Rivian unveils an all-electric pickup truck for the “adventure vehicle” market

Today, Rivian revealed an awesome fully electric pickup truck that — if it comes to market — will blow up the sort of stereotype saying that EV’s cannot haul a big boat to the lake for the weekend.  Namely, the Rivian R1T has massive towing capacity, and will be offered with battery pack capacity up to 180 kiloWatt-hours meaning it will have the energy capacity for a long trip towing heavy cargo.  In other words, this is a very different sort of vehicle from what’s been seen so far, it fills a very different niche than does Tesla.

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The Rivian R1T reminds me of a conversation I had while showing EV’s at a public event a few years ago.  The guy said what he really wanted was the equivalent of the Chevy Silverado 1500, and of course the Ford F-150 is an extremely popular vehicle.  The existence, and popularity, of both is testament to a set of needs that has so far not been served well by electric vehicles.

The drive train has four motors, one for each wheel, delivering 147 kW of power to each wheel and up to 14,000 Nm of Torque.  In terms of raw speed it can do 0-60 miles/hr in as little as 3 seconds, depending on configuration — in a pickup truck.  Towing capacity is 5000 kg, or 11,000 pounds (5.5 tons), which is a lot higher than the Tesla Model X towing capacity.

The battery pack configurations are 105 kWh (230 miles), 135 kWh (300 miles) and 180 kWh (400+ miles).  The range estimates obviously will not correspond to range-while-towing, and the battery pack sizes are way beyond what is available in other electric vehicles (other than big trucks).  Presumably the purpose for the large battery capacity is to support towing stuff for long distances.

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The charging system support 160 kW fast charging and 11 kW on level 2 charging.  This is reasonably fast, for example on fast charging the vehicle gains over 200 miles range per 30 minutes of charging.  However at 11 kW the charging rate means 15+ hours for a full recharge and some folks will find that constraining — consider that trip to the lake, where you end up stopping at a hotel for an overnight stay but cannot recharge overnight.

The Rivian R1S all-electric SUV support 3 rows of seating

There is also an SUV from Rivian, the R1S, with similar characteristics indicating it is using the same platform but with a different body on top.

R1T pricing starts at $61,500 after Federal Tax credit. R1S pricing starts at $65,000 after Federal Tax credit. Deliveries begin in late 2020.

There is a number of interesting other features that could be discussed, for example it will deliver with Level 3 autonomous driving where Tesla delivers Level 2.  But there is an issue of targeting I want to discuss.

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Building contractors and other commercial truck users

I am wondering if Rivian is smart enough to realize they should be targeting commercial truck users?

I said earlier the Ford F-150 is one of the most popular vehicles in the USA.  It is widely used at construction sites and other commercial settings, and is a real workhorse vehicle.  In terms of offsetting fossil fuel consumption, a bigger bang will be a vehicle that targets these commercial users than a vehicle targeting regular folks who see a yearly trip to the lake as their justification for owning a large pickup truck.

Rivian positions the R1T and R1S in the “adventure vehicle” market – which I think means those who make that yearly trip to the lake hauling a big boat they use once a year at that lake.  The videos below are certainly aimed at such people.

The folks who treat their trucks as a workhorse – they’re using the truck every day, they’re often hauling heavy equipment or supplies to a work site, etc.

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One particular feature in the Rivian R1T is a nod to those people.  Namely, under a flap in the bed is a set of power outlets.  It is 3x 120 volt power outlets, providing up to 400 Watts of power export, as well as 3x USB-C ports.

That’s a start in the right direction.  Workers are often hauling portable generators to power tools in the field.  Sometimes “tools” means arc welders and the like.  While 400 Watts can power many tools, it is not the 240 volts that are required for heavy duty power tools, and of course running a welder requires much more than 400 Watts.

400 Watts isn’t even enough to run a decently powered electric cook stove, or heating, or air conditioning, as might be desired by someone wanting an “adventure vehicle”.

In other words the R1T has a lot of features that should be attractive to working guys (contractors, etc) but the power export feature falls a little bit short.  Currently these guys do not have a truck that natively supports this kind of power export and therefore they end up hauling a generator.  However it’s known that such customers would appreciate the opportunity to avoid hauling in a generator if the truck had sufficient power export.



LOS ANGELES, Nov. 27, 2018 — Rivian, an electric vehicle manufacturer, unveiled its highly anticipated Electric Adventure Vehicles™ — the R1T, an all-electric pickup and the R1S, an all-electric SUV — at events surrounding the LA Auto Show this week.

The R1T™, a 5-passenger pickup truck, debuted at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles on Nov. 26, and the R1S™, a 7-passenger SUV, was revealed at the automaker’s press conference at Automobility on Nov. 27. With up to 400+ miles in electric range, a wading depth of 1 meter, lockable storage bins that can fit the bulkiest of gear, and the performance and precise control of quad-motor AWD, Rivian vehicles have been developed to help customers get out and explore the world. Both vehicles will be produced at Rivian’s manufacturing facility in Normal IL.

