In just six months, Rivian Automotive has come a long way from mere dream to a viable company worth nearly $2bn. Its role model in just seven years? Google.
Much like the internet search engine had its beginnings as a startup with ambitious ideas but little money to spare, Rivian now has a strong prospect of making it big with its electric-battery-powered pickup truck, the electric BEV Rivian R1T. Founded by former Tesla engineers, the company has made its name by being “that great pivot company” in a group of disruptive startups headed by Ivan Braiker.
Braiker left Tesla in 2007 and set up Electric Vehicle Engineering, a boutique design firm based in Los Angeles. In 2010 he acquired Rivian Automotive from former Elio Motors CEO Mitchell Sommers, who set up the company in 2010 by exchanging his Model S sedan for a BEV from Rivian. The Silicon Valley startup has attracted some notable attention in the news in recent years, as it has emerged that Rivian has been working on autonomous, electric-powered vehicles that could soon be on the road.
In 2017, Rivian co-founder Kraig Kline was also named to the list of the 100 most influential people in emerging technology published by MIT Technology Review. The magazine described the company’s executives as having, “ripped the veil off their startup, promising to someday offer a 100% electric, gasoline-free pickup, and propelled it in a far faster and more decisive fashion than anybody had done before.”
The company debuted its vision for the pickup in 2016, when it built a prototype for the R1T and other electric-battery-powered vehicles. Rivian showed off an electric BEV model at the LA Auto Show and later unveiled another electric prototype, the R1D, for smaller vehicles. (The company also believes there is a large market for its BEVs to be used as on-demand transportation.) At the Auto Show, Braiker described the electric BEV as a portmanteau of “digi” for ride-sharing, “cord” for truck, and “truck” for electric.
The first of its three electric BEVs will go into limited production in the second half of 2020, and there is no word yet on the final cost or on customers. However, Rivian’s end-of-year report to the Securities and Exchange Commission mentions a number of executives who have completed drawn salaries for this year, including Braiker, chief executive officer Daniel Karr, chief financial officer George Riedel, and Chief Operating Officer and chief operations officer Kimberly Miller. The BEV fleet also has room for eight more electric vehicles.
In the final nine months of 2018, Rivian had accumulated another $1.4bn in cash on its balance sheet. As with every tech startup, this hasn’t come without significant cost.
In its filing with the SEC, Rivian revealed that, since the beginning of the year, it has sold more than 600,000 shares of stock to itself and other investors, which could represent a total investment of more than $15m. Last year, according to its official numbers, Rivian had only about $11m in cash.
Story by Maxine Pereira and translated by Ivonurun Aremovic