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Rivian eyes smaller electric vehicles for China, Europe

Electric vehicle startup Rivian, which is backed by Amazon and Ford Motor on Wednesday said it is preparing to follow up its first two products, a full-size pickup, and SUV, with smaller models targeted at China and Europe where it may eventually construct some vehicles.

While Rivian plans to start selling the SUV in Europe in 2022 and China soon after, “what will really drive volume in those markets is the follow-on products” that are smaller and tailored for overseas consumers, Rivian founder and Chief Executive R.J. Scaringe informed Reuters.

The smaller models, which are expected to share major components with the pickup and SUV, will “fit some of those other markets really well, in particular China,” Scaringe said.

“To really scale in those markets as we bring on follow-on products, having a production footprint outside the U.S. is going to be important,” Scaringe said. “That’s a ways off.”

Scaringe added: “We wouldn’t be serious about building a vehicle company if we weren’t thinking about China and Europe as important markets long term.”

The company’s first plant located in Normal, Illinois, has started pilot production ahead of next year’s release of three models – the R1T pickup and R1S SUV, which Scaringe referred to as “halo products” for Rivian, and a large electric delivery van for Amazon.

Talking from a room overlooking the assembly line, Scaringe said the former Mitsubishi Motors plant shows an unusual degree of vertical integration, with room for building motors and battery packs for the automobiles and for further expansion.

The Amazon delivery van is constructed on a version of the same platform, or basic underpinnings, utilized by the R1T and R1S.

Rivian has said deliveries of the pickup would start in June 2021, while those of the SUV would start in August. Launch editions of the vehicles are priced at $75,000 and $77,500, respectively, with a 300-mile (480 km) driving range for both automobiles.

The electric pickup market will soon be crowded as Ford, General Motors and Tesla Inc, and also several other startups, are developing similar models. Numerous automakers also are presenting electric SUVs.

Amazon, which has relationships and deals throughout the auto industry, led a $700 million investment round in Rivian in 2019.

The e-commerce company also made an order of 100,000 electric vehicles from Rivian. The first Amazon vehicles go into production in Normal in late 2021, with all deliveries to be finished by 2024.

Scaringe said Rivian has started setting up service centers and will deploy mobile units to handle maintenance and repair work on Amazon’s vans, and also Rivian vehicles for retail customers.

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