Rivian published their Q1 2022 earnings report this afternoon, and within it announced a new order process that will leave new reservation holders vulnerable to future price changes.
According to Rivian, the new reservation system will be introduced “soon” and will separate the ordering process from the configuration process.
The report is sparse on details, but explains you will still be able to place an order, but only build your specific configuration closer to when your car will actually be built. Rivian says this will allow customers to choose “from the latest features, packages, and pricing.”
The important word in that phrase is pricing. With the automaker’s order backlog (currently at 90,000) translating into delivery wait times of one year or more, and the continued supply chain shortages and high rates of inflation, it would not be surprising to see the prices of their vehicles and options increase by the time you are actually prompted to configure your vehicle.
Rivian explains the new order process will allow them to “better navigate managing a large demand backlog with inflation uncertainties, planned content changes, and enhancements to ensure customers are offered the latest product offerings.”
Rivian isn’t the only EV automaker attempting to manage a large order backlog in an environment of high inflation. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said yesterday that they may stop taking orders on some of their vehicles due to “ridiculous” levels of demand.
Despite the different approach, if Tesla does stop taking new orders the end result would essentially be the same for customers who would have to pay the price at the time the vehicle is ordered. Although in this scenario you at least know what price you will be paying, whereas Rivian customers will be in the dark.
Back in March Rivian announced a major price increase, raising prices as much as $20,000 depending on the configuration of the vehicle. The changes applied to existing reservation holders as well, causing a wave of backlash and cancellations from unhappy customers being forced to pay more for their car years after they had originally placed their order.
Rivian heard the feedback and days later decided to reverse course and reinstate original pricing for existing reservation holders.