Rivian CEO letter suggests deliveries awaiting government approval

It was almost three years ago that Rivian drove up silently out of nowhere to jolt the Los Angeles Auto Show with its R1T pickup. Back then, the company planned fall 2020 delivery of the pickup, and deliveries in 2021 of the R1S SUV. Coronavirus pushed the pickup to 2021, coronavirus side effects adding a couple more months to the wait, deliveries most recently promised to begin in September. At last, if all goes to plan, a certain number of Rivian reservation holders will be able to park R1T production units in their driveways next month. Electrek got hold of a note Rivian CEO R.J. Scaringe sent to reservation holders, the key line being: “We are currently working with various governing agencies on the final approvals needed for us to make the first deliveries to preorder customers in September.”

Some members at Rivian forums have parsed the line like comparative literature students attacking the meaning of a poem. The simple reading is that Rivian is waiting for the EPA and NHTSA to give the all-clear, then it’s “You get a car!” and “You get a car!” The lit student reading begins with the questions, “How many agencies is ‘various?’ Does ‘various’ mean two?” We can’t know. But we know that the R1T hasn’t found a place on the EPA’s fuel economy site, so there’s one agency and one big task still in the asking.  

Meanwhile, Scaringe believes the company’s got its production process sorted, writing, “I am excited to report we have started producing vehicles that reflect all of our quality iterations and design refinements.” Teams have also spent the past few months preparing for the production ramp-up. After deliveries begin, owners will have access to the five service centers currently in operation in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Bellevue, Wash.; Normal, Ill.; San Francisco and El Segundo, Calif. — but new centers will open up at an average rate of almost one per week through the end of 2023. Scaringe said the repair network will also include “a large fleet of mobile service vans for performing onsite vehicle repairs.”

A few forum posts have mentioned that Rivian guides, the reps who shepherd reservation holders through the final order process, haven’t been in touch about nailing down the final specs for the Launch Edition models, so there are questions. When deliveries were scheduled for last month, Scaringe didn’t tell order-holders until July 16 about the new September date. But hey, two trucks headed to new owners on Thursday, September 30 still counts as plural deliveries in September, so no need to think about grabbing a torch or pitchfork for at least four more weeks. And as far as delays go, Rivian’s aren’t egregious — the Tesla Semi was supposed to be on the road two years ago, and has anyone heard about their Elio or Aptera reservation lately?

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