Will Rivian’s R1T Beat Tesla to Become the First Feasible Electric Pickup?

The Michigan-based EV company is also building an SUV

November 26, 2018 9:00 am

Last month’s urgent U.N. climate report didn’t stop them. This month’s dire U.S. climate report probably won’t stop them, either. Pickup truck and SUV sales, that is. Americans want big-boned vehicles and, by George, automakers are going to give paying customers what they want.

But what if the thing Americans really want is a whopper of a truck and a habitable planet to galavant around in said truck? Then forget the Big Three. What you’re looking for is Rivian, a Michigan-based EV startup that just unveiled two “Electric Adventure Vehicles” — the R1T pickup truck and the R1S SUV.

That makes Rivian the most recent (legitimate) contender in the race towards an all-electric pickup truck, a barnburner that is currently led by Tesla — based solely on its track record, not its concrete details — but also includes Bollinger Motors and Workhorse.

Rivian R1T (8 images)

The legitimacy lies in how close the R1T is to production. Electric concept vehicles are a dime a dozen these days, but Rivian is far beyond the drafting stages.

While CEO RJ Scaringe is only 35 years old, a fact that has pretty much everyone calling him the new Elon Musk, he has brought the company closer to the goal line than most: Currently employing 600 people at five sites (devoted to different fields, from vehicle design to self-driving tech) and last year buying a former Mitsubishi factory in Illinois where it’ll produce the trucks.

But so what if they’ve got some old marque’s plant and a few fancy photos? That’s the easy part! Where’s the R1T in the flesh? Well today, along with the stats, they released some footage …

Futuristic lights! Drifts! Car camping tents! It’s enough to make a RAM owner cry. Oh, and about those unbelievable stats, here’s what Rivian is promising for the pickup:

Basically, the R1T is a five-passenger AWD truck with four 147 kW motors (one on each wheel), a top speed of 125 MPH and a tow rating of 11,000-lbs. At launch, 180 kWh and 135 kWh battery sizes are planned, with a 105 kWh following in six months. Amongst those, specs differ, but the top-of-the-line numbers include a 0 to 60 MPH time of 3 seconds, a range of over 400 miles and 562 kW of power (or about 754 HP).

The actual structure of the car is no less enticing, mainly in its creative use of space. There’s the “Gear Tunnel,” a storage option in front of the rear wheel with doors that act as steps or seats. But our favorite is the “frunk,”  or front trunk, which is located under the hood and can fit your Yeti cooler, no problemo.

So yes, Rivian has a good chance at being not only the first mass-produced electric pickup, but also the most exciting pickup period. It all depends on whether they can stick to their timetable, which has production starting in 2020. We’d say they’re very optimistic, because you can preorder one now for a refundable deposit of $1,000 on a total $69K sticker price (or less, if federal EV tax credits hold that long).

Yes, you may have noticed we skipped over the R1S SUV. That isn’t getting an announcement until tomorrow, so expect to hear a lot more about Rivian in the next few days — especially as a full public unveiling is set for the L.A. Auto Show which kicks off November 30th.

All photos courtesy of Rivian

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