Love ‘em or hate ‘em, pickup trucks are popular – they made up 16% of US auto sales in 2017 (per Trucks.com). If EVs are to move into the mainstream, somebody needs to produce a mass-market pickup. Startups Workhorse, Havelaar and Bollinger have pickups in the pipeline; Tesla has been talking; and Ford finally feels the time may be right for a hybrid F-150. However, so far no electrified pickup has really made it out of the pilot stage.
SUVs and crossovers are even more adored. Together with pickups, they already make up over half the auto market in the US, and if current trends continue, the market share of these three form factors may approach 100% within a few years. SUVs have already started to electrify – the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron recently joined Tesla’s Model X in the E-SUV market.
Enter Rivian Automotive, which has emerged from nine years in stealth mode to reveal a pure electric pickup truck and an SUV, both with specs that rival those of the roaring gas-belching, money-printing trucks currently on the market.
Rivian was founded by CEO RJ Scaringe, who grew up restoring classic cars and earned a PhD in automotive mechanical engineering from MIT. The company has amassed over $500 million in funding and employs some 600 people across several states. Last year it took over a former Mitsubishi factory in Normal, Illinois.
The Rivian R1T pickup features a skateboard battery pack and four small electric motors, each with a capacity of 147 kW. Total power output will range from 300 kW to 562 kW, depending on the choice of battery packs. Rivian says the battery pack options will be 105 kWh, 135 kWh, and 180 kWh, offering ranges of 230, 300 and 400 miles, respectively. The R1T is capable of 11 kW Level 2 charging and 160 kW DC fast charging.
The e-truck is built for the job site, with a payload capacity of 800 kg and a towing capacity of 5,000 kg. Features include a “lockable Gear Tunnel aft of the cab” with 350 liters of storage space, an integrated watertight tonneau cover, and three 110 volt/400 watt power outlets.
Rivian’s truck also includes the latest tech goodies: “The R1T will launch with a robust hardware suite…including camera, lidar, radar, ultrasonic and a high precision GPS coupled with high definition maps. This hardware enables Level 3 autonomy for highway operation.” The company says its vehicles will be upgradeable via over-the-air software updates.
Rivian is also introducing an SUV called the R1S, built on the same platform as the R1T. Most of its specs are the same or similar – the main difference is that instead of a cargo bed, there’s room for a third row of seating.
The Rivian R1T will start at $69,000 in the US. The company is now taking reservations, secured by refundable $1,000 deposits. Deliveries are expected to begin in “late 2020.” The higher trim levels will be delivered first – Rivian says the 180 kWh and 135 kWh versions will be available at launch, while the base version with the 105 kWh pack will be available “within 12 months of the start of production.”
Scaringe says the company expects to produce about 50,000 vehicles per year.