Rivian is delaying the first deliveries of its R1T battery electric pickup until September, CEO RJ Scaringe said Friday in a letter to customers who expected their trucks this month.
"We know you can't wait to get behind the wheel of your vehicle. Earlier this summer, we announced that deliveries would begin in July; however, the timing for the first deliveries of the R1T has shifted to September, with the R1S shortly thereafter in the fall. I wanted to be sure you heard this from me directly," Scaringe wrote.
Rivian owners have been griping in online forums about the lack of communication from the company in recent weeks as anticipation for the Launch Edition of the R1T grew.
Scaringe, in his letter, placed much of the blame for the latest delay on the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing chip shortage and the difficulty of producing three new vehicles in a new plant.
He wrote: "The cascading impacts of the pandemic have had a compounding effect greater than anyone anticipated. Everything from facility construction, to equipment installation, to vehicle component supply (especially semiconductors) has been impacted by the pandemic.
"Beyond these unforeseen challenges, launching three new vehicles while setting up a multi-vehicle manufacturing plant is a complex orchestra of coordinated and interlinked activities where small issues can translate into ramp delays."
Rivian's plant in Normal, Ill., Scaringe said, is currently producing vehicles on two production lines: one for the R1T and R1S utility vehicle, the other for electric delivery vans for Amazon, Rivian's biggest commercial customer. He said the company is working to ensure that vehicles sold to customers won't have quality issues.
"We have now built hundreds of vehicles as part of our validation process, with many of those spotted out in the wild covered in unique vinyl wraps. I have been asked why we aren't delivering those vehicles or why we continue to test rather than deliver.
"We believe it is critical to both our long-term success and your ultimate satisfaction that the quality and robustness of our launch products truly sets the tone for what to expect from us as a brand," Scaringe said in his note.
The company, which has reportedly been planning a stock offering that would place its market value at $70 billion, originally planned to start customer deliveries late last year but has delayed several times as its factory and work force, now totaling 7,000, has come online.
Rivian has been backed by several high-visibility investors led by Amazon. Ford Motor Co., Cox Automotive and investment manager T. Rowe Price also made significant investments over the last few years.