Rivian, which makes high-end electric SUVs and pickups, is opening its first Canadian showroom in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby.
The move by the California EV maker marks a course change from a strategy that favored largely online contact with customers, Denise Cherry, senior director of design and retail development, said.
The purchase process still won’t be conducted end-to-end in the showrooms, which Rivian calls Spaces. The store will give it more of a presence in the community and customers a better chance to interact with the product and staff, he said.
“We did want a place to put down roots,” Cherry told Automotive News Canada.
Scheduled to open July 28, the Burnaby location is one of 10 planned North American locations. The first Spaces opened in New York in June.
Up to now, Rivian’s in-person contact with BC customers was limited to a small former Mini showroom in downtown Vancouver’s trendy Yaletown district, where “customer engagement” staff shared space with members of its global software-development team. It also has a service center in the suburb of Richmond.
But with a couple of couches and a work desk, the space proved too cramped once a display model was included.
Rivian chose the recently redeveloped Brentwood shopping center in Burnaby for its relatively central location within Metro Vancouver. The roughly 465-square-metre building, steps from the Brentwood SkyTrain rapid transit station, is in an exterior second-floor unit that Cherry likened to two stacked glass boxes, with first level for display.
RIVIAN SPACES ARE ‘KEY’
“The launch of Rivian Spaces is a key part of our next phase of growth, introducing retail sites as a primary experiential touchpoint and bringing the brand to life through an in-store experience,” Tony Caravano, senior director of customer engagement, said in a news release.
The goal of Rivian’s bricks-and-mortar expansion, he said, was to support current and future customers, “meeting them where they are and showing up in a way that is authentic to Rivian.”
Spaces showrooms will allow customers to shop for Rivian-branded merchandise, take test drives and for owners to get travel-planning tips from staff, all in a relaxed family-friendly atmosphere, said Cherry.
Prospective buyers can use augmented-reality goggles to examine Rivian display models, overlaying different colors and various interior options while inside the vehicle.
Once a purchase decision is made the sales transaction itself must still be completed online, Rivian spokeswoman Miranda Jimenez said.
Rivian joins Tesla, Lucid and VinFast among EV startups that have Vancouver-area showrooms.
Rivian currently offers two models, the R1T pickup that starts at $109,000 and the R1S SUV at $116,500. Both starting prices include a home delivery fee of $1,400. Neither vehicle is eligible for government EV rebates, but Cherry said the upcoming R2 compact SUV, scheduled to arrive in 2026, may qualify.
Cherry said future Canadian locations will depend on various criteria, including market demographics and the availability of charging networks. It plans to open service centers in Calgary, Toronto and Montreal by the end of this year.
The company did not provide Canadian sales figures since launching here last year. At the end of the second quarter, it had delivered 41,838 units in North America since production began.