After Years of Waiting, We Have a Real Electric Truck, And Maybe a New Elon Musk

Rivian founder and CEO R.J. Scaringe announced the first production R1T on his own social media

Rivian founder and CEO R.J. Scaringe sitting in a blue electric pickup truck, called the R1T, the first produced in the EV factory in September 2021
Rivian founder and CEO R.J. Scaringe sits behind the wheel of a production R1T pickup.
Photo: @RJScaringe on Twitter

A real electric pickup truck has been a long time coming. Sure, we’ve had a couple in the past, made in small numbers and mostly limited to fleet purchases, but a modern EV that regular drivers would consider buying over a gas-powered Ford F-150 or Chevy Silverado? Those have made headlines for delays, more delays, backtracking and even fraud allegations

This week, the wait ended. Rivian, a buzzy and heavily funded EV startup, announced it has finished the first production vehicles that will be delivered to customers. That would be the R1T truck that MotorTrend called the “most remarkable pickup” the magazine had ever driven (Rivian’s R1S SUV is slated to follow sometime this year). According to Bloomberg, the company has received regulatory approval to sell the pickups in all 50 states.

While MotorTrend gave a glowing review of the electric truck in their exclusive coverage, the jury is still out on whether the vehicle lives up to the hype and can match the performance of the EVs produced by Tesla, Rivian’s logical analogue. What we do know, however, is that Rivian’s founder and CEO R.J. Scaringe is about to step into the national spotlight, potentially rivaling Tesla’s own leader and hype man Elon Musk. 

When Rivian made the groundbreaking announcement, the company did so not through a press release, a note on the website or even through its own social channels. The first news of the achievement came through Scaringe’s own Instagram and Twitter, similar to the way Musk has made impromptu statements about Tesla to his nearly 60 million Twitter followers.

“After months of building pre-production vehicles, this morning our first customer vehicle drove off our production line in Normal! Our team’s collective efforts have made this moment possible,” 38-year-old Scaringe posted on Twitter, mentioning Rivian’s factory in Illinois. “Can’t wait to get these into the hands of our customers!”

The founder-as-spokesperson method has worked for Rivian before, with videos from Scaringe’s social media accounts — of the truck driving through deep water, climbing a steep rock face — garnering headlines on car blogs and traditional media outlets alike.

It’s the Tesla playbook, to be sure. And with the Cybertruck, Tesla’s own electric pickup, recently delayed even further, it may just work.

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