Discover more from Vancouver Tech Journal
Rivian Automotive begins vehicle deliveries in British Columbia
The company’s flagship all-electric pickup and SUV vehicles will be united with buyers through the end of 2022, and ramp further in 2023.
As a journalist, you get to do lots of incredible things. Last week, I got to test-drive the Rivian Automotive R1T pickup truck – and of course, because I’m a millennial and have been conditioned to do so since my teens, I posted about it on my social media. Turns out it was the most commented Instagram story I’ve had, ever. I know what you’re thinking – how interesting is my social media feed, anyway? But I’m willing to bet that the popularity says less about my posting prowess, and more about the massive demand in B.C. for Rivian vehicles.
As a journalist, you’re also not supposed to bury the lede. But here it is: Rivian has started delivering R1 vehicles in the province. This is the first outside location outside the United States to do so, and marks the beginning of the company’s international market expansion. Now certified by Transport Canada for sale, drop-offs of both the all-electric R1T pickup and R1S SUV will take place through the end of 2022, and ramp further in 2023. That’s great news if, like several of my friends, you already have your pre-order in.
Why all the hype? The electric-only vehicle maker has major partnerships with Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and Amazon (from whom it received $2.5 billion in funding last year). It’s touted as the first real alternative to Tesla – and not just because of its financials. Just over a year ago, Rivian IPOd to the tune of $100 billion. At that time, the company was the second-most valuable U.S. automaker after Musk’s company, ranking ahead of General Motors, Ford Motors, and Lucid Group.
“We’re thrilled to begin deliveries in British Columbia, not just because it’s a great place to use our products, but because many of our Canada-based employees working in software and customer engagement call Vancouver home,” said Tony Caravano, Rivian’s senior director of customer engagement. “We’re looking forward to forming new relationships and celebrating as our customers in B.C. embark on their own R1 adventures.”
Rivian celebrated the milestone with an open house event in Vancouver on November 19 and 20, welcoming more than 1,500 local customers and their families for a first look at the company’s flagship vehicles and the chance to interact with Rivian team members. During the two-day event at the Rocky Mountaineer Station, visitors learned about the features and capabilities of Rivian’s electric pickup and SUV, including the gear tunnel (the large compartment spanning the width of the truck between the cab and bed, which I jokingly suggested would be a great place to hide a body), and Camp Mode: the vehicles’ ability auto-level on uneven ground to help those sleeping in rooftop tents or glamping in the back.
Rivian’s flagship vehicles were clearly built with the outdoorsperson in mind. On the drive, it’s easy to see how suited the truck is to B.C.’s backroads. (I recall to the team nearly bottoming out on the notorious road up Mount Cheam in a stock F150 – a predicament that would have been avoided, I’m told, with Rivian’s R1T: a vehicle that not only has the highest ground clearance of any truck, but has the capability to be raised or lowered based on the terrain.) But that’s not the only reason, the team says, that Rivian is rolling out its deliveries in B.C. first.
The company’s first Canadian office can be found in Yaletown, in the former home of a Mini dealership. There, it employs more than 150 people to work on the digital experiences inside and outside of the vehicles. “What a lot of folks don't know is that our software teams are based here, and work on the software for all of our vehicles – U.S., Canadian…it'll be worldwide at some point,” said Miranda Jimenez, communications manager for Rivian.
In addition to the work on the mobile and infotainment apps – which include items like navigation maps, connectivity, and multimedia – local Rivian employees are working on fleet management and vehicle services, connectivity, virtual manufacturing software, and more. As well as the software office, to help serve buyers during the delivery rollout and beyond, the company has established a customer engagement centre in Richmond. By leveraging co-op placements from multiple local universities, it’s deliberately building a talent pipeline in B.C. that will help cement its foothold in the province.
Although the rollout of deliveries in British Columbia has now begun, Rivian has not yet released an official timeline of when the program will expand to other provinces. However, the company’s executives have committed to building out its network of service centres across the country – specifically Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta – as Rivian continues to grow.
Don’t miss out on the latest Vancouver tech and innovation news. Subscribe or become a member now: