“A lot of people thought Tesla was incredibly wonderful at service in its early days,” Skyler Williams, a 42-year-old from Austin, Texas, said. “But now it’s a problem as the business expands. Without a question, there are concerns with Tesla’s quality control — and then there’s Elon Musk, who is a love-him-or-hate-him kind of man.”
Despite the fact that he won’t receive his next vehicle until April, Williams opted to take a risk on a Tesla rival and pay $80,000 for an R1S, Rivian’s buzzy all-electric SUV. Rivian is a brand-new firm that has only built 650 trucks and two SUVs as of Dec. 16.
Williams has been eagerly awaiting his Rivian for more than three years.
He’s one of the thousands of EV fanatics eager to pay top dollar for cars that aren’t even available yet from a firm that has yet to establish itself.
There’s also Lucid, whose new Air Dream sedan has been chosen the 2022 Car of the Year by MotorTrend, and Rivian, which concluded its November Nasdaq launch with a market worth well over $100 billion, momentarily placing it ahead of GM.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk seemed unconcerned.
“There have been hundreds of automobile startups, both electric and combustion,” Musk tweeted following Rivian’s IPO, “but Tesla is [the] only American manufacturer to attain high volume manufacturing & positive cash flow in the previous 100 years.”
But driving a once-cool Tesla, which is now part of taxi and rental fleets and increasingly acquired by an ever-older sector of the population, is a non-starter for some consumers who are interested in a no deposit bonus.
“Teslas are more common, but that’s because they were the only game in town until now,” says Jeff Manfredonia, 41, of Guilford, Conn., who has been waiting for his Rivian SUV since early 2020. “Think of it this way: maybe your whole life’s ambition has been to purchase a Porsche, but when you finally are able to, you have other possibilities.”
In his hometown of Irvine, Calif., Jon Rettinger, 41, was one of the first buyers of Tesla’s Model S. He had been driving the brand since 2013, but he was eager to go out. His Model 3 bumper needed to be replaced, and his friend’s new Model Y had been in and out of the shop for almost a month. Nearly a million Tesla Model 3 and Model S vehicles were recalled this week due to safety concerns.
“I wanted a more luxurious experience,” JFL Network’s CEO and founder told The Washington Post.
The father of three phoned Lucid’s toll-free number after hearing about the Air Dream sedan, which would only be produced in 520 units. He informed the sales staff that if they could get him a vehicle this year, he’d pay $169,000 for the premium sedan.
The self-described “un-flashy” social media star, whose wife drives a Honda Odyssey, continued, “I have never driven a vehicle anything close to that price.”
Rettinger, on the other hand, stated that he enjoys the blank looks he receives whenever he pulls out his Lucid Dream P, which arrived two weeks before Christmas.
With his new Lucid, Jon Rettinger “wanted a higher premium experience” after driving a Tesla since 2013.
Rettinger added, “I’ve been stopped multiple times by folks who want to chat about my automobile.” “People ask inquiries and even record videos,” says the narrator.
He adores the massaging chairs, the large inside room — “as big as a limousine’s” — and the Tesla-exclusive motorized front trunk. Even better, it boasts 1,111 horsepower and can go from 0 to 60 mph in 2.42 seconds, with a range of 470 miles on a single charge.
Rettinger stated, “I feel like I have the luxury of a Mercedes with the performance and, someday, the technology of a Tesla.”
He noted that the Tesla Model S Plaid can go from 0 to 60 mph in under two seconds, but said, “But I was pleased to take.”
“5 seconds faster for 150 miles longer range.”
Jeff Larssan has placed an order for a $90,000 Rivian R1T and is awaiting delivery. “[Tesla] is a little city automobile that sits low to the earth and is mostly owned by Elon Musk aficionados,” he said.
Despite having a Tesla Powerball battery system in his garage, Rettinger claimed he would never purchase another Muskmobile: “My Lucid is unlike anything else on the road.”
