“For Amazon, this small investment is a good way to enlarge their bet on the E.V. automotive market without having to tool up a plant to find out if it will fly,” said Matt DeLorenzo, senior managing editor of Kelley Blue Book. “Over time the Rivian investment could give Amazon a starting point to own and operate an in-house package delivery business.”
Rivian first showed its truck and S.U.V. at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The key feature of each is a chassis that is shaped like a skateboard and includes all the components that propel the vehicles — a large battery pack, axles, suspension, cooling system and four electric motors. The company claims its pickup, the R1T, and its S.U.V., the R1S, will be able to go up to 400 miles on a full charge.
Both are expected to sell for $68,000 or more. In Los Angeles, Mr. Scaringe described them as upscale vehicles that can be used for off-road adventures. They are intended to compete for motorists who buy pricey Land Rovers and Porsche S.U.V.s.
“This is a vehicle you can use,” Mr. Scaringe said. “You can get it dirty, but it’s still a very thoughtful, intelligent design.”
Both vehicles may end up competing directly with Tesla models. Tesla already offers an S.U.V., the Model X, and is working on a pickup truck and a smaller S.U.V. Rivian has said it aims to sell about 20,000 vehicles in 2021 and double that in 2022. Last year, Tesla sold about 245,000 cars.
Analysts said Rivian’s success was by no means assured.
“They still face all the hurdles,” said Karl Brauer, executive publisher at Cox Automotive. “They have to produce the vehicles. They have to deliver the vehicles. Tesla has been around longer, but it’s still struggling to set up a dealer network and is struggling with high-volume production.”
Rivian has kept a low profile, especially compared with Tesla and its flamboyant chief executive, Elon Musk. Until recently, to keep its operations secret, Rivian did not display its name on its buildings. While Mr. Scaringe has a Twitter account, he has posted only 87 tweets — a small fraction of Mr. Musk’s nearly 7,000.