There’s never been a better time to be interested in an electric truck or SUV than now. Not only do you have options coming from the big-name brands—like the Ford F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-E, or Chevy Silverado and Blazer EV models—but you also have quite a few choices from new brands. One of the startups that got the most attention, and has so far come the closest to delivering on its promises, is Rivian. This brand has two EV options available: the R1T and R1S, a truck and SUV, respectively.
If you’re interested in getting a Rivian, then there are some things you should definitely know before buying your next Electric Vehicle (EV). For one thing, Rivian is still a relatively untested startup that has a lot to prove; if you’re someone who’s pretty risk-averse, then this is probably not the brand for you. On the other hand, if you’re the kind of person who loves being the first to try something new—and you’re eager to brag about getting a first-generation Rivian before your neighbors have them in five or ten years—then you’re in the right place. Still, you can’t just go to a local dealership and buy one, so here’s what you should know before you start shopping…
How to Purchase a Rivian
First things first, if you’re interested in buying a Rivian, then you’re going to need to go onto their website to place an order or make a reservation. There aren’t Rivian dealerships across the country the way there are dealers for major car companies like Ford, Honda, and Volkswagen. You can talk to a Rivian Guide, who is essentially a customer service person on their end available to help you consider the right options and all that good stuff. Basically, it’s their version of a salesperson, but you don’t meet them at a dealership.
The good news is that you can chat with your Guide through text, emails, or on the phone, so you’re not just dealing with a bot giving you automated answers. How much you really get from this is going to depend on how you prefer to shop for things and what kind of experience you like. If you’re someone who thrives on the conventional car-buying experience, including meeting a salesperson at a dealership and talking directly to them, then you might not like this. On the other hand, if you like being able to shop online and never having to make eye contact with another human while buying a car, then this could be perfect!
Test Drive Options
Although Rivian doesn’t have traditional dealerships, they’re still doing their best to offer a test drive experience—although it’s quite limited. They call it their First Mile program and there are different ways you can experience it. The easiest way to take a Rivian for a test drive is a Hub Drive—if you can go to their Venice Hub in California. You can schedule a time to check out one of their vehicles and go for a 30-minute test drive.
If you don’t live near their Hub, then things get trickier; Rivian offers Mobile Drive options where you can schedule a time and they’ll bring a vehicle right to your home or place of work. Much like the Hub Drive, you get to go over everything the vehicle offers and take a 30-minute test drive, but this is only offered at certain locations. Last year, Rivian hosted Mobile Drive events in New York and Seattle and they plan on doing more in other cities throughout the US, but they’re still quite limited.
Financing Is Available
When it comes to financing, Rivian offers the options you would expect, so there’s nothing weird here. You can pay the full cost of the vehicle in cash, of course, or you can pick a third-party financer like the bank or credit union of your choice. As you may already know, any bank or other financial institution you already have an account with is often the best place to start with financing to get the best terms possible. You can also get financing directly through Rivian, rather than with a third party, which can simplify the process. Rivian claims they offer “competitive, personalized” financing, but you’ll want to look at what they offer and compare it to any other options you have to choose the one that’s best for you.
Rivian Delivery and Pick-Up
Depending on your location, you might have a couple of options for receiving your Rivian. You’ll be able to choose either to have your vehicle delivered to your home, or go to a service center to pick up your Rivian. This is very location-based, however, so delivery is probably going to be best for most people because there aren’t that many Rivian service centers out there yet. Since this varies so much based on where you are, it’s definitely something you’ll want to talk to a Rivian Guide about if you’re serious about ordering a Rivian truck or SUV.
I Hope You’re Patient
If you’ve made it this far and you’re excited about the prospect of buying and enjoying a new EV from an innovative, young startup, then I hope you’re a patient person. Here’s where things get pretty ugly: At the moment, only a few thousand Rivian R1T models have been delivered to customers, and no R1S models have reached drivers yet. Keep in mind, these customers ordered their vehicles well over a year or two ago and they’re still waiting. Rivian announced delays for the first R1S deliveries to their customers again recently, letting people know they might not get their vehicles until August or later—perhaps even December.
Again, these are people who originally were told they’d get their vehicles in the middle of last year, but supply issues and the microchip shortage are playing havoc with Rivian’s production capabilities. They only made 2,500 vehicles last year; they claim to be on track to get 25,000 vehicles produced throughout 2022, but we’ll have to see how that goes. Keep in mind that they have more than 80,000 pre-orders for their vehicles, which means it’ll be years to fulfill all of those at this rate—and that’s just the current pre-orders.
If you’re looking to reserve a Rivian right now, then their website will tell you that delivery is expected in late 2023. You read that right: late 2023. And that’s just their best guess right now; so far, their estimates have all been regrettably optimistic and they’ve dealt with numerous delays. Plus, the entire auto industry is still grappling with the chip shortage and other supply issues, so while it’s not unique to Rivian, there are certainly no signs of things getting much better in the next few months.
Rivian in the Years Ahead
Now the (maybe) good news: Rivian plans on being able to produce about 150,000 vehicles next year, with further expansion allowing for 200,000 vehicles per year after that. That would be great—but going from 2,500 to 25,000 to 150,000 from year to year to year seems like a lofty, and perhaps not entirely realistic, goal. It’s possible they’ll prove me wrong—if so, then they’ll certainly be able to start delivering their vehicles a lot faster than 12 or 18 months after ordering.
We’ll have to wait and see. I’m also curious to know if their trucks and SUVs are actually as good as promised and can compete in an increasingly crowded EV market. Until reviews come in, you might be better off evaluating how well Rivian delivers.