In 2015, Austin’s Williams, the CEO of a private cloud and high-performance computing firm, test drove a Tesla Model S but decided it wouldn’t fit his adventurous family’s demands.
“After that test drive, I was sold on electric automobiles,” he said. “However, I’m a truck person at heart.” I appreciate being high off the ground and bringing my Jeeps to that a Tesla would never go: off-roading, camping, and hiking.”
When final photos were presented, he didn’t like the boxy shape — or the $125,000 asking tag — of upstart brand Bollinger. In November 2018, he learned about Rivian’s R1T electric vehicle.
He put down a $1,000 pre-order deposit on an $80,000 vehicle only two weeks after the firm unveiled its new model. “No one else has that,” Williams claimed, despite having only driven one. “The power, the performance, and the unique technology with four separate motors to allow exact control over each wheel… no one else has it.” Despite this, his desire for the latest toy won out, and he moved to the R1S SUV when it was introduced a few days after the truck.
“I’m going to terrify my wife and kids!” he says as soon as his SUV comes in the spring. “It’s an SUV that can go from zero to sixty in three seconds, and I’ve heard it accelerates quicker than a lot of Porsches,” he remarked. “In a compact, Tahoe-size vehicle, the Rivian features hydraulic-suspension design comparable to a McLaren sportscar and a Suburban’s worth of storage.”
It also doesn’t have the problems that Tesla’s trucks have. The allegedly Mad Max-inspired CyberTruck, which has been delayed until 2022, has been widely derided for its absurdly huge windshield wiper (“big adult wiper,” reviewers have sneered), its incomplete “tabless” batteries, and its disastrous introduction in 2019. When head designer Franz von Holzhausen threw a metal ball at the vehicle’s “armor glass” windows, they broke, causing Musk to say, “Oh my f–king God!”
Jeff Larssan, a retired police officer from Long Beach, New York, never considered a Tesla: He enjoys his Toyota Tundra and Tacoma vehicles as a surfer, snowboarder, and camper. He’d hired a Model X Tesla in Florida and had a bad day with it. “It’s not interesting or adventurous in the least.” He told The Washington Post, “It’s a small city vehicle that’s low to the earth and is very much owned by Elon Musk fanboys.”
He first spotted a Rivian at the New York Auto Show in April 2019, while looking for a new automobile for his girlfriend.
“I go up to this prototype and I’m like, holy crap, it looks so great,” the 56-year-old remarked. The following day, he returned to the event and spent hours conversing with the salesperson and kneeling to examine the “skateboard platform” and wheel motors. He put down a deposit on an R1T on the spot while riding the train home.
He hasn’t received his vehicle yet, but he’s already become a Rivian supporter, appearing with other fans on a community YouTube channel called Rivian Stories and going down to Atlanta in September 2020 for a pre-order holder event, where he met the company’s CEO, RJ Scaringe, 38.
“I’m not going to lie: I have a thing for this guy,” Larssan said. “What he’s doing, how clever and well-spoken he is without being arrogant like Elon… That was enjoyable.” Rivian sent him out to Long Island to test drive a truck; he drove it over the sand and to the beach, where he claims everyone stopped to take pictures of him. He’s already launched an Instagram account dedicated to his new vehicle, which should arrive by the end of February.
His $90,000 R1T comes with a camp kitchen and all the bells and whistles. “Rivian originally said that it would have 750 horsepower, but the final figure was 835. “You step on the gas and your head swings back,” Larssan said. “It’s not like a typical automobile, which must travel via transmission gearing or an internal combustion engine to accelerate with the same thrust throughout.” It’s unadulterated power.”
Of course, there’s always the risk that Lucid and Rivian will become as popular as Teslas at some time; after all, Amazon, a major Rivian investor, has placed an order for 100,000 of the cars to be delivered by 2030.
Manfredonia, though, is unconcerned about the SUV he purchased almost two years ago but has yet to receive: “If I don’t like it, I could certainly sell my Rivian for a profit.”