Electric car startup Rivian says the prices for its soon-to-be launched all electric ute and all electric SUV cars will be lower than thought – possibly the result of price competition from the recently unveiled Tesla Cybertruck.
Rivian CEO and founder RJ Scaringe said at an event in San Francisco over the weekend that the long-range and high-performance all-electric R1S SUV and R1T utes will come at a price that is lower than previously promised.
The Michigan-based startup has been impressing crowds with its rugged, ready-to-roll electric vehicles in past months in the lead up to an anticipated formal launch in late 2020.
The R1S and R1T – which boast three hefty battery pack options (105/135/180 kWh) first emerged from stealth mode to wow the audience at the LA Auto Show in November, 2018 and have helped attract more than $A2.2 billion in funding from the likes of Ford, Amazon and Cox Automotive.
Rivian had previously stated that the mid-range R1T electric ute (known as a pickup in the US) would start at $US69,000 ($A102,000 converted) and the R1S electric SUV from $US72,000 ($A106,500 converted).
How much lower the price will be is not yet known, but given the high-grade specifications on offer with both vehicles – the long-range version will be able to drive up to 640km on one charge according to Rivian, and through 1m of water and pull 5 tonnes – any kind of discount on those prices would be more than welcome.
Even more so in Australia where the price gap between fossil-fuelled and electric vehicles is magnified due to currency conversion, import costs and for high-end EVs, an additional luxury car tax.
That’s not to say the former prices were inflated – these are vehicles that promise to give a lot of bang for buck, with well thought out features such as in the R1T ute which has a gear tunnel for long objects with external access in behind the back seats, and a plethora of power outlets in the tray back to accommodate a number of appliances.
Although the refined yet burly design of the R1T is a far cry from the angular Tesla Cybertruck that Elon Musk stunned fans with in November 2019 and which will start from the relatively basement price of $US39,900 ($A59,000 converted), the two will compete in the same segment.
While Musk is pushing boundaries with a cold-rolled steel exoskeleton for the Cybertruck that will require another massive learning curve when it goes into volume production, Scaringe is opting for aluminium bodies for ther R1T and R1S and will lean heavily on investor Ford’s knowledge and experience in that arena.
Both have also attracted considerable interest, and Musk has broadcast on Twitter that reservation numbers for the Cybertruck, for which Tesla has requested only a $US100 ($A150 in Australia) refundable deposit, had reached 250,000 loud and clear in the days after its launch.
Scaringe has been somewhat more modest with his numbers, saying only that the reaction and uptake of the $US1,000 refundable deposits Rivian has taken so far has been “really positive”.
“So we’re excited by that. But we now have the challenge of a lot of pre-order customers aren’t going to get the cars as fast as they like because there’s such a long queue,” Reuters quoted Scaringe as saying.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.