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Rivian Will Bring Electric to Off-Road

Rivian Will Bring Electric to Off-Road

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Electric Truckland

By Will Marshal
Photos via Rivian

The days of Prius drivers turning their noses up at pickups and SUVs are quickly coming to a close. Rivian, a mid-western automotive startup company based out of Normal, IL showed off two production samples of their latest vehicles this week at the LA Auto Show – the R1T pickup and the R1S SUV. Both are fully electric, off-road rated vehicles.

Yes. You read that right. Electric. Off-road. Let’s look at the specs.

R1T Pickup Truck

  • 400 Mile range
  • 5886 Curb Weight
  • 750 horsepower
  • 826 lbs-ft of torque
  • 0-60 in 3.2 seconds
  • Wading depth of over three feet
  • Individual Wheel mounted electric motors (read: four) with independent controls
  • Double A-arm suspension in the front and multi-link in the rear with active electro-dampeners and adjustable ride-height air suspension
  • 1763 lb payload and 11,000 lb tow capacity

R1S SUV

  • 410 Mile Range
  • 5842 Curb Weight
  • 826 horsepower
  • 826 lbs-ft of torque
  • 0-60 in 3.2 seconds
  • Wading depth of over three feet
  • Individual Wheel mounted electric motors (read: four) with independent controls
  • Double A-arm suspension in the front and multi-link in the rear with active electro-dampeners and adjustable ride-height air suspension
  • 1807 lb payload and a 7716 lb tow capacity

Both trucks will use a “skateboard” type architecture that Tesla has pioneered, which situates the batteries in the middle of the vehicle at the floor. All the weight down low will give the vehicle stellar handling on curvy roads and ultra low rollover risk off-road.

Rivian R1T Pickup

There will be three battery packs available among both vehicles, a 105kWh, 135kWh, and 180kWh gives 0-60 times ranging from 4.9 seconds to a lighting fast 3.0 seconds, and ranges of 230 miles all the way up to the aforementioned 400 miles. Did we mention a top speed of 125mph?

And let’s talk about that fording depth again. OVER THREE FEET OF FORDING DEPTH. There are 1/4” thick aluminum skid plates that line the completely flat bottom of the vehicle and ensure massive protection of the batteries (assuming that the 14” of ground clearance is not enough). Both have an approach angle of 34 degrees, departure angle of 30 degrees, and breakover angles of 26 and 29 degrees for the R1S and R1T respectively. Each earns a max climbing gradient of 45 degrees, which is some military grade stuff.

Rivian R1T

No engine and no central motor gives both of these vehicles the most lockable storage ever made available on any vehicle, EVER. Residing under the hood where the engine would normally reside, the frunk has a total volume of 330L for both models. Rear bin volume is 200 (truck) and 180 (SUV), and the truck features a “gear tunnel’ that runs the full width of the vehicle. This tunnel separates the bed and the cabin with a whopping 350L of storage. The pickup version has a 4.7 foot bed, that while shorter than most mid-size truck offerings – the rest of the storage options in the vehicle make up for readily.

Rivian R1T Pickup

Let’s be clear right off the bat – Rivian does not want to be Tesla, or beat Tesla for that matter. Rivian is aiming for a sweet-spot in the industry, akin to Patagonia. In an interview with TechCrunch, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said “A lot of aspirational vehicles tend to be more like an Armani suit. These brands do have things that are more functional, almost like an Armani leisure wear, but there’s no one that has built up and focused on that Patagonia-like brand position.”

What’s that all mean? Rivian is not trying to make the next luxury performance gadget. They have their sights set on Range Rover and Jeep – the “you can take this to the mountains and to the office” slice of the pie.

The age of the internal combustion engine is coming to an end. More innovation in the automotive industry has happened in the last ten years than in its entirety up until that point. Batteries are becoming better, charging is improving, electric infrastructure is being laid out en masse. The only thing we need to get these trucks on the Overlanding map permanently is an abundance of charging stations in remote locations, and the development of auxiliary battery cells (think electric jerry cans).

