Is Rivian Better at Manufacturing than Tesla?

The Rivian R1T started delivery a few months ago, more and more are getting into customers’ hands. The initial reviews of the R1T are very good. Customers and the media are just blown away by the sheer power and speed of this truck, its technology, and the tasks it can handle effortlessly. Many have said it is the best pickup truck they have ever driven.

Though Rivian recently increased production to 200 EVs a week at its Illinois factory,  ramping up production is still not at a speed that many would like but as Elon Musk said, mass production is one of the most difficult things in the world.

If one is not involved n manufacturing, it’s really hard to appreciate just how hard it is to scale production it’s the hardest thing in the world. Prototypes are easy, scaling production is very hard.

Elon Musk

To make things harder, Rivian developed some unique technologies for its pickup truck which they actually brought to market. Features like the load-bearing gear tunnel covers, the built-in cooktop and kitchen, the rooftop camping tent, auto front trunk, and the tank turn are all available or expected at some point to be available with a software update. 

Looking at the rate at which Tesla ramped up production of the Tesla Model S and comparing it with Rivians production ramp-up, Rivian seems to be handling production a little bit better than Tesla if you look at their quarterly production rates.

Rivian’s initial September and October deliveries were rather impressive in terms of the number of cars that were delivered compared to what Tesla was able to do with its Model S sedan at the beginning of production in 2012

According to Rivian’s original S1 filings, the automaker built just 12 R1Ts from September 14th to September 30th or 7.5 trucks per day. That number increased to about 150 deliveries into about 300 trucks in November. Rivian announced they expect to fall a few hundred trucks short of its target for 2021 of 1200 trucks.

We began to see real-world Rivian customers take delivery of their trucks for the first time and according to an IPO-related document, Rivian was to deliver about 500 R1Ts in December. The document also said that Rivian planned to deliver about 15 R1S SUVs of which they only delivered 2, along with 10 electric delivery bands to Amazon this month too. 

All these trucks went to employees which is a pretty common practice for new cars though since that helps keep the feedback loop close to home just in case you know, any problem pops up, and then they can take care of it quickly. 

Looking at the early days of the Tesla Model S production back in 2012. In Tesla’s first three months of production for the Model S, Tesla delivered 253 model S which actually comes out to a little over two Tesla’s per day for that same time span. So Rivian’s low delivery approach is not new. In fact, they’re actually pushing out about twice the trucks per day that Tesla did with their sedans. 

A few weeks ago Rivian stock tanked because the automaker announced it would be a few hundred trucks short of its targets. Objectively, people have not looked at past trends to see how other but similar startups fared during production hell. Rivian is keeping up rather impressively. So it’s just kind of interesting to take a retrospect because it sounds like Rivian’s delivery timelines are really slow but that’s just kind of how it goes for these new companies. 

Rivian could have done better in its production rates, but it seems they have other priorities. In October of 2021, reports showed that Rivian’s CEO R J Scaringe planned to steer the company more towards the production of the amazon vans over the R1 vehicles.

This move sounds like a betrayal of trust to the R1 customer but it really kind of makes sense when you think about it, especially since Rivian has a contract to uphold with Amazon.

The eCommerce giant ordered a hundred thousand of these vans which is a pretty tall order. Rivian hopes to complete the delivery by the end of the decade. Conversely, the R1 vehicles had just 56,000 trucks and SUVs combined in preorders. So being on good terms with Amazon is actually more important for the good of the company.

Rivian revealed that they had over 48,000 pre-orders for both the R1T and the R1S through September, but in October, they saw their reservation count jump to almost 56,000 trucks and SUVs combined. So that is a 15% jump in their orders just in October. 

Based on Rivian’s current production forecasts, they expect to fill the pre-order backlog of approximately 55,400 by the end of 2023, so clearly, it looks like production for the first two years is mostly covered by demand.

Hanson F.
Hanson is a lover of electric cars especially Rivian. He is a contributor for The Volter as well as other news hubs

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