Rivian Automotive, an upstart electric vehicle maker headquartered suburban Detroit, plans to introduce its first pair of electric, off-road vehicles in November at AutoMobility LA.
"We're launching a vehicle that has to deliver a lot of technology: electrification, connectivity, self-driving," Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said Tuesday. "A brand that can transcend the shifts away from ownership and steering wheels."
Details on the vehicles, a crossover and pickup that share a common platform, are scarce, fitting for a company that has spent years in stealth mode.
But Scaringe outlined a product strategy that focuses on rugged premium vehicles that compete with the likes of Land Rover's Range Rover line or GMC's Yukon. The Los Angeles debuts will kick off the company's public introduction, followed by initial deposits on vehicles that will be coming off the production line in 2020.
Rivian is drawing comparisons to the bevy of luxury EV startups launched in recent years, including Faraday Future and Byton -- not to mention Tesla Inc., a company Scaringe speaks of with admiration.
"They made electric cars cool," Scaringe said.
But he distanced Rivian from other EV makers' strategies, pointing to the significant work the company has done in fine-tuning its pitch to consumers interested in the premium "adventure" sector.
"The core of those brands don't go with, 'Would you put your kids in it and go to the beach?' " Scaringe said.
The company, launched in 2009 during the U.S. economic downturn, went through a series of iterations before settling on its current strategy. It has raised nearly half a billion dollars to pour into r&d and production, including buying and renovating a 2.6 million-square-foot former Mitsubishi Motors Corp. assembly plant in Normal, Ill.
And the company has hired a slew of top executives from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Jeep brand, McLaren and other carmakers.
Scaringe said the Plymouth, Mich., company's introduction will set the tone for its future.
"The world of the future, it's not a world of gray, white pods," Scaringe said. "We need for there to be disbelief" with Rivian's product offerings.