The founder of Rivian ran a 12-year marathon to build the first electric pickup

Seth Moczydlowski approaches a crouching industrial building a few miles south of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was October 3, 2011, when he reported on his new job at a company that would become Rivian, an electric car maker. His boss, RJ Scaringe, appeared and dragged him badly.

Scarlinge fell in love with a woman running a half marathon. He did it with her.

“Did you train for it?” Moczydlowski asked.

“not much.”

Cold starting a 13-mile race with a romantic interest requires confidence, patience, and a healthy amount of naivety. The same chemistry helps start an automobile company.

When he raced, Scarlinge took about four years to set up a company to become Rivian. Now, a startup based in Irvine, California. Thanksgiving It may be worth as much as $ 80 billion Has multi-billion dollar contracts with Amazon This month, we began delivering our first production vehicle, a $ 67,500 luxury pod, to our customers to build a delivery van. Dubbed R1T, electric pickup Targeted at rocky trailheads and Whole Foods parking lots, it resembles a traditional pickup by Apple designer Scrum.

Billions of dollars start-ups tend to share winning origin stories. It is a nervous-focused founder with an unwavering vision. This is not what happened in Florida on the day Moczydlowski appeared.

“He wasn’t an electric man”

Rivian started out as a small, affordable one sports carIt was an expensive supercar at the time, but it has since become a rigorous pickup for Middle Eastern drivers who are hurting their lives near the poverty line. None of those machines moved forward, and the company splattered on the verge of bankruptcy.The only reason Rivian isn’t in the scrap heap Car history – The only reason investment bankers claim to be worth more Ford Motor Co., Ltd... – Its adaptability.

“One of the most important human characteristics for creating an improved environment for progress is humility and the ability to listen to others,” Scarlinge said last month. His reaction to the desires of others led to Rivian’s 12-year pregnancy, which began at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In the mid-2000s, the school’s Sloan Automobile Research Institute housed Silver in 1976. Porsche The graduate student was converting to 914 Electric car.. Scarlinge, a PhD candidate at Rockledge, Florida, walked by the car almost every day, but barely touched it.

Instead, Scarlinge spent time taking the manufacturing course to perfect the exhaust gas recirculation and valve timing. “He wasn’t an electric man,” said classmate Emmanuel Caseris. “He was a car man.”

On February 4, 2009, his final year, Scaringe attended a seminar by Daniel Roos and James Womak, faculty members and authors of “The Machines That Changed the World,” which wiped out the history of automobiles. “It was the end of first class,” Womak said. “He approached me and said,” I came up with a new idea for an automobile company. Let’s talk about it. “

After earning a degree, Scarlinge returned to Florida and started it. He may have studied manufacturing in the classroom, but his entrepreneurial model was near the house. His father, Robert, is also an engineer and has a crappy store called Mainstream Engineering. So Elder Scaringe invented diesel engines, water treatment equipment, and systems that produce medical-grade oxygen from the surrounding air, primarily for the Pentagon.

RJ Scaringe set up a store in the same group of buildings and named his efforts Mainstream Motors. Scarlinge said he didn’t fully understand the complexity ahead. “The chances of success are very low,” he admitted in an internal video last year.

“The only way to get started was to get started,” he said in a February 2020 podcast. “Many U-turns, lots of twists, lots of turns, lots of bowel punches. Overall, it was built entirely of brute force.”

“Blue thing”

Scarlinge hired about 15 designers and engineers who agreed with his vision. A sports car that combines high performance and high performance. Fuel efficiency At a low price.

They were a fiercely devoted bunch. A fourth employee, Brian Gase, said he quit the job interview because he thought “these people were crazy.” I was hooked because they believed they could do something they didn’t know what to do. “

Scarlinge didn’t expect to sell more than about 40,000 cars a year. With cage manufacturing and lightweight materials, he never charged more than $ 25,000.

He used lightweight aluminum instead of steel. Instead of steel body panels, Scarlinge envisioned thermoplastic sheets. The mainstream organizes the coupe into four modules, much like a children’s toy. There are no metal presses or painting plants, two of the most expensive parts of a traditional plant.

The team worked constantly, joining four consecutive all-nighters at one time. Scarlinge took everyone to lunch on Friday and stopped by Daytona every winter to see a 24-hour race with red eyes in a screaming engine.

