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Rivian’s Truck: Potent Rival to Tesla Arrives

Chris Kaiser

The Rivian truck would be the first fully electric pickup on the market. Can Rivian leapfrog Tesla and become the new leader in electric vehicles?

Elon Musk revolutionized how we think about the electric car with Tesla. Now a new start-up, Rivian, has begun to generate buzz as a potential successor to the premier electric vehicle (EV) company. The Rivian truck looks to break the mold for electric pickups much in the way the Tesla Roadster did for electric cars.

The Rivian truck looks to break the mold for electric pickups much like the way the Tesla Roadster did for electric cars.Click To Tweet

Though you might not have heard of Rivian’s CEO R.J. Scaringe, you’ll undoubtedly be hearing more about his company Rivian and their upcoming truck and SUV in the near future. Whatever PR boost Rivian might be giving up with their more straightforward Twitter strategy they make up for with the dazzle of their prototypes. Rivian promises the R1T and R1S will hew almost exactly to their finished versions.

Front of Rivian R1T truck in Manhattan
@Rivian on Twitter

Rivian’s Goal: Sustainable and Profitable?

Rivian is building both a truck (the R1T), slated for a late 2020 release, and an SUV (the R1S), targeted for 2021. Their focus on larger vehicles is savvy for two reasons. First, trucks and SUVs are the vehicles buoying an otherwise contracting new vehicles market. Second, in an age where sustainability carries both social cachet for a brand and tangible benefits for the planet, Rivian can walk the walk of crusading do-gooder.

Demonstrating the profitability of sustainable mobility is both a lofty and laudable goal. But one that Tesla hasn’t had an easy time meeting. Hopefully Rivian can learn from Tesla’s missteps.

Rivian R1S SUV and R1T Truck on a foggy mountain top
@Rivian on Twitter

Vehicle Specs

Like Telsa, one thing Rivian has going for them is the overall cool factor and quality of their vehicles. The Rivian truck features some truly impressive specs married to perhaps equally impressive looks.

The R1T Rivian truck is targeted for a top range of 400 miles. It’ll also have 750 horsepower, a breakneck 0-60mph time of roughly 3 seconds, and a monumental towing capacity of 11,000 pounds. If Rivian can deliver, and beat Tesla to market on an electric truck, such a truck would really stand apart from the crowd. And not just because it’s electric, either.

Rivian R1T Truck at dusk
@Rivian on Twitter

The R1Ts will feature the largest battery pack of 180kWhs to attain that pace setting 400-mile range. Soon after they’ll begin rolling out the 135kWh 300-mile range and 108kWh 230-mile range versions.

That 180kWh version will eventually be the entry point on a new Rivian with a planned price tag of $69,000. However, it will be the longer range (and pricier) 180kWh version that is planned to ship out first as the initial launch of the R1T.

The R1T will be offered as a crew cab only. But fear not, there is still copious amounts of storage space between the “frunk” (front trunk), the bed, and a fairly large storage space behind the rear seats.

Rivian R1T backseat storage with dog on fold-out seat
@Rivian on Twitter
Rivian R1T truck front trunk
@ThisIIDoFarm on Twitter

Meanwhile, the interiors of the R1T and R1S look sleek and super modern while not quite as sparse in design as Tesla’s monolithic touchscreen.

R1S SUV will have a slightly shorter wheel-base and lower towing capacity than the R1T. From there the SUV resembles the Rivian truck in almost every way. Only trading out the bed for more passenger room and a third row of seating.

Rivian Truck interior
@clprenz on Twitter

It’s not coincidental that the R1T and R1S match up so closely. They will both be built on Rivian’s “skateboard” platform. This universal platform positions the battery pack and drive units, along with the brakes and suspension, below the level of the wheels. This gives the R1T and R1S a super low center of gravity, which should translate to much improved handling compared to modern trucks and SUVs.

Rivian the Company

Speaking of modern trucks, the makers of the F-150 (Ford) have entered into a partnership with Rivian to the tune of a $500 million dollar investment. Reportedly, Ford will be building its hybrid (and possibly an electric) F-150 off the Rivian skateboard platform.

Ford isn’t the only major backer for Rivian, either. Amazon has invested $700 million in the budding EV company, a significant endorsement of Rivian’s potential to become a major player within the EV space.

Rivian promotes the R1T and R1S as “Electric Adventure Vehicles.” In addition to being billed as powerful work trucks, the Rivian R1Ts are intended to be recreational, lifestyle vehicles. At a recent TechCrunch event Rivian showcased its camping kitchen add-on along with other outdoorsy features. Rivian also entered into a recent endorsement partnership with famed free-climber Alex Honnold. Indeed, their branding seems to lean much more closely to Subaru’s style of outdoor enthusiasm than Tesla’s Silicon Valley tech-bros.

Couple grilling while camping in the back of the Rivian R1T truck
@Rivian on Twitter

What to Expect

“In the long run, men only hit what they aim at. Therefore, they had better aim at something high.”

Henry David Thoreau

We all might have raised an eyebrow at Elon Musk’s grandiose targets for Tesla’s truck to be equal parts Ford F-150 and Porsche 911. But, in an interview with The Drive, Scaringe, set similar targets for the Rivian truck. Quote: “The premium refined capability [of] a Land Rover … the dynamics that exceed a Porsche Cayenne Turbo, with the ride refinement that you’d see in something like an Audi Q7.” Aiming high indeed.

Judging from the concept versions on display at this year’s New York Auto Show, Rivian might very well be poised to break mold on the electric truck. Your move, Elon.

Rivian R1T Truck kicking up dust
@Rivian on Twitter

Would you trade your truck for a Rivian? Let us know what you think about going electric in the comments.

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Chris Kaiser
Chris Kaiser

Chris’ greatest passions include topiary, spelunking, and pushing aging compact cars well past 200,000 miles on cross-country road trips. His taste in cars runs from the classic and esoteric to the deeply practical with an abiding affection for VW Things, old Studebakers, and all things hybrid-crossover.

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