“We’re launching Rivian with two vehicles that reimagine the pickup and SUV segments,” said Rivian Founder and CEO RJ Scaringe. “I started Rivian to deliver products that the world didn’t already have – to redefine expectations through the application of technology and innovation. Starting with a clean sheet, we have spent years developing the technology to deliver the ideal vehicle for active customers. This means having great driving dynamics on any surface on- or off-road, providing cargo solutions to easily store any type of gear, whether it’s a surf board or a fishing rod and, very importantly, being capable of driving long distances on a single charge. From the inside out, Rivian has developed its vehicles with adventurers at the core of every design and engineering decision. The R1T and R1S are the result of all this work and we are excited to finally introduce these products to the world.”

Skateboard Platform

The foundation of the R1T and R1S 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, this 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 – allowing the suspension to be adjusted for highway comfort, on-road performance or off-road capability.

Rivian’s vehicles also feature a quad-motor system that delivers 147kW 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 and R1S can both reach 60 mph in 3 seconds and 100 mph in less than 7 seconds. This powertrain and chassis also enable the R1T’s tow rating of 11,000 pounds.

“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 Executive Director of Engineering and Programs Mark Vinnels.



The R1T and R1S designs communicate strength and refinement while still inviting customers to get the vehicles dirty. Strong proportions and clean, continuous bodylines help achieve a modern, inviting stance while acknowledging the performance and level of technology integrated into the vehicles.

The main bodyline of the R1T, which wraps up and around the cab and gives the vehicle a distinctive silhouette, while highlighting the Gear Tunnel™ cutline and accentuating the rear fender flares. The R1S shares much of its appearance with the R1T but in the rear highlights a function-driven design expressing capability and utility with plenty of space for occupants and gear. Both vehicles feature short overhangs, high ground clearance and aggressive approach and departure angles for a confident and rugged stance, all enabled by Rivian’s unique skateboard platform. A Rivian will be quickly recognized, with its iconic, signature “stadium” headlights and a daytime running light that extends the entire width of the vehicle.


In harmony with the exterior, the interior of Rivian’s vehicles welcomes occupants into a premium environment that conveys craftsmanship yet invites rugged, daily use. Color and materials play an important role in differentiating Rivian vehicles. Sustainably sourced wood is used throughout the interior and its natural finish contributes to a warm and inviting feel. The most striking use of wood is as a structural element that integrates the main center display and driver cluster, integrating form and function beautifully. In the high-wear areas of the interior, the materials take inspiration from sportswear and active gear, combining durable and innovative materials that can easily be cleaned.

“Although the exterior of the vehicle is what first attracts you, the interior is where you spend the most of your time, so we really focused on creating a transformational space inside our vehicles,” said VP of Vehicle Design Jeff Hammoud. “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.” 

Vehicle Specifications*


Battery Pack Configuration 105 135 180
Passengers 5
Powertrain/Drivetrain Type 4 motor electric AWD
Motor – Power [kW] 147 kW per wheel
Vehicle – Power (Input to Gearbox) [kW] 300 kW 562 kW 522 kW
Vehicle – Torque [Nm] 560 Nm 1,120 Nm
Vehicle – Total Grounded Torque [Nm] 7,000Nm 14,000 Nm
Range [miles] 230+ miles 300+ miles 400+ miles
Top Speed [mph] 125 mph
0-60 mph [seconds] 4.9 s 3 s 3.2 s
0-100 mph [seconds] 12.5 s <7 s <8 s
Vehicle Curb Weight [kg] 2670 kg
Weight Distribution: front : rear [%] 52%/48%
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating [kg] 3,470 kg
Payload [kg] 800 kg
Trailer Weight Rating [kg] 5000 kg
Overall Length [mm] 5,475 mm
Wheelbase [mm] 3,450 mm
Track Width [mm] 1,710 mm
Overall Width – Mirrors Folded [mm] 2,015 mm
Overall Height (Curb) [mm] 1,815 mm
Kneel/Park Ground Clearance [mm] 200 mm
Aero/Standard Curb Mode Ground Clear. [mm]       240 mm / 280 mm
Off Road Ground Clearance [mm] 360 mm
Water Fording Depth (Max) m 1 m
Approach Angle [deg] 34 degrees (offroad moad)
Departure Angle [deg] 30 degrees (offroad mode)
Ramp Breakover Angle [deg] 26 degrees (offroad mode)
Climbing Gradient Max [deg] 45 degrees
Frunk Volume [L] 330 L
Bed Length (Tailgate Up) [mm] 1,400 mm
Bed Length (Tailgate Down) [mm] 2,100 mm
Bed Width [mm] 1,385 mm
Rear Bin Volume [L] 200 L
Side Bin [L] 350 L
Underseat Volume [L] 95 L NA


