What can travel 400 miles without gasoline, runs 0-60 mph in 3 seconds, and can grille dinner for a week? It can also ford three feet of water, tow 11,000 pounds, and haul 1,764 lbs. of payload.
It’s the all-electric Rivian R1T pickup that was previewed recently in Normal, Illinois near where the trucks will be built alongside the similar R1S SUV and the Amazon delivery van.
Rivian purchased the former Diamond-Star Motors Chrysler-Mitsubishi joint-venture plant in 2017 and is in the process of transforming its 2.3 million square feet of high-volume manufacturing space into a plant appropriate for building the Rivian R1T, R1S, and Amazon van. The company expects customers to receive their first vehicles by Christmas 2020, with full production of the R1T and R1S ramping up during 2021. An additional 10,000 Amazon vans will be built annually as part of a 100,000-van contract.
Unlike some other EV start-ups, Rivian is well-funded. Ford Motor Company, Cox Automotive and Amazon are investing a total of more than $1.5 billion in the automaker.
Global automotive services company Cox Automotive -- which owns Autotrader and Kelly Blue Book -- announced in September it would invest $350 million. Amazon announced a $700 million investment last February. Ford followed in April with a commitment for a $500 million stake.
“Building Rivian from a clean sheet meant there was no legacy, no silos, no handcuffs or anchors from the past, I had the beauty of being able to think about the product and company without compromise,” says Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe.
The foundation for Rivian’s full-size truck is a unique skateboard chassis that contains up to 180 kWh of batteries, height-adjustable four-wheel independent air suspension, and four electric motors to drive it all. The chassis is not only ideal for very capable trucks and SUVs, but makes it relatively easy to “plug and play” other body designs…like delivery vans.
Rivian models flaunt sleek modern bodies highlighted by unique “cathedral” vertically oval LED running lamps and thin full-width taillamps. With no engine to occupy the front compartment, luggage can be stored beneath the hood and inside a full-width tunnel between the passenger compartment and bed.
That tunnel is where the optional grill is stowed when not deployed for the ultimate tailgating party or camping site. Rivian claims the grille can be used during off-the-grid adventures for two hours a day over seven days and barely use 10 percent of the vehicle’s driving range.
Interiors flaunt delicious leather and glassy screens for instruments and infotainment. It’s exactly what you would expect in a revolutionary luxury truck.
At its height, Diamond-Star built over 200,000 vehicles per year, but Rivian’s output will be considerably more excusive. Projections have not been released, but think tens of thousands instead of hundreds of thousands. All of that technology and exclusivity does not come cheap. Both vehicles will start around $70,000. More details will come as full production ramps up next year.
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