Since making its debut in 1967, electric vehicles have been more expensive and inconsequential than a low-carb diet. But since December 2016, Rivian Automotive has set out to change that with its new vehicles. Rivian also plans to create large-scale, efficient factory automation and venture capital for alternative energy technologies. And on Thursday, Rivian revealed its biggest breakthrough yet — successful access to private equity. Private equity investor TPG Capital has taken a 40 percent stake in Rivian for $1.1 billion.
Rivian plans to deliver its first model — a mid-size, all-electric sport utility vehicle (SUV) called the Rivian R1T — to the market by 2020. Customers will initially be able to purchase the R1T for about $60,000 and the Model Y, a larger model, for $80,000 to $90,000. Production of the R1T will take place in Rivian’s Torrance, California facility, while production of the Model Y will take place in Menifee, California.
The R1T has been in development for eight years, and marks an attempt by Rivian to build a sustainable future. Beyond the engines and batteries — both of which rely on carbon fiber and magnesium — Rivian’s vehicles use the same aluminum for its frame that uses in all-electric trucks and the same 3-D printed plastic that Apple uses in its gadgets. R1T’s sleek design is often compared to that of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle; the steering wheel, for example, resembles a motorcycle’s. The vehicle itself is essentially a flying car, or what Rivian calls a “flying two-seater.” The company estimates that you would be able to drive it between one-fourth to one-half of a mile on a single charge. The battery should be able to drive the car between 700 miles.
TPG, which will also assume management of Rivian, will aim to expand the electric-vehicle manufacturer’s manufacturing, which currently produces R1T prototypes. TPG is also responsible for late-stage funding for companies like Whole Foods and Uber.
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