I put my name on the list.
I put my name on the list.
I took one look at it and thought poor Bollinger, it doesn't have a chance against Rivian. Then I searched YouTube and learned they introduced a B1 model at last year's LA Auto Show that looks like a Range Rover. At the time, they already had 12,000 preorders and several dozen press articles about it.
This Fully Charged episode from last year makes it sound very cool.
12,000 pre-orders are just like mine. A compulsive email with no financial committment. LOL
Marques Brownlee did his usual great job summarizing the state of the electric vehicle market and where the Rivian fits
I think he's totally right. Rivian has made a lot of big promises. If they deliver, it'll be amazing. Whether they'll be able to deliver is still an open question.
I finally had time to read up in detail about Rivian and their new vehicles, and I'm both more interested and more skeptical. The more I read about the R1T and R1S the better they sound, but also the less convinced I am that Rivian can deliver these vehicles for the prices they've promised.
So let's dig in!
The base model R1T with the smallest battery will reportedly start at $69,000, and the most expensive configuration with the largest battery will cost around $100,000. Available battery sizes range from 105 kWh (~230 miles) to 180 kWh (~400 miles).
Those mileage ratings work out to energy usage of about 450 watt-hours per mile for the R1T. For comparison, the highest-range Tesla Model X currently available, the P100, has a 100 kWh battery and promises ~295 miles of range, which equates to about 339 Wh/mile.
This puts Rivian's range claims within the realm of possibility, but a mere 111 Wh difference between the sleek, aerodynamic Model X and the large, bulky R1T still seems a bit optimistic to me. Perhaps the R1T is more aerodynamic than it looks, or maybe its motors are surprisingly efficient. It's possible.
But the Tesla Model X P100, with its 100 kWh battery, has a starting price of $99,000. That's almost exactly the promised price ceiling of the Rivian R1T, a car with a battery nearly twice the size.
Tesla is currently far and away the world leader in lithium-ion battery manufacturing, in terms of both volume and cost efficiency. In 2016, Tesla said their battery pack manufacturing cost was somewhere in the area of $190 per kWh. In 2018, Elon Musk said they hope to get the cost below $100/kWh by 2020.
This means that even if Rivian can somehow match Tesla's battery manufacturing costs, the top-spec 180 kWh Rivian R1T battery pack would still cost roughly $18,000 when the R1T goes on sale in 2020. That's a huge line item on a $100,000 car, especially one from a brand new company with a brand new manufacturing line and no existing economies of scale.
I'm far from an expert on these matters so this is all just casual napkin speculation on my part, but I think Rivian's going to have a really hard time making these pricing promises come true.
Could this be Rivian's secret to making affordable 180 kWh battery packs possible? Maybe they've found a supplier that thinks they can match or beat Tesla's battery manufacturing efficiency. 🤔
It turns out that Jeff Hammoud (VP of Vehicle Design at Rivian) was a former Chief of Design at Jeep for 13 years. This fact alone makes me that much more excited about Rivian.
Add to that Alex Honnold (world renown climber) is also a new partner. 👍