Rivian Unique Approach to Marketing Electric Trucks

Electric truck and SUV startup Rivian has been silently working on developing its electric trucks and SUVs for the last few years and is poised to have the uniquely styled trucks ready for sale by 2021. While conducting development it still needs to move forward. It needs to find unique ways to hype and market a truck that technically doesn’t exist. Remember, there are other electric trucks being developed right now.

2019 Rivian  Seattle Event-Rivian
2019 Rivian Seattle Event | Rivian

One way it’s doing that is to go directly to potential customers with “pre-order events.” Through Rivian’s website you can “reserve” an R1T truck or R1S SUV. Then you wait. But Rivian also has these events it schedules where it brings the Rivians to these reservation holders to keep their interest up and to see prototypes in person.

Rivian Pre-Order Events

Rivian has held a number of these events including the recent one in Seattle where it debuted a new blue color on a prototype pickup. This was the first time anyone has seen any Rivian trucks in any color other than silver.  It has also held one of these events in Atlanta and is scheduling one for the San Francisco area soon.

From the video of the Seattle event, you can see it generated a sizable crowd. We are aware of car companies having focus groups to evaluate and compare different products. However, with established dealerships being the traditional interface for customers and products we have not seen this event-type of approach before.

Pop-Up Stores

As Rivian has no dealership body at this stage, conducting a means to familiarize those holding reservations for specific vehicles is its way of creating a pop-up store to showcase its electric trucks and SUVs. It’s just another way that traditional ways of doing things is being stood on its head by companies like Tesla and Rivian.

The company has been expanding in other ways. It now has a battery lab in Irvine, California, a research center in San Jose, California, an engineering facility in the UK, and is readying its Normal, Illinois, manufacturing plant to begin production in 2020. 

2019 Rivian  Seattle Event-Rivian
2019 Rivian Seattle Event | Rivian

At last year’s LA Auto Show Rivian’s executive director of engineering told Autoblog, “We’ve already got a team of 60 people at that facility. All the tooling, paint shop, everything. Configuring it for how we’re going to build this car.” The facility is a former Mitsubishi plant with 2.4-million square feet. Rivian has set a goal of producing 20,000 trucks in 2021, then doubling that in 2022.

Major Investors

Earlier in the year, Ford invested $500 million in Rivian to kickstart its own electric truck plans. Ford is eyeing Rivian’s “skateboard” electric foundation containing the batteries, drive units, suspension, braking, and thermal system for cooling the batteries. In this way, manufacturers can design whatever vehicle they envision and attach it to the skateboard. The commonality makes it easier and cheaper to create these different vehicles.

2019 Rivian  Seattle Event-Rivian
Rivian Skateboard | Rivian

Just last month, giant retailer Amazon announced it ordered 100,000 delivery trucks from Rivian after investing $700 million last year. Amazon will take delivery of its first vans later in 2020. It wants 10,000 in service by 2022 and complete its order by the end of 2023. As a comparison UPS has 123,000 delivery trucks in the US.