Electric-car startups like Irvine-based Rivian see opportunity in EV future

Dave Kunz Image
ByDave Kunz via KABC logo
Thursday, November 17, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

As the automotive world heads into the electrified era, you'll see new brands like Irvine-based Rivian hit the market.

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- As the automotive world heads further into the electrified era, you're going to see brands on the road you may not have heard of.

For example, Rivian, a startup with a factory in Illinois and headquarters in Irvine. They got up to speed recently with their R1T pickup truck, which you may have seen on the road. It can do everything a pickup can do, including going offroad and towing, fully on battery power.

And now, production is ramping up on the second Rivian model, the R1S. This one is likely to find more buyers, as it's an SUV, which is what most people are after these days.

Sure, there's the cargo space, reasonably plentiful even with all the seats up. And yes, it's a three-row design, and pretty roomy inside. Like the R1T pickup, the R1S is fully electric, and fully offroad capable.

If you like technology, it's all here. Rivian has decided that most every feature should be accessed by the central touch screen. Even things like the position of the dashboard vents and adjustments for the steering wheel and mirrors. It makes for a cleaner interior design, with a noticeable lack of buttons and switches.

On the mechanical side, all-wheel drive, an EPA battery range of 260 to over 300 miles, and between 600 and 835 horsepower (depending on model) to scoot the big ride along. All for a starting price of about $80,000, though as with a lot of vehicles these days, they're a little behind on filling orders that have stacked up. My nearly-fully-loaded test quad-motor test model came in at $98,750 MSRP.

Starting a car company from scratch is not easy. The 2011 documentary 'Revenge of the Electric Car' showed that Tesla almost didn't make it. But in this new era of electric vehicles going forward, there's actually a lot more freedom for electric car companies to do things differently.

As an example, the London-based company Charge Cars is creating a line of handmade electric performance cars, starting with one that resembles a classic '67 Mustang. Not a restoration - it's all brand new, and very high-tech, starting at $450,000. Each one will be built to the buyer's specification for things like exterior color, interior color and features, and so on.

"We're only building 499 of them, so as you said, very exclusive. Entirely hand-built from the ground up in London," said Nick Osy de Zegwaart, global sales chief for Charge Cars.

The company is promising other models based on iconic classics in the future.

So from niche players to those targeting a broader audience, the growing EV segment is going to make the roads and freeways look a lot different - and you could say a lot more interesting - in the years ahead.