NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) – The Rivian plant in Illinois will not deliver its first electric vehicle until at least September, the founder and CEO said in a letter to customers Friday.
News of the vehicle’s delay came only days before Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin crew were spotted riding in a pre-production Rivian R1S model ahead of their launch into space on Tuesday.
Jeff Bezos and the crew of Blue Origin’s New Shepard were provided with pre-production vehicles “to assist with launch-day transportation,” a spokesperson for the brand said in a statement obtained by USA Today.
Amazon, a major investor in Rivian, had also previously contracted Rivian to build 100,000 electric vans for use as delivery vehicles.
In the letter sent to Rivian customers, CEO RJ Scaringe said deliveries for the R1T model, which was initially slated for a July release, had “shifted to September” and cited the pandemic as the main reason for the delay.
“The cascading impacts of the pandemic have had a compounding effect greater than anyone anticipated,” Scaringe said. “Everything from facility construction to equipment installation, to vehicle component supply (especially semiconductors) has been impacted by the pandemic.”
Scaringe said the process of launching three new vehicles while setting up a multi-vehicle manufacturing plant is, “a complex orchestra of coordinated and interlinked activities where small issues can translate into ramp delays.”
The CEO also acknowledged the company will need to improve its communication with customers regarding vehicle deliveries.
One way he said the company will prepare is by setting up “a multi-city, multi-format drive program set to roll out in September.” He also said residents will see Rivian charging sites and service centers being built in local communities.
Rivian’s upcoming models for consumers — the R1S SUV and the R1T truck — are priced at $70,000 and $67,500 to start, respectively.