The first breaker of an approaching wave of electric pickup trucks, the intimidating Rivian R1T can fly undamaged over gnarled rocks, haul a 11,000-pound payload and burn 60 mph in about 3.5 seconds. The truck brings everything and kitchen sink with outdoor options, such as a rooftop tent and a rail-mounted Camp Kitchen that allows owners to make an omelette by the trailhead and wash afterward. And after its hot-start IPO, Rivian is already worth nearly $100 billion, More from giants like Ford Motor and General Motors.
So far, all is well with the company’s fingers crossed for its shareholders, stakeholders (including Amazon and Ford), and its 9,500 employees. Some consumers may still have a question: What in the world is a Rivian?
Now coming out of an old Mitsubishi factory in Illinois, the R1T has to go through this tough get-to-know-you phase, just as a then-unknown Tesla did with its 2008 Roadster and 2012 Model S. the electric vehicle market and Rivian, which once mostly owned it, with GM’s 1,000-horsepower GMC Hummer EV pickup truck and Ford F-150 Lightning – based on America’s best-selling vehicle for 39 years – will arrive in the spring. Tesla pushes Texas production outré cyber truck sometime in 2022.
Headquartered in Irvine, California, Rivian took 12 years to hit the market, but its timing seems ideal. pickup trucks The pandemic continued to strengthen its market share while increasing traditional car sales. A residential flight from major cities, such as New York’s out-of-town exodus, may have played a role. (Home project, meet the pickup truck.) One in five vehicles sold in America is currently a full-size or mid-size pickup truck, or over three million sales in a typical year.
Ford’s Lightning looks like a more traditional, mission-oriented truck, while the 16-inch shorter Rivian is a born adventurer. It’s also a pioneer, proof that an electric quad can tackle the toughest outback. This summer, an R1T successfully navigated the TransAmerica Trail, a ladle of nearly 5,000 miles from North Carolina to the Oregon coast. If most buyers are satisfied with the dirt road that only leads to a cottage or campsite, they can always dream.
Starting at $68,575, the Rivian becomes the market’s first EV to integrate four independent electric motors, each spinning at up to 18,500 rpm. While barely making a sound. “Walk lightly” is the mantra of every conscientious all-terrain vehicle, and the Rivian eliminates a noisy internal combustion engine and tailpipe.
“As you go down the road, you can hear the creek flowing and the birds singing,” said Brian Gase, Rivian’s director of special projects.
Still, little will stand in the way of the R1T or the sports utility branch R1S. Adjustable air suspension and four terrain modes (Auto, Rock, Rally and Drift) provide up to 15 inches of ground clearance. That’s 4.2 inches more striking than a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, a touchstone of black talent.
Head to the slicker surfaces of the city, and this 835-horsepower beast will run or dance around any oil receiver I’ve tested, claiming a 3.0-second dash to 60 miles per hour. That’s despite a curb weight of about 7,150 pounds, which is about a ton more than a typical full-size petrol pickup truck. This truck is more of an outright riot than a physics challenge.
Rivian never feels full he fast and automatic transmissions take 3.5 seconds and 60 mph looks more like that. Even that is absurd acceleration for any quadruple that weighs two BMW 330i sedans and can pull three Bimmers at highway speed. Like most whisper electric vehicles, the Rivian plays with one’s somatic system. Without auditory cues and crazy pistons, a more reliable account for forward progress is to watch small cars turn into smaller dots in the mirror.
On the bumpy roads surrounding New York’s reservoirs, Rivian carved these BMWs and Benzes like holiday turkeys, while the clever hydraulic anti-roll system kept the truck’s body flat like a plate. Protected by composite underbody armor, the roughly 135-kilowatt-hour battery pack provides up to 314 miles of range, as rated by the Environmental Protection Agency—reasonable given all that mass and drag. Switching to economy mode lowers the ride height and only starts the front axle motors to conserve juice.
For an extra $10,000, a battery of around 180 kilowatt-hours extends the range to more than 400 miles. That’s the best of the $112,595 Hummer EV, which should travel nearly 350 miles with the largest nearly 200 kilowatt-hour package ever fitted to an electric vehicle. Rivian also plans to offer a more affordable 105 kilowatt-hour package with a range of about 230 miles.
