Rivian (RIVN) CEO and founder RJ Scaringe addressed the electric auto company’s recent recalls head-on at TechCrunch Disrupt this week, saying that in the vehicle space: “There’s going to unfortunately be recalls — they happen.”
This month, Rivian recalled 13,000 vehicles amid concerns about loose fasteners that affect the driver’s control when steering. That’s almost all the vehicles that Rivian has ever delivered; the company started delivering vehicles last year, and has since passed 13,198 vehicles on to customers. Rivian’s direct-to-consumer (DTC) model streamlined the company’s recall response, Scaringe told the TechCrunch Disrupt audience.
“For us, one of the really powerful things was that we had our direct-to-consumer model where, instead of having to go through third-parties or dealers or different entities, we literally mobilized our whole service network to say let’s go move through these vehicles quickly,” he said.
“We were authentic about it,” he added. “We didn’t sugarcoat it, we said that we’re going to go fix this.”
Still, it was bad news for a company that’s struggled hugely this year. Rivian, which is backed in part by Amazon (AMZN), has seen its shares fall about 70% year-to-date, as of open on Friday.
Rivian, over the next ’10 to fifteen years’
When Scaringe talked about where he sees Rivian and its industry going in the next decade, he expressed deep concern that the recent battery shortage is just the beginning.
“The battery supply chain as we know it for lithium ion batteries, whether you’re looking at lithium hydroxide or lithium carbonate, it was built largely around consumer electronics,” he said. “It’s very small, it’s not a huge supply chain. So, it has to grow by 20X or on the order of 20X over the next 10 to 15 years and the level of investment needed to go build that is staggering.”
The auto industry this year has been hit hard by the supply chain crisis, working to overcome production shortages.
Looking ahead, Scaringe also hinted that Rivian’s product line could expand far beyond auto in the next decade.
“When you look at transportation over the next 10 to 15 years, the way we think about our portfolio is that it’s going to go increasingly multimodal,” he said. “So, we’ll be using vehicles sometimes, public transportation other times, and we think increasingly [we’ll see] e-bikes.”
E-bikes got a further call-out from Scaringe.
“The e-bike space, it’s something we’re super excited about,” he said. “I do think it’s going to play an increasingly important role in transportation, both in the movement of goods for commercial purposes, but also for the movement of people.”
Allie Garfinkle is a Senior Tech Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @agarfinks.
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