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Can Rivian’s Cheaper Electric SUVs Help Stave Off Ruin?

Eric Anderson / Rivian
Eric Anderson / Rivian

Rivian announced a slate of affordable electric vehicles during a reveal event on Thursday—signaling a significant pivot for the company, which has previously focused on luxury vehicles. The reveal also comes at a time of great tumult as the EV industry faces lagging sales and an uncertain future.

Rivian’s next EV is the R2, a smaller SUV that’s slated to go into production in 2026. With a starting price of $45,000, it’s significantly more affordable than its current lineup of vehicles such as the R1T pickup truck that starts at $71,000 or the R1S SUV that starts at $74,900. The R2 has a range of more than 300 miles and can travel from 0 to 60 mph in three seconds.

The R2 wasn’t the only announcement of the day. Rivian also surprised attendees of the event by revealing the R3, another SUV that’s both smaller than the R2 and comes with a lower price tag. While the battery life and acceleration are the same as the R2, it’s meant to be a sportier and more compact version of the vehicle.

A green car on grass

Rivian R3X

Elliot Ross Studio

All of the cars will utilize the standard Tesla NCAS charging port, which the company says will allow the battery in the R3 to go from 10 to 80 percent charge in 30 minutes.

“R2 and R3 are distinctly Rivian in terms of performance, capability, and usability, yet with pricing that makes them accessible to a lot of people,” R.J. Scaringe, Rivian’s founder and CEO, said in a statement. “Our design and engineering teams are extremely focused on driving innovation into not only the product features but also our approach to manufacturing to achieve dramatically lower costs.”

With its boxy, throwback design and wider tires, the cars seem aimed at sporty, adventurous drivers. The vehicles even allow the rear seats to be stowed away with car camping in mind. It’s the kind of car you might expect to throw a few camping supplies in the back and a kayak on the top for a weekend excursion. With the lower price point, it’s also clear that Rivian wants to expand its appeal from its current premium clientele.

Interior of a car

Interior of Rivian R3X

Elliot Ross Studio

The vehicle announcements come at a very uncertain time for both Rivian, which has seen sales plummet in the past year, and the world of EVs in general. Sales of electric cars were much slower than analysts had hoped in 2023 due to a variety of factors including the high price point of EVs, range anxiety, and economic uncertainty that may dissuade consumers from purchasing a new vehicle.

Rivian has seen its own value plunge as it struggled to produce and deliver enough vehicles last year. The all-electric company faces a steep hill to climb as it attempts to catch up with both Tesla and legacy automakers who all outpace Rivian in production.

However, the new and cheaper models may put them on firmer footing. Though EV adoption has been slower than expected, sales are still up overall from previous years. The R2 and R3 models will help Rivian enter a broader consumer market—and, hopefully, give them the jolt they need.

A car with a tent on top

Rivian R2

Eric Anderson

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