Rivian is pushing back deliveries of its long-awaited R1T electric pickup truck and R1S SUV several more months due to delays in production caused by “cascading impacts of the pandemic,” particularly the ongoing global shortage of semiconductor chips, according to a letter sent to customers from CEO RJ Scaringe. The R1T deliveries will begin in September with the R1S to follow “shortly,” Scaringe wrote in the message.
Deliveries of the R1T Launch Edition vehicles, the limited edition release of its first series of “electric adventure vehicles,” were supposed to begin in July after being delayed by a month.
Rivian is hardly the only automaker grappling with the global chip shortage. GM, Ford, Toyota and virtually every other automaker has either slowed production or built its vehicles without certain features supported by chips. For instance, GM is now building certain mid- and full-sized SUVs without a wireless phone charging feature due to the global shortage of semiconductor chips.
Unlike the established players with plenty of inbound revenue, Rivian is a newcomer that is trying to be the first automaker to bring an electric pickup truck to market. Ford plans to bring the electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck to market in spring 2022. Production of a GMC Hummer EV pickup is expected to begin later this year.
Here’s a segment of the letter, which was viewed by TechCrunch:
We know you can’t wait to get behind the wheel of your vehicle. Earlier this summer, we announced that deliveries would begin in July; however, the timing for the first deliveries of the R1T has shifted to September, with the R1S shortly thereafter in the fall. I wanted to be sure you heard this from me directly.
There are many reasons why our production ramp is taking longer than expected. The cascading impacts of the pandemic have had a compounding effect greater than anyone anticipated. Everything from facility construction, to equipment installation, to vehicle component supply (especially semiconductors) has been impacted by the pandemic. Beyond these unforeseen challenges, launching three new vehicles while setting up a multi-vehicle manufacturing plant is a complex orchestra of coordinated and interlinked activities where small issues can translate into ramp delays.
Scaringe provided a few more details about the company’s progress, including it now employs more than 7,000 people. The Rivian factory in Normal, Illinois, has two separate production lines producing vehicles, according to Scaringe. One is dedicated for the R1 vehicles and other line is for its commercial vans.
In 2019, Rivian announced it was developing an electric delivery van for Amazon using its skateboard platform. Amazon ordered 100,000 of these vans, with deliveries starting in 2021. Earlier this year, Amazon began testing the electric delivery van in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Scaringe said Rivian has “built hundreds of vehicles as part of our validation process, with many of those spotted out in the wild covered in unique vinyl wraps.” He also addressed why those vehicles haven’t been delivered to customers, noting that the company believes “it is critical to both our long-term success and your ultimate satisfaction that the quality and robustness of our launch products truly sets the tone for what to expect from us as a brand.”
The founder and CEO also acknowledged that the company needed to improve how it communicates specifics around deliveries.