Rivian Says Canceling Its Cheapest EVs Will Allow It To Produce More Vehicles Faster

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

Rivian Says Canceling Its Cheapest EVs Will Allow It To Produce More Vehicles Faster
Photo Courtesy of Rivian

In a letter yesterday to customers who've preordered the vehicles, Irvine-based EV startup Rivian gave notice that it will no longer offer the most affordable versions of its electric vehicles.

The “Explore Package” was to be the entry-level version (or “trim” as it’s called) of Rivian's R1T electric truck. Though the base model had yet to hit the market, it was slated to cost $67,500. Now, buyers—even those who preordered—will have to shell out at least $73,000 for the next trim up, the “Adventure Package.”

The upscaled version of the truck has better speakers, better seats, some interior options and off-road upgrades like tow hooks and floor mats. The battery remains unchanged.

Rivian says it made the decision to axe the entry level due to limited interest in the offering and a desire to streamline production. The company says the move will allow it to build more vehicles more quickly. Rivian is less vo al about this move will allow it to charge an extra $6.5k for each Explorer trim car it converts to Adventure. While some of that cost is assuredly due to the upgraded components, it’s no secret car manufacturers typically make the best margins on their high-end offerings.

There are two ways to view this move:

1. It’s undoubtedly a smart business move from Rivian. Streamlining production is essential if the fledgling company is going to hit the 25,000 vehicle production target that it recently reaffirmed in its Q2 earnings call. It’s probably good news for investors as well. The company may lose a few preorders from customers who were set on the $67.5k price point, but Rivian is already building as many cars as it possibly can every day, so anything that increases vehicle price increases how much revenue Rivian makes. The company has to survive until its new plant opens and production on its more affordable R2 model can get underway. Any move that ensures survival in the short term is a good long-term play.

2. The decision is a big middle finger to customers and shows Rivian hasn’t learned its lesson from last spring, when it incited buyer's rage by reneging on the cost of its trucks. It also adds to the growing list of ridiculously expensive EVs that are aimed at the very wealthy, leaving middle class would-be EV buyers up a creek. The new price hike also puts the majority of Rivian’s models outside the $80,000 price cap for the Inflation Reduction Act rebate. For all the company’s commitment to sustainability and vegan leather, wouldn’t it just be better for the environment to get cheaper cars into the hands of everyday people at a lower price point?

The truth, as usual, is probably somewhere in the middle. You can’t build a fleet of Earth-saving electric vehicles if you can’t stay in business. Then again, if your Earth-saving vehicle has to cost $73,000, you’re not saving anything except for the conscience of a few rich people.

Fingers crossed for that R2 though.

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sports trading cards
Arena Club /Andria Moore

Sports trading card platform Arena Club has raised $10 million in Series A funding.

Co-founded by CEO Brian Lee and Hall of Fame Yankees player Derek Jeter, Arena Club launched its digital showroom in September. Through the platform, sports fans can buy, sell, trade and display their card collections. Using computer vision and machine learning, Arena Club allows fans to grade and authenticate their cards, which can be stored in the company’s vault or delivered in protective “slabs.” Arena Club intends to use the new cash to expand these functions and scale its operations.

The new funding brings Arena Club’s total amount raised to $20 million. M13, defy.vc, Lightspeed Ventures, Elysian Park Ventures and BAM Ventures contributed to the round.

“Our team is thankful for the group of investors—led by M13, who see the bright future of the trading card hobby and our platform,” Lee said in a statement. “I have long admired M13 and the value they bring to early-stage startups.”

M13’s co-founder Courtney Reum, who formed the early-stage consumer technology venture firm in 2016 alongside his brother Carter Reum, will join Arena Club’s board. Reum has been eyeing the trading card space since 2020 when he began investing in what was once just a childhood hobby.

The sports trading card market surged in 2020 as fans turned to the hobby after the pandemic brought live events to a standstill. Since then, prices have come down, though demand remains high. And investors are still betting on trading card companies, with companies like Collectors bringing in $100 million earlier this year. Fanatics, which sells athletic collectibles and trading cards, reached a $31 billion valuation after raising $700 million earlier this week. On the blockchain, Tom Brady’s NFT company Autograph lets athletes sell digital collectibles directly to fans.

As for Arena Club, the company is looking to cement itself as a digital card show.

“Providing users with a digital card show allows us to use our first-class technology to give collectors from all over the world the luxury of being able to get the full trading card show experience at their fingertips,” Jeter said in a statement.