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Rivian raises $2.5 billion in aggressive plan to beat Tesla and Nikola with the first all-electric pickup

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RJ Scaringe, founder and chief executive officer of Rivian Automotive Inc., unveils the R1T electric pickup truck, left, and R1S electric sports utility vehicle (SUV) during a reveal event at AutoMobility LA ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California.

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As shares of electric truck maker Nikola Motor Co. surged at its IPO last month and cemented 38-year-old founder Trevor Milton as the industry’s newest billionaire, Robert “R.J.” Scaringe was quietly raising $2.5 billion in fresh financing for his electric truck company Rivian.  

The CEO and founder is used to other companies – from startup Nikola, Tesla and its Cybertruck, General Motors and Ford Motor – stealing the limelight with their plans for all-electric pickups. Rivian is expected to be among the first, if not the first, to bring an all-electric pickup to market early- to mid- next year – months, potentially years, ahead of its competitors.

“We’re focused on making sure that we deliver,” Scaringe told CNBC before the company announced its newest round of funding Friday. “We really value active humility and letting our actions speak louder than our words.”

T. Rowe Price Associates, a previous investor, led the newest investment round, which was Rivian’s first of the year. Other participants included Soros Fund Management, Coatue, Fidelity Management and Research Company, and Baron Capital Group. Existing shareholders Amazon and BlackRock also participated, the company said.

Although Rivian hasn’t received as much attention as Tesla and Scaringe’s Twitter account remains unverified, the 37-year-old has worked methodically over the past decade to grow the private company into what might be the first auto startup since Tesla to mass-produce all-electric vehicles.

Scaringe said in a June interview that Rivian has no plans of going public for the foreseeable future but it’s “open” to additional financing to help support its “aggressive growth plans.”

“We’re in a position where we’re well-capitalized to launch the products but we are rapidly expanding and growing and accelerating some of our future products,” he said. “We’re seeing demand being significantly higher than what we initially anticipated, which is leading us to capacitive for higher levels of volume.”

Rivian, according to Scaringe, remains “very selective” regarding any potential future financing partners.

The company has raised about $6 billion in funding so far. Rivian closed on a $1.3 billion funding round in December and had raised at least $2.2 billion before that, Reuters reported at the time, citing data from Pitchbook.

In June, CNBC obtained correspondence regarding a funding round for Rivian, saying the company was raising at least $2 billion with a pre-money valuation at or above $8 billion. At the time, Rivian denied they were raising money.

Pickups, SUVs and vans

Rivian’s all-electric product plans, which were delayed several months due to the coronavirus pandemic, include the R1T pickup, R1S SUV as well as a line of vans, which Amazon pre-ordered 100,000 of last year for its delivery fleet over the next decade.

The all-electric pickup and SUV are expected to launch early next year, while Amazon expects to have 10,000 of the vans in its fleet by 2022. Rivian has said the pickup and SUV, which debuted in late 2018, will achieve a driving range on a single charge of more than 400 miles – in-line with Tesla’s top Model S Long Range Plus.

Amazon plans to have 10,000 of the new electric vehicles from Rivian on the road as early as 2022 and all 100,000 vehicles on the road by 2030.

Amazon/Jordan Stead

Rivian will produce the vehicles at a former Mitsubishi Motors plant in Normal, Illinois, which was purchased for $16 million in 2017. The company is spending more than $750 million to equip, renovate and expand the facility ahead of production.

The fact that Rivian already has the 2.6 million-square-foot plant, including a paint shop that’s nearing completion, puts it ahead of others such as Nikola and Tesla, which has yet determine a location for production of its Cybertruck.

“Clearly, we believe in the company and we think he has a great opportunity to succeed,” Sandy Schwartz, CEO of Cox Automotive, told CNBC after his company invested $350 million in Rivian in September.  “We thought this was really a good fit for us and for them.”

That’s not to say Rivian doesn’t have its challenges. Producing a vehicle is extremely complex. And even once production has started, Tesla has dominated the all-electric vehicle market with its cult fan base waiting months, if not years, for its vehicles.

But for now, the company is viewed as a frontrunner for all-electric utility vehicles, including the “vote of confidence” from Amazon, according to Sam Abuelsamid, principal research analyst at Navigant and an engineer.

