The Rivian R1T is an all-electric truck from the Illinois-based manufacturer.
One powertrain option cranks out 700 horsepower and over 800 lb-ft. of torque.
At the moment, Rivian is unchallenged in this venture. Other automakers should take note.
The 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show saw the unveiling of the Rivian R1T all-electric pickup truck. The U.S.-based automotive startup also showcased the R1S all-electric SUV. The company says both are the world’s first electric adventure vehicles.
And while electric SUVs are becoming commonplace (do the Tesla Model X, Jaguar I-PACE, and Audi e-tron ring a bell?), the big car makers have yet to showcase an all-electric pickup truck – not even Tesla, mind you.
And while Tesla is currently developing their very own electric pickup, Rivian has beaten them to the chase. Feast your eyes on the Rivian R1T. It is the first-ever electric utility vehicle or EUV. And from the looks of it alone, this pickup truck is sure to make a splash when it arrives in late 2020.
Here are our top five reasons why the Rivian R1T is probably making Tesla nervous as we speak.
#1: The Rivian R1T Looks The Part
Rivian began in 2009 behind the vision of Robert Scaringe. The company unveiled their first plan to build electric cars in 2011. This gave them more than enough leeway to do it right the first time. And instead of building a humdrum electric hatchback, Rivian is pulling our heartstrings with what is purportedly the first production all-electric truck.
And boy, did they really nail it with the design! However, I have apprehensions on the front-end styling. There’s a thin illuminated stripe that runs across the width of the front fascia, which is nice touch. But if you add the pair of “stadium” LED headlights and the undramatic front bumper, it sort of looks like a hippopotamus in heat. But Rivian has a point. The front design makes the R1T easily recognizable.
Thankfully, things get better as you gaze your eyes to the sides and rear of the truck. In fact, you will find the same design cues in the R1S SUV. With short overhangs, a higher ground clearance, and commendable approach and departure angles, the Rivian R1T is screaming for adventure.
Barring the weird front styling, the Rivian R1T is a handsome-looking truck. The rear is simple yet elegant with just a thin LED light that runs across the width of the tailgate. It still has the familiar boxy look of a conventional pickup truck, but the edges are more rounded to give the truck a sleeker and modern look. Good job, Rivian!
Yes, Tesla vehicles are a lifestyle choice, too. But they cater to a different sort of clientèle. On the other hand, Rivian is seriously targeting the active lifestyle niche. You know, the sort of people who buy an SUV or pickup and actually take it off the beaten path.
Let’s start with the interior. Tesla vehicles have minimalist cabins. I personally appreciate this approach to keep the dashboard clean and elegant. But the interior materials and build quality are not the strongest points of any Tesla vehicle, which Rivian is willing to address with the R1T.
“Although the exterior of the vehicle is what first attracts you, the interior is where you spend the most of your time, so we really focused on creating a transformational space inside our vehicles,” said Jeff Hammoud, VP of Vehicle Design at Rivian. “The biggest challenge was creating an interior design that delivered a premium experience.”
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#3: More Than A Pretty Face
Without a doubt, the Rivian R1T benefits from a beautiful cabin that seats up to five adults. The center display measures 15.6-inches and is oriented horizontally instead of vertically like in a Tesla. The instrument cluster is replaced with a 12.3-inch display like modern Audi and Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The dashboard is flanked with sustainable wood and polished metal. The seats, steering wheel, and door panels are covered in leather to further add a touch of refinement.
Even the high-wear areas in the interior benefit from materials inspired by sportswear and active gear, which basically means everything is durable and easy to clean.
But the Rivian R1T is special because it’s an EV that can handle some pretty intense weather and off-road conditions. The battery pack is encased in carbon fiber and ballistic shields for maximum toughness. The vehicle can wade through river crossings up to three feet deep. The maximum tow rating is 11,000 lbs. It even comes with an adjustable air suspension that can be configured for highway and off-road driving.
Unless Ford, GM, or Tesla makes an electric truck, it looks like Rivian will go unchallenged in this segment.
#4: Quad-Motors: Balanced & Linear Power
Why have two or three electric motors when you can have one at each wheel? That’s what we get with the Rivian R1T. This means the truck is riding on a quad motor, all-electric, all-wheel drivetrain. When paired with the massive 180 kWh battery pack (which is way more than what Tesla is offering right now), the Rivian R1T claims a 400-mile range on a single charge!
In that configuration, the Rivian R1T is churning out 700 horsepower and a mind-boggling 826 lb-ft. of torque. This is good for a zero to 60 mph time of 3.2 seconds.
But if you’re planning to tear down the dragstrip in your Rivian R1T, go for the mid-range option with the 135 kWh battery pack. It has a maximum power output of 750 horsepower, which reaches 60 mph in three seconds flat and provides a range of 300 plus miles. When was the last time a gasoline or diesel truck came with so much power?
The “smallest” version of the Rivian R1T comes with a 105 kWh battery pack. This is good for 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft. of torque. But this version is no slouch, either. It can scoot to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. All versions of the Rivian R1T have a top speed of 125 mph.
#5: Skateboard Platform: Stable & Secure
The Rivian R1T is built on a foundation the startup calls a Skateboard Platform. This means all the essential components (the battery pack, electric drive units, suspension, braking, and thermal management systems) are mounted below the height of each wheel.
“The beauty and elegance of our quad-motor setup isn’t just about brute power,” explained Mark Vinnels, Executive Director of Engineering and Programs at Rivian. “This architecture provides instantaneous torque with extremely precise control at each wheel, which is completely game-changing from a dynamics perspective, both on- and off-road.”
Pricing & Availability
Rivian will build the R1T pickup and R1S SUV at their 2.6-million square-foot manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois. Deliveries will begin in late 2020. Pricing for the Rivian R1T starts at $61,500 and $65,000 for the R1S after federal tax credits.
Alvin Reyes is the Associate Editor of Automoblog. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.