Rivian’s CEO talks R2 and R3 launch, and why he has ‘complete certainty’ EVs will win

Roger Stringer
March 08, 2024
4 min read
Rivian’s CEO talks R2 and R3 launch, and why he has ‘complete certainty’ EVs will win

Abigail Bassett, for The Verge:

In a packed theater in Laguna Beach on Thursday morning, Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe opened his presentation to resounding whoops from the audience, well before the company unveiled its three buzzy new vehicles, the Rivian R2, R3, and R3X.

While it’s not uncommon to pack a room with fans for a vehicle launch, it is unusual for the CEO of a car company outside of Elon Musk to get the kind of response that Scaringe did. For a vehicle unveiling to feel upbeat and exciting without feeling cringe is even rarer.

“Every decision we’ve made, the products, the strategy, what we’re building, how we go about building our business, the way we structure our teams, the way we think about our culture, has been built around this culture of keeping the world adventurous forever,” Scaringe says.

Throughout his presentation, Scaringe kept underlining the “forever” part of Rivian’s mission statement, which, given the company’s well-documented financial troubles over the last few months, recent rounds of layoffs, and its announcement yesterday that it’s pausing its $5 billion Georgia plant for an undetermined amount of time, seems somewhat disconnected from the realities facing the company today.

It’s not just Rivian, either. EV sales growth has gone from rocket speed to glacial, with many automakers putting factories, investments, and whole model lineups on ice. But Scaringe says it’s too late to go back.

“I would say with absolute and complete certainty that the entire world is going to convert to electric vehicles,” Scaringe tells The Verge following yesterday’s event. “I’ve never been more bullish on electrification. I’ve never been more bullish on Rivian.”


Rivian learned a lot when it decided — perhaps foolishly — to launch and build two brand-new vehicles, the R1T and R1S, simultaneously. It’s something Scaringe says has never gotten any easier over time. The company learned a lot from the experience and has since found ways to make smart tradeoffs to keep the upcoming R2 at that magic $45,000 starting price.

For one, Scaringe says the R2 will be less complex than the R1 vehicles. It won’t have adaptive air suspension, but rather a fixed suspension that will build on what the company learned from the R1 line. The R2 also won’t get other small creature comforts, like the removable Bluetooth speaker, which is standard on the R1T and R1S. (The flashlight in the door will remain.)

But Scaringe says that the R2 will still be off-road capable. And it will showcase a handful of fun, new features, like seats that fold flat for in-car camping; a rear-lift window for surfboard storage; chunky scroll wheels for anyone irked by the loss of physical buttons to screens; and cavernous glove compartments — presumedly for all the gloves.

The company won’t launch both the R2 and R3 at the same time, either. The R2 will come first, and they’re currently showing off the R3 as a “very close sibling” to the R2.

Rivian’s future is clouded in doubt. It’s cash pile is dwindling. Its factory plans look grim. But the company continues to project optimism — even in the face of financial oblivion.

Elon Musk’s Cybertruck may be a vehicle for the end of the world. Rivian’s R2 and R3 are asking us to imagine a much kinder and more hopeful future.

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