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Rivian reopens factory, delays electric pickup/SUV, but Amazon delivery van is still on time

Rivian announced that it reopened its factory in Normal, Illinois, after shutting it down due to the pandemic. It resulted in a delay in bringing the R1T electric pickup and R1S electric SUV to production, but their Amazon electric delivery van is still on time.

The electric startup bought Mitsubishi’s shuttered factory in Normal, Illinois, a few years ago to build its range of electric vehicles, starting with the  R1T electric pickup and R1S electric SUV this year.

Last month, we reported Rivian will “likely push first deliveries of its electric vehicles into 2021” due to the pandemic slowing down work at the factory.

Now Rivian has confirmed that the first deliveries have slipped into “2021” without offering a precise timing. They will update us when they have a better idea of when exactly in 2021 they plan to be able to deliver their electric passenger vehicles.

But there’s another vehicle program that is still on time: Rivian’s electric delivery van being built for Amazon.

Last year, Rivian took a $700 million round of funding led by Amazon, and at the time, they were discussing opportunities to work together.

A few months later, we learned that one of those opportunities is building an electric delivery van for the online retail giant.

Amazon announced that they are going to buy 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian.

With today’s announcement that Rivian is reopening its factory, they announced the delivery van is still on time for first deliveries next year:

Amazon ordered 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from Rivian, the largest order ever of electric delivery vehicles, with vans starting to deliver packages to customers in 2021. Amazon plans to have 10,000 of the new electric vehicles on the road as early as 2022 and all 100,000 vehicles on the road by 2030 — saving millions of metric tons of carbon per year by 2030, and supports the company’s commitment to reduce its carbon emissions.

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe commented on reopening the factory:

Rivian’s return-to-work team has been laser-focused on safety with a 4-phase plan that emphasizes employee well-being. Additionally, the vehicle engineering and design teams have been truly innovative in developing digital methods to make sure that program timing remains on track.

Not much is known about the Rivian electric delivery van meant for Amazon beyond the exterior design.

Electrek’s Take

It’s a bummer for the R1T and R1S. I was looking forward to seeing whether Rivian was able to deliver some improvements with the production version, and also see what kind of options and pricing they landed on.

I still have hope that it is only delayed until early 2021. We will see.

Good news for Amazon’s delivery van. This is going to be a big deal. 10,000 electric vans as soon as 2022 will greatly accelerate the electrification of its delivery fleet, directly and indirectly.

In order to compete with Amazon, who will be reducing its cost of delivery operations with an electric fleet, other delivery services are going to have to accelerate the electrification of their fleet, too.

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