Rivian hinted over the past year that the automaker is going to make bikes. However, it is only recently that the CEO RJ Scaringe is known to give the electric bicycle development a go. The automaker’s expansion comes after its recent second lay-off within seven months.
Scaringe announced the expansion into e-bikes on Friday during a companywide meeting, according to Bloomberg. The move tracks with Scaringe’s previous interest in electric bikes, especially considering that the company previously filed to expand its trademark to cover electric bicycles. The company also poached some high-level e-bike designers from major brands like Specialized, bulking up its electric bike design team ahead of what many of us assumed was an inevitable e-bike project. In fact, Scaringe confirmed during the meeting that an e-bike isn’t just in the plans but that the first model is already actively being developed in-house.
Believe it or not, electric bikes actually outsell electric cars and trucks by a wide margin, in large part thanks to their lower production cost and, thus, much lower purchase prices. And so it would make sense for the electric truck and SUV maker to explore developing a Rivian e-bike, joining other companies like Porsche, which has expanded into electric bikes.
The move comes at a rocky time for Rivian, which was recently hit with a wave of layoffs amid serious cost concerns. Rivian recently announced that the company would lay off 6% of its workforce due to issues cutting costs amid its production ramp. That has resulted in the company selling its electric vehicles at a major loss. Rivian has seen success ramping up production of its R1T and R1S electric vehicles over the last year, though the company still hasn’t been able to reduce its costs. In contrast, electric bicycles are highly cost-effective as they are much easier to both develop and produce. E-bikes also have much lower regulatory hurdles, further reducing costs and decreasing the development period. That could help Rivian reach the market faster with lower overhead and a much higher volume product to complement its larger electric vehicles.
Many urban residents are also joining a growing cause working against larger vehicles, especially in cities. Massive electric trucks and SUVs like those made by Rivian have been the target of growing opposition online and in grassroots efforts. Smaller and more efficient vehicles like e-bikes are being promoted in many areas as safer alternatives that don’t endanger city residents or take up large amounts of public space.