An electric pickup (aka ute) made by a little known Michigan-based auto startup called Rivian has captured the attention of the world following its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week.
The Rivian R1T dual-cab pickup (as utes are known in the US) was joined by its counterpart the R1S – an all-electric, seven-seater ute – and together, they have brought the little-known carmaker from nearly complete anonymity into the spotlight of the auto media.
With its distinctive headlights and sturdy high set lines, and features like adjustable ground clearance, an ability to wade through a metre of water, and four – yes four – motors for increased off road control, the R1T is aimed at outdoorsy adventurers keen for a bit of off road rambling.
And it may just appeal: Rivian’s founder R.J Scaringe, a mechanical engineer from Florida, has reached high, with a desire to ” reimagine the pickup and SUV segments”.
As such, Rivian is offering in the R1T a projected range to match even the highest specced Teslas, acceleration from 0 to 100km in just 3 seconds, and a 3,500kg towing capacity to boot.
“Starting with a clean sheet, we have spent years developing the technology to deliver the ideal vehicle for active customers.
“This means having great driving dynamics on any surface on- or off-road, providing cargo solutions to easily store any type of gear, whether it’s a surf board or a fishing rod and, very importantly, being capable of driving long distances on a single charge,” Scaringe said in a statement.
While the R1S 7-seater SUV has taken somewhat of a backseat in the limelight of Rivian’s electric ute, it also hasn’t disappointed, with specs to match the R1T as well as the added two seats in the back and of course a “frunk” (front truck) for added cargo space.
From the inside out, Rivian has developed its vehicles with adventurers at the core of every design and engineering decision. The R1T and R1S are the result of all this work and we are excited to finally introduce these products to the world,” he says.
Both models are built on what Rivian calls a “skateboard” platform, which packages the battery pack, drive units, suspension, brakes and thermal management system into the space beneath the wheel height.
It’s this configuration that allows Rivian to pack in an incredible amount of power – the quad-motor system dellivers 147kW to each wheel, and even the lowest specced variant of both models comes with a 105kWh battery, 560Nm torque and according to Rivian, over 370km range.
For more range, drivers will be able to choose an upgraded version with either a 135Kwh battery for over 500km range or a 180kWh battery pack for an impressive 660km range (all ranges are projected at this stage, says Rivian).
While the exterior and specs may be the primary focus, Rivian’s VP of Vehicle Design Jeff Hammound emphasises that the interiors of both vehicles won’t disappoint, either.
“The biggest challenge was creating an interior design that delivered a premium experience, while still being comfortable as a space that is heavily used.
“To do this, we looked outside the automotive industry and took inspiration from contemporary furniture, as well as hiking and outdoor gear, to drive the design,” he said in a statement.
With the R1T slated for production and delivery by Q3, 2020 and the R1S to follow the coming year, Rivian also intend to create a right-hand version for Australia, the UK and Japan.
While there are no definitive dates as yet, word is that Rivian will be bringing its groundbreaking electric ute and SUV to Australia following its release in Europe and China from 2021.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.