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Newsletter: Rivian made it! – Ford/UAW lobby to kick Tesla - ePod part 2

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Newsletter: Rivian made it!  –  Ford/UAW lobby to kick Tesla - ePod part 2

Got loads of new and exciting info for you today.

Let's jump right into it 👇

- Jaan

Podcast image intro

Pod: José Pontes, the EV numbers guy, part 2

Time for part 2 of our chat with José Pontes, the founder of EV-Sales.blogspot.com, co-founder of EV-Volumes.com, and a writer for CleanTechnica. He's an all-around numbers buff that started gathering the EV sales data already back in 2012.

Here's the link to the Pod on our blog / Spotify / Amazon Music.

In this episode, we'll chat about:

  • When will the EV prices be comparable to ICE in lower-income countries?
  • The two boogeymen driving electrification: Tesla and China
  • We touch on José's fascination with the BMW i3.
  • What's the one thing about EVs we should talk about but we don't?
  • Portugal has ~15% sales electric... how? And why is it still a pain?

Give it a listen (here).

I have a feeling we'll be seeing José around in the EV Universe again. It was fun talking to you. Thanks, José!

--- Who should I chat with next?

Rivian wordmark
R1T driving off the line

A Major Milestone

The first Rivian R1T electric pickup meant for customers rolled off* the production line today, with the CEO RJ Scaringe behind the wheel.

*not rolled off, Nikola style going downhill. The R1T rolled off in style.

Right before, RJ gave his team a talk (video) describing the 10+ years that they've gone through with multiple iterations of the product, multiple iterations of the company and approaches. He said:

"This is our first step in building products that really are designed and engineered and thought about with impact and to change the world."

It seems that Rivian has won the race on getting the electric pickup truck to market first, without cutting any corners.

Who else, you ask? Oh just the Tesla Cybertruck, Ford F-150 Lightning, GMC's Hummer EV and Lordstown Endurance (if it makes it), all set to start deliveries within the next year or two.

I've been keeping my eye on Rivian ever since they came out of stealth mode in early 2017. We've covered a lot of their stories through the last year, so you already know I'm impressed with Rivian's quality and smart approach to the EV pickup ownership.

The next challenge: ramping up the production of the R1T, R1S, and the 100k electric vans Amazon has ordered.

Rivian R1T fresh off the assembly line

I gathered some tidbits about Rivian here you might not know and some you should:

  • Founded in 2009 by RJ Scaringe with the name of Mainstream Motors, later Avera Automotive, and in about 2011 - Rivian.
  • They pivoted to trucks and SUVs only later on, as Rivian planned to release a mid-engine hybrid coupé sports car first with easily swappable body panels in around 2013.

    Since it was called R1, I wonder if they'll bring it back in the future as electric - as R1T is the electric truck now. Also - that's what RJ probably meant with the 'multiple iterations of the product' in his speech.
  • The prototypes for the R1T truck and R1S SUV were first shown at the LA Auto Show in late 2018.
  • The current Normal, Illinois plant was acquired in 2017 for $16M, from Mitsubishi Motors that had the plant shut down in late 2015. The facility came with a lot of manufacturing equipment already.
  • Ford had plans to build a Lincoln EV on Rivian's skateboard platform, but the program was canceled due to Covid-19. Ford remains a significant investor in the company.
  • Currently, about 8,000 employees are working in the company. Quite a jump from ~100 employees just five years ago.
  • Rivian recently confidentially filed for an IPO at a ~$80B valuation. This would make Rivian currently the 6th biggest automaker by market cap, right after Daimler and ahead of GM.
  • Rivian has raised ~$10.5B in investments over the last 2 years (exact total unknown), investors including Ford and Amazon.

MotorTrend did an exclusive off-road "trip" across the Trans-America trail, see the detailed story: (part 1) and (part 2).

R1T levitating
Image: MotorTrend

While we're at it - yesterday, the company confirmed they've received the certification from NHTSA, EPA, and CARB which now allows them to sell and deliver the R1S and R1S in all 50 U.S. states.

Also, Rivian just launched its Membership program, which will be on an extended trial period after delivery of the car and optional as a paid membership later. Currently, it consists of unlimited charging on the Rivian infrastructure, off-Roadside Assistance (nice phrasing), Charge Assurance, unlimited 4G connectivity, and Rivian matching every driven mile with renewable energy resources.