“At this stage, they’re farther along than pretty much anybody,” he said. “They’ve been working at this and developing this truck and platform for quite a long time. Certainly, longer than Tesla has been working on the Cybertruck or Nikola has been working on the Badger.”

Rivian is taking pre-orders for its all-electric pickup and SUV that include $1,000 refundable deposits. The company declined to discuss how many reservations it has taken other than saying it’s “happy with our reservation numbers and are confident in demand.”

Rivian, like Tesla, plans to sell its vehicles directly to consumers, bypassing franchised dealers that are used by “traditional” automakers such as GM and Ford.

Staying private

Scaringe said Rivian, which was founded in 2009, has no plans at this time of going public. He said Nikola going public through a reverse merger with VectoIQ hasn’t had “any material impact” on the company or its plans.

“For us, we’re so focused on launching products. Priorities one, two and three are launch the products,” he said. “We’re not planning or thinking about exit events, liquidity events at this point. We have access to private capital, which allows us to focus on execution.”

Staying private speaks to Scaringe himself. The father of three boys has spent a decade under the radar as he meticulously planned the company’s strategy. That included shifting from an all-electric sports car to utility vehicles in the early 2010s.

Scaringe, who lives in Southern California, is known as a driven, level-headed planner who worries over the slightest detail —almost to a fault — as he attempts to achieve his vision, according to several people who have worked with him. He lets his actions speak louder than his words … or tweets.

“One of these doesn’t look like the other. Rivian, they’ve been very quiet about it. They’ve been very different about than either Tesla or Nikola,” said David Kudla, CEO and chief investment strategist of Mainstay Capital Management in Grand Blanc, Michigan. “If you look at those three right now, my money is on Rivian in terms of who will execute.”

Kudla, who closely follows the automotive industry, believes Rivian would do “incredibly well” if or when it does go public.

‘Building a mosaic’

Rivian has grown its employees from 700 in 2018 to 2,400 people today. They’ve attracted a diverse group of executives from the Detroit automakers, Tesla and Harley-Davidson, among others.

“That’s intentionally going after building a mosaic of different experience sets,” Scaringe said. “That we can take those different experience sets and learn from them.”

Recent hires have included Rod Copes, who spent 16 years at Harley-Davidson and more recently worked for motorcycle manufacturer Royal Enfield, as its chief operating officer; Matt Horton, a former chief commercial officer of electric bus maker Proterra, as an executive vice president; and Tesla veterans Charly Mwangi, a former Tesla senior director of engineering, as executive vice president of manufacturing engineering, and Cindy Nicola, Tesla’s former vice president of global recruiting, as vice president of talent acquisition.

Rivian will produce its vehicles at a former Mitsubishi Motors plant in Normal, Illinois, which the purchased for $16 million in 2017.

Rivian

Rivian has lost some top executives, including James Morgan, a veteran of Ford, as chief operating officer, and ex-chief technology officer Mike Bell, a former executive with Apple and Intel, among others.

Rivian also is in the midst of rebalancing its employees, including some layoffs earlier this year. It’s also shifting some of its engineering and product development staff from suburban Detroit to its battery systems and vehicle dynamics operations in Irvine, California.

“This is not easy, you need thousands of engineers working on the technical aspects, you need a production system that takes years to build and to launch, and you need commercial retail and service infrastructure,” Scaringe said. “We’re completely focused on getting all those pieces built.”

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/10/rivian-ceo-scaringes-aggressive-plan-to-beat-tesla-and-nikola-with-the-first-all-electric-pickup-and-suv.html

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eBay makes a dedicated portal for officially refurbished gear

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eBay launches a Certified Refurbished site for used goods
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eBay is taking on Amazon Warehouse with a new destination called Certified Refurbished, selling used goods from brands like Lenovo, Microsoft and Makita. The idea is that you can buy second-hand products at significant discounts over new, but still get a two-year warranty (from Allstate), a money-back guarantee and 30-day “hassle-free” returns, along with new accessories, manuals and manufacturer-sealed packaging.

eBay’s Certified Refurbished has five priority categories: laptops, portable audio,power tools, small kitchen appliances and vacuums. It offers several brand exclusives, including De’Longhi, Dirt Devil, Hoover, Makita and Philips, along with inventory exclusives from Dewalt, iRobot and Skullcandy. It’s also selling products from participating brands including Dell, Acer, Bissel, Black & Decker, Cuisinart, KitchenAid, Lenovo, Microsoft, Miele and Sennheiser.

