The first electric pickup truck isn’t from Tesla, Ford, or Chevrolet. Instead, Rivian earns that distinction as the production of its all-new R1T model started this week. Rivian is an upstart automaker with a plant in Normal, Illinois. The company is backed by such financial interests as Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, D1 Capital Partners, and even the Ford Motor Company. Since 2019, Rivian has raised $10.5 billion.
Rivian was founded in 2009 by Robert “RJ” Scaringe, utilizing two other names earlier and focusing on autonomous drive, before transitioning to electric vehicles. Though private funding has aided the company thus far, it is seeking to go public with an $8 billion IPO. Furthermore, an R1S utility vehicle will soon follow and other models are in the planning stages.
A customer-ready Rivian R1T rolled off the assembly line on Tuesday, following months of delays. The company did not identify its first customer nor state how many models were heading to buyers early on. Other R1T pickup trucks were spotted on the assembly line immediately behind the first model.
In the coming weeks, the GMC Hummer EV pickup truck will roll out. Next year, the first all-electric Ford F-150 arrives. Other electric pickup trucks planned include the Tesla Cybertruck and an electric Chevrolet Silverado.
The market is largely untested, but all four manufacturers claim strong demand. Indeed, Ford says it holds more than 150,000 deposits for its electric truck. Then again, the F-150 is by far the most popular pickup truck model in the world.
Rivian R1T Highlights
The 2022 Rivian R1T comes with standard all-wheel drive as each wheel is powered by an electric motor. The performance numbers are nothing short of impressive with upwards of 800 horsepower and a 0-60 mph time estimated at 3 seconds. Power routes to the wheels utilizing a single-speed transmission.
Moreover, this model has an estimated 314-mile range, a towing capacity of more than 11,000 pounds, and a 1,760-pound payload limit. Lastly, an adaptable air suspension adjusts ground clearance height from 8 inches to 14 inches. That’s perfect for water fording, rock climbing, or simply getting out of a jam. Rivian claims a wading depth of at least three feet.
Charging Your Rivian
What good is having an electric vehicle if finding a charge station is a challenge? After all, you could be stuck in the middle of nowhere and find yourself desperate for a charge. Fortunately, like other EVs, apps can locate the nearest station, including those with Level 2 charging. With Level 2, customers enjoy 240-volt charging. There are thousands of stations in place across the station and many are free. Rivian is also working with Waypoint to add more than 10,000 chargers to the network, locating them near hotels, shopping centers, and popular outdoor locations. Importantly, the network will be open to non-Rivian EV enthusiasts as well.
While Level 2 is certainly preferable to at-home, 110/120-volt charging, it won’t be enough under certain conditions, such as with long-haul driving. Therefore, finding a fast-charging or DC quick charger is important. Fortunately, networks supporting quick charging are in place and are expanding rapidly across the country.
Rivian is also adding DC fast chargers to its network, which will allow the R1T and R1S to gain 140 miles of range in just 20 minutes. These chargers are part of the Rivian Adventure Network and unlike Waypoint, they won’t be available to competing models. We’ll see if that plan holds, particularly as Ford brings an electric F-150 to the market. With Ford’s investment in Rivian, the Blue Oval may use its influence to sway Rivian.
We will be carefully watching the market to see how electric pickup trucks such as the Rivian R1T perform, as well as gauge customer demand. We are in unchartered territory with these models, but the future appears bright for full electrification.
Photos copyright Rivian.