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LA show: Rivian targets Tesla with R1T pick-up

Electric-vehicle start-up Rivian reveals R1T pick-up, R1S SUV that may go Down Under

General News logo28 Nov 2018

MICHIGAN-BASED electric-vehicle start-up Rivian has beaten Tesla to the punch by revealing its first model, the R1T pick-up, with deliveries starting late next year, while its mechanically related SUV, the R1S, will follow in early 2021 – and the pair could be heading to Australia.
 
Prior to the Los Angeles motor show this week, where the R1T and R1S will make their international debuts, Rivian announced plans to expand sales outside of North America, setting a European launch for 2021.
 
Critically, this rollout will include the United Kingdom – the biggest right-hand-drive market in the world – which opens the door for Australian sales if a business case can be made in the future.
 
While Tesla is known to be developing a pick-up based on its Semi truck, the model could be several years away from reality, placing Rivian in the box seat to be the first brand to deliver a mass-production battery-electric utility vehicle on a global scale.
 
The R1T is available with the choice of three battery packs – 105kWh, 135kWh and 180kWh – with their ranges rated at more than 370km, 483km and 644km respectively. The R1S is available with the same configurations but adds 16km of range.
 
Every version has four 147kW electric motors that each power an individual wheel to create an all-wheel- drive system with active torque vectoring that enables the R1T and R1S to reach their top speed of 201km/h.
 
The 105kWh, 135kWh and 180kWh variants have system outputs of 300kW/560Nm, 562kW/1120Nm and 522kW/1120Nm respectively, although the latter two’s maximum grounded torque is an eye-watering 14,000Nm – a figure that the former can only half match.
 
The 135kWh version is the quickest of the three, sprinting from standstill to 97km/h (60mph) in 3.0 seconds while on the way to 161km/h (100mph) in less than seven seconds.
 
The 180kWh variant is not too far behind this blistering pace, at 3.2s and less than eight seconds, while the 105kWh version is further adrift, at 4.9s and 12.5s respectively. These performance figures are the same for both models.
 
The R1T and R1S support DC fast charging at rates up to 160kW, enabling about 322km of range to be recuperated in 30 minutes. An onboard 11kW charger provides fast charging at Level 2 stations.
 
Measuring in at 5475mm long, 2015mm wide and 1815mm high with a 3450mm wheelbase, the R1T competes in the full-size segment, which is currently dominated by the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500, the latter two of which are available via conversion in Australia.
 
Due to its hefty 2670kg kerb weight, the R1T’s payload is limited to 800kg, although braked towing capacity is more than competitive, at 5000kg. For reference, 3500kg is considered class-leading in Australia’s mid-size segment.
 
Comparatively, the R1S differs with its length (5040mm) and height (1820mm) but features the same width and wheelbase. It weighs 2650kg, has an 820kg payload and tows 3500kg.
 
The five-seat R1T and seven-seat R1S ride on a skateboard platform, which packages the battery pack, electric motors, thermal system, underbody protection and suspension (double-wishbone front and multi-link rear axles with adaptive dampers) below its wheels.
 
The R1T’s tub is 1400mm long, 1385mm wide and has a tonneau cover, three 110V power outlets, an integrated air compressor, while a further 200L of storage space is located under its bed floor, which can be used for a full-size spare tyre. Similarly, the R1S has 180L hidden under its boot floor that is accessed via a split tailgate.
 
Both models have a trunk that offers 330L of cargo capacity, while the R1T has an extra 350L provided by its lockable side bin, or Gear Tunnel, behind the cabin, which can be used as a side step to load items onto the roof racks or into the tub. Inside, 95L is found underneath its second row.
 
With its off-road driving mode engaged, the R1T’s four-chamber air springs raise ground clearance to 360mm, while its approach, departure and breakover angles grow to 34, 30 and 26 degrees respectively. Maximum wading depth is 1000mm. The R1S rides 5mm higher and has a breakover angle that is three degrees larger.
 
The pair’s technology-focused cabin features a 15.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 6.8-inch touchscreen for rear passengers, all of which can have their software updated over the air due to high-speed Ethernet support.
 
With hardware including cameras, LIDAR, radars, ultrasonic sensors and GPS with high-definition maps, the R1T and R1S support Level 3 autonomous driving on highways and a suite of advanced driver-assist systems. Eight airbags are standard, and a five-star safety rating is expected.
 
According to Rivian founder and chief executive officer RJ Scaringe, the R1T and R1S are catered towards pick-up and SUV buyers that use their vehicles for lifestyle purposes but, until now, did not have the option of zero-emissions driving.
 
“We're launching Rivian with two vehicles that reimagine the pick-up and SUV segments,” he said. “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.”
 
Rivian last year purchased the former Mitsubishi Motors manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois, where it will build the R1T and R1S. The sale included most of the resources needed to recommence production.
 
The 135kWh and 180kWh variants will kick off proceedings, while the 105kWh version is set to start rolling out of the factory six months later.
 
R1T and R1S pricing starts from $US69,000 ($A95,400) and $US72,500 ($A100,300) respectively before the $US7500 ($A10,400) federal tax credit. Rivian is currently accepting $US1000 ($A1400) refundable deposits.

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