The first two electric vehicles made by Amazon-backed Rivian have arrived in Australia, captured in images in Sydney.
The electric ute and SUV are due to be launched in the US in September, and recent correspondence with a potential customer indicated an Australian launch would follow an expansion to Europe in 2022.
But it appears that the Rivian staff member communicating with that customer was not aware two vehicles were already on their journey to Australia.
The Rivian R1T in classic “Rivian Blue” and a camouflaged R1S with distinct Rivian badging were captured being loaded onto trolleys at Sydney airport, having arrived by plane. Images were first shared by Chasing Cars.
The fact that the two vehicles have arrived by plane is unusual. The first Tesla Model S also arrived by plane, however carmakers generally ship vehicles on “RoRos” (roll-on roll-off) or container ships.
Their arrival could hint at an imminent Australian launch if arriving for testing or homologation purposes.
However, they could also be arriving for general testing. The Tesla Model Y, for example, was shipped to New Zealand for winter testing in 2020, although it is not yet available neither in Australia nor New Zealand.
The Driven is awaiting a response from Rivian’s international team and we will keep you posted when further information is received.
The images shared to Chasing Cars show that both vehicles are in left-hand-drive format, although a UK factory is reportedly being considered by Rivian where right-hand-drive vehicles would be made.
While a number of carmakers now looking to introduce electric utes – interest in the electric F-150 Lightning is so high Ford has already doubled its production target – there is no doubt their introduction to the Australian auto market will cause quite a stir.
And with almost $A14 billion in funding under its belt, Rivian is potentially the most exciting addition to the electric vehicle – and dare we say it, utility truck and SUV market at large – since Tesla introduced the Model 3.
Both the R1T and R1S are available in a number of configurations, with the top-of-the-range variants offering an estimated 640km+ real world driving range with a 180kWh battery.
The quad-motor drivetrains offer towing capacity of up to 5 metric tonnes, the ability to wade through a metre of water, and if it sounds like a vehicle with so much grunt would be slow off the mark, think again – acceleration from 0-100km/hr in a little over 3 seconds is promised.
Numerous features take these vehicles beyond your simply dual-cab ute, like massive amounts of storage space where an engine would be in a combustion ute, as well as in a “gear tunnel”, under the seats and of course in the back (the ute having a lockable tray cover).
The huge energy capacity sitting under the vehicle’s floor can be accessed to power devices via 4 120-volt and 2 12-volt outlets (US configuration, expect 240-volts for Australia).
Off-road upgrades add features like dual tow hooks and a reinforced underbody shield.
While Australian specifications are yet to be announced, but in the US the R1T is available in three variants, with the $US73,000 ($A100,000 converted ) “Launch” edition deliveries commencing next month.
These will be followed by the $US73,000 Adventure Package, which is basically the same as the Launch without special badging and 20″ all-terrain or 22″ sport wheels. An entry-level Explore Package is priced from $US67,500 ($A93,180 converted).
This article has been updated to correct the left-hand/right-hand-drive accidental reversal!
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor 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 Y and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.