Rivian’s community growth is driven by a focus on sustainability

Rivian only officially entered the auto manufacturing scene last November, but you’d hardly know it by the headway the company has made in terms of branding and enthusiasm for its upcoming all-electric R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV. The startup’s flurry of marketing activity in the months since launching is largely to thank for the growing, nascent community. However, Rivian now has its sights set on earning even more respect from the clean energy crowd that’s already excited about electric vehicles via energy storage projects.

Last week, Rivian announced a new partnership with rock climber Alex Honnold and the Honnold Foundation to use the car maker’s used vehicle batteries for microgrid energy storage in underserved areas. The first project will take place in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico working with Casa Pueblo, a local organization committed transitioning their city’s energy grid to solar power. In the wake of Hurricane Maria, the Adjuntas community is ready for sustainable, independent energy sources, and Rivan’s batteries have substantial capacity – even after their vehicle life cycle is expended – to help with that transition.

The batteries Rivan is designing for its vehicles are purpose-built to have second-life storage applications, and the Adjuntas microgrid project will enable the company to implement the first steps of this broader plan. While the first R1T and R1S vehicles have yet to be delivered to patiently awaiting customers, spending time on environmentally-focused projects has been part of Rivian’s plans since its inception. “It’s the central motivation for the business,” CEO RJ Scaringe explained in a recently live streamed conversation about the joint microgrid initiative.

Scaringe is a self-described car enthusiast, but as his awareness and concern for the environmental issues surrounding gas-powered vehicles grew, he eventually made the decision to start a new car company that matched his values.

“The [cars] that I really loved were simultaneously making the planet worse, whether it’s geopolitical or air quality or climate change, and it really bothered me,” Scaringe admitted. “So…the way I thought I could have the most impact was to start a company. In starting Rivian, the goal was to create products that are exciting and built with passion and deliver real performance, but at the same time are deeply sustainable… The decisions we make as a company are absolutely made from the vantage point of how do we have the most impact.”

Alongside energy projects, Rivian has also made several appearances at trade shows, auto shows, and outdoor vendor events to continue building a network of business and consumer relationships that grow its community. New features and options have been announced as well, such as vehicle-to-vehicle charging and a portable kitchen set for the R1T gear tunnel, all of which have helped keep up enthusiasm for the company.

Rivian’s R1T gear tunnel kitchen set. | Image: Rivian/Twitter

The attention Rivian has already garnered for the high-tech and performance stats of its upcoming R1T truck and R1S SUV is well deserved. Both vehicles have four electric motors with 750-800 total horsepower that can reach highway speeds in around 3 seconds, and 170 kW of independent power at each wheel also provides for torque vectoring. Rivian’s high-density battery packs have a thermal control system that adapts according to charging and driving behavior, and they’re tightly encased using advanced materials science to be capable of wading up to three feet of water. The 180 kWh “megapack” option is expected to give around 400 miles of range.

Rivian already has plenty to offer future customers as an all-electric car manufacturer full of innovative ideas, and a their new sustainability initiative adds to the startup’s promising outlook. Production is slated for 2020 and pre-orders are available on the official website.

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