Featured Article

Rivian takes the wraps off $45K R2 SUV, its biggest bet yet

R2 production moving to Rivian’s Normal factory


rivian rj scaringe-r2
Image Credits: Kirsten Korosec

As customers, VIP guests and media milled into the Rivian South Coast Theater in Laguna Beach on Thursday — the Pacific Ocean crashing on the beach just a few hundred feet away — a mix of hope and excitement rippled through the arena. The occasion was the unveiling of the Rivian R2, a smaller and more affordable all-electric SUV, and a vital vehicle for the EV upstart hoping to show the world it’s here to stay.

Early supporters of Rivian, friends, and founder RJ Scaringe’s young family filled the seats of the renovated theater. The air was filled with conversations about their Rivian vehicles, exclamations and congratulations, hugs and handshakes, and discussions of their hopes for the R2.

When the Rivian R2 did arrive, it did not come alone. Scaringe had two “one more thing moments,” showing off two more electric vehicles under the next-generation R3 platform, along with updates on production and hints about “adventure” accessories that will match up with the active lifestyle branding Rivian has become famous for.

The R2, a two-row, five-seat, all-electric midsized SUV that will have more than 300 miles of range and a base price of $45,000, was the main event. The encore was the smaller R3 and the R3x performance, a compact hatchback-style EV with sporty vibes.

A $2.25 billion move

Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe talks about the R3, a surprise reveal Thursday, March 7. Image Credits: Kirsten Korosec

The R2, which customers can reserve starting today, will come in several powertrains, a single motor, a dual motor and a tri-motor version. Some of the biggest applause came when Scaringe announced that the company was moving up production of the R2 to the half first of 2026.

Tucked inside that announcement was a multibillion-dollar surprise. Scaringe said the R2 would be produced at the automaker’s Normal, Illinois, factory — a change from the company’s original plan to produce the R2 at a $5 billion factory near Atlanta, Georgia, that is just now under construction. That shift will save the company $2.25 billion.

Today, Rivian produces four vehicles at its sole factory in Normal: its two consumer vehicles, the R1T truck and the R1S SUV, and two versions of its commercial van. 

John Krafcik, the former Waymo CEO and a Rivian board member, told TechCrunch on the sidelines the move to the Normal factory was the big story today — one that would give the automaker the ability to save money and get vehicles in customers’ hands sooner.

In a regulatory filing following the reveal, the company said beyond “significantly reducing the amount of capital needed to bring R2 to market, the company believes this approach considerably reduces risk to the launch and associated ramp; efficiently leverages its existing manufacturing and operations teams; and expands the total capacity for the site to 215,000 units per year.”

Onstage, Scaringe still gave a nod to the Georgia plant, noting that it was important to the company’s strategy to scale production of R2 and R3. However, it’s unclear when that Georgia plant will be back in play. The company said in the filing that “timing for resuming construction is expected to be later to focus its teams on the capital-efficient launch of R2 in Normal, Illinois.”

From handshake to hug

rivian r2 event
Image Credits: Kirsten Korosec

Scaringe called the company’s first EVs, the R1S and R1T, the company’s handshake to the world. The R2 and the R3, which sent the crowd abuzz — their hoots and howls echoing through the theater — was clearly designed as the full embrace.

Beaming onstage as he awaited the R3 to roll out, Scaringe seemed determined to send a message: Rivian has arrived.

The all-electric vehicle is still two years away from production. And when it emerges, the R2 will face an evolved EV market with more choices and players, many of which are expected to fall into the same, more affordable category. Scaringe and the design team have leaned into the R2 styling and accessories — the trademarks of its R1S and R1T.

Rivian promises the R2 will be something wholly different. It won’t just be lower cost, making it more accessible to a wider customer base, and produced at volume. The R2 will also reflect manufacturing maturity — a vehicle loaded with efficiencies that will finally lead Rivian down the path to profitability.

rivian r2 designer jeff
Rivian head designer Jeff Hammond describes details in the R2. Image Credits: Kirsten Korosec

Rivian loses money on every R1S and R1T it makes, to the tune of $43,372 per unit delivered in the fourth quarter of 2023, according to regulatory filings. So finding efficiencies to reduce manufacturing costs as well as better deals with suppliers is critical to Rivian’s aim to make money on each vehicle it sells.

Scaringe highlighted how the company has worked on changes to reduce costs while preserving, even improving upon, the R1 vehicles.

The company is focused on vertically integrating electronics, further developing its software platform and packaging the battery and other components to improve manufacturability. The R2 is also loaded with sensors — 11 cameras and five radar — and more robust compute to support what Scaringe described as a high level of “self-driving.” He later added that the feature, which would be enabled on the highway, would allow drivers to get their hands off the wheel and eyes off the road.

More TechCrunch


After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

10 hours ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

12 hours ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer…

With the end of Workplace, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the enterprise

X, formerly Twitter, turned TweetDeck into X Pro and pushed it behind a paywall. But there is a new column-based social media tool in town, and it’s from Instagram Threads.…

Meta Threads is testing pinned columns on the web, similar to the old TweetDeck

As part of 2024’s Accessibility Awareness Day, Google is showing off some updates to Android that should be useful to folks with mobility or vision impairments. Project Gameface allows gamers…

Google expands hands-free and eyes-free interfaces on Android