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Rivian first out of EV ute blocks with R1T

Californian upstart Rivian outpaces Ford, General Motors and Tesla to EV ute market

20 Sep 2021

ELECTRIC vehicle (EV) upstart Rivian has got the better of industry giants Ford, General Motors and Tesla in being the first brand to launch an all-electric pick-up truck in the form of its R1T.


Driven off the line by none other than Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe, the emergence of the first customer-bound R1T solidifies the brand’s status as one of the most promising EV upstarts since Tesla entered the scene, with extra promise taken from the fact the young brand upstaged Ford – one of its major shareholders.


Pre-production of the Blue Oval’s own electric ute, the F150 Lightning, commenced on September 16 – the day after Rivian completed the first R1T – however the race is now on to see which brand reaches peak production first, with Ford recently announcing it would be doubling its Lightning production capacities ahead of first deliveries next autumn.


As for the competition, production and a subsequent release date of the yet-to-be-revealed electric Chevrolet Silverado are yet to be confirmed while production of the Tesla Cybertruck has been pushed back until the second quarter of next year.


That then just leaves the GMC Hummer EV, which General Motors insists is still on track to be delivered to customers by the end of the year, before the SUV version hits showrooms in 2023.


Regardless, Mr Scaringe was understandably thrilled by his company’s milestone, expressing his joy via Twitter and an Instagram video showing him driving the car off the line.


“After months of building pre-production vehicles, this morning our first customer vehicle drove off our production line in Normal,” he tweeted on Wednesday.


“Our team’s collective efforts have made this moment possible. Can’t wait to get these into the hands of our customers.”


Whether or not any of these customers will be in Australia remains to be seen, though an R1T and its R1S SUV sibling have reportedly been spotted undergoing local testing in recent weeks.


It is nothing new for a manufacturer to bring cars Down Under for testing on account of our extreme conditions and punishing roads, though adding more fuel to the local fire is the fact Rivian already has 15 different trademarks registered with IP Australia, and a further 19 pending.


Even if the brand does not make it into local showrooms, it is more than likely some of its technology will, given Ford’s $US500 million ($A690.5m) investment in Rivian.


Much like Porsche now has with Rimac, Ford’s investment in Rivian nabs it access to at least some of the technology and associated know-how, something the America giant was and is clearly keen on doing given it announced a new Lincoln electric SUV featuring Rivian tech less than a year after the deal was made.


Ford does not currently offer any electric, let alone electrified, vehicles in Australia but that will change in the second quarter of next year when the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Escape finally arrives – featuring no Rivian hardware.


Given the regular F150 is not officially offered here, the likelihood of Lightning versions making it to these shores remains in doubt, though an electrified Ranger could well be on the cards at some stage of the new-generation’s lifecycle – which begins early next year.

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