RJ Scaringe, founder and chief executive officer of Rivian Automotive Inc., unveils the R1T electric pickup truck, left, and R1S electric sports utility vehicle (SUV) during a reveal event at AutoMobility LA ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California.
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Rivian, the Amazon-backed electric vehicle maker, has delayed deliveries of its long-awaited R1T pickup until September, and the R1S SUV until later in the fall, the company told CNBC.
However, these delays for retail customers have not impacted the start-up’s plans to provide electric delivery vans to its partner and investor Amazon. Spokespeople for both companies confirmed that Rivian still plans to start production of the vans beginning this year, and with a goal of putting 10,000 vehicles on the road as early as 2022.
Amazon agreed in September 2019 to purchase 100,000 electric vehicles from the start-up as part of its ambitious push to make Amazon’s fleet run entirely on renewable energy. The company hopes to test electric delivery vans in 16 cities by the end of 2021.
A Rivian spokesperson told CNBC that the company previously planned to start deliveries of the R1T in July and R1S in August. A letter sent Friday to customers by CEO RJ Scaringe and obtained by CNBC blamed the effects of the Covid pandemic for the delays: “The cascading impacts of the pandemic have had a compounding effect greater than anyone anticipated. Everything from facility construction, to equipment installation, to vehicle component supply (especially semiconductors) has been impacted by the pandemic.”
Bloomberg previously reported the delivery delays.
Rivian had already delayed mass-production of its electric vehicles due to the pandemic. In the letter, Scaringe noted that the company has already built “hundreds of vehicles” as part of the validation process, which is done to make sure the lines are running efficiently and producing cars to meet their vehicle engineers’ specifications, among other factors.
Pickup trucks are expected to account for about one-fifth of the new car market for several years, according to forecasts from IHS Markit. Forthcoming battery electric offerings like Rivian’s R1T, Tesla’s Cybertruck and Ford’s F-150 Lightning EV could draw new customers to the segment.
Read the full letter from Scaringe below: