2 of Tesla's most promising rivals keep getting delayed

·3 min read
Lucid Air exterior_8
Lucid's Air sedan is set to hit streets this year. Lucid
  • Lots of startups are aiming to take on Tesla in the ever-growing electric-vehicle space.

  • Rivian and Lucid Motors are two of the most promising contenders.

  • Both have delayed their debut vehicles due to the pandemic but plan to start deliveries in 2021.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Tesla has reigned supreme as the lord of electric vehicles for years, even as established manufacturers and scrappy startups attempt to come for its crown.

Two of the most promising upstart EV makers - Rivian and Lucid Motors - were on the brink of launching their first vehicles onto the US market this year. But the pandemic had other plans.

Rivian earlier this month told customers who had reserved Launch-Edition models of its adventure-focused SUV and pickup that they'd have to wait a few extra months to take delivery. The R1T truck's launch was postponed from July to September, while the R1S SUV will now arrive later in the fall, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe told customers in an email.

"The cascading impacts of the pandemic have had a compounding effect greater than anyone anticipated. Everything from facility construction to equipment installation, to vehicle component supply (especially semiconductors) has been impacted by the pandemic," he said.

Rivian R1S
The Rivian R1S was delayed to the fall. Rivian

Rivian first pushed R1T deliveries by a month in May due to hurdles like shipping delays and the ongoing microchip shortage, a spokesperson said.

Read more: Rivian-rival Lucid's CEO thinks the EV industry is due for a brutal shakeout because startups are missing one key ingredient

Similarly, Lucid in February delayed the launch of its debut luxury sedan - the Air - to the second half of 2021. Customers were supposed to receive their cars in the spring. In a letter, Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson chalked up the delay to the pandemic's impact on the startup's testing activities, supply chain, and its preparations for sales and service.

That was the second time Lucid shifted its plans due to the pandemic; the startup first planned to start producing the Air in late 2020.

With a claimed range of more than 500 miles and a starting price of around $77,000, the Air is set to give the Tesla Model S a run for its money when it hits streets - on paper, at least. Tesla has led the industry in range for ages with its 400-plus-mile Model S.

Rivian R1T
Rivian says customers will start receiving their R1T pickups in September. Rivian

Lucid and Rivian represent two of the EV startups furthest along in their development. Both have operational factories, showrooms, and heaps of binding preorders, which can't be said of most new companies trying to replicate Tesla's success. Rivian has amassed several billion in funding from investors like Amazon and Ford. Lucid is preparing to go public through a reverse merger in a deal that will give it $4.5 billion in fresh funding.

Although Lucid is on track to start shipping cars this year, the pandemic has made the final stretch more difficult, Rawlinson told Insider. Lucid has run up against quality issues with some of its suppliers - problems that, under normal circumstances, would've been addressed long ago with trips to suppliers. The pandemic ruled that out.

But Rawlinson wants to get every detail spot on, and that's why he pushed the Air's launch.

"This is a one-shot deal to get it right. Why don't we go really conservative?" he told Insider.

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