If you have not heard of Rivian yet, head on over to https://rivian.com and have a look at the two EV vehicles they are building, the R1T truck and R1S SUV. I hadn't heard about them before the end of 2020 when I watched "Long Way Up" starring Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman. In Long Way Up, they took two Harley-Davidson Livewire electric motorcycles from the southernmost tip of Argentina to Los Angeles. On the trip, the support team was driving two Rivian R1T prototypes for a completely all-electric trip.
I have been enormously impressed with what Rivian is doing to disrupt part of the automotive industry. Tesla is currently the clear, dominant player in the EV space, there is no denying that. But at the current time, there are other players competing in segments of that space. In some cases, like Rivian, I think they are doing an impressive job at turning part of the industry upside down.
This is a list of just some of the reasons I like Rivian as a brand.
- They have no legacy baggage. Just like Tesla started from scratch making only EV vehicles, Rivian has the opportunity to start from the ground up with no existing models and platforms that people are familiar with.
- I like the way they present the company culture to the outside world. Granted, this could all be marketing, but they are taking the time to tell their story. If you read the many stories they have posted up at https://stories.rivian.com/f5e0cb9d741306ebec49f26dc3030694, you can get a feel for what they are about. That story alone, about the founder RJ Scaringe, does say something about what the company is trying to achieve. The fact that he took his own fork and spoon around with him is a positive in my book.
- They are able to change some of the thinking about how a vehicle is made and what features are in it. From their innovative adventure gear like a tent that goes on the roof of both the truck and SUV, to the really cool gear tunnel in the R1T truck, they are able to re-think how the vehicle functions. This is something legacy manufactures cannot and have not done.
- They are using the technology to do new things. Rivian has 4 electric motors, one for each wheel. No one else is doing this. It may be four things to break, but if it works and lasts, this is a game changer, especially for off-road users. When you have 4 independant wheels, you can do all sorts of neat tricks. Like their "tank turn" for one example. They can spin one side wheels forward and the other side backward at the same time. That, plus the patent for a "K-Turn," can really change the way we use vehicles, especially in the adventure space.
I think we are at a watershed moment for vehicles and it all started with Tesla. They really don't get enough credit for changing the way people think about their vehicles and making vehicles that can last a lot longer than a traditional auto. Having fewer system components is a win for EV. Will we have to adapt the way we drive? Probably, yes. That may be a good thing. We over-drive today and EVs can help us re-think how we interact with the rest of the world in our daily activities.
My hope for Rivian, is that just like Tesla, their vehicles become a long-term ownership option for drivers. These vehicles should last a long time and go against the grain of traditional vehicles that are "disposed" of or handed down as they age and develop mechanical problems due to the complexity of moving parts. I think that fits in with the vision of Elon Musk at Tesla, as well as with RJ Scaringe of Rivian.