Rivian confirmed this week that it has delayed the arrival of its smaller, more affordable R2 model line to 2026, versus the 2025 it had earlier indicated.
Rivian has said that it hopes to start production as soon as 2024 at the $5 billion Georgia plant, which will be set to make 400,000 vehicles annually. It also confirmed in May that the R2 family, which will be positioned for affordability, might not be the first model built in the Georgia plant, but that the plant would be where the R2 would first be built.
As the well-funded company’s cash remaining dwindled in the quarter from $15.4 billion to $13.8 billion, the move may be an attempt to reel in some expenses.
Furthermore, the company may be seeking some leverage with respect to the plant, which is looking more expensive in light of recent news. Last month a Georgia judge rejected a proposed tax break for Rivian, ruling that the development authority in charge of the project hasn’t proved the factory was “sound, reasonable, and feasible,” and ruled that Rivian should pay regular property taxes because of the level of control over the property.
“We continue to work with the state of Georgia and the Joint Development Authority and expect our R2 platform will launch in 2026,” Rivian stated in its shareholder letter. “We expect the R2 platform will unlock a global market opportunity for Rivian and are excited about the early development work that is underway.”
It’s not the first time Rivian has hinted about its global potential either. In 2021 the company suggested the possibility of a future European plant and the potential to make its own batteries. Separately, in September, it announced the intent to form a joint venture with Mercedes-Benz to build electric vans for Europe. Rivian already builds its EDV electric vans in the U.S., with customer (and funder) Amazon in line to take delivery of 100,000 of them over time.
Rivian hasn’t yet teased or defined the R2, which might include a crossover plus other variants, but huge price hikes followed by the decision to drop its most affordable R1 versions have cleared the space for the R2 already. And while the R1 lineup may be a bit too large for Europe, an R2 would likely fit right in.
The company made 14,317 vehicles (vans and R1 models combined) through the third quarter of 2022 at its Illinois plant, but it kept to its production target for 2022 of 25,000 vehicles. That indicates a lot of confidence in the production ramp, as it will need to make 10,683 vehicles just in the fourth quarter of the year.
Demand remains very strong, as growing reservation banks suggest. Rivian also, as part of its quarterly update, confirmed that it now has more than 114,000 orders for its R1S and R1T combined, as of November 7.
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