IRVINE, Calif. — The white hot electric truck startup Rivian is back pedaling on a price increase it announced earlier this week. After the Irvine-based company said it would add $12,000 to the sticker price of its R1T pickup and R1S SUV, delay deliveries for its reservation holders by two years or equip their vehicles with downsized batteries and powertrains, founder and chief executive RJ Scaringe changed his mind.
On Thursday, Scaringe sent a letter to Rivian customers saying the new pricing would be effective only for customers who ordered vehicles after the March 1 price change announcement. The original pricing and equipment would remain in place for those who already had reservations.
“Since originally setting our pricing structure, and most especially in recent months, a lot has changed,” Scaringe said in a letter issued through the Business Wire news release service. “The costs of the components and materials that go into building our vehicles have risen considerably.”
He noted that average new vehicle prices have increased more than 30% since 2018, when Rivian first set pricing for its vehicles. Like most automakers, Rivian is facing inflationary costs for components and parts delays.
Scaringe also acknowledged Thursday that “as we worked to update pricing to reflect these cost increases, we wrongly decided to make these changes apply to all future deliveries, including pre-existing configured preorders.”
The announcement earlier this week that preorder customers could get a smaller battery than the 135 kilowatt-hour version it has been building, with two motors instead of four, was intended to keep “price points similar to your original configuration,” he said, but “it was wrong and we broke your trust in Rivian.”
Rivian will now honor the original pricing for customers who preordered their vehicles before the March 1 announcement. For the many customers who canceled their preorders after learning about the price increase and downsized battery and motors also have the ability to reinstate their orders with the original configuration, pricing and delivery timing, Scaringe said.
Rivian began production of its R1T last year with a $73,300 Launch edition. The lowest-price Explore version has a starting price of $67,500, according to the Rivian website. The R1S SUV, expected later this year, starts at $72,500.
Rivian has taken 71,000 preorders as of December, some of them dating back to 2018, just after the Rivian prototypes were first unveiled at the LA Auto Show.