Amazon-Backed Rivian Seeks 3-in-a-Row EV Debuts, Defying History

Amazon-Backed Rivian Seeks 3-in-a-Row EV Debuts, Defying History

(Bloomberg) — Rivian Automotive Inc., the electric-truck startup backed by Amazon.com Inc., is running the automotive equivalent of a three-ring circus: attempting to launch a trio of new vehicles in a factory that made its last car six years ago.

The push reflects a desire to get out ahead of battery-powered trucks from more established rivals, including a Hummer pickup from General Motors Co. and Tesla Inc.’s Cybertruck. Rivian has high hopes for its pickup and sport-utility vehicle but is counting on an Amazon-dedicated delivery van as a guaranteed source of revenue, said people familiar with the company’s strategy.

Rivian hasn’t publicly stated its production goals, but these people said the startup is building annual capacity for about 300,000 vehicles and aims to make as many as 40,000 in its first full year — or an average of almost 800 a week. That compares with the nearly 5,000 vehicles a week Tesla manufactured at its factory in Fremont, California, in 2018 — the first full year of production for the mass-market Model 3 sedan.

Amazon and Ford Motor Co. are providing financing and operational advice, but output of that magnitude across three different models is a tall order for an untested business.

“It’s such a huge step going from producing prototypes to actually putting together a thousand vehicles a week,” said Mark Wakefield, head of the automotive practice in the Americas at consultant AlixPartners LLP, who advises startups. “It’s hard to over-emphasize that point.”

A spokesperson for Rivian declined to comment on its production targets.

Retrofitted Plant