You won’t mistake the Rivian R1T for any other vehicle — and that’s the intention.
The truck has a “very identifiable face,” according to the company’s CEO and founder, RJ Scaringe.
The nontraditional front end, without the big grille seen on internal combustion engine trucks, features a daytime running light strip across the width of the truck in front of the hood, broken up by a pair of vertical “stadium” headlights. The look is meant to convey a “friendly but tough” vibe.
It’s a design theme expected to carry across Rivian’s planned product line, which should begin coming into view this week as the startup unveils its first concept vehicles — the R1T and an electric SUV — in connection with the Los Angeles Auto Show. The truck is scheduled to be shown first, at LA’s Griffith Observatory on Monday.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology-educated Scaringe and other Rivian executives and personnel offered a glimpse of the truck in Antarctic Silver earlier this month to journalists at Rivian’s engineering center west of Detroit in Plymouth Township. In a reimagined industrial space complete with “wellness” rooms, natural lighting and repurposed shipping containers, the executives and engineers showed off the truck that Scaringe and others hope will lead it to a lucrative future.
Whether the company can pull off a successful vehicle launch to deliver the R1T in late 2020 and meet the challenges inherent in auto production and distribution is unknown, but Rivian — a kind of mashup name representing the Indian River in Florida, where Scaringe grew up — has set its own course. Unlike electric vehicle-maker Tesla, which has at times struggled to meet production targets, Rivian, with about 560 staffers, has located its operations both in tech-center corridors, such as San Jose and Irvine, California, and in the industrial heartland, in Plymouth Township and at a former Mitsubishi manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois.
The company, which has a logo based on the look of a compass, is aiming for customers who live an active lifestyle. It wants to be, creative director Larry Parker noted, “a brand that brings people in.”
Rivian sees itself fitting into a similar space in the automotive world side as the Patagonia brand is in the clothing universe.
“We’re trying to develop a vehicle that we all love to drive,” said Mark Vinnels, Rivian’s executive director of engineering and programs. “It’s not just designed to look pretty. It’s designed to get dirty. It’s designed to go out and it’s designed to have an adventure.”
The five-passenger R1T pickup pledges 400 miles of all-electric range (with the largest of three battery options) to eliminate “any hint of range anxiety” and the equivalent of 800 horsepower. Rivian said the R1T will hit 60 mph in 3 seconds and 100 mph in less than 7, depending on the battery.
The battery should manage 200 miles of range for every 30 minutes of DC fast-charging or 300 to 400 miles of range for an overnight charge using a slow Level 2 charger.
A quad motor system provides “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,” the company said in a release.
The company calls the R1T’s skateboard platform the vehicle’s foundation, providing a low center of gravity and packaging “the battery pack, drive units, suspension, braking and thermal system all below the height of the wheel, providing the packaging space above for occupants and their gear.”
Storage is pitched as a key selling point for this vehicle.
Without the need for a big engine under the hood, the R1T provides clean item storage space no gas-powered truck can boast, enough for a Coleman cooler and a duffel bag. To the rear of the back seats is a “gear tunnel” running the width of the truck, with outside access doors, good for hauling “snowboards, golf bags or strollers,” the company said. The access doors also serve as a step for accessing the roof or as a seat while you put on your shoes.
The truck bed is more than 4½-feet long with the tailgate up, and the company said the truck has a tow rating of 11,000 pounds.
Movable and collapsible crossbars are designed to go over the bed as well as the roof to provide additional options.
The inside features synthetic leather, floor mats made with material that passes the “ketchup and mustard test” and hidden cup holders, officials said. A rechargeable Rivian-branded flashlight is also tucked into the driver side door.
“The biggest challenge was creating an interior design that delivered a premium experience, while still being comfortable as a space that is heavily used. To do this, we looked outside the automotive industry and took inspiration from contemporary furniture, as well as hiking and outdoor gear, to drive the design,” Jeff Hammoud, vice president of vehicle design, said in the release.
The company also promises over-the-air software updates and driver assistance features capable of Level 3 (“hands-off wheel and eyes off road”) autonomy for highway operations.
Pricing starts at $61,500 after federal tax rebate. Delivery will begin in late 2020. Preorders with a refundable deposit of $1,000 are being accepted at www.rivian.com.
Contact Eric D. Lawrence: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @_ericdlawrence
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