Before last winter, very few people knew about Rivian. But when the Plymouth, Michigan automaker revealed its electric R1T pickup and R1S SUV concepts last November, it became one of the hottest things in the automotive world. A few months later, Amazon led a $700 million investment in the company, and soon after, Ford invested $500 million.
Rivian didn't come from nowhere, though. It was founded ten years ago by RJ Scaringe, just after he completed his doctorate in mechanical engineering at MIT. The company only emerged out of stealth last year, when it revealed the R1T and R1S. Rivian says the pickup will hit the market late next year, while SUV sales will follow in 2021. Here's what we know about the pair.
They Share a Platform
Both the R1T and R1S use a "skateboard" platform designed in-house by Rivian. The battery pack is mounted in the floorpan between the two axles and frame rails. Suspension is double wishbones up front and a multi-link setup in the rear, with height-adjustable air springs, adaptive dampers, and a hydraulic anti-roll system.
Rivian proudly touts the fact that all of the main mechanical components in the R1S and R1T will sit below the height of the wheels, contributing to a low center of gravity. The platform was also designed to maximize occupant and cargo space, so the R1T and R1S should be quite practical.
Ford will eventually use this platform for an EV of its own as part of its deal with Rivian. It's unclear what form that Ford would take, but it will likely arrive after the automaker's electric Mustang-inspired SUV and F-150.
Both Have Four Motors Each
One of the great possibilities electric motors afford is torque vectoring. The new Acura NSX uses an electric motor for each front wheel. In some cornering scenarios, the outside front wheel is overdriven while the inside front is under-driven, and theoretically, the wheels can be spun in opposite directions. That means the NSX's handling balance can be manipulated on the fly by its software.
The Rivian twins will both get a motor for each wheel, which leads to all sorts of unique handling possibilities. The four-motor setup should make each model quite good off road, too, which fits in with the company pitching the R1T and R1S as "adventure" vehicles.
If they reach production, they'll be the first mass-market four-motor EVs. So far, the only automakers to offer four-motor EVs are Rimac, with its ultra-exclusive hypercars, and Mercedes, with the limited-production SLS E-Cell. Other high-end four-motor EVs—notably from Lotus and Pininfarina—are on their way, but none in the sub-$100,000 range. Tesla is working on a three-motor Model S and Model X, however.
They'll Be Quick
Rivian's acceleration claims for the R1T and R1S grabbed attention when the pair debuted. When equipped with a 135-kWh battery pack—the middle of Rivian's three battery-size options—the R1T and R1S will hit 60 mph in 3.0 seconds and 100 mph in under 7.0 seconds. That's supercar territory.
The four motors in the base 105-kWh R1T and R1S will combine to make 402 hp, and that figure rises to 753 hp for the 135-kWh version. Rivian will offer a 180-kWh battery pack for the R1T and R1S, but those trucks will make 700 hp. The 105-kWh Rivian models make 413 lb-ft of torque, while the two larger-battery versions will offer 826 lb-ft.
Estimated Range Figures Are Impressive
Rivian is making bold claims about the range of its trucks. The automaker says the 105-kWh R1T will do over 230 miles on a charge, the 135-kWh will do over 300, and the 180-kWh will do over 400 miles. The R1S betters each of those figures by 10 miles. We'll have to wait for EPA-certified numbers to know for sure, but these are impressive numbers.
The longest range EV currently on the market is the Tesla Model S Long Range, which manages to get an EPA-certified 370 miles out of its 100-kWh battery pack. Rivian is saying its smallest battery is bigger than Tesla's largest at the moment. And it's bigger than what everyone else offers currently. The next largest is the Audi e-Tron, which has a 95-kWh battery.
They'll Be Made In Illinois
Rivian purchased a manufacturing plant in Illinois once owned by Mitsubishi. It plans on building the R1S and R1T there, along with 100,000 electric delivery vans ordered by Amazon. Production at the Normal, Illinois plant will begin next year. The automaker also has facilities in Plymouth, Michigan, San Jose and Irvine, California, and Surrey, England.
Pre-Ordering Is Open Now
If the R1T and R1S strike your fancy, you can put a $1000 deposit on one via Rivian's website. The pickup will start at $69,000, while the SUV is a little costlier at $72,500. Both will be eligible for the $7500 Federal EV tax credit, plus other local incentives if applicable. Rivian hasn't detailed pricing for all R1T and R1S model variants just yet. Presumably those prices will be announced closer to when the trucks hit the market.
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