EV production ramp: comparing Tesla and Rivian

Tesla and Rivian are the two biggest new car companies producing electric vehicles in the United States, and I recently thought it’d be interesting to compare their production ramps over time. As a massive proponent of electric vehicles and electrification generally, I think comparing Rivian to the benchmark growth rates Tesla has set can help shape an understanding of what’s possible for new car companies. (Obviously it’s different compared to existing car manufacturers, for a variety of reasons!) I also have a reservation for a Rivian R1S, but am generally interested in the success of any new EV manufacturer.

I’ll outline the relevant early history of both companies below, and then get into the charts. While Rivian took much longer from its founding to unveiling its prototype vehicles, it’s now on a much faster production ramp than Tesla was at the same point in its history.


Tesla was founded in 2003, and the Tesla Roadster started production in 2008. But the Roadster was a vehicle that was produced in partnership with Lotus cars; the Roadster was a (highly) modified Lotus Elise chassis. When compared to scalable vehicle production lines, it’s just not the same.

The true car company history of Tesla arguably starts in 2010, when Tesla bought their Fremont factory from Toyota. This was needed for the Tesla Model S, which had already been unveiled in 2009, and which started production in 2012. The Tesla Model S was the only vehicle Tesla manufactured from mid-2012 to mid-2015.


Rivian was founded in 2009. It purchased its factory in Normal, Illinois from Mitsubushi in 2017, and unveiled the R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV in November 2018 at the LA Auto Show. Amazon invested in Rivian in 2019 and announced a deal to purchase 100k electric delivery vans (EDVs).

Rivian started production in mid-2021. This production was across two platforms and multiple individual vehicles: the consumer platform (R1T and R1S vehicles) as well as the EDV platform.

Tesla vs Rivian – indexing production ramps

I went back to press releases from both companies to get data on vehicle production. Tesla started manufacturing and delivering Tesla Model S’s in Q2 2012, but only started reporting production numbers starting in Q3 2012. Rivian started manufacturing and delivering R1Ts in Q3 2021, but only announced 2021 full-year production numbers, so I’ve assumed ~5% of the full-year production happened in Q3, with the balance in Q4.

Sync’ing this up, Tesla started mass production/delivery in Q3 2012, and Rivian started mass production/delivery in Q3 2021, nine years later. (x-axis for the chart below is indexed to Rivian’s timeline)

Tesla vs Rivian – comparison

Tesla was able to very quickly ramp to deliverying 5,000 vehicles (specifically just the Tesla Model S) per quarter. But from then, growth was slower, taking eight quarters (two years) to cross the 10,000 vehicles/quarter threshold.

Rivian’s ramp in year one has been slower, taking five quarters (versus two) to cross the 5,000 vehicles/quarter threshold. But again, Rivian has been producing five different vehicles across two different vehicle platforms. This accelerated in 2022, and Rivian is also now on a much faster production ramp than Tesla was at the equivalent point in its history.

This is also on track to continue throughout 2023 and 2024. The red line above is my projections for Rivian growth, based on its expected 50,000 vehicle production in 2023 and extending that rate a bit further. (There are rumors that Rivian could potentially exceed this by 20% in 2023, too.)

Extending further into the future

Rivian’s factory in Normal, IL reportedly has a maximum production capacity of 200k vehicles/year, or 50k/quarter. If we take the (very bad, possibly low-balled) assumption of the expected production ramp from 2023 into the future and compare it to Tesla, you get this:

Tesla started scaling massively with the launch of the Model 3, which began deliveries in 2017 Q3. Just one year later (2018 Q3) Tesla was manufacturing more Model 3’s per quarter than Model S’s and Model X’s combined. Indexed to Rivian’s timeline, this is equivalent to launching a new vehicle platform in 2026 Q3 and scaling it by 2027 Q3.

Interestingly, Rivian has already started construction on a new production plant in Georgia that (with the existing plant in Normal, IL) should allow the company to grow to 600k vehicles/year, or 150k vehicles/quarter. It has also stated that they expect to launch the R2 platform (lower-priced vehicles, similar to Tesla Model 3/Y) in 2026 and specifically manufacture it at this Georgia plant.

The next 12-24 months at Rivian will be interesting – will they be able to keep growing the production rate? How long will it take to get the maximum possible production from the Normal, IL plant? Right now Rivian is producing more vehicles per quarter than Tesla at the equivalent point. If the company is able to launch the Georgia plant and start manufacturing the R2 platform there in 2026 as expected, they may be able to continue to beat the production benchmarks that Tesla has set over the last decade.

Pity Bowl 2022

It’s that time of year – college football bowl season. I’ve been a happy guy since my beloved University of Michigan Wolverines are 13-0 and in the College Football Playoffs as the #2 seed!

But let’s face it… not all bowl games are as prominent or prestigious as the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Orange Bowl, etc. Many bowl games are… Pity Bowls.

When I was growing up watching college football, bowl games felt relatively rare and teams only got to go to bowl games if they did well in their season — if they won. But it doesn’t take much to get invited to a bowl game these days… it’s a pity invite, and the games where these teams play each other are Pity Bowls.

Here’s the 2022 slate of Pity Bowls, where the bowl game just shouldn’t exist.

