Ed. Note: Champions of Change is a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century.
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
—John F. Kennedy
Courage and hard work have served as hallmarks of America’s space program since the earliest days of NASA. As the Shuttle Program nears completion, opportunities emerge in the face of certain change. The Space Coast must embrace the many changes that are occurring and leverage the resulting opportunities.
Recently, I participated in a discussion with leading thinkers from Florida’s Space Coast regarding the next chapter for our community, state and nation. I strongly believe there is a great opportunity for Space Coast to not only secure its own economic vitality but also create significant value for the entire country. The Space Coast has one the most technically capable engineering and technician workforces in the world. This workforce presents a powerful resource for companies that are developing new technologies and pushing past established boundaries. I am very pleased that NASA and local leadership are working hard to both support and create technology development/manufacturing opportunities for this talented workforce.
Rivian Automotive is building on the creative thinking and diligent hard work that have guided the space program to its unparalleled achievement. Taking a clean sheet approach, Rivian is reinventing the way automobiles are designed, manufactured and sold. Rivian has developed platform, manufacturing and powertrain technologies that enable affordable, ultra-efficient vehicles that do not require compromises in performance or style.
Rivian’s vehicles will be commercially available in 2013 and include a 70 mpg (highway) gasoline fueled vehicle and a 105 mpg (highway) diesel-hybrid vehicle. While images of the vehicle have not yet been released, significant track testing is currently underway. Additionally, Rivian recently entered into a Space Act Agreement with NASA to enable collaboration for some of the vehicle development and testing. Having spent a good amount of time behind the wheel of a Rivian vehicle, I can tell you that in addition to being ultra-efficient, our cars provide an absolutely exhilarating driving experience.
Rivian’s advanced platform and manufacturing technologies eliminate the capital-intensive processes and enable a level of versatility not available and never before seen in an industry notorious for its high fixed costs and inflexibility. This platform technology enables the vehicle to provide ultra-high efficiency, class leading safety and superb vehicle dynamics while remaining truly affordable. The Space Coast’s talented workforce is a major asset for Rivian as we plan our manufacturing ramp up.
True change comes from hard work and the audacity to innovate beyond established paradigms. In the spirit of John F. Kennedy, Rivian Automotive is working aggressively to help Florida achieve an economically stable future by creating strong, competitive US companies mindful of our environment.
R.J. Scaringe, PhD, is the founder of Rivian Automotive, a Florida-based automaker that is creating ultra-efficient, affordable and fun-to-drive vehicles through innovation in platform, manufacturing and powertrain technologies.