Battery Pack Configuration 105 135 180
Passengers 7
Powertrain/Drivetrain Type 4 motor electric AWD
Motor – Power [kW] 147 kW per wheel
Vehicle – Power (Input to Gearbox) [kW] 300 kW 562 kW 522 kW
Vehicle – Torque [Nm] 560 Nm 1,120 Nm
Vehicle – Total Grounded Torque [Nm] 7,000Nm 14,000 Nm
Range [miles] 240+ miles 310+ miles 410+ miles
Top Speed [mph] 125 mph
0-60 mph [seconds] 4.9 s 3 s 3.2 s
0-100 mph [seconds] 12.5 s <7 s <8 s
Vehicle Curb Weight [kg] 2650 kg
Weight Distribution: front : rear [%] 52%/48%
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating [kg] 3470 kg
Payload [kg] 820 kg
Trailer Weight Rating [kg] 3,500 kg
Overall Length [mm] 5,040 mm
Wheelbase [mm] 3,075 mm
Track Width [mm] 1,710 mm
Overall Width – Mirrors Folded [mm] 2,015 mm
Overall Height (Curb) [mm] 1,820 mm
Kneel/Park Ground Clearance [mm] 205 mm
Aero/Standard Curb Mode Ground Clear. [mm] 245 mm / 285 mm
Off Road Ground Clearance [mm] 365 mm
Water Fording Depth (Max) m 1 m
Approach Angle [deg] 34 degrees (offroad mode)
Departure Angle [deg] 30 degrees (offroad mode)
Ramp Breakover Angle [deg] 29 degrees (offroad mode)
Climbing Gradient Max [deg] 45 degrees
Frunk Volume [L] 330 L
Rear Bin Volume [L] 180 L


The R1S and R1T leverage the vehicle architecture to deliver more lockable storage than any other vehicle in their respective segments. The 330-liter front trunk on the R1T and R1S is easily accessed for daily use with the hood fully powered for opening and closing.

The R1T’s lockable Gear Tunnel aft of the cab extends across the vehicle and provides 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 for such as lacing up hiking boots. The R1T has a watertight, integrated tonneau cover for the bed 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-volt outlets and integrated compressed air.

As part of a 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 alerts owners should the bed or contents be tampered with.

The rear of the R1S features a liftgate and small tailgate, with the tailgate providing an area to sit and prep for activities such as gearing up for a mountain climb to tightening skis. The second and third row seats fold flat to provide room for any gear required.

Rivian has developed a racking system that utilizes telescoping racks with easy-to-use mounts that quickly attach to the roof of either the R1T or R1S, as well as the bed rails and bed floor of the R1T. 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.

Battery System

Rivian’s energy-dense battery module and pack were developed with the most demanding journeys in mind — incorporating tough underbody protection and an advanced cooling system to give occupants the confidence to go further, regardless of terrain or temperature. 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, with the 180 kWh and 135 kWh available at launch and a 105 kWh being made available within six months.

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

Connectivity and Digital Experience

Rivian has developed its connected car platform from a clean sheet to allow full control and flexibility over the vehicle hardware, software and user experience. The system operates on a high-speed Ethernet backbone that enables robust security. This platform supports granular 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 digital experience extends beyond the vehicle into the cloud ecosystem and mobile/web applications and provides a consistent and seamless interface for vehicle status and control. The in-vehicle experience consists of a custom 15.6-inch center touch screen, 12.3-inch instrument cluster and a 6.8-inch rear touch screen. Understanding its customers desire for connected adventure, Rivian developed maps, music, navigation and other adventure-focused features to complete the digital experience. The digital user interface strongly reflects adventure, outdoors and exploration – the experience is immersive and natural whether it’s being used in a connected urban setting or well off the beaten path.


The R1T and R1S will launch with a robust hardware suite with multiple modalities including camera, lidar, radar, ultrasonic and a high precision GPS coupled with high definition maps. This hardware enables “Level 3” (hands-off wheel and eyes off road) autonomy for highway operation. Beyond the highway Level 3, the vehicle will have a range of self-driving features focused on enabling active lifestyles.


Rivian’s safety systems and body-structure design will deliver IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus and NHTSA 5-Star ratings. Safety features include 8 airbags for occupant protection and reinforcements of the skateboard platform to protect the battery. The R1T and R1S will also be offered with a full complement of active safety systems enabled by Rivian’s suite of self-driving sensors.

About Rivian

Rivian is developing vehicles, technology and services that inspire people to get out and explore the world. Whether it’s a family camping trip or a weekend away, Rivian is focused on providing the ultimate platform for experiencing life’s adventures. 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 square foot manufacturing plant in Normal, IL. Core to delivering Rivian’s vision is a team of 600 passionate people working in close collaboration to deliver a set of products that electrify adventure.

R1T pricing starts at $61,500 after Federal Tax credit. R1S pricing starts at $65,000 after Federal Tax credit. Deliveries begin in late 2020. Fully-equipped vehicles with the highest performance level and largest battery pack will enter production first. The 180 kWh pack (400+ miles range) and 135 kWh pack will be available at launch, with the base variant (250+ miles range) to follow within 12 months of the start of production.

Rivian is now accepting preorders for a refundable deposit of $1,000. More information is available at www.rivian.com.


About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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  1. Pingback: Rivian talking electric adventure trucks while developing electric commercial trucks – The Long Tail Pipe

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