Rivian differs from Tesla in several ways. Tesla has so far grown by selling sporty sedans, a type of vehicle that is falling out of favor with consumers. Tesla plans to build a strangely angular, futuristic pickup truck called the Cybertruck later this year. However, the focus is not yet on trucks and SUVs, which make up 75 percent of the US passenger car market.

Rivian, on the other hand, focuses on making “adventure” vehicles that owners can drive off-road. This means that Rivian doesn’t often compete directly with Tesla. “There is a perception that this is the winner and that is just wrong,” he said. “Consumers need to have different brands and tastes. Our success is by no means mutually exclusive. “

Rebecca Puck Stair is the kind of car buyer Rivian wants to attract. As a Boy Scout in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she has been interested in buying an electric vehicle for a number of years, but requires high ground clearance and four-wheel drive for tasks that take her into the desert. “It didn’t exist in the market,” she said. “A Tesla doesn’t suit my needs.”

She first heard from Rivian about a year ago and the next day put bail on an SUV – like Tesla, the company doesn’t plan to sell through dealers. Ms. Stair saw the cybertruck, but the design is not for her. “It just screams ‘disgusting guy truck'” she said with a laugh.

Rivian’s truck and SUV, which start at $ 67,500, look more conventional than they could have been designed by Land Rover.

Unlike Tesla, which is trying to grow fast, Rivian takes measured steps. Last year, before the pandemic broke out, it was planned to build around 20,000 pickups and SUVs in 2021 and around 40,000 in 2022. An updated outlook has not yet been presented. By the middle of the decade, a production capacity of 250,000 vehicles per year should be achieved in Normal. The company hasn’t disclosed how many orders it has taken, but a spokeswoman said it has customers for all vehicles it expects this year.

And even if other auto startups go public by partnering with shell companies that have bundles of cash and stock listings, Rivian is unwilling to do so. “We want to start, show our skills and let our performance speak for itself before we can deal with the public,” said 38-year-old Scaringe.