Rivian expands EV fleet customers beyond Amazon — and raises production forecast for 2023
Amazon is no longer the only company buying Rivian’s electric delivery vans.
The electric automaker Rivian said Tuesday that its deal with Amazon is no longer exclusive. The long-expected move means Rivian is now free to sign deals with new companies looking to electrify their fleets and reduce their carbon footprint — using EVs made in Normal.
Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe said the company will soon announce a “range of different pilot programs that will precede much larger orders” from fleet customers.
“We’ve been building relationships with a diverse set of commercial operators. That’s everything from last mile to retail to a wide variety of industrial or commercial business cases,” Scaringe said.
Amazon, which owns a stake in Rivian, is still buying Rivian vans, too. Amazon already has more than 10,000 Rivian-made vans in its fleet, with 90,000 more ordered as part of a 2019 deal.
After some changes next year, Rivian’s Normal manufacturing plant will be able to produce 65,000 electric vans annually, in addition to 85,000 R1 trucks and SUVs for consumers. That would put total plant capacity at 150,000 vehicles.
“I think that our commercial van platform is really, in our view, the best commercial van option available for any kind of large fleet," said Scaringe. "And we’re working very hard to translate that into volume over the course of the next several quarters with these pilot programs.”
Other news during 3Q earnings call
News about the expanded fleet sales came Tuesday during Rivian’s third-quarter earnings call with investors. The company said it lost $1.3 billion in the third quarter (July, August, September), down from a $1.7 billion loss at this time a year ago.
Revenue hit $1.3 billion, up from $536 million in 3Q 2022.
Rivian raised its overall production forecast for 2023 — from 52,000 to 54,000 vehicles. Scaringe said increased production in Normal is key to becoming profitable, along with reducing how much it spends on materials and raising prices.
Rivian’s plant in Normal will shut down for a week at the end of 2023 to help prepare for an even longer production shutdown in mid-2024. That’s when a significant revamp of the production line will take place, incorporating part-design and component changes and simplifications of things like the vehicles’ HVAC system and body structure, Scaringe said.
Those shutdowns will reduce costs and allow for higher long-term production volume, officials said, though they will lower production in the short-term. Rivian has around 8,000 employees in Normal; it is the county's second-largest employer.
“The impacts of the shutdown are temporary in nature, but the benefits will be there for the future,” said Rivian chief financial officer Claire McDonough.
Scaringe said demand for Rivian’s products remains strong, even with a relatively limited product line. Rivian is expected to begin production in 2026 in Georgia on a lower-cost consumer EV, called the R2 — expected to be priced between $40,000 and $60,000.
Others are more skeptical about the pace of EV adoption. GM, Ford and even Tesla are now expressing caution about expanding EV production capacity, pointing to economic uncertainties and concerns about a slowdown in demand. Some critics say EVs are overhyped.
Scaringe acknowledged that discourse Tuesday, referring to “a lot of noise and a lot of dialogue about EV adoption.”
“I want to emphatically state just how deeply convicted we are that the entire automotive industry will be transitioning to electric over the next one to two decades,” Scaringe said. “We’ve built and designed our business around this transition. We’ve designed our team structure, our technology stack, the way we approach vertical integration, to not only help our business scale profitably, but to ensure we’re positioned to be a leader in this generational opportunity.”
Rivian officials Tuesday referenced high interest rates several times. They also announced the launch of a leasing program for select models.
“That leasing program creates a different way for customers to access the product, which is really helpful in an environment with interest rates as we see them today,” Scaringe said.