Rivian Entrepreneur Is “Starkly Different” From Elon Musk, but Both “Are Immersed in the Details of Their Business”

(p. B5) Rivian, a promising and well-funded electric truck maker, plans to sell shares through an initial public offering, the company said Friday [Aug. 27, 2021], just weeks before it expects to deliver its first electric pickups to customers.

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“Rivian is one of the best-positioned electric vehicle start-ups,” Asad Hussain, senior mobility analyst for PitchBook, said by email. “The company’s focus on the relatively untapped premium electric truck market should allow it to gain rapid market adoption.”

The leaders of Rivian and Tesla are also starkly different. Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk, has been a brash and combative force in the automotive industry, making big promises and engaging in public feuds with individuals and government agencies. Mr. Scaringe is understated and has been measured in his public statements and promises.

Still, both executives are immersed in the details of their business. Mr. Musk has said he has slept at his company’s main factory in Fremont, Calif., at important moments when Tesla was ramping up production. Mr. Scaringe is also a frequent presence at Rivian’s factory in Normal, Ill., and workers there refer to the color of robots and safety lines directing the flow of people as “R.J. Blue.” He has been known to weigh in on vehicle colors, including one known as “launch green.”

. . .

“In the very beginning, on Day 1, Year 1, the risk of starting a business like this is enormously high, and the likelihood of success was very low,” he said. “That’s just true. And I had to accept that.”

But Mr. Scaringe said he remained confident in his team and in the strategic plan they had assembled: First, raise enough money to develop core technologies — software, battery architecture, mechanical systems — that could support vehicles for both consumers and commercial customers; then raise more capital to mass produce trucks and vans.

Rivian appeared to embark on that second phase a few years ago. In the fall of 2018, Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, flew to Michigan to meet Mr. Scaringe and preview the company’s vehicles. By the end of the next year, Rivian had raised nearly $3 billion from investors including Ford and Amazon, which also ordered 100,000 delivery vans.

For the full story, see:

Niraj Chokshi, Noam Scheiber and Lauren Hirsch. “Rivian Set to Go Public as It Prepares to Deliver Electric Pickup Trucks.” The New York Times (Saturday, August 28, 2021): B5.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated Sept. [sic] 13, 2021, and has the title “Rivian, Electric Truck Maker Backed by Amazon and Ford, Files for I.P.O.”)

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