A Look at Rivian’s Future: Will They Be Tesla’s Biggest Competitor? (2024)

By Karan Singh

A Look at Rivian’s Future: Will They Be Tesla’s Biggest Competitor? (6)

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Shortly after the announcement of Rivian and Volkswagen’s joint venture, Rivian hosted a short, impromptu investor call to discuss a few key items. If you want to listen to the call yourself, you’ll need to provide a few short pieces of information at this link. The day after, on the 27th of June, Rivian held its Investor Day.

Let’s dive into all the awesome stuff that was unveiled by Rivian during the call and during Investor Day itself.

Volkswagen Investment

The first item on the list was of course the announcement of the joint venture with Volkswagen. The call confirmed that VW will be providing that $1B initial investment, alongside the $4B planned for 2025 and onwards.

Rivian has said that it intends to use this investment to focus on the Rivian R2 ramp at its Normal, Illinois factory, as well as develop its upcoming facility in Georgia. They also confirmed that they will be providing software and ECU (electronic control units) hardware for Volkswagen EVs going forward, which will be based on the R2 or R3 platforms.

The companies will be sharing the responsibility of the joint venture corporation, and Rivian and Volkswagen will each appoint one co-CEO. If you’re interested in the details of how the Joint Venture and the investment work, we highly recommend you listen to the call.

New Vehicles, New Platforms

Rivian also showed off a slide quite similar to Tesla’s slide at its Shareholder Meeting – with 5 vehicles under the wraps. Of note is the updated R1 Gen 2 platform has a new vehicle, which looks similar to the R1S Suburban Edition that has been previously teased. The R2/R3 platform also has a smaller vehicle in its lineup, which looks similar to a wagon or hot hatch. Finally, the “Affordable Mass Market” platform has a full-size SUV, as well as a smaller SUV and what could be a sedan.

All in all, Rivian has some exciting news to look forward to, with the Joint Venture serving as both a lifeline and an opportunity for Rivian to push towards more affordable mass-market vehicles, which will help cement them as an affordable EV brand.

A Look at Rivian’s Future: Will They Be Tesla’s Biggest Competitor? (7)

Rivian's Investor Day Slide

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New Battery Pack and Bi-Directional Charging

Another major update for Rivian’s platforms – including the Gen 2 R1 series and R2/R3 platform, is an updated battery pack. This updated pack is structural – and has greatly reduced the cost of the structural components by approximately 50%, which is a massive improvement. Rivian will be using 4695 cells in their updated pack, similar to Tesla’s 4680 cells. These cell sizes are easier and cheaper to manufacture but cooling them has been difficult – even for Tesla. This difficulty in cooling has resulted in reduced maximum charge rates, but Tesla has recently had some drastic improvements in this field.

Every Rivian vehicle already supports the V2H/V2L vehicle-to-home/vehicle-to-load protocols from CCS, but it has thus far been disabled. Rivian will be introducing a bidirectional charger for V2H, alongside a software update to unlock the functionality on all previous Rivian vehicles.

Electronics and the Maximus Motor

A key portion of Volkswagen’s investment is also access to Rivian’s new electronics – the Zonal controllers. Rivian has built a zone-based ECU that controls various parts of the vehicle in centralized locations – resulting in their Gen 2 platform having 60% fewer ECUs, a 1.6-mile reduction in cable harness length, and a 44lb weight reduction.

These are some pretty impressive numbers and are a great step towards Rivian moving towards scaling mass production of their vehicle platforms.

Of course, it's not just the battery and electronics – Rivian’s in-house motor has received an update, with a 30% cost savings and a 30% reduction in labor per unit for their single-motor-per-axel motor variant. This motor will be going onwards to replace the Enduro and will be the primary drive unit for the R2 and R3 vehicles.

Rivian Spaces, Shop, and the Rivian Adventure Network

Rivian’s sales fronts are known as Rivian Spaces – genuinely a place to get to see a vehicle, hear about it from a Rivian salesperson, and learn about all its features. Spaces have generally been sparsely located – with just 12 open today in 2024, and just 2 open last year.

To address this, Rivian plans a drastic expansion of its Spaces, with 40+ being opened throughout 2024 and 2025. This is going to be Rivian’s big step towards bringing their vehicles to the mass market, and away from the specialty consumers that they target today.

The Rivian Shop will also be receiving plenty of updates – alongside the newly launched shop UI. This will include a dedicated platform for selling pre-owned Rivians, including lease returns.

The Rivian Adventure Network will be opening to the public this summer, which means non-Rivian vehicles will be able to charge there soon for the first time. Rivian has committed to expanding the RAN and aims to fill “charging deserts” that it locates through ABRP.

