Rivian delays production start to September, cites chip shortage

Edward Ludlow

Rivian Automotive Inc., the electric pickup maker backed by Amazon.com Inc., is pushing back plans to start production of its debut vehicle, which was supposed to begin this month, until September.

The startup also shifted the timeline for its second planned model, an electric sports-utility vehicle, from August until an unspecified time in the fall, Rivian said in a letter to customers on Friday. It cited a shortage of component supplies for the delay.

The R1T is an electric pickup capable of driving more than 300 miles on a single charge.

“The cascading impacts of the pandemic have had a compounding effect greater than anyone anticipated,” Chief Executive Officer R.J. Scaringe said in a letter sent Friday to customers and viewed by Bloomberg. “Everything from facility construction, to equipment installation, to vehicle component supply (especially semiconductors) has been impacted by the pandemic.”

Bloomberg first reported in May that the company had experienced delays in receiving key parts because of backlogs at U.S. ports.

The Irvine, California-based company is a front-runner in a large pool of startups seeking to challenge Tesla Inc. in electric vehicles. Rivian has raised more than $8 billion from a group of high-profile investors that also includes Ford Motor Co. and investment manager T. Rowe Price Group Inc. Bloomberg News has reported that Rivian is considering conducting an initial public offering this year.

In the Friday letter, Scaringe also acknowledged that launching three vehicle lines in one go was a complex task. Small issues have translated into much larger delays, Scaringe said.

Rivian plans to build a battery-electric pickup called the R1T and deliveries were scheduled to start this month. It later plans to build a sport utility vehicle, the R1S, and deliveries were expected to start in August.

The company also has a deal with Amazon to build 100,000 electric delivery vans, with 10,000 expected to be in service by the end of next year. All three models are to be built at a former Mitsubishi Motors Corp. plant in Normal, Illinois.