To make the cut, manufacturers must offer items in “pristine, like-new condition that has been professionally inspected, cleaned, and refurbished by the manufacturer, or a manufacturer-approved vendor,” according to eBay. It also must be in new packaging with original or new accessories.

For an example of the savings, the site is offering Dell’s best-equipped 2020 XPS 15 9500 for $1,950, or $650 off the current price at Dell. Samsung’s Powerbot R7040 robot vacum is $199 rather than $399, and if you’re looking for a drill, Dewalt’s 20V combo tool kit used costs $235, while a new version runs $399 on Amazon.

eBay Certified Refurbished doesn’t have as many categories or brands as Amazon Warehouse or Amazon Renewed, but it seems to offer free shipping on most items, along with the guarantee and other perks. It’s now available to users in the US, and eBay said that applications are now open to retailers in Australia.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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The Morning After: GMC’s Hummer EV, AOC on Twitch and iPhone 12 reviews

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The 5G iPhones are almost here. This time around, Apple is offering four models in its iPhone 12 lineup and while we haven’t tested all of them (the 12 mini and the 12 Pro Max are coming later), we’ve given the other two devices our full scrutiny. And we kind of had to — the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are remarkably similar phones in so many ways.

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro

No, seriously, if you didn’t spot the third camera (the telephoto one that does zoom), you’d struggle to tell them apart by eyesight alone. You can take this two ways: The Pro phones don’t warrant the extra money this time around, or the iPhone 12 is a well-priced phone where you make barely any compromises. Our full review combines both phones for these very reasons. 

If you’re looking for an even cheaper iPhone, wait for that iPhone 12 mini, perhaps. And if you want the very best imaging in an iPhone, wait for the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which has even better cameras than the smaller Pro model. Yes, it’s easy to get confused. Oh and the iPhone 11 is still on sale, too!

— Mat

GMC’s 1000HP Hummer EV is an ‘all-electric supertruck’

After a series of teasers dating back to the Super Bowl, GMC finally revealed the new Hummer. 

The GMC HUMMER EV is driven by next-generation EV propulsion technology that enables unprecedented off-road capability, extraordinary on-road performance and an immersive driving experience.

The four-door crew cab boasts AWD, 1,000 HP and 11,500 ft/lb of torque generated by three motors run from the vehicle’s Ultium battery pack. That’s enough oomph to reportedly propel it from standing to 60MPH in just three seconds, the same timing as the Rivian R1, and an announced range of 350 miles.

Ultium batteries come in sizes as large as 200kWh — double what you’d find in a Model S and 80kWh bigger than what the massive Bollinger B1 uses — however, GMC has not confirmed what the Hummer EV is sporting. Using the higher throughput recharge options and the fact that the Hummer EV utilizes an 800V power architecture, GMC estimates the Hummer EV will fill 100 miles worth of power in just ten minutes using DC at 350kWh.

The Hummer will also have something called Crab Mode, where the front and rear wheels rotate at the same tilt angle, so the vehicle moves diagonally — you know, like a crab. According to GMC, the Hummer EV will be able to scale “18-inch verticals and [drive] through water that is more than two feet deep,” and its open-air Infinity Roof consists of removable, transparent “sky panels.”

The 2021 Hummer EV Edition 1 is slated for release in fall 2021. It will have a starting MSRP of $112,595. The model year 2022 Hummer EV is expected to retail for $99,995, the 2023 should start at $89,995 and the 2024 model (which will not include a third motor) will start at $79,995.
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AOC’s ‘Among Us’ Twitch stream peaked at over 435,000 viewers

The stream encouraged viewers to make a plan to vote on or before Election Day.

AOC's 'Among Us' Twitch stream

Last year, Donald Trump joined Twitch — before enduring a two-week ban over hateful content — and now US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has joined the service. Her first broadcast featured games of Among Us played with fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar and a few popular streamers. 

That proved to be a good strategy, as Twitch reports the concurrent viewer count peaked at 435,000. That’s the third highest count we’ve heard of, behind the Ninja/Drake stream in 2018 that topped 600k and Shroud’s return stream that crossed 500k.
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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx successfully collected bits of an orbiting asteroid

After over a decade of planning, the $800 million mission achieved a major milestone.