The R1T’s brake pedal feels a little underwhelming for my stricter tastes, but the truck’s ability to lose speed is undeniable. In objective tests, Edmunds.com found Rivian Set new high pick-up records for stopping distance, acceleration and handling. Less rushed owners can drive for hours or even days without ever brushing the brake pedal: The cleverly selected, driver-adjustable regenerative function allows effortless “one-pedal” driving to lift the accelerator pedal to a smooth stop of the truck.
For all its overwhelming power, Rivian is a dessert. Incarnated in a Hummer or Cybertruck, today’s pickup fashion is reminiscent of a Mechagodzilla, a fire-breathing menace that stops everything. Rivian’s oval, translucent LED eyes, clean lines, and cheerful mien are more like Iron Giant: rated for all ages, genders, and personalities, not just Costco cosplayers in trucker hats.
With the Apple-like minimalism trending in EVs, the interior takes a safe route. Slightly taller than mid-size trucks and much shorter than full-size trucks, the R1T offers a comfortable rear seat for two or three adults. Most traditional switch assemblies have been cut short in favor of controls on a 16-inch center touchscreen, not always for the better.
Company representatives believe the cloud-based navigation system will handle directional tasks, and an 18-speaker Meridian audio system will connect smartphones with built-in apps like Spotify or via Bluetooth. But the lack of available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – standard fare on most budget cars – may require a course fix.
Yet the design, materials (including vegan leather and genuine ash wood), and craftsmanship are convincingly luxurious. And the rules of creativity. A portable Bluetooth speaker detached from the center console is ready for campfire songs, with a 1,000-lumen flashlight in the driver’s door. USB ports and 110-volt outlets sprinkle through the cabin and cargo bed. This bed has an electric tailgate and an optional air compressor that “airs” the tires for off-road exploration and refills them on the way home. No need to put lights on: A large storage “space” stands under the hood and another 4.5 feet under the cargo bed, and there’s a drain plug for the tailgate that doubles as an ice chest.
The so-called Gear Tunnel will pierce hearts in the open air. This door-to-door abdominal space behind the passenger cabin is made possible by the absence of an internal combustion driveshaft, engulfing cargo or extras like the optional $5,000 Camp Kitchen. This a la carte product is not cheap. But the industry-first unit from Rivian will stop traffic at any tailgate bump or bonfire with a two-burner convection cooker, a collapsible sink with spray spout and water tank. and the 30-piece Snow Peak kitchen set.
Now all Rivian has to do is increase sales. Like baby Tesla, the company hopes to burn several billion dollars before it reaps positive returns. Amazon owns a 20 percent stake — now worth nearly $20 billion, more than five times its original investment — and has ordered 100,000 last-mile Rivian delivery trucks by 2030. It remains to be seen whether such fleet vans will become Rivian’s side business or core business.
Whichever electric truck early adopters prefer, it’s best to queue up. Ford says it has 160,000 customer reservations for its Lightning, but expects to build just 15,000 next year before rapidly expanding production. Rivian stated in a federal filing that it has a backlog of 55,400 orders for the R1T and R1S.
Ford has slashed the starting price of the Lightning at roughly $42,000, but for a business version with a modest 230-mile range. Good luck finding it at dealers. A higher-volume Lightning XLT will start near $55,000, while a loaded Platinum version brushes $90,000.
Ford (along with GM) has extensive dealer networks and manufacturing experience, albeit in fossil fuel trucks. Like Tesla, Rivian plans to abandon traditional showrooms in favor of direct selling in all 50 states. The company plans to open dozens of service centers in North America, but it also relies on remote diagnostics, over-the-air updates, and mobile technicians to serve Rivians at home even when homeowners are away.
Either way, Ford can win: It owns 12 percent of Rivian, despite abandoning its plan to develop an EV in partnership with Rivian. Founded by RJ Scaringe, Rivian hopes to fulfill its current orders from a factory capable of producing 150,000 units per year by the end of 2023.
Whatever else, Rivian can claim to be the first mover in the electric truck space. From this electric David, the R1T makes an impressive first shot. Let’s see what the Goliaths will do when they get off the mat.