Rivian previously adopted NACS as a standard and is expected to begin producing vehicles with NACS built-in soon, so we could expect the RAN to also use NACS plugs soon.

Service Centers and Service

Beyond the expansion of Spaces, Rivian currently has 59 service centers open today and aims to have 100+ service centers through 2025. This is a pretty big increase, and Rivian also mentions that it intends to have Rivian Mobile Service be able to reach customers who aren’t near a Service Center.

They intend for their service centers to remain fairly small, with roughly a 50% smaller footprint than other comparables, as approximately 70% of their work orders are completed via mobile service. This is fairly similar to Tesla’s approach with their large-footprint Collision Centers located centrally, and smaller Service Center/Delivery Center combinations spread throughout major cities. Tesla has previously mentioned that approximately 80% of their service orders can be completed by a mobile technician, and Rivian is very similar.

Rivian plans to introduce an AI chat system that can pull vehicle logs and data, as well as known defects to help assist Rivian owners and customers with service requests before they need to speak to an agent. The AI will be able to schedule service appointments, and can even suggest routine maintenance, such as tire rotations. This service will be arriving for Rivian’s commercial vehicle platforms first – the EDV and ECV.


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A Look at Rivian’s Future: Will They Be Tesla’s Biggest Competitor? (16)

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Following the recent release of V12.4.2 to employees and early access testers, Tesla has now released V12.4.3 to employees, according to X user Farzad. The update is version 2024.15.15.

We recently took a deeper look at the new features available on V12.4.2 here.

Given how rapid-fire Tesla has begun releasing updates to internal testers, employees, and early-access customers, it seems there could be a couple more iterations of V12.4 before it hits customers, as Tesla tunes FSD.

Update: As expected, the release notes remain the same as FSD v12.4.2 and this update just includes bug fixes.

Update 2: In the past hour, early-access customers (“OG testers”) have started receiving this update. This is the first time FSD 12.4.3 has gone out to the public. These owners were previously on FSD 12.4.2, which also didn’t go into a wide release. Given how fast this update went to employees and then to OG testers, Tesla must be testing a specific issue that quickly passed testing. We could see this version expand to additional customers later this weekend or early next week.

Update 3: Tesla has now expanded the rollout to more customers. It has now gone beyond the “OG” testers and to many regular customers. You can follow the progress of the rollout on our statistics page for FSD 12.4.3. This appears to be the version that will go wide to everyone that’s still on a 2024.14 update.

Update 2024.15.15FSD Supervised 12.4.3Installed on 2.1% of fleet29 Installs todayLast updated: Jul 10, 10:30 am UTC

Why so many Versions and Delays?

While nobody is happy about delays, one needs to keep in mind that Tesla has to keep safety as a priority for FSD releases. If a release goes out wide to hundreds of thousands of vehicles that are unsafe, there could be considerable impacts on people’s lives.

Beyond that, each subversion is Tesla adjusting their AI model, fine-tuning it to be able to better drive in both normal and edge cases. As such, watching these subversion releases go by is a good thing – at the end of the day, we’ll end up with a better, safer product.

Every version also has to be tested internally first among their dedicated ADAS testers, then among employees, and finally with Tesla’s early-access customers. Once all these people give a green light, and most errors and major bugs are addressed, does a release get the green light to go wide.

So, stay tuned for when this release goes out wider than this leak and possibly comes to your vehicle with nag-free FSD.

By Karan Singh

A Look at Rivian’s Future: Will They Be Tesla’s Biggest Competitor? (25)

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Tesla has begun reaching out to some its early Foundation-series Cybertruck customers to offer them the opportunity for a free upgrade of one of their drive units.

They seem to be doing this for both the Dual-Motor AWD variant, as well as the Tri-Motor Cyberbeast variant. So far, we’ve confirmed two such occurrences.

Drive Swaps

In the messages from Tesla Service, Tesla confirms that they are conducting a study on drive units in early Cybertruck vehicles and that some owners are being selected to participate. At the next service visit, Tesla will replace one of the current drive units, with a brand-new unit – one that is intended to improve efficiency and reliability.

Tesla Service also confirms that this isn’t a cause for concern and that the vehicle is still safe to drive in the meantime. This doesn’t seem to have been prompted by a recall, but is instead Tesla looking to perhaps take apart well-used drive units from its early models, and examine them for wear and tear so that they can be improved in future iterations.

A Look at Rivian’s Future: Will They Be Tesla’s Biggest Competitor? (2024)
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