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Here come the electric pickup trucks! Rivian R1T in production, Ford boosts investment in F-150 Lightning

A startup EV-maker has won the symbolic victory of producing the first mass-market electric pickup truck. The first production Rivian R1T electric pickup truck has rolled off the assembly line at the company’s factory in Normal, Illinois.

“After months of building pre-production vehicles, this morning our first customer vehicle drove off our production line,” wrote Rivian founder and CEO, RJ Scaringe. “Our team’s collective efforts have made this moment possible. Can’t wait to get these into the hands of our customers!”

The company hasn’t said who will get this first “Rivian blue” truck, but more should be hitting the street quickly. “Rivian vehicles are fully certified by NHTSA, EPA and CARB, and are ready for sale in all 50 states,” says the company. Deliveries of Rivian’s Launch Edition R1T, which comes equipped with a 135 kWh battery pack, are slated to begin this month.

The EPA has officially estimated the range of the R1T pickup truck at 314 miles, and the R1T SUV’s at 316 miles. Prices will start at $67,500.

Meanwhile, Rivian is gearing up to produce commercial delivery vans for Amazon. The Illinois factory has two separate production lines—one for the R1 vehicles and the other for the commercial vans. Amazon has ordered 100,000 units, and has been testing the electric delivery van in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Deliveries are to start later this year.

Meanwhile, back in Detroit, Ford has begun pre-production of its F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck. The first units will be used for real-world testing, validation, and adjustments to the assembly process. Customer deliveries are to start in spring 2022. Starting MSRP will be $40,000, and EPA-estimated range is expected to be up to 300 miles.

Ford also disclosed plans to invest an additional $250 million (and create an additional 450 direct jobs), on top of the $700 million it already committed to the new Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, in response to soaring demand for the electric pickup. Ford has doubled its initial production target, and now plans to be producing 80,000 Lightnings per year by 2024. Ford says it will invest $30 billion in electrification through 2025.

“We knew the F-150 Lightning was special, but the interest from the public has surpassed our highest expectations and changed the conversation around electric vehicles. So we are doubling down, adding jobs and investment to increase production,” said Executive Chair Bill Ford. “This truck and the Ford-UAW workers who are assembling it in Michigan have a chance to make history and lead the electric vehicle movement in America.”

At a launch event, US Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan) said the F-150 Lightning demonstrates that “electric vehicles aren’t a fufu California car and what real Americans drive.”

Did she just call Rivian’s hiking, biking, mountain-climbing customers “fufu?” We look forward to some colorful trash talk, and a healthy competition among American automakers, in the months ahead.

Sources: Rivian, Ford, TechCrunch, Green Car Reports

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