An outlet covering local Laguna Beach, Calif., news recapped a city council meeting where Rivian representatives showed up with an ask big enough to make the pages of Reddit and then the Rivian forums. The battery-electric truck and SUV maker recently made the South Coast Theater in Laguna Beach its flagship U.S. retail location. Rivian told the city council it plans a “worldwide product launch event at the Rivian Theater” on March 7, 2024. As part of that, the automaker sought the right to display six vehicles on a grassy area along the Laguna Beach waterfront called Main Beach Park for a few hours. The company specified there’d be no extra lighting or amplified sound, so this wouldn’t be a party per se — like the one Volkswagen hosted just up the way for the ID. Buzz — just a big exhibit and gathering. Some residents didn’t approve of the ask, but the council gave the go-ahead.
The questions for Rivian watchers, of course, are what’s going to be shown at the worldwide launch and what six-strong lineup will decorate the beach? The marquee product is expected to be the smaller R2 in SUV-styled R2S form, heavily favored since a map included in the council submission is labeled “Rivian R2 Launch.”
Company CEO RJ Scaringe teased the less expensive model during an Instagram Q&A last May, the above image a screengrab from the event. The R2 is said to be sized about like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, starting prices thought to be in the $50K to $50K range. Back then, the R2 wasn’t scheduled to be delivered until sometime 2026, though, delayed from the original plans for 2025. If the R2 shows up in the California sun in two months, it could be merely as an opener for a long reservation period.
There are only five vehicles on the above map, however. Three are numbered, two are labeled “LG.” If Rivian fans get their way, two of the showcases could be for rumored high-powered versions of the R1T and R1S. A Rivian forum poster said a 2024 product update could reveal a 1,000-hp version of the pickup and SUV dubbed “Ascent.” Prototypes were rumored to lift their front wheels off the pavement during hard launches. We have about six weeks to see what’s really going on.
We don’t need to guess about big moves Rivian’s made in the executive suites. In the past couple of months, Rivian’s added ex-Stellantis North America COO Carlo Materazzo, ex-Mercedes-Benz plant manager Arnehelm Mittlebach, and ex-Porsche and Apple mobility veteran Jonas Reinke. It’s shaping up to be a big year.