Rivian Reveals All-Electric R1T Concept Pickup Before 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show
Company Expects Deliveries to Begin in Late 2020
Americans love trucks, and we’re also (gradually) starting to love electric cars as well. That’s why Tesla, perhaps the most famous EV automaker today, should be worried about this machine: the Rivian R1T all-electric pickup. Rivian has been in existence for the last 10 years, but this is the first major announcement from the company, which acquired the old Mitsubishi Motors manufacturing facility in Normal, Illinois, last year.
Revealed today in advance of the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, the Rivian R1T previews a production vehicle of the same name and design, which the company says will arrive on the market in late 2020. That would likely predate the rumored Tesla pickup by about a year or so, given Tesla wants to build a compact SUV before it launches a truck.
The Rivian R1T, which measures 215.5 inches long and rides on a 135.8-inch wheelbase, is sized like shorter-wheelbase versions of the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and Ram 1500. The company claims a theoretical payload capacity of 1,764 pounds and a towing rating of more than 11,000 pounds, putting it right in the thick of other domestic 1/2-ton trucks. The concept that will appear at the Los Angeles Auto Show will be a five-seat crew cab truck with a 4.6-foot bed, meaning it will likely be marketed as a lifestyle pickup rather than a hard-working beast of burden.
Setting the R1T apart from other pickups, obviously, is its all-electric powertrain. Like Tesla’s Model S luxury sedan, Model X crossover, and Model 3 entry-luxury sedan, the Rivian is built on a skateboard-style chassis, with all of the vehicle’s powertrain components centralized in a thin platform under the bodywork. There are also four individual electric motors—one per wheel—maximizing traction and control in a variety of driving situations.
The company claims the R1T will be available with three different battery configurations, all of which are substantially larger than what’s available in any current electric vehicle—105 kWh, 135 kWh, and 180 kWh. Those battery capacities also correspond to three different power outputs: 402 hp, 700 hp, and 753 hp, respectively. There will also be 413 lb-ft of torque on offer for the smallest battery, increasing to 826 lb-ft for the two larger batteries. Range is also stratified by battery choice. Theoretically, Rivian says to expect 230 miles at a minimum, expanding to 300 miles and 400 miles with the larger batteries.
With all of the truck’s powertrain components situated down low, the Rivian also boasts a front trunk with a storage capacity of 11.6 cubic feet, perfect for stashing valuables or fragile items that you’d rather not toss in the bed. A front trunk isn’t uncommon for electric vehicles (Tesla has had one for years), but the R1T takes it a step further with a pass-through storage locker under the bed called Gear Tunnel. This wide, 12-cubic-foot compartment can be accessed via doors on either side of the bed, making it the perfect spot for golf clubs or snow equipment. The flip-down doors also act as bed steps when they’re deployed. The capacious Gear Tunnel and front trunk help compensate for the bed’s relative smallness, again underscoring the Rivian’s intended lifestyle market.
In addition to its electric faculties and unique storage solutions, the R1T will reportedly be a capable off-roader. Those electric motors preclude a low-range transfer case since all of the truck’s torque will be available from zero RPM. Furthermore, each motor will be able to individually apply torque to its assigned wheel, eliminating the need for locking differentials or other torque-management solutions. Rivian also claims a water fording depth of 39 inches; ground clearance expanding from 11 inches in normal mode to 13 inches in off-road mode; and generous approach, departure, and breakover angles.
Like any modern electric worth its salt, the Rivian R1T should be able to charge from the DC fast-charging network. That means 200 miles of added range per 30 minutes of charging, at least while unladen. (We worry to think what the truck’s battery range would be with that aforementioned 11,000-pound trailer in tow.) The R1T will also feature an 11kW onboard charger that can add 50 miles of range in about an hour, perfect for overnight charging in advance of a daily commute.
The Rivian will also be fully connected, boasting autonomous freeway capability thanks to high-precision GPS, lidar, radar, ultrasonic sensors, and a suite of cameras. Inside, the passengers get treated to a total audiovisual experience, with a 15.6-inch center touchscreen, 12.3-inch digital instrument display, and a 6.8-inch rear touchscreen. Rivian claims the infotainment system’s interface was designed to encourage outdoor exploration, featuring dedicated maps, music, and navigation to maximize functionality on those adventures.
Rivian claims it will be able to bring the R1T to market for $61,500 after the federal tax credit. That suggests the vehicle’s retail price will be $69,000 in total. While that’s a tough pill to swallow at first blush, many modern 1/2-ton trucks cost in excess of $60,000, and the Tesla Model X has a starting price well above $80,000. Viewed in that light, the Rivian R1T might be something of a bargain, especially given its modern, aggressive interior and exterior design. In that wise, the R1T proves that you don’t have to resort to jellybean or spacepod shapes to create a modern electric utility vehicle.
Alas, all of the above details are merely academic at this point. The Rivian has yet to undergo any official testing or ratings process for payload, towing, power output, or range. But it’s nevertheless exciting to see the company put out a proof of concept like this, offering the pickup market something new and truly modern. We hope it pans out, and you can bet we’ll be at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week checking the R1T out in person.