The first production Rivian R1T electric pickup truck in “Rivian blue” rolled off the assembly line Tuesday morning at the company’s factory in Normal, Illinois, marking a milestone more than a decade in the making for the automaker and its founder and CEO, RJ Scaringe.
The company, which started in 2009 as Mainstream Motors before adopting the Rivian name two years later, has undergone explosive growth in terms of people, backers and partners in the past few years. Today, Scaringe tweeted the news and a photo of the first production truck painted in Rivian Blue.
“After months of building pre-production vehicles, this morning our first customer vehicle drove off our production line in Normal,!” he wrote. “Our team’s collective efforts have made this moment possible. Can’t wait to get these into the hands of our customers!”
What isn’t clear is who will get this first customer vehicle.
After months of building pre-production vehicles, this morning our first customer vehicle drove off our production line in Normal! Our team’s collective efforts have made this moment possible. Can’t wait to get these into the hands of our customers!
Rivian operated in relative obscurity, aka stealth mode, for years before it revealed prototypes of its all-electric R1T truck and R1S SUV at the LA Auto Show in late 2018.
Since then, Rivian has raised billions of dollars ($10.5 billion since 2019); expanded its Normal, Illinois, factory; hired thousands of employees; landed Amazon as a commercial customer; and, most recently, filed confidentially for an IPO. Today, in addition to its Illinois factory, Rivian has facilities in Palo Alto and Irvine, California; and Plymouth, Michigan; and an office in the U.K.
When it first revealed the two electric vehicles in 2018, Rivian had about 600 employees. Today, it has 8,000.
Scaringe’s announcement Tuesday, which marks the official beginning of R1T production for customers, comes after at least two delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and global chip shortage. Earlier this summer, Scaringe wrote in a letter to customers that R1T deliveries would begin in September, with the R1S to follow “shortly.”
Rivian has been juggling the dueling priorities of prepping and eventually producing the R1T and R1S for consumers and commercial delivery vans for Amazon. The Illinois factory has two separate production lines producing vehicles. One is dedicated to the R1 vehicles and the other line is for its commercial vans.
Amazon ordered 100,000 of these vans, with deliveries starting in 2021. Earlier this year, Amazon began testing the electric delivery van in several cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.