The Rivian R1T and the Future of Electric Vehicles – Overview

The Minnesota based electric technology manufacturer, Rivian’s, first production model, the Rivian R1T, is a full sized all-wheel-drive pickup with a claimed 0 to 60 mph time of less than 3 seconds, the ability to ford streams and excel off-road, with a claimed range between charges as high as 400 miles and 11,000 pound towing capacity. Rivian’s truck is not set to deliver until late next year at the earliest, but it is here today for us to inspect, reflect upon and pore over, in all its ginormous, aluminum, steel, and carbon fiber glory. At its official reveal at this week’s 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, it will be joined by an SUV, the R1S, a Suburban, if you will, to the fraternal twin R1T’s Silverado.

Rivian is taking $1,000 deposits now, but test-drives are still in the offing, as is verification of its staggering acceleration and range claims. The RT1 will be marketed at three levels of range, with prices announced to start at $61,500 for an entry-level, 250-mile-range model after deduction of the governemnt $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit—assuming it’s still around.

Rivian was initially launched with the intention of building an electric sports car. Prototypes were developed. But the space was crowded and the competition—combustion and electric—was formidable. Daring to rethink the plan, Scaringe, an MIT graduate and exceptionally smooth talker, scrapped the sports car gambit, concluding the wide-open field for a fully electric pickup/SUV was a better bet. Rivian was reimagined as a brand built on superior all-wheel-drive vehicles that would combine capability, luxury, practicality, and general hoseout-ability with the wonders of electric motors and big battery packs, plus price tags closer to base versions of Tesla’s Model S than cheapo examples of Ford’s F-150. its primary goal beyond an aerodynamically optimized pickup shape was to create a look for Rivian that would front all its models, be instantly recognizable and appealing, one that was at once distinctive, friendly, and tough. And the Rivian does have a striking visage, framed by two, upright oval LED headlamps, set far apart, with a slim, lighted bar connecting them. In the dark, the lit shape reminds me less of the Marlboro man, it must be said, and more of the friendly, blinking countenance of the Michelin man, with his tall, oval eyes and matching oblong eyeglasses. An approachable face, more whimsical or mildly amusing than funny, is style-wise about as far as the weirdness goes with Rivian, however.

The electric truck is 215.5 inches long, with a 136-inch wheelbase to achieve 34-degree approach, 30-degree departure, and 26-degree breakover angles. A standard air suspension gives the R1T pickup 7.9 to 14.2-inches of ground clearance, and the ability to climb a 45-degree grade. Under the hood of the R1T there’s a large frunk compartment instead of an internal combustion engine, and a gear tunnel that extends from one side of the vehicle to the other serves as a functional side step for loading or unloading items into the bed or roof of the truck. It hosts a 180 kwh battery pack capable of ~140 mph top speeds and 62 mph in under 3 seconds (not that it matters!).

In my opinion, Rivian and other electric start-ups are doing a great job creating and proposing such innovative and creative concepts. Although financial and resourceful issues might delay the production of such vehicles by a lot, their ideology will be here to stay for long. This competition is eventually what will force other automaker’s to take note and create better and bigger EV’s. Maybe we might see a second Tesla rival rise up in the coming years?