Electric-truck startup Rivian has signed the lease for its first showroom in New York City and has selected one of the trendiest spots in Brooklyn. Once known for its high crime rate, Williamsburg has undergone three decades of gentrification and is now awash with luxury retailers normally reserved for the swankiest parts of Manhattan. In the 1990s, the neighborhood was still rough around the edges but had started to become ground zero for the East Coast hipsters, starving artists, and young musicians who gradually influenced its trajectory. The next three decades saw Williamsburg moving steadily upward with rental prices keeping pace. Riverside warehouses were replaced with high-rise hotels, the average household income closed on six figures, and dog parks are situated conveniently near designer ice cream shops.
It’s now the perfect place for a showroom dedicated entirely to electric vehicles, especially one that seems like a merger between Tesla Motors and REI.
That’s not an insult to Rivian, either. Tesla and REI are companies catering to an extremely loyal customer base with money to burn. If you need to select a demographic, there are definitely worse options to choose from. For example, extremely poor people probably wouldn’t have enough money for a new car, let alone an electric pickup starting somewhere around $75,000. But someone who just dumped six grand on camping gear might.
Rivian made its announcement on Monday, with neither hide nor hair of an official press release, with Bloomberg accidentally becoming its PR department. But we managed to confirm that the Amazon-backed had indeed moved on a slice Brooklyn, with similar showrooms being planned for California and Illinois.
California-based Rivian is opening a New York flagship in Williamsburg, according to a statement Monday. The lease at 360 Wythe Ave. spans more than 12,000 square feet (1,115 square meters) and will be a showroom for electric vehicles.
Williamsburg’s retail corridors have stayed busy during the pandemic, and the area’s “relatively young, relatively wealthy” residents were also part of the allure for Rivian, said Ken Copeland, partner and chief investment officer at Flank, the developer of 360 Wythe.
The company’s first model will be the R1T Launch Edition, priced from $75,000 (minus the $7,500 federal EV tax credit) and available in June. Deliveries of the Rivian R1S SUV are supposed to start in August, with an MSRP of $77,500 before tax credits. Alternative (non-introductory) trims for both models are supposed to become available early in 2022.
Sales will be direct-to-consumer, like Tesla, with the brand hoping to establish 40+ service locations inside the United States. Showrooms like the one in Brooklyn are designed to pique interest and will likely have a way of getting the ball rolling on making a purchase. But they’re not supposed to become delivery centers — more like an interactive gallery.