Following Tesla’s lead, EV startup Rivian, which turned heads at the LA Auto Show with its prototype electric pickup and SUV, doesn’t plan to use traditional dealerships to sell its vehicles in most areas.
Buyers will order Rivians directly from the company – it’s already accepting pre-orders, secured by refundable $1,000 deposits. Unlike Tesla, however, Rivian does plan to use dealerships for service and support. Rivian founder and CEO R.J. Scaringe says these service centers could be located at other brands’ dealerships or at independent repair shops. He adds that Rivian has already seen a lot of interest from dealers.
The company also plans to set up its own “brand experience centers” where customers can test drive and order cars. Unlike Tesla’s facilities (don’t call them “stores”), Rivian’s establishments won’t be in malls, but neither will they follow the traditional dealership form factor of a showroom surrounded by acres of parking lots.
In states where direct sales by automakers are still illegal, such as Michigan and Texas, Rivian may partner with existing dealerships, Scaringe said.
Scaringe pointed out that the internet has empowered consumers with more information about vehicles, has practically put an end to the traditional haggling sales model, and has cut into dealerships’ margins on sales.
“Existing dealers are all recognizing that there are changes happening to their business,” Scaringe told Motor Authority. “There are aspects of what the dealers do that don’t get talked about enough,” namely service and support.