November 17, 2020 Volume 16 Issue 44

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Rivian R1T is coming in 2021: First electric pickup pricing and pre-orders

New-kid-on-the-block Rivian has taken one giant step forward to becoming the first automaker to sell an electric pickup in the United States, releasing pricing and pre-order options for its R1T truck set for production next year. With solid financial backing from heavy hitters like Ford, Amazon, and T. Rowe Price, the smartly designed and super-capable 5-passenger Launch Edition R1T -- with up to 300+ miles in electric range -- looks like it could be a real winner.

The truck boasts a wading depth of 1 m, quad-motor AWD that does 0 to 60 mph in 3 sec, and a totally unique skateboard platform with lots of storage.

The Launch Edition starting price is $75,000 (federal tax credits could be available to buyers, along with state and regional rebates and/or incentives), and the company says that vehicles will start rolling off the line in June 2021.

Pre-orders were opened on Nov. 16. A $1,000 deposit is needed to reserve a Launch Edition R1T, which comes with the Adventure Package trim that includes an Off-Road Upgrade with a reinforced underbody shield and on-board air compressor. It also includes a powered tonneau cover for the bed and the company's Gear Guard remote monitoring system (for what's inside the bed).

Rivian has development centers in Plymouth, MI; San Jose, CA; Irvine, CA; and the UK. The company will produce vehicles at its modern, 2.6-million-sq-ft manufacturing plant in Normal, IL. The R1T originally had a first-delivery target of the end of this year, but COVID-19 has put a wrench in just about every automaker's scheduling.

The Launch Edition with Adventure Package will be offered in nine standard colors and an additional, exclusive Launch Green option. It features a premium interior with heated and cooled perforated vegan leather seats, natural-grained ash wood throughout the cabin, and an immersive Rivian Elevation 360° audio system.

An R1T with a 400+-mile battery pack will be available in January 2022. A lower-priced pickup with a 250+-mile range should be in the works then too.

The foundation of the R1T is Rivian's skateboard platform, which efficiently packages the battery pack, drive units, suspension, braking, and thermal system all below the height of the wheel, leaving the space above for occupants and their gear.

Beyond the packaging benefits, the architecture delivers a low center of gravity that supports the vehicle's agility and stability. Adding to these inertial advantages is a sophisticated suspension architecture with unequal-length double wishbone suspension in the front and a multi-link suspension in the rear. The suspension features dynamic roll control and adaptive dampers along with ride-height adjustable air suspension, which allows the suspension to be adjusted for highway comfort, on-road performance, or off-road capability.

The R1T's designers also say this vehicle architecture delivers more lockable storage than any other pickup in the world. The 330-liter front trunk, for example, is easily accessed for daily use, with the hood fully powered for opening and closing.

The R1T's lockable Gear Tunnel sits below the cab and extends across the width of the vehicle, providing more than 350 liters of space for hauling oversized gear such as snowboards, golf bags, or strollers. The Gear Tunnel doors also act as steps for loading items into the bed or onto the roof, as well as a seat and a convenience platform for things like lacing up hiking boots. The R1T bed has a watertight, integrated tonneau cover, and beneath the bed floor is a 200-liter sealed bin that can also be used to store a full-size spare tire. The bed features three 110-V outlets and integrated compressed air.

As part of the Gear Guard feature, the bed also has two integrated locking cables to safely secure bicycle frames and other gear to the bed. Any gear stored in the bed is monitored by a bed camera, and the system alerts owners should the bed or contents be tampered with.

Rivian has also developed a telescoping racking system with easy-to-use mounts that quickly attach to the roof as well as the bed rails and bed floor. The racks integrate with a range of accessories including tents, travel containers, and bike/ski racks. When not in use, the racks can be easily stored in the front trunk.

According to a Rivian twitter message posted by Autoblog back in 2019, multiple roof styles will be offered in the future, including electrochromic glass (which turns from opaque to transparent on demand), a fixed glass panel, a two-piece removable composite roof, and a standard fixed roof.

Quad motors are just the start of its super powers
Rivian's trucks also feature a quad-motor system that delivers 147 kW with precise torque control to each wheel, enabling active torque vectoring and maximum performance in every situation, from high-speed cornering to low-speed rock crawling. With 3,500 Nm of grounded torque per wheel (14,000 Nm of torque for the full vehicle), the R1T can reach 60 mph in 3 sec and 100 mph in less than 7 sec.

This powertrain and chassis also enable the R1T's tow rating of 11,000 lb.

"The beauty and elegance of our quad-motor setup isn't just about brute power; this architecture provides instantaneous torque with extremely precise control at each wheel, which is completely game-changing from a dynamics perspective, both on- and off-road," said Mark Vinnels, Rivian's executive director of engineering and programs, back in 2018 when the R1T was first announced.

The energy-dense battery module and pack include tough underbody protection and an advanced cooling system. Adaptive control algorithms learn driver behavior, optimizing user-specific battery management for maximizing battery life, reliability, and second-life reusability. Three battery sizes are planned in total, with the 135 kWh available at launch and the 180 kWh and 105 kWh available later.

The battery is designed for fast charging with charging rates up to 160 kW. This enables approximately 200 miles of range to be added in 30 min. of charging. In addition to DC fast-charging, an 11-kW onboard charger facilitates rapid charging at a Level 2 charger.

The interior is all premium, with an unexpected mix of real wood accents in the design.

As for connectivity, the truck's system operates on a high-speed Ethernet backbone that enables strong security. This platform supports over-the-air updates of vehicle software to enhance functionality and improve performance. All Rivian vehicles connect to a cloud ecosystem for data exchange and processing, enabling machine learning and data services.

The developers say Rivian's safety systems and body-structure design will deliver IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus and NHTSA 5-Star ratings. Safety features include eight airbags for occupant protection and reinforcements of the skateboard platform to protect the battery.

To top it off, Rivian is producing an SUV too -- the R1S. Surprise! The R1S with a 300+-mile range and Adventure Package (tailored for an SUV) will start at $77,500. Production is slated for August 2021, with the same Launch Green option. You can also pre-order this vehicle now.

Will Rivian be the first to deliver an all-electric pickup to U.S. customers? We'll see. It's hard to plan with all that's going on. Waiting in the wings is startup Lordstown Motors, which is trying to crank out its 250-mile-range Endurance EV pickup for the commercial market in 2021, and the GMC 2022 HUMMER EV, which has a planned end-of-2021 production date.

These are exciting times in the next evolution of the electric vehicle market.

Sources: Rivian, Autoblog

Published November 2020

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