Hiding in plain sight.
It’s almost as if Rivian came out of nowhere. Few had even heard of the EV automaker only two years ago but earlier this month it was announced it had received a $700 million investment from Amazon. Other major corporations, such as GM, could follow. Founded by 36-year-old R.J. Scaringe, who also serves as CEO, Rivian is preparing to launch production versions of its all-electric pickup truck and SUV, the R1T and R1S, respectively. But when it comes to testing prototypes, Rivian found a way that won’t draw too much attention, if any at all.
According to The Detroit Free Press, Rivian has been testing its truck hardware on used Ford F-150 bodies. Not everyone has noticed but these prototypes have been driving around the Detroit area virtually unnoticed. But why the F-150? Because its wheelbase fits well with Rivian’s skateboard EV architecture.
This unique setup incorporates all essential systems, such as the battery, transmission, motors, front and rear suspension, and cooling system into a single module. Any type of body can be bolted on top, as long as it fits. "We need something to keep the weather out while we put a lot of miles on our skateboard, so they’re driving around in Detroit right now, too,” Scaringe admitted. "They’re all over the place, but nobody knows. We’re very quiet about that.”
Scaringe made clear there’s no corporate tie-up with Ford. If all goes to plan, the Rivian R1T pickup truck will go on sale in late 2020. It’ll have a total system output of 788 hp thanks to a 197-hp electric motor at each wheel.
Performance? Rivian estimates a 0-60 mph time of only 3 seconds. Depending on the model, drivers will enjoy a maximum range of 400 miles. The R1S SUV will arrive at a later date. Production is slated to take place at a once closed and now newly refurbished Mitsubishi factory in Normal, Illinois. Engineering and design work is done in Michigan but battery development and other technologies takes place in San Jose and Irvine, California.