Plymouth, Michigan-based Rivian showed a concept version of its R1T electric pickup truck at the Los Angeles auto show in 2018 and announced its plan to begin selling it to the public in 2020. We decided to take a closer look at how this EV compares to more traditional pickups.
Why is the Rivian R1T significant?
The R1T is built on a chassis the company calls a “skateboard” for its flat design and low centre of gravity; it houses the battery pack between the front and rear wheels. The same structure underpins the R1S electric SUV that Rivian also revealed at the LA auto show.
If Rivian succeeds in bringing the R1T to market in 2020, it will likely be the first automaker to sell an all-electric, full-size pickup truck in North America. Rivian’s main rival in the EV pickup arena is Tesla, which showed off its wedgy Cybertruck in a November 2019 presentation (yes, with that infamous window smash) with a promise the vehicle would be on sale in late 2021.
Ford has said it will launch a gas-electric hybrid F-150 pickup in 2020, which it will eventually follow up with a full EV version.
How big is the Rivian R1T?
According to Rivian’s specifications, the R1T is 217.1 inches/5,514 mm long and 79.3 inches/2,014 mm wide, and it rides on a 135.8-inch/3,449-mm wheelbase. In length and wheelbase, the R1T is larger than a typical four-door mid-size pickup, but smaller than a full-size truck in a four-door body style. The R1T’s width is similar to that of a full-size truck.
The Rivian R1T only comes as a four-door with a single cargo bed size. If you’re shopping for a proper mid-size pickup, check out our best small trucks list here.
How powerful is the Rivian R1T, and how far can it drive?
Rivian says the R1T pickup will be available with up to 750 hp and 829 lb-ft of torque from its dual front/rear electric motors and promises supercar-like acceleration of 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) in three seconds.
That performance will come with the largest of three battery packs, at 180 kWh. Two smaller packs – 105 and 135 kWh – will provide less power and performance. Rivian has said it is targeting a starting price of about $69,000 for the base R1T, and we expect that versions with the larger battery packs will be significantly more expensive.
Rivian says the base model and its 105-kWh battery will promise more than 230 miles/370 km of driving range, while the top-end, 180-kWh battery will allow for more than 400 miles/640 km. The company has not said how long it will take to charge the R1T.
Will the Rivian R1T be able to go off road?
The Rivian R1T’s standard four-wheel drive comes from individual motors at each wheel. The company says that arrangement will allow for both highway driving and low-speed rock-crawling. An air suspension provides up to 14 inches/355 mm of ground clearance, and Rivian also says the air suspension will provide cornering roll control on the highway and adjust the ride continuously in response to the road surface.
How much towing and payload capacity will the Rivian R1T have?
Rivian’s specs say the R1T will tow 11,000 pounds/5,000 kg and will handle 1,760 pounds/800 kg of payload, figures that compare favourably with most mid-size trucks and challenge some full-size models.
Because the electric R1T has no engine or conventional drivetrain, Rivian has built in some unique cargo carrying features. In addition to the cargo bed, there is a front trunk boasting 11.1 cubic feet/314L of volume, and a cargo tunnel between the rear doors and rear wheels that can hold 12.4 cubic feet/351L of gear.
R1T release date and price
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company is pushing the release date to 2021 opposed to the original 2020 release. Pricing starts at $69,000 in the US, along with a $7,500 federal tax credit for going green.