Rivian, the much-hyped electric vehicle startup backed by Amazon and Ford, alerted its many thousands of preorder customers yesterday it was raising prices on the cars they'd already committed to buy. The email made it sound like these were fairly minor adjustments due to inflation and various supply chain issues. It then directed users to go to the official “configurator” website which had updated prices.
When customers did so, they found in many cases the price of the vehicle they had preordered had gone up by tens of thousands of dollars. Configurations that had previously been standard, or the only available option, now cost thousands of dollars extra. The end result is people who thought they were buying a car for approximately $75,000 are finding that car now costs closer to $100,000. Customers are furious, obviously.
For example, Rivian announced a new dual motor option for both its truck and SUV, as opposed to the quad-motor that had previously been the only one available. The quad motor is now a $6,000 option and the only one in production. In addition, the battery pack options have changed and many customers have to upgrade to a larger battery pack to get a feature they wanted.
Reddit threads and discussion boards lit up with enraged customers, many of whom said they were canceling their preorder. According to a poll taken on r/Rivian, of the 3,000 people who voted, 1,500 said they were canceling.
“I could buy an entire additional car for the price my config just changed,” one user posted in a representative comment. “Unbelievable. Out.” Another user on r/Rivian who was dutifully tracking all the pricing changes in a separate thread had to issue an update towards the end of the day, “Sorry everyone, I can't keep up with all this right now and I'm so mad I'm actually getting a bit of a headache from this. This is really disheartening. Sorry folks.”
Price increases are obviously a fact of life these days, especially with the car market, a key driver of inflation. But it is rare to see car companies apply price changes, especially such drastic ones, to existing preorders. For example, Tesla regularly changes vehicle prices, but only to new orders. Legacy automakers have been fighting with dealers who are charging much more than the sticker price for electric vehicle preorders, telling them to knock it off. Rivian’s price changes apply to all preorders except ones far along in the production process.
Rivian did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Motherboard, but the company’s chief growth officer Jiten Behl told Electrek the price hikes were due to inflation and supply chain crunches. The company has had well-publicized difficulties ramping up production to match demand. And an effort to build a massive new factory in Georgia is encountering stiff local opposition.
As Electrek noted, technically customers can still buy an electric pickup from Rivian for the $67,500 base price it initially promised, but it would require downgrading from the specs they initially chose and would receive the vehicle in 2024 at the earliest. In the meantime, they would have to hope Rivian doesn’t increase the price or cut the specs before then.
Update: After publication, Jiten Behl, Rivian’s Chief Growth Officer, provided Motherboard with the following statement: “Like most manufacturers, Rivian is being confronted with inflationary pressure, increasing component costs, and unprecedented supply chain shortages and delays for parts (including semiconductor chips). This rise in cost and complexity due to these challenging circumstances necessitate an increase to the prices of the R1T and R1S models we offer today—prices which were originally set in 2018. This decision will allow us to continue to offer competitive products that maintain the high standard of quality, performance and capabilities that our customers expect and deserve from Rivian. Along with the adjusted prices for our current offerings, we are also announcing Dual-Motor AWD and Standard battery pack options for R1T and R1S, which will provide a broader range of choices for customers as part of our expanding portfolio of options, upgrades and accessories.”