Pity Bowl gameDateTeamTeam
Bahamas BowlDec 16Blazers (6-6)RedHawks (6-6)
LendingTree BowlDec 17Owls (5-7)Golden Eagles (6-6)
New Mexico BowlDec 17Cougars (7-5)Mustangs (7-5)
Independence BowlDec 23Cougars (7-5)Cajuns (6-6)
Gasparilla BowlDec 23Demon Deacons (7-5)Tigers (6-6)
Hawaii BowlDec 24Blue Raiders (7-5)Aztecs (7-5)
Quick Lane BowlDec 26Aggies (6-6)Falcons (6-6)
Camellia BowlDec 27Bulls (6-6)Sthrn Eagles (6-6)
First Responder BowlDec 27Tigers (6-6)Aggies (6-6)
Guaranteed Rate BowlDec 27Cowboys (7-5)Badgers (6-6)
Liberty BowlDec 28Jayhawks (6-6)Razorbacks (6-6)
(exact schools not listed because it’s not their fault they got invited to a Pity Bowl.)

To be clear, the games that make up the Pity Bowl list are different each year. Sometimes an individual bowl will invite great teams; the games are on the Pity Bowl list above because neither of the teams they invited in 2022 have good records.

And yes, I know why these bowl games exist. TV stations/channels need to fill hours of airtime around the holidays, and live sports draws ratings, which means dollars. So even if two mediocre teams are playing a Pity Bowl, it’ll draw better ratings than a Law & Order re-run from 15 years ago or a re-run of a good bowl game from last year. But… it still sucks because it demeans the bowl games where the teams have actually done well.

So here’s my plea to whomever cares: college football (FBS) doesn’t need 40+ bowl games. Please, for the love of the game, just kill ten of these games so the ones that are left actually mean something.

Clawing back the Senate

The US Senate is a particularly powerful body of the US Congress. The most long-lasting power that the Senate has is to confirm judges to federal courts, including the Supreme Court. If the US has any hope of moderating the current 6-3 very conservative Supreme Court that has started taking existing rights away from American citizens than it’s critical for Democrats to maintain control of the Senate.

The Trump administration did great damage to the judicial system by specifically nominating and confirming a huge number of extraordinarily partisan judges. Only a Democratic-controlled Senate can fix this damage.

The Senate is also unique in that it’s a touch more moderate than members of the House of Representatives. Because Senators are elected state-wide, elections in states that are “purple” (neither far-right nor far-left) can be really competitive.

I’m working to help Democrats maintain and expand their control of the US Senate – and I’d like your help. I’ve created a fundraising page to help channel funds to these critical Senate races and have already raised nearly $300,000. But if you are willing to donate money to the races that have some of the highest policy return for your donation, consider donating today. And if possible set up a recurring donation, which allows the campaigns to plan and make better long-term investments today.

Funds will go to the eight seats with the closest margins that will determine control of the Senate. They are:

Blue states / Democratic incumbents (must HOLD):

Blue states / Republican incumbents (should WIN):

Red states / Republican incumbents (can WIN):


Please donate to some of the most important candidates & races in the 2022 midterm elections. It’s crucial to restore balance to a judicial system that has taken a violent lurch and taken rights away from Americans. We’ve raised nearly $300,000 so far, and hope to hit $500,000 by election day, which is now less than eight weeks away.

I’m running the Marine Corps Marathon for SemperK9

The pandemic has been a primary cause for major life shifts for many friends and family. For me, going from an hour commute to work (each way) and back home to just working from home freed up a lot of time. It also made me more than a bit stir-crazy… so I got into running.

While I ran cross-country in high school, I was — to put it bluntly — not fast. But in the pandemic I really grew to like running (thanks to Coach Bennett and the guided runs with Nike Run Club!) and really loved getting my fitness back. I eventually signed up to run the virtual UMich Big House 5k, and then ran two half-marathons in 2021. And I’ve already signed up to run many more 5k to half-marathon distance races in 2022. But…

Me – after finishing the San Francisco Half-Marathon in 2021

2022 is going to be the year where I finally run my first full marathon. And I’m happy to say that I found a great opportunity – I’ll be running the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC for a fantastic charity – SemperK9!

SemperK9 is one of the most heart-warming charities I’ve ever come across. They rescue dogs from shelters (and take donated dogs), train them to be service dogs – both for psychiatric alert and mobility challenges, and provide them free of charge to military veterans. (The cost of training a service dog can reach up to $20,000) The organization was founded by Christopher Baity, who was a Military Working Dog handler in the Marine Corps and who had numerous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He himself struggled with PTSD but founded SemperK9 with his wife in 2014 to use his unique dog training/handling skills and train service dogs for veterans.

(Side note – there’s a great video featuring SemperK9 with Mike Rowe in his series “Returning the Favor” on Facebook.)

I would appreciate your sponsorship and support in this goal of running the Marine Corps Marathon. Head to http://bit.ly/JedMCM22 and donate whatever you’re comfortable donating. My goal is to raise $1000 or more – all of which will go to training shelter dogs into service dogs for military veterans.

One final note – there are a bunch of reasons I wanted to run the Marine Corps Marathon. It’s in Washington, DC and runs through Georgetown, the National Mall, the monuments, etc. It’s run by the Marine Corps, so it’s got a reputation for impeccable organization. But it also ends at the legendary Marine Corps Monument in Arlington, Virginia, which is a statue of the iconic WWII photograph “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima”.

I was lucky enough to have been acquainted with one of the men from that Marine Corps company: Sgt Joe Rodriguez. When I was in the Navy ROTC unit at the University of Michigan Sgt Rodriguez was a frequent honored (and treasured) guest of our unit at various events – he lived for many years in the Ann Arbor area. While he wasn’t in the famed photo himself, he was there when it happened. (Specifically, there are multiple “takes” of the photo – he was part of a group trying to gather rocks to better anchor the flagpole when the final photo was taken.) He can be found in other photographs in front of the flag that day.

While Sgt Rodriguez has long since passed, it’s special to me that I’ll finish my first marathon at a world-famous monument to a group of Marines – one of whom I was fortunate enough to know.