Rivian tested the R1T's towing capacity at temperatures of up to 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
As a startup company that has yet to roll a single model off the production line, Rivian has a lot to prove with its first electric models, the R1T pickup and R1S SUV. To make sure the R1T lives up to expectations, Rivian has subjected the electric pickup to extreme hot weather to test the towing capacity, battery cooling, and cabin comfort.
To prove the electric pickup's towing capacity, Rivian took the R1T for a grueling trip across the demanding Arizona State Route 88 stretch of highway, also known as the Davis Dam Grade. The route begins at an elevation of 550 feet near the banks of the Colorado River in Bullhead City before climbing through the Black Mountains to more than 3,500 feet in just 11.4 miles before ending near Golden Valley, Arizona.
Rivian claims the R1T has a towing capacity of 11,000 pounds. Over two days, the team made multiple runs on the Davis Dam Grade while towing a 30-foot trailer loaded to this weight. And just to make the test even more demanding, the extreme temperatures peaked at 118 degrees Fahrenheit, putting the components under serious strain. Despite the conditions, the R1T performed "to the target, and beyond" according to Sushant More, Lead Validation Engineer/Thermal Systems Validation at Rivian.
As well as validating the towing performance, this test enabled the team to collect and assess performance data, allowing them to further refine the R1T systems and software to improve elements such as cabin comfort, torque control, efficiency, and range.
Test runs then continued to challenging mountain roads in Mt. Charleston and Death Valley National Park to push the limits of the R1T's towing capacity and thermal management system to new extremes.
"The challenge with benchmarking range in a towing context is that we are setting the benchmark," said Aaron Bailey, Attributes and Performance Vehicle Line Manager. "Nobody has released an EV that can tow anywhere near the weight that the R1T can tow. Range will always vary depending on your load and external conditions, such as wind and grade. We generally see about a 50% reduction in range when towing at full capacity."
Testing concluded at the Dumont Dunes in California to prove that yes, you can tow a trailer in the sand with a Rivian R1T. Considering how much strain the components were under in the extreme heat, the R1T's towing capability at over 40 mph is truly impressive. At full towing capacity, the R1T should still deliver a range of around 200 miles based on Bailey's estimates.
Production of the Rivian R1T will begin in June 2021.