OSIRIS-REx

NASA made history on Tuesday afternoon as its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully “tagged” the asteroid 101955 Bennu, and in doing so collected a small sample of regolith from the passing celestial body’s surface. This marks the first time a NASA mission has managed to intercept, interact with and collect samples from an asteroid.

Collecting those samples involved a never-before-tried technique dubbed the touch-and-go (TAG). Before beginning its approach, the OSIRIS unfolded and deployed its Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) while pulling its solar panels back into a Y-shape so that if the TAGSAM arm did accidentally overshoot and crunch into Bennu, the rest of the spacecraft would still have the necessary power to function. 

To ensure it has a sufficiently large sample, OSIRIS will first take a picture of the collector head to confirm the presence of regolith, and then on Saturday, will extend its TAGSAM arm and spin on its axis like a centrifuge to measure the mass of rock and dust in the collection bin. If all goes well, the collection capsule will return to Earth at the Utah Test and Training Range in 2023.
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The Department of Justice sues Google over antitrust concerns

This is arguably the biggest antitrust move since the government sued Microsoft in 1998.

On Tuesday, the US government’s Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google. The company, which is a part of Alphabet, is accused of having an unfair monopoly over search and search-related advertising. In addition, the department disagrees with the terms around Android, the most widely used mobile operating system, that forces phone manufacturers to pre-load Google applications and set Google as the default search engine. 

Rebutting the charges, Google’s chief legal officer Kent Walker wrote that “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.”
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Sony plans to optimize the PS5’s fan speed using game data

What a cool idea. Who’s a fan?

PS5 teardown

Sony will be monitoring the system and collecting data on individual games, so if a game really taxes the PS5, the fans could kick in at higher (and noisier) speeds to keep things running smoothly. These currently theoretical fan optimizations would presumably be delivered via software updates. PlayStation owners are used to firmware patches that change or add new features to their system. But an update that changes the physical performance of the hardware? That’s unusual.
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But wait, there’s more…

Windows 10’s October 2020 update is rolling out with a refreshed Start menu

Quibi chairman reportedly looked into selling its content library

Impossible Foods is working on plant-based milk that tastes like the real thing

DJI’s Pocket 2 handheld promises higher quality and mods

Photoshop’s new AI features include neural filters and sky replacement

‘Fortnite’ will host a Halloween ‘cross reality’ concert with singer J Balvin

Adobe’s tool to identify edited images comes to Photoshop

Cyberpunk 2077’s dialogue was lip-synced by AI

Novation and Aphex Twin’s limited-edition Bass Station II embraces the weird

In this article: themorningafter, newsletter, gear
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Vivo phones are coming to Europe

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Vivo has expanded its reach and announced its entry into the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain. The Chinese tech manufacturer has also presented its first European line-up at an online media briefing broadcast from Dusseldorf, Germany, revealing that it’s hoping to win new fans in the region with the Vivo X51 5G. As Trusted Reviews notes, the flagship phone’s specs are almost identical to the X50 Pro with its micro gimbal camera that can keep videos stable. The main difference between the two is that the X51 5G has software modified for the European market.

Aside from the new flagship, Vivo is making its European debut with a series of mid—range smartphones: the Y70, Y20s and Y11s. It’s also releasing two Google Assistant-capable wireless earphone models in the region. First is the True Wireless Stereo Earphone Neo, which features AI noise canceling, while the other is Vivo’s Wireless Sport Earphone. The latter was designed for outdoor activities and hence boasts strong battery performance.

In its announcement, Vivo says its European launch followed extensive preparations, including research and interviews with 9,000 people across the continent. Vivo has a pretty decent share of the global smartphone market and is the sixth leading manufacturer in the world, according to Counterpoint Research. Like other Chinese OEMs venturing into Europe, though, it may see the continent as a market that promises even more growth, in part due to an opening left by Huawei after it was placed in the US entity list. The move prevents the manufacturer from offering Google’s services on its devices and from working with other US companies. Huawei used to be pretty popular in Europe until 2019, when it saw its sales drop in the region. The company was only able to prevent its numbers from slipping too much this year by re-releasing older devices, which can still use Google’s services, in the continent.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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