How Rivian made itself the top contender to become the next Tesla

Rivian R1T
Rivian is preparing to release its first vehicle, the R1T electric pickup truck.
  • Rivian is preparing to roll out its first two vehicles, the R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV.
  • Experts consider it the most promising contender among today's EV startups.
  • It has raised $11 billion and landed an electric-van order from Amazon.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A new generation of electric-vehicle startups is preparing to give US consumers their first new automotive brands to choose from since Tesla debuted in 2008. The first one to debut could be Rivian, which plans to start delivering its R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV in the coming months.

The startup has arguably generated more excitement than its rivals by raising more money than any of them, landing an investment and delivery-van order from Amazon, and focusing on the lucrative SUV and pickup-truck markets. Whether Rivian can live up to the hype remains to be seen, but the company has put itself in a strong position to take on the many challenges that come with starting an automaker.

Read on to learn more about the company's CEO, why investors and experts think Rivian's the top contender among today's generation of EV startups, and what you can do to position yourself to land a job there.

CEO RJ Scaringe has been compared to Jeff Bezos
RJ Scaringe

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe founded the startup in 2009 when he was 26. He first intended to build an electric sports car to take on Tesla's Roadster, but changed his mind a few years later. After spending most of the 2010s revamping the company, Scaringe reintroduced Rivian in 2018. Now, Scaringe is a billionaire who's been compared to Jeff Bezos and legendary General Motors CEO Alfred Sloan. The coming years will determine whether he can become a serious challenger to Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Investors have poured $11 billion into the company
rivian r1s
Rivian R1S.

Rivian has so far raised $11 billion, according to Pitchbook, a sum no other EV startup has matched. Last year, Insider surveyed some of Rivian's investors to learn why they decided to back the company. They explained what made Rivian stand out from its competitors.

Experts think Rivian is the real deal
RJ Scaringe

Tesla's success and government regulations aimed at reducing carbon emissions have put EVs, which accounted for just 2% of US auto sales in 2020, on the path to mainstream adoption. Entrepreneurs have taken notice, and a new group of EV startups is attempting to break into the intensely competitive US auto industry in the coming years. A consensus has developed among EV experts that Rivian is in the best position to succeed.

Rivian hiring execs share their advice to applicants hoping for a job offer
Rivian R1T

The hype around Rivian has made the company an appealing destination for those who want to work in the EV industry. Insider interviewed Rivian's top hiring executives in 2020 about what they look for in job candidates. They shared their advice for applicants and the red flags that will hurt your chances of landing an offer.

Early roadblocks
Rivian R1S

Launching a new vehicle is hard, particularly if it's your first attempt. Rivian, like some of its competitors, is beginning to experience some of those challenges firsthand. This summer, the company delayed the launch of the R1T from July to September, citing "the cascading impacts of the pandemic." From navigating supply-chain disruptions to convincing state governments to revise laws that prevent automakers from selling directly to consumers, Rivian has its work cut out for it in the coming months and years.

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