Whoa. Lots to talk about. I've you've been with us long enough, you know I just scratched the surface on the company.

I think it's fitting to end this dive here with the words from a fellow member of our EV Universe, Trent Warnke, a Senior Director of Operations & Analytics, Energy and Charging at Rivian:

I'm so proud of all the hard work and sacrifice by so many people for so many years! I'm honored to have played a small role. Congrats to the entire team (including our partners and suppliers). Lots more to do, but such an exciting moment!

We've got quite a few members from Rivian as members/readers of The EV Universe too. I want to thank you for making such a strong impact on the world. On to the next challenges - we're rooting for you!

Testin' stuff

I spent my Tuesday with the electric Citroën ë-C4, trying to have some fun, driving it to empty and more. I'll upload the videos to our YouTube channel as soon as they're done.

Citroen e-C4

I'll be making videos of a Tesla Model 3 SR on Monday. If you've got any questions about the car or want me to compare it somehow (I'll do Enyaq and LEAF next to it most probably), let me know before that!

⚡ The Znippets

  • Related to the above, Ford begins the pre-production of the next contender for the pickup segment: The F-150 Lightning ⚡ (link).
Ford's F-150 Lightning
  • Here's  the EV Industry² newsletter from last Friday where I detailed all the IAA Munich Autoshow had to offer us on EVs: (link)
  • EVENT: If you're in Estonia, come listen to my opening talk at ABB's electromobility day on Sep 22nd (link). 35 different EVs will be present too.
  • EVENT: Tesla is opening the doors of its Gigafactory in Grünheide, Germany on October 9 and hosts a County Fair. You can pre-register and hope for an admission ticket (here). I registered, although with them prioritizing visitors from Berlin or Brandenburg, I don't think I stand much chance.
  • The EV credit saga continues: U.S: Democrats proposed a federal EV incentive program that, among other criteria, offers a $7,500 incentive as a point-of-sale discount (not a tax credit as previously) and an additional $4,500 for EVs assembled at the union factories. American-made gets +$500. It seems that the Ford/UAW lobby with the administration might work out well for them, leaving Tesla and other startup-or-ununionized EV makers with only a base incentive. This looks more political than reasonable to me... Elon's response: it's written by Ford/UAW lobbyists.
  • The UK government will introduce legislation that will require all new homes and offices to feature smart charging devices. (link)
  • Lucid Air achieves 520 miles (837km) of range per EPA. That is impressive indeed. (link)
  • NIO ET7 sedan made its European debut in Germany, deliveries start in Q4 of next year.
Nio ET7
  • Volkswagen is now able to update the ID.3 and ID.4 over-the-air (link). VW also opened its Salzgitter laboratory center to research making its own battery cells, investing €70M ($82.4M) (link).
  • Tesla found a loophole in the US state of New Mexico, that doesn't let carmakers sell the cars directly to customers, by opening a sales and delivery center on tribal lands. (link)
  • Redwood Materials expanded its plans from recycling and wants to create a circular supply chain for EV batteries. It'll start to produce strategic battery materials in the US.

    The idea is that while ramping up the EV production, not enough batteries are coming in for them to scale battery materials from recycling - and thus need to work on the supply chain themselves. The plans start with a new factory in North America that'll produce 100 GWh of cathode materials by 2025. (link)
Redwood Materials
  • Valmet Automotive finished its Uusikaupunki battery plant in Finland, in the same building as the car plant. Connection - the Lightyear One will be built there. (link)
  • Closely related, Lightyear raised a $110M round led by Cooperation DELA to bring the Lightyear One to market in 2022. The $170k solar car is expected to reach 450mi (725km) per WLTP cycle, but only on a 60kWh battery. (link) The funding round is still open, you'll find the contacts on the link above.


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📚 EV industry² newsletter (OPT-IN ONLY) for the extra-detailed zap juice.

📺 What I'm watching

  • Tesla released a nice explainer video of the Tesla Glass, how it's designed, tested and how it sounds like.
  • Looks like our newsletter is set on a certain topic today. Here's Sandy Munro talking about electric trucks:
  • Tesla set an official record for EVs at Nürburgring with the Model S Plaid. Time: 7:35.579. Now please tell me again, how it's impossible to drive with the yoke?

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