? Will they become the next powerhouse in the EV industry?
Rivian R1T  EV Pickup 8 photos
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Rivian, like Tesla did a few years ago, jumped out of nowhere and is not only taking the automotive world by storm but also the stock market. They generated most of this hype from their recently launched massively successful IPO and also because the EV market is booming globally.

According to Nolan, global investors are salivating at the idea of catching an early ride on the "next Tesla.” Toyota, Volkswagen, and Daimler have a combined market value of $505 billion, while Tesla alone is more than twice that figure. Combined with Rivian and Lucid, these top three EV companies are worth $1.3 trillion.

So, how does Rivian even compare? Nolan makes a solid argument. Every new EV in the market will get compared to Tesla, case in point, Lucid Motors.

Rivian Automotive factory
Rather than play second fiddle to Tesla, Rivian looked for a niche in the market where Tesla was performing poorly - electric SUVs and pickup trucks. The decision to forego the Lucid sedan way led to the EV company leap-frogging everyone to become the first EV truck in the market.

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Rivian. They hit production delays caused by supply chain snags, affecting the delivery of roughly a thousand units. Fortunately, the EV company reported that the total reservation for its R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV increased from 55,000 in November to 71,000 as of December 15th, 2021. According to Nolan, this makes the average value of pre-orders around $5 billion.

But will Rivian cope with the market demand? Well, only time can tell. At the moment, they are moving fast to ensure they are cranking out as many units as possible. To meet the rising demand, they have also announced a $5 billion plant set to open in Georgia in 2024.

Rivian didn’t just hit the headlines by default. CEO RJ Scaringe spent the last 12 years developing his product. He experimented with everything from buggies to supercars and, on the way, managed to hitch his wagon to a couple of significant power players like Amazon.

Rivian EDV
According to Nolan, Jeff Bezos owns 20% of Rivian, who is under contract to produce 100,000 electric delivery vans for Amazon by 2030. That’s not all. In 2019, Ford invested $500 million when they initially planned to use the Rivian chassis on a Lincoln. However, recently, they announced that the collaboration was no longer a prospect. They still have a cozy relationship with Ford, the carmaker holding roughly a 12% stake.

So, does Rivian have a shot at Tesla? Well, two things come into play, ‘money’ and ‘market share,’ an alley that’s been recently Elon Musk territory. But Nolan argues there are signs that Tesla’s dominance might be waning.

While every automaker has quality control issues, Tesla has had a fair share of those. Consumer Reports recently gave Tesla a reliability rating of 7 and dependability of 27th out of 28 manufacturers. There are also countless videos online of new owners complaining of units delivered with quality problems, including gouges and scratches.

Things are looking up for Rivian, and Sykes makes a valid point, even though only 3% of vehicles sold in the U.S. were electric, that number could only go up. Trucks and SUVs are the hottest market segment in the world right now, and unless industry contenders step up to the challenge sooner, RJ Scaringe might just be the next prom queen.

Rivian’s future is sure looking up. The world is turning to EVs, and even though Tesla is the pioneer, the R1T and the R1S lead the way when it comes to EV SUVs and pickup trucks.

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