Electric pickup trucks are about to become a reality.
It's with intense curiosity that we wait for the first all-electric pickup trucks to hit the market. The electric car market hasn't gained ground as many expected and has held steady at just under two percent of sales in the overall market for a few years now. At the same time, around 45 percent of car adverts shown in the 2020 Super Bowl was for electric vehicles. That shows that automakers are going all-in on the electric vehicle market. With trucks being the best selling vehicles in America, a flurry of all-electric trucks will hit showrooms over the next few months and years. Ford is planning an electric version of the F-150, GMC has something in the pipeline, Tesla is making a lot of noise with its prototype, and a couple of startups, including Rivian, are on their way to market.
Rivian doesn't currently have any vehicles in production at all. Still, it does have massive investments from, amongst others, Ford Motor Company and Cox Automotive, as well as an order from Amazon for 100,000 electric delivery vans. For the consumer market, Rivian is planning on launching two electric vehicles soon and anticipation is high. One is the R1S, an all-electric SUV, and the other is the R1T, which is an all-electric truck. Here is what you should know about the Rivian R1T Pickup Truck.
Rivian hasn't just come out of nowhere. The company has been developing its platform for ten years now. Both the R1S SUV and the R1T pickup truck will ride on the same "skateboard" platform developed in-house. The battery pack is mounted in the floor pan underneath the front and rear seats. The suspension setup uses a multi-link system at the back and double wishbones at the front. It also features a hydraulic anti-roll system, height-adjustable air springs, and adaptive dampers.
The floor-mounted battery, along with all the mechanical components sitting below the height of the wheels, means the truck and SUV will have a remarkably low center of gravity while also maximizing passenger and cargo space.
Having an electric motor controlling each wheel brings more than just an all-wheel-drive system to the table. Using software and sensors, the R1T will have true torque vectoring, as each wheel can be controlled separately. In theory, the left and right wheels can be spun in different directions, but in reality, it means the outside wheels can be spun faster while the inside wheels are slowed down to aid cornering. It also means the traction control software will have independent control on how each wheel spins in slippery conditions. Assuming the R1T makes it to production at the same time as the SUV, they will be the first mass-market EVs on the market featuring four electric motors.
We have learned to take the early estimated range figures for EVs with a grain of salt, but Rivian claims the model with the smallest battery, a 105-kWh unit, will cover 230 miles on a single charge. It also claims the 135-kWh equipped vehicle will do over 300 miles, while the 180-kWh will do over 400 miles. For reference, the Tesla Model S Long Range has an EPA of 370 miles from its 100-kWh battery pack. We'll have to wait for the official EPA numbers as well as see real-world figures, but, at least on paper, the Rivian R1T looks impressive.
Rivian says the top speed for the R1T will be 125 mph, but the 0-60 mph times are eye-catching. According to the company, the smallest battery-equipped truck will hit 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. That's quick for a truck already, but with the mid-range 135-kWh battery pack, it claims 0-60 mph in 3.0 seconds while the largest pack's extra weight brings that number to 3.2 seconds. The 135-kWh battery pack R1T is also promised to hit 100 mph in a staggering 7.0 seconds, which is supercar territory.
The independently operating electric motors on each corner will be a massive deal for off-roading, but it also has the other ingredients necessary to make an effective off-roader. It's slated to have an approach angle of 34 degrees, which is comparable with the new Land Rover Defender's 38 degrees. The truck also has a break-over angle of 26 degrees in off-road mode, whereas the new Defender's break-over angle is 24.2 degrees. The R1T has an off-road ground clearance of 14.1 inches and can wade in up to 39 inches of water while the new Defender can wade into 35.4 inches of water. The R1T's weakness is its departure angle of just 30 degrees, but a lesser departure angle is a fact of life with a truck.
Rivian is boasting an 11,000-lb towing capacity. That's only 100 lbs less than the F-150 Limited's maximum tow rating and puts it in the top tier for full-size pickup trucks. The R1T can also haul 1,760 lbs in the bed, and there's still room in the front to store some gear. There's also some extra storage space accessible from outside that runs behind and below the rear seats.
Big haulage numbers aren't something Rivian appears to be going for though, as it is being marketed as an "adventure" truck, so we're curious what could happen if Rivian put its back into a work truck. The only issue we can see is range dropping as it gets loaded up with weight.
We know exactly what the pre-production truck looks like, as Rivian hasn't been shy with the pictures. It's likely the front headlights will have to change due to regulation, but other than that, we believe the R1T will look as good as we've seen so far. While it doesn't have the out to lunch looks of the Tesla Cybertruck concept that draws inevitable but pointless comparisons to the R1T, it looks to be a lot more practical for everyday use.
If an all-electric pickup truck from an untested manufacturer strikes your fancy, Rivian is open for orders with a $1,000 deposit. Until recently, the starting price was reported at $69,000, which would out price every standard pickup on the market before you start adding options. However, a report has surfaced saying Rivian will be officially announcing pricing soon and that prices are expected to be lower than previously stated. If that means the R1T will start at around the $50,000 mark, then that would be much more reasonable in the current luxury pickup truck market. There's no firm date set for release yet, but production is expected to start at the end of this year or in early 2021.
Rivian has facilities across the US as well as in the UK, but the production plant is in Illinois. The company purchased a plant in Normal, Illinois, that used to be owned by Mitsubishi where it plans to build both the R1T pickup and R1S SUV as well as the 100,000 electric delivery vans Amazon ordered. Permits have also been acquired for a battery assembly and cell storage facility on site.
At last count, Rivian had 225 people working at the plant, and that will ramp up as production draws closer. At its peak, Mitsubishi employed 3,000 people at the plant, and Rivian is looking at healthy tax breaks and credits for hiring local people.