Bookings for Rivian’s R2 are off to a hot start. On Friday, CEO RJ Scaringe published on X that the automaker took more than 68,000 bookings for the SUV in less than 24 hours. Among the alarming weakened demand for electric vehicles, perhaps there is a hidden interest in innovative EV companies when they are not run by a conflict magnet with a fixation on baseless conspiracy theories and the supposed online “rights” of neo-Nazis.

Rivian’s 68,000 bookings do well against its most famous competitors. It took Ford about three weeks to receive 100,000 pre-orders for the F-150 Lightning. Tesla’s Cybertruck received 250,000 reservations in less than a week. To be fair, I only keep the Rivian R2 requires $100 deposit, same as Cybertruck and F-150 Lightning. Customers who take down a Benjamin to keep one aren’t obligated to pay the remaining $44,900 (and up) when the vehicle finally arrives in 2026, and even if they intend to buy one now there’s plenty of time to change their minds.

It could be argued that – like Tesla and Ford – Rivian chose the low deposit to make a splash, knowing full well that many pre-order customers would not follow. But it also helps that Rivian’s event on Thursday did everything the company needed. The R2 looks “pretty attractive,” as Engadget’s Lawrence Bonk pointed out. Inside, there are elegant and subtle details such as two glove boxes, folding rear and front seats, a sliding cargo floor and dual scroll wheels with dynamic tactile feedback on the steering wheel. It also has a minimum mileage of 300 miles and a starting price of $45,000, which doesn’t hurt.

And of course, the surprise “Something More”-style introduction of the cheaper, sportier and more compact R3 and R3X could help provide a halo effect for the company when it desperately needs to create excitement around its brand. In February, Rivian announced it would lay off 10 percent of its workers, and this week it cut 100 jobs at its Illinois factory. Still, the EV market could use a new “hero.” I have no idea if Rivian or its CEO, RJ Scaringe, has the potential to be the face of the industry. But Elon Musk, the current poster boy, is a lightning rod for unnecessary turmoil.

IN research of Americans conducted by The Harris Poll late last year, 45 percent of respondents said they had a lower opinion of electric cars “because of people’s actions related to them.” (I’m pretty sure they didn’t mean Ford’s Doug Field or GM’s Mary Barra.)

Perhaps Rivian’s impressive performance reveals that at least some Americans have an appetite for an EV maker that is neither a traditional car company nor run by someone who sometimes seems more interested in behaving like a conflicted teenager than a responsible adult , serving as the public face of an industry the world desperately needs to grow — and get people excited about driving electric vehicles — as climate change begins to ravage the planet.