One of the most promising EV startups of the last decade, Rivian has had more than a few setbacks in the past year with early investors Amazon and Ford seeming to back away, a falling in share value, and maybe a loss of customer trust. In this episode, Jo talks with former manager at the Rivian Waypoints Network, Jason Cortes, about some of the challenges— and opportunities— that lie ahead for the ambitious electric pickup startup.
While Rivian entered the broader, public conversation around EVs only recently, the company has been around since 2009, when its CEO— RJ Scaringe— launched the brand around a compact, sporty hatchback concept designed by McLaren F1 and Lotus Esprit designer, Peter Stevens. That car was called the Avera R1, and never got beyond the concept phase before the company pivoted into electric trucks— which just goes to show that (as Tom Clancy famously wrote) every overnight success really is ten years in the making!
Jason Cortes; ex-Rivian Sales Mgr.
Electrify News Podcast
- We start the conversation discussing Jason’s role as sales manager for the Rivian Waypoints charging network. Rivian Waypoints are branded, Level 2 (220v AC) chargers that the company is planning to put near shopping centers, restaurants, hotels, and parks across the US and Canada— but, despite plans to install 10,000 Waypoints in the next 18 months, it’s been hard to get an exact number of active chargers online today.
- Waypoints is distinguished from the proposed Rivian Adventure Network (RAN) by the fact that RAN chargers are only compatible with Rivian vehicles, and are Level 3 (DC) “fast” chargers.
- Haven’t heard about the Rivian Camp Kitchen? It’s pretty slick— but you’ll need to cordon off a couple of parking spaces if you plan to tailgate with it.
- Jo mentions the Ewan McGregor film “The Long Way Round.” It’s actually “The Long Way Up,” and you can check out Rivian’s involvement in the film here.
- Here’s an article from CNBC talking about Ford canceling its plans to co-develop a Lincoln-branded, all-electric SUV that would have been built by Rivian.
- Jason mentioned that Ford hasn’t sold its 12% stake in Rivian. While that’s true, it’s also true that Ford can’t sell its shares until May 9th.
- We talk about another big Rivian investor, Amazon, placing an order for 100,000 electric delivery vans from Stallantis’ Ram brand. It is estimated that Amazon owns between 18.1 and 20% of Rivian.
- You’re not hallucinating. Jo did say that Rivian was founded in Florida. It was— and it’s just one of the many awesome boutique car brands that hailed from the Sunshine State.
- We talk about Tesla making money on carbon credits. In 2021, at least, Tesla made more money by betting on Bitcoin and selling carbon credits to other carmakers than it did selling cars.
- We mention production delays at Rivian. There have been many published takes on what’s happening, but this is the specific NYT article that Jo and Jason are referencing.
- The average transaction price for a new car in the US crept up past $47,000 in Q4 of 2021. Really.
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