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Rivian CEO dishes on R2's massive efficiency level-up, big pre-order numbers: 'Excitement that even exceeds our own expectations'

Rivian surprised the market this week with the launch of not one but three new mid-sized vehicles — and in an exclusive interview with The Cool Down, founder and CEO RJ Scaringe said the company is seeing "an inbound level of excitement that even exceeds our own expectations and hopes."

The company said they had received over 68,000 pre-orders for their new R2 less than 24 hours after the announcement — and news that the vehicle will be less expensive to manufacture is driving their stock price up, too. Surprising with the "one more thing" announcement of two versions of a smaller crossover R3 model, the R3 and R3X, didn't hurt either.

Rivian told The Cool Down exclusively that the R2, shipping in 2026, will have at least a 25% lower lifetime carbon footprint than their flagship R1 truck. Not just because it's smaller than the R1, but because of increased efficiency to build and especially to operate, with efficiency gains across the vehicle such as the drivetrain and thermal system engineered to maximize range and thus further lower pollution. Yet its $45,000 starting price point might be the biggest factor delivering sustainability.

"By bringing the price point down meaningfully, it allows us to really go after the breadth of the market," Scaringe said. "If you were to look at the average selling price of a new vehicle in the U.S., it's just under $50,000. … The opportunity to bring in new customers, to take not customers from the 7% of buyers who are EV owners but from the 93% who are buying combustion vehicles and translate them into an EV experience with Rivian, that's what we're really excited about."

Scaringe said lack of choice and options in the SUV category has "created a constraint for how fast the world can electrify."

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"If you want an SUV form factor, if you want something that's highly functional and capable off-road, there's just not something in this price category that's EV," he said.

Behind the basics — 0 to 60 in under 3 seconds, 300-plus miles of range on a charge, 10% to 80% charge in under 30 minutes — the R2 and the two surprise new R3 models boast features that will make Rivian SUVs among the most sustainable on the market.

"We've looked at the full lifecycle of all the components that go into it," Scaringe told TCD. "If you were to look at the headliner, it's 100% recycled plastic, half of which is coming from the ocean. If you were to look at the floor mats, again recycled plastic. The wood in the dash is recycled birch from the furniture industry. It looks beautiful the way it stacks together, but the reason we're using it is because it gives us access to a much broader set of recycled materials.

"And as we look across into the battery, a huge amount of focus has gone into the efficiency, the design, to make the battery very long life but importantly, to make the battery something that its upstream supply chain really fits the way we're approaching our business, in terms of workforce and how the mines are operated."