Robert "RJ" Scaringe founded Avera Automotive and changed its name later into Rivian Automotive. Since the beginning, he has focused on autonomous electric vehicles.
While the company was based in Florida and bared the Avera name, it teased the market with a hybrid 2+2 coupe named Avera Coupe. The car didn't attract enough investors, and Scaringe had to think fast at something else. He realized that the pickup market was more significant than the sporty one and changed direction in 2011. His small team started to lose faith in the company until he changed direction. Rivian was back on track and worked its way for the first electric pickup.
In 2015, the company received a large investment and moved to Michigan to be closer to its suppliers. With more companies investing in Rivian and significant incentives received from the Michigan authorities, Scaringe found out that the new direction was right, and the market forgot the failed-to-show coupe.
In 2016 Rivian started negotiations with Mitsubishi to buy their factory from Normal – Illinois, and, in January 2017, Scaringe got the plant's keys for 16 million USD. Rivian Automotive already had 100 employees working hard to create a new vehicle from scratch. While other carmakers already had previous experience, Rivian had none. Apart from the wheels and tires, they had to make everything. By August 2017, the company reached 160 people employed.
The money started to come from Sumitomo Company who invested 200 million USD in December 2017, and more companies began to invest in Rivian. In May 2018, Standard Chartered Bank invested $200 million in debt financing. The wait was almost over for the young American carmaker who showed its first two prototypes at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show: a pickup and an electric, seven-passenger SUV.
At the same time, Amazon was looking to change its fleet from fossil-based vehicles to full-electric ones. It invested $700 million into Rivian Automotive and ordered 100.000 electric delivery vans from Rivian. These vehicles were nowhere near production plans, but Amazon trusted it to deliver the first 10.000 units by the end of 2022. In November 2020, Rivian already had over 3000 employees.
There were some setbacks on the road, with Ford, who announced that it would invest $500 million in April 2018, but later on, it terminated the contract as a result of the Covid-19 health crisis. Rivian engineers worked from home and pushed hard to finish their first product's final details, the R1T pickup. Since both vehicles, the R1T and the R1S (SUV), were based on the same skateboard platform, time was ticking, and in 2021, the world welcomed the new products.