“It was really a tribe,” said Lenny Templeton, a former head of human resources. “I don’t even know if everyone has a title.”

About a year later, the tribe planned a prototype. The engine was retrofitted. Scaringe sends files to Detroit’s consignment manufacturer Mini Cooper.. According to an ingenious employee, Chris Auerbach, the instructions were to build a car, board a mini engine, and return the entire package in a crate.

A prototype named “Blue Thing” was rolled off a truck in Florida in the fall of 2010. The photo showing this opportunity shows the team with a broad smile that believes in reality. The car wasn’t ready for production and wasn’t even driving.It looked like Honda A hatchback at the flashy teenage stage.

Nevertheless, the car is a car and BlueThing helps to market investors.

“We didn’t have the money”

Scarlinge has organized a brain trust that includes former Chief Financial Officer of MapQuest, Jim Thomas, and former Chief Executive Officer, Rick Wagoner. General Motors Co., Ltd.

The door was opened and the calendar was scattered at the meeting, but nothing was settled. Scarlinge and his father mortgaged their home and rounded up $ 3.5 million in state funding. The employee agreed to accommodate an intern who went to work for the startup. The salary increase was out of the question, and the weekly snack budget was about $ 35.

“We didn’t have the money,” recalls Templeton. “We didn’t have it.”

The machine Scarlinge confidently devised began to buckle under financial pressure. “The whole plan will change weekly and monthly,” Moczydlowski said. “It was really just a circular pattern. Design something, sell it to investors, and, as you know, do some kind of rinsing and repetition.”

At one point, the team was working on a modest race car to attract Brazilian investors. Then they moved to a higher performance, higher priced version of the original idea.

“Pivots didn’t cost much,” Womack said.

Moczydlowski was fired in February 2012, shortly before several colleagues. Auerbach dropped out of cooking school.

In the turmoil, the two words rarely happened.“Electricity” and “Truck”.. “

“Our darkest moment”

Scarlinge embarked on the production of high-performance cars, “when looking at the sports car market, people were very afraid of losing exhaust noise and odors,” Auerbach said.

But Scarlinge just wanted to make something. It didn’t really matter what it looked like or what it was called. The mainstream became Avella and became Rivian, inspired by the Indian River near Rockledge.

In the end, the MIT seminar was rewarded. Professor Ruth was a close friend of MIT graduate and CEO of Abdul Latif Jameel, Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel. Car dealer From europe Japan.. Scarlinge called for it.

A few months later he was sitting on a rug in the desert of Saudi Arabia. It was surrounded by smoky water gissels and dusty stuff. Toyota.. While drinking tea and sweets, Jamil’s son Hassan did his homework for Scarlinge. Design an efficient and rugged pickup. Ford F-150, NS Toyota prius When Dune buggy..

Around the end of the year, Scarlinge sent ALJ’s rough plan and the company agreed to invest a small amount, but nevertheless it’s a desperate Florida scankwork lifeline. By the time Rivian decamped in Detroit a few months later, he had less than 10 employees.

Mass punched desert machines in Sparta will conflict with Scarlinge’s original concept of valuable engineering for car savant. The track part, however, was a chance for Scarlinge’s long shot.

“The shift from coupe to truck space was our darkest moment,” Gase said.

Unprecedented luxury pickups have long been the most profitable slices in the US automotive industry. General Motors, Ford The former Chrysler Group made more than $ 10,000 per machine. The taste of America was widespread all over the world.

Clear difference

ALJ was a major investor at the time, shelving the idea of ​​desert trucks and agreeing to a more luxurious pickup. Still, Scarlinge needed something to make the Rivian machine much more sexy than the other rigs coming out of Detroit.

“He announced it at a board meeting one day,” Womak said. “No one expected it:” I decided this would be an all-electric vehicle. There is no need to discuss this further. “

By November 2018, Rivian Two prototypes Pickups and SUVs to clarify.Rihanna, a singer who was Hassan’s girlfriend at the time, achieved her annual honor. Los Angeles Auto Show..

“My first impression was that it looked really cool,” said Stephanie Brinley, an analyst at IHS Markit. “It looks like a truck, but it’s not. It does a really good job of communicating technology.”

The founder of Rivian ran a 12-year marathon to build the first electric pickup

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