Thu. Jul 25th, 2024


I’ll admit, I was too distracted by Rivian’s surprise announcement of a $5 billion deal with Volkswagen to develop software and electric vehicles to notice that the buzzy California company was also planning an investor day event on June 27th.

So when I woke up on Wednesday to see this shareholder letterthanks to InsideEVs with an assist from BloombergNEF’s Corey Cantor on Threads — I was pretty surprised to see Rivian was essentially taking a page from Tesla by teasing us with some shroud-covered mystery vehicles.

It’s already been a pretty jam-packed 2024 for Rivian: the introduction of the more affordable R2, starting at $45,000; the surprise reveal of the R3 and R3X, which briefly broke the internet with hype; the release of its second-generation R1T and R1S vehicles, with all new architecture, motors, and batteries; and of course, the company’s continuing financial struggles in the face of softening EV demand.

So to toss into the mix four — four! — new mystery vehicles is either a pretty bold strategy for the future or a desperate effort to stay relevant amid rising costs and cooling interest in electric vehicles. Either way, let’s take a look at these vehicles to see if we can make some guesses about what they are.

It’s already been a pretty jam-packed 2024 for Rivian

First of all, Rivian’s shroud-covered vehicles look very similar to the ones Tesla revealed during its company shareholder meeting earlier this month, which raises the possibility that both are just using the same tools in Photoshop to create these images.

Starting from the left, we have Rivian’s OG vehicles: the R1T truck, R1S SUV, and EDV (Electric Delivery Van) for Amazon. In the next column, we have the second-generation R1 vehicles that were announced earlier this month. On top of those, there’s our first mystery vehicle, which suggests the company could be working on an updated EDV built on the Gen 2 architecture.

Except that doesn’t really look like a van shape. It’s definitely more truck-shaped — although InsideEVs editor-in-chief (and former Verge contributor) Patrick George makes a convincing argument that we shouldn’t read too much into the various shapes. They could be stock images or just placeholders. If anything, Rivian could actively be trying to throw sleuths off the scent with these shapes. (Rivian spokesperson Liz Markman declined to comment on the mystery vehicles.)

If anything, Rivian could actively be trying to throw sleuths off the scent

In the next column, we can see the R2 and R3, both of which were unveiled in March. There’s another mystery vehicle on top of that column. And all three vehicles will be built on an electrical architecture called “MSP,” which stands for “midsized platform.”

And then there’s the fourth column with three shrouded vehicles built on a platform simply called “Affordable Mass-Market.” How intriguing! Earlier this year, the R2 and R3 were billed as Rivian’s big play for affordable EVs, with the former starting at $45,000. Rivian hasn’t put a price on the R3 or the performance trim R3X except to say it will be less than the R2.

So what are we to make of all of this? It seems likely that a few of these mystery vehicles will be trucks. Trucks are some of the bestselling vehicles in North America. Rivian’s first vehicle was the R1T. Trucks are in the company’s DNA. So does that mean we’re going to get an R2T or R3T or perhaps even X variants of both? It’s possible!

While the rest of the auto industry is prioritizing big, heavy electric trucks that sell for six figures, Rivian could shake things up with a cheaper, smaller truck. The company didn’t mention whether it was working on such a vehicle during the R2 announcement in March. And none of these silhouettes are instantly screaming “truck,” so it’s unclear whether that’s actually in the cards.

Trucks are in the company’s DNA

Another thing to note is that the affordable mass-market vehicles are all different shapes. I know, we can’t trust the shapes! But this could still mean that there are at least small, medium, and large vehicles in the works for that category. That seems important.

The fact that Rivian is working on a trio of vehicles that are even cheaper than the R2 and R3 is encouraging. Other automakers have stumbled in their attempts to produce truly affordable EVs. Tesla has gone back and forth on whether it will make a $25,000 “Model 2”-type vehicle. The Volvo EX30 is getting caught up in the trade war with China and likely won’t sell for its promised $35,000. Chevy is only now rolling out its Equinox EV but hasn’t yet offered the $35,000 version that was announced.

If Rivian joins the fray, that would be interesting. The company clearly doesn’t want to get pegged as an automaker that exclusively makes luxury vehicles on par with Land Rover or Mercedes-Benz, churning out expensive trucks and SUVs for the superrich. Still, it will need to break out of the “EV valley of death” in which its costs exceed its revenue and start showing signs of long-term survivability before it can tackle that project. The lifeline from Volkswagen — $1 billion right away, with an additional $4 billion to follow — will certainly help in that effort.

I like that despite its financial woes, Rivian is still playing the long game. Maybe soon enough we’ll get a peek at what’s under those shrouds.




#Rivian #teases #vehicles #idea,
#Rivian #teases #vehicles #idea

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