Is Rivian the Next Tesla? Investors Bet Big on Electric Truck Maker

Another big trend reshaping the auto industry is autonomous cars. On Tuesday, Cruise, a unit of G.M. that is working in that area, announced it had raised $2 billion from Microsoft, G.M., Honda and other investors. Rivian and Tesla are also working on automated-driving technology.

Rivian is different from Tesla in several respects. Tesla so far has grown by selling sporty sedans, a type of vehicle that is falling out of favor with consumers. Tesla intends to begin making an oddly angular, futuristic pickup, the Cybertruck, this year. But it hasn’t yet put heavy focus on the trucks and S.U.V.s that make up 75 percent of the passenger vehicle market in the United States.

Rivian, on the other hand, is focused on producing “adventure” vehicles that owners can take off road, an approach that means Rivian won’t often compete head to head with Tesla.

“There’s a perception that this is winner take all, and that’s just wrong,” Mr. Scaringe said. “Consumers need to have different brands, different flavors. Our success is not at all mutually exclusive to others’ success.”

Rebecca Puck Stair is the kind of car buyer Rivian hopes to attract. A movie location scout in Albuquerque, she has been interested in buying an electric vehicle for a few years, but needs high ground clearance and four-wheel drive for assignments that take her into the desert.

“That didn’t exist in the market,” she said. “A Tesla doesn’t fit my needs.”

About a year ago, she heard about Rivian for the first time and put a deposit down on an S.U.V. the next day — like Tesla, the company does not plan to sell through dealers. Ms. Stair has seen the Cybertruck, but the design is not for her. “It just screams ‘obnoxious guy truck,’” she said, laughing.

Rivian’s truck and S.U.V., which start at $67,500, look more conventional, as if they could have been designed by Land Rover.

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