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Rivian executive reveals massive cost-savings from re-tooling Illinois plant

Credit: Rivian

Rivian has debuted its latest generation of the R1T pickup and R1S SUV, and CEO RJ Scaringe recently told one publication about the company’s massive cost-savings efforts in recent months, following the retooling of its Illinois factory.

During a media tour of Rivian’s Illinois factory this month, CEO RJ Scaringe told Reuters that the automaker’s retooling of the plant has resulted in a 35 percent drop in the cost of materials for its Amazon delivery vans, alongside savings of a “similar magnitude” for its other production lines.

Rivian shut down the Illinois factory to re-tool its production lines in April, keeping the factory closed for about 25 days.

According to Scaringe, the electric vehicle (EV) maker has removed more than 100 steps in battery production, along with the removal of 52 pieces of equipment from its body shop, and over 500 from the updated R1T and R1S design. Scaringe and others are hoping the culmination of these cost-cutting measures and design simplifications can lead Rivian to profitability, with the CEO adding that the costs to build its EVs have now “improved dramatically.”

“We did a similar process of really going through and redesigning a number of components for cost, so we took over 35% of the material cost out of the vans,” Scaringe said.

Rivian has since updated the software, drive units, and battery packs used to build its R1 vehicles, with the battery modules now coming in one piece rather than in separate parts that would require assembly. Additionally, the new R1 units have become lighter, partially due to the use of substantially fewer wires.

“The design of the parts and the design of the plant facilitate making the vehicle easier to build,” Scaringe noted.

Ultimately, these changes have also decreased necessary labor time, and improved the time assembly takes by around 30 percent. Rivian VP of Manufacturing Tim Fallon highlights the company’s hopes that the changes can result in turning a profit on its EVs.

“All of that together leads to us being able to get to our path to profitability and be gross-margin positive,” Fallon said.

Rivian reported a loss of $38,784 per vehicle delivered in the first quarter, down from the previous quarter, in which that figure landed at $43,372.

Rivian 2024 Investor Day is scheduled for late June

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Rivian executive reveals massive cost-savings from re-tooling Illinois plant
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