Tesla's biggest truck rival has been forced to delay the launch of its maiden model.
Late last month, electric truck and SUV company Rivian was forced to shut down its facilities due to the coronavirus pandemic. As the US continues to fight the spread of the virus, automakers like Rivian remain closed, at least regarding production. The timing couldn't have been worse for this Tesla Cybertruck rival.
According to ABC affiliate Heart of Illinois, Rivian has confirmed new vehicles will not be rolling off the assembly line this year. This will delay the official launch of the Rivian R1T pickup truck until 2021. Those first deliveries will happen sometime next year too, but it's still too soon to know which month.
For now, there's no official delay for the Rivian R1S SUV, which was already scheduled to debut sometime after its truck sibling. Sadly, we wouldn't be surprised to see its launch delayed as well. Call it a domino effect. Meanwhile, Rivian's Normal, Illinois factory, formerly a Mitsubishi plant, will remain idle for an indefinite period of time.
None of this is by any means the end of the world, but it's a disappointing setback for the start-up automaker that has the potential to disrupt the auto industry's longtime disruptor, Tesla.
Last year, Ford invested $500 million in Rivian, which followed a $700 million investment from Amazon. What will Ford get for its money? The only confirmation so far is a future Lincoln vehicle riding on Rivian's "skateboard" EV platform. The platform itself includes the battery pack, four drive motors, suspension, and other vital components. Assembly for this unnamed Lincoln will also take place at the Normal plant, though its launch will surely be delayed as well.
For now, all Rivian can do is monitor the impact of Covid-19 throughout the country and work with state and federal officials to determine when the factory can come back online with the health and safety of employees ensured.