There is plenty of local interest in the upcoming Rivian electric ute and SUV, which is due to be launched in coming months, according to one Australian importer.
The Amazon-backed electric vehicle startup has just inked another $US2.5 billion ($A3.4 billion) in funding and has confirmed plans for a second factory.
Starting at $US67,500 ($A91,781 at today’s rates) for the R1T electric ute (also known as a pickup in the US) and $US70,000 ($A95,180 converted) for the R1S electric SUV, Rivian is planning to commence first deliveries of both vehicles in January, 2022.
The new round of funding, led by Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, D1 Capital Partners, Ford and other investors means it has now raised more than $US10 billion ($A13.6 billion) since 2019.
“As we near the start of vehicle production, it’s vital that we keep looking forward and pushing through to Rivian’s next phase of growth,” said Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe in a statement regarding the new funding round.
“This infusion of funds from trusted partners allows Rivian to scale new vehicle programs, expand our domestic facility footprint, and fuel international product rollout.”
As reported by Reuters, that domestic facility expansion is already in discovery phase. While a spokesperson for Rivian declined to say where exactly that is, the company’s current facility is located in Normal, Illinois.
Needless to say, anticipation for both vehicles is high, and no wonder.
Both vehicles are designed with a high level of specifications, from the minimum range of 480km that can be optioned up to 643km, hefty 3.5tonne towing capabilities, adventure gear extras such as pull-out kitchen, outdoor camping gear, cargo tunnels and roofracks, and off-road recovery kits.
Both the R1T and R1S promise to be an off-road enthusiasts dream. Not two, not three, but four motors plus departure and approach angles over 34 degrees should make dirt road handling child’s play.
An Australian launch has always been on the cards. As early as February 2019, Scaringe said he considers Australia an important market for Rivian.
And why not – with some of the world’s harshest off-road environments, electric utes, which require far less maintenance than combustion utes (which also means less chance of getting stranded), better control over traction and mind-blowing instant torque will undoubtedly be better suited to hard-core weekend warriors.
Trouble is, any mention of electric utes has historically been met – at least in conservative government circles – by myopic rejection.
But the same may not be the case amongst fans of monster trucks, says managing director of Australian Remanufactured Vehicles (AusMV) Eddie Kocwa.
He says the company is in discussions with a number of start-ups planning to make electric utes, including Rivian, as well as Atlis Motors which plans a super-fast-charging battery, and a lesser-known EV start-up called Hercules that wants to introduce an EV called “Alpha” based on the original Nissan Titan.
“Rivian has a bit of a following, it is the most advanced out of the all the options to progress,” he told The Driven.
While declining to reveal specific numbers, he says AusMV has already taken many registrations of interest for the Rivian ahead of a possible import and remanufacture deal with Rivian. Rivian did not respond to enquiries as to whether discussions were underway with AusMV.
However, Kocwa says that AusMV has submitted its own pre-orders with Rivian and plans to bring them in left-hand drive into the country as soon as humanly possible.
“We’ve already put payments down for builds, so as soon as it’s available we’ll have it on the ship.”
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.