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Rivian: Automaker on a Roll

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

Rivian: Automaker on a Roll

The age of electric vehicles has arrived, and with it, we are seeing a much-needed fresh infusion of ideas in the automotive sector; an industry that has been struggling to shake off the image of being old and passe for a few decades. While many well-established players in the field have started dipping their toes in the electric vehicle market; Rivian, recently started rolling out the first of its electric adventure vehicles in September 2021.

Founder and CEO of Rivian, RJ Scaringe, is an outdoor enthusiast with a mission for creating a sustainable auto brand. Founded in 2009, and currently headquartered in Irvine California, Rivian has finally found its niche in the electric adventure vehicles space, with the first two vehicles in their product line being, the R1T outdoor pickup truck, and the R1S, which fills the electric adventure Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) requirement.

Rivian’s defining traits

Every company goes through a process of iterations, some ideas work well, while others do not pan out. So what sets Rivian’s automotive business strategy apart?

Let’s explore their strengths, that have emerged in the following areas:

  1. Focus on sustainability

  2. Clarity of market segment

  3. Rolling in slow and steady

  4. Partnership and investors

1. Focus on sustainability

The company is clear about its focus on the environment and changing the trajectory of the carbon footprint in the auto industry. Their electric vehicle marketing strategy aims to place them as “one with nature”, from the vehicle colour choices, and stories behind them, to the many conveniences fitted into their trucks for outdoor and adventure enthusiasts.

Scaringe founded Rivian mainly due to his personal passion for the outdoors, and his hope to reduce the human footprint in nature, especially the harm caused by vehicle emissions to the environment.

2. Clarity of market segment

The luxury electric vehicle market has been the new focus of many automakers. Although their initial prototype was in the already crowded luxury sedan segment, Rivian has been smart to move away and expand into an untapped but highly promising adventure electric vehicle market.

One of the obvious issues that need solving before electric vehicles can gain importance in the automotive industry is mileage range, as battery charging continues to be a pain point for automakers. Rivian claims a range of 314 miles per charge, and a battery system that can operate in hot and cold weather from 130ºF to -25ºF, both of which are essential traits for rugged terrain vehicles, electric or otherwise. Additionally, just like their competitors in the EV space, Rivian offers customers the ease of customising and configuring every aspect of their truck and SUV online.

3. Rolling in slow and steady

Even with their extensive business strategy planning, bringing their first car into the market took over ten years as Rivian worked behind the scenes in the R&D stage, not afraid to scrap ideas that did not work.

Even with the roadblocks placed by a global pandemic as they approached their first delivery, Rivian kept an eye out for one of the biggest challenges for a new brand in the auto industry—building consumer trust with a final product that exceeds expectations set during the marketing stage.

This aspect becomes even more relevant for Rivian’s adventure vehicles, which need to go off the beaten path!

4. Partnership and investors

Rivian has attracted the attention of a steady stream of investors, even during their iteration stages. Under their strategies for sales increase, they partnered with Amazon to make 100,000 vehicles for them by 2030 and use their cloud services.

After becoming a publicly-traded company in Nov 2021, Rivian continues to draw prominent investors like Soros Fund Management and Viking Global.

Key takeaways from Rivian

In order to truly make a mark and stand out, Rivian’s automotive business strategy took them away from the crowds, into the adventure and outdoor segment of electric vehicles. This headstart has already served the company well, as it won accolades like the Motor Trend Award for 2022 for their R1T pickup truck.

A clear purpose and successful business strategy planning are essential for the success of a business. In Rivian’s case, their mission is lofty and bold—to protect the planet from auto emissions, and create a sustainable future for the upcoming generations. And while we are aware that electric vehicles alone don’t solve a problem where the entire chain uses fossil fuels; Rivian can be lauded as it joins other partners in the ecosystem, by doing its part to move away from fossil fuels as a source of energy.

An enthusiastic team that works towards the success of its brand is essential for a new company’s culture. Rivian is still working on this aspect, as they build up from a small dedicated workforce to a team of more than 10,000 employees across its current locations in California, Michigan, Illinois, and the UK.

As production ramps up and investors pour in, the story of Rivian continues to be built on a strong mission. In the words of the founder "The scale of the challenge is enormous, but we're lucky to be a part of this—to be able to help solve how we shift our planet’s energy and transportation systems entirely away from fossil fuel."

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What are curated business stories?

At Delna Avari Consultancy, we take a holistic approach to understanding ‘what makes a business succeed or fail?’ in order to learn from them. To that end, we curate business stories for you, taking a look at the profile and defining traits of a particular company, followed by some key takeaways from their journey. Read more on each of these businesses and reach out to us for guidance in creating your own entrepreneurial roadmap.


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