Rivian will face supply constraints for a “very long time.”

We’re not trying to ruin your day.

But that’s what RJ starts off saying in this new interview with Bloomberg.

There’s plenty of other good news pieces though. Here’s some very quick highlights of topics discussed:

  • Base model is coming in 2022 (as we already knew). The 300+ mile pack seemed to be the sweet spot to launch from in terms of consumer demand while keeping complexity in check.
  • 41 service centers are planned to launch in 2021, but projections are that over 80% of service calls will be done at the owners home or place of work via mobile repair units. Wonder if these will be similar to the Amazon Delivery vans but with Rivian branding?
  • The vision of the Rivian Adventure Network is to offer a seamless ownership experience. Rivian will still use the CCS standard, but creating their own CCS network allows for a premium experience. RJ alluded to the idea of a Rivian knowing a charger was near and being able to reserve charge time before even arriving.
  • Rivian is like a sports car on the road and an atv. 😉
  • Consumer demand is coming from all over the nation and many who will be first time EV vehicles.
  • Amazon relationship as an investor and a customer.
  • Will Rivian go public? Short answer, not next year as they are solely focused on delivery of R1T, R1S, and Amazon Delivery Van, but “no comment” seems to be the vibe beyond that.
  • Rivian ambitions outside of North America

But to me, the most important part of the interview comes around the 14:10. The question is: what’s the competitive advantage of Rivian?

RJ mentions that battery systems and drive systems are probably the most predictable core competency. But then he says this which is by far my favorite part of the interview:

More important in many ways is the digital ecosystem on the vehicle. That’s all the compute platforms, the software stack on the vehicle, and the sensor sets on the vehicle. By controlling that digital backbone of the vehicle, it allows us to integrate with the way we run the fleet. It allows us to integrate how we perform maintenance. It allows us to integrate with charging strategies. So there’s a lot of operational advantages one gets from deeply controlling all of the electronics and all the software within the vehicle. And those were areas we focused heavily on. I spent many many years developing those systems.

RJ Scaringe

I know we don’t always like comparing every new EV maker to Tesla. But it’s what it is. In that comparison, the topic of “tech” and “software” always comes up as one of the areas every other automaker is “lightyears” behind compared to Tesla. Let’s leave battery tech and autonomous driving out of the equation for now. Even with those out, there’s still a huge software development curve for these high tech gadgets with wheels.

Knowing that RJ has made the digital ecosystem a big priority over the years is a great sign. It means he’s long been trying to hire the kind of software engineering talent needed to make the software stack and its applications a competitive advantage.

I suspect we’ll hear a lot more about what these advantages might look like in the months and years to come!

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  1. I find it interesting that RJ identified the compute platforms not just on the consumer side, but as a key component of the delivery vehicles as well.
    Does anyone else wonder how much Alexa integration is going to happen with the consumer vehicles since Amazon is both an investor and customer?