Caravano would not reveal how many Canadian pre-orders the company has, estimating about 114,000 for the United States and Canada combined.
Although the open house was Rivian’s first public event here, the company has had a substantial presence in Canada since 2019.
Rivian has more than 160 employees in Canada, said communications manager Miranda Jimenez, mostly in Vancouver and including a large segment of its global software development team working on mobile apps and vehicle infotainment systems.
They share space with Rivian’s “customer engagement” staff in a former Mini store in trendy downtown Yaletown. There are no plans for a public-facing showroom. Other EV startups, including Lucid and VinFast recently opened showrooms in Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall.
Others work at Rivian’s in-house service centre in suburban Richmond and more are located in other parts of Canada. The company said it intends to increase its Canadian workforce by about 100 over the next year, including in software development and vehicle service and delivery in other target markets in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.
British Columbia was the natural launch point for Rivian, said Caravano.
Statistics Canada figures show about one in six new vehicles registered in the province in the first six months of 2022 was electric, about 13 per cent of total registrations. Quebec was second at 11.4 per cent and Ontario, which dropped its EV rebate program in 2018, third at 5.5 per cent.
The region’s relative affluence also provides a strong market for Rivian’s pricy products: The R1T starts at $100,995 and the R1S at $107,675, including destination and delivery charges. The company has partnered with Scotiabank for financing arrangements, Jimenez said.
Rivian’s official entry into the market was stalled for a few weeks by a delay in Transport Canada certification. The company shot down a report it had failed its initial homologation certification.
“We were requested to provide supplemental information to finalize the certification process after which certification was granted,” said Jimenez.
Rivian has produced about 15,000 units so far this year at its plant in Normal, Ill., and targets 25,000 for the year. It said it delivered about 7,000 vehicles in the latest quarter.
Bloomberg News reported this week Rivian is facing several safety complaints from workers filed with U.S. regulators with help from the United Auto Workers, which is trying to organize the plant. They allege Rivian was cutting corners as it strove to ramp up production. In a statement to Bloomberg the company refuted the claims without addressing specifics complaints.