The Rivian space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with a R1T pickup truck in the foreground (Gerard Edic).

Rivian’s showroom in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood has many of the trappings of a traditional car dealership. On display in a sleek, tastefully-designed open-floor room are the company’s two passenger electric vehicles–the R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV–that interested customers can take for a test drive.

It’s a fancy setup for a company where you order a Rivian online, similar to other EV manufacturers. But these spaces, as Rivian officially calls them, and efforts to build out charging stations and service centers are critical to the company building its brand.

Rivian’s future relies on selling more vehicles. Two years after launching production on its first model, the Irvine, Calif.-based startup remains in the red as it loses money on each vehicle produced. The company is trying to win customers at a time when many Americans remain hesitant about buying EVs and far cheaper EVs are available to purchase. An R1 model costs a minimum of $73,000, and the company is at least two years away from launching production on a cheaper line of vehicles.

Left: A Rivian R1T on display at the Williamsburg showroom. Right: The interior of a R1S (Gerard Edic).

“They’ve got to be where the customers are,” said Ivan Feinseth, an analyst with Tigress Financial who’s visited Rivian’s spaces in Manhattan and Venice Beach. “They need a physical infrastructure to help support sales,” he said.

Rivian opened its first retail hub in Venice, Calif. in October 2021, about a month after its first EV rolled off the assembly line. It wasn’t until the second quarter of this year that Rivian significantly expanded its spaces, opening up seven in the span of a few months in cities including Chicago and Nashville. To date, Rivian has 11 Spaces.

“Every time I put someone who’s never been in an electric vehicle before and gotten in my truck, they’re blown away,” said Jeffrey Larssan, a Long Island resident who’s owned a R1T since 2022. Larssan co-founded the Northeast Rivian Club with fellow Rivian enthusiasts and documents his adventures in his EV on Instagram. “More opportunities to get people behind the wheel to test drive is going to be a big thing.”

To build out its physical infrastructure Rivian also has launched new service centers, operating 45 as of the third quarter, according to the company. It plans to deploy nine more by the end of this year. While Rivian’s 408 mobile service centers handle the bulk of vehicle repairs, the service centers are able to address more serious issues.

“Most people are used to going to either a mechanic that’s close by that they’ve worked with or just taking it back to the dealership and doing the service there,” said Seth Goldstein, an analyst with Morningstar. Not asking customers to change their behavior will help with closing hurdles to adoption, he said.

A wall display highlights possible roadtrips from New York City that can be taken with a Rivian, detailing where to stop for charges (Gerard Edic). 

Rivian, which was founded in 2009 and went public in November 2021, has yet to turn a profit. As of the third quarter, it lost just over $30,500 per car delivered. It’s a significant improvement from the third quarter last year when that loss was close to $140,000. The company has found ways to improve cost efficiencies during the production process, such as consolidating the number of tiny computers within vehicles and cutting the cost of the battery package and body structure.

Rivian’s stock valuation has also plummeted – from $78 per share during its initial public offering – to ending at $23.48 at the end of 2023. Tesla, whose IPO was priced at $17 per share is now valued at just over $250.

Other EV manufacturers like Lucid Motors haven’t fared as well, either. The northern California-based startup, which produces a luxury EV sedan, the Lucid Air, reported a loss of $227,802 per car sold excluding overhead costs, according to calculations by the Wall Street Journal.

Tesla, which launched production of its first EV in 2008, makes a profit per vehicle of roughly $8,400.

It took more than a decade for Tesla to post an annual profit. Rivian said its path to profitability relies on selling more cars. Analysts expect Rivian to record $4.42 billion in revenue this year, up from roughly $1.66 billion last year and $55 million in 2021. To date, Rivian has yet to make a profit. In 2022, it reported a gross loss of $3.1 billion while it lost $465 million in 2021, indicating the company has been able to lower its losses through cost efficiencies in the production process.

After supply-chain issues hampered Rivian meeting its 25,000-vehicle production goal last year, it is on track to meet its 2023 target of 54,000 vehicles.

The EV manufacturer will ramp up production to 150,000 units by next year at its plant in Normal, Ill., chief financial officer Claire McDonough said last month. The total includes 85,000 R1 units as well as 65,000 electric delivery vehicles.

This planned increase in production follows Rivian’s deployment of its physical footprint, where the added service centers can receive customers’ orders and the newly added spaces can continue to drum up excitement and awareness about its products, ideally leading to more pre-orders.


Reached for comment via email about the significance of its showrooms, Rivian referred to a summer press release about the launch of its spaces.

Chris Pierce, an analyst with Needham, shared a similar sentiment that Rivian’s strategy of building out its spaces is about the company “planting seeds everywhere” for planned future growth and to reassure new customers that it can handle their car’s repairs “as quickly as possible and as efficiently as possible.”

Rivian’s deployment of more spaces now, rather than earlier, speaks to its focus on first creating a quality product that owners will value and talk about to others, Pierce said.

“You can’t capitalize on step two if you don’t have step one,” Pierce said of Rivian’s strategy.

Rivian has figured out step one, he said, pointing to the positive customer reviews the company has received. A J.D. Power survey released in February ranked the R1T as having the highest customer satisfaction score within the premium EV field in terms of driving experience and interior and exterior designs, beating out Tesla’s Model 3. In a similar fashion, a survey from Consumer Reports found that consumers ranked the R1T as the most satisfying EV to own for 2023.

“The people who’ve gotten their hands on these vehicles and own them have really become their best sales force,” Pierce added of Rivian’s marketing strategy, which, aside from the spaces, is by word of mouth.

Equally important is already having the physical infrastructure set up to create more buzz as Rivian approaches its eventual production of R2 vehicles, the company’s ticket to the mass market, planned to be produced out of the company’s Georgia plant ideally by 2026.

“They want to capitalize on the momentum they have to build up more brand awareness as they go more mass market with that other car,” Pierce said of the R2. “It’s about just positioning the company for the future. And I would say it’s going well.”