Pricing on the R1T starts at $65,100, and the first vehicles will be delivered Q1 of 2020 from Rivian’s former Chrysler-Mitsubishi plant in Normal, IL.

This is a huge breakthrough in the off-road truck segment, and we cannot wait to see what happens next.

Check out these videos from Rivian to whet your palette.

Comment(17)

  1. Not bad, 400 mile range tops anything I've seen. Running the 4 hub mounted motors is smart. I cant remember the company that makes them but, when I looked at them I was impressed. I'm guessing 200 ish miles off road with very little if any power regeneration. I have been watching and waiting for Tesla's truck to come out. Should be nice to see how it compares. I'm not too keen on the "futuristic" head and tail lights. To me they made the truck ugly. I would also like to know what battery's and charging times. Price is about what I would expect.

    Scott

    1. Hey Scott, the motors are centre mounted which means lower unsprung mass than (Proterra) hub motors and also allows for long half shafts/ large range of motion for swing arms. When it comes to overlanding I’d hazard a guess that recharge times aren’t going to be an absolute priority.

      Also at the end of this article extra batteries was mentioned. I doubt this will be a thing, more likely will be high efficiency solar panels. These wouldn’t necessarily be for car Charging but to run accessories like night lighting and refrigeration.

      The more remote charging locations will likely be at long stop destinations; eateries/outfitters, trail heads, swimming holes. This will negate the need for “fast” charging. Level 2 or 3 charging will get the job done in an hour or two, no need for expensive infrastructure, that “ultrafast” (15-30mins) chargers will only need to be on major highways. And even in really remote places around the globe if you’ve got fuel to pump you’ll need electricity to pump it. That rare use case of hand pump fuel depots is not going to effect too many overlanders.

      Personally I love the idea of roaming around the world on stored sunshine.

      If you need evidence of overlanding in an electric car check out “plugin adventures.” On YouTube.

  2. The biggest issue I've seen with electric vehicles is heat.  Electric cars/trucks use electricity to produce heat… and not very efficiently.  As we all know producing heat with electricity takes a lot!  This greatly reduces the range… but is rarely mentioned.

    And I can only imagine how it will (or won't) start and drive in -40.

    1. That’s the thing with electric motors, one moving part. It just needs to turn on if the oil is frozen, the motor will heat it up (very efficiently) and off you go. Thermal management of the batteries is next level, it’s not like the Lead acid batteries of old. Admittedly your going to loose range in the cold, I guess all that lost heat energy in internal combustion vehicles can be useful in sub zero temps but hey it’s hard to produce a single vehicle for every use case.

  3. This is great. The advent of electric vehicles will keep the price of gasoline competitive. It is all about cost per mile. If these electrics can be operated for about 15 cents a mile then gasoline will be forced to compete or become irrelevant. So, I’m looking forward to sticking with my 80 series. 🙂

  4. And I can only imagine how it will (or won't) start and drive in -40.

    I'm curious about this too.  I know lead acid batteries suffer in extreme cold, but are lithium-ion batteries the same?  On the other hand, electrical conductivity increases as temperature decreases, so some parts may even work more efficiently in the cold.

    That said…

    My son:  "Dad, we ran out of power!"

    Me:        "Set up the solar panels and grab me a beer."

  5. I'm curious about this too.  I know lead acid batteries suffer in extreme cold, but are lithium-ion batteries the same?  On the other hand, electrical conductivity increases as temperature decreases, so some parts may even work more efficiently in the cold.

    ."

    I'm no expert but i know the lithium ion batteries we use at work really seem to suffer in the cold AND can become unstable at very high temps as well. That said, if they pull off better batteries I would happily do my traveling in an electric.

  6. I'm no expert but i know the lithium ion batteries we use at work really seem to suffer in the cold AND can become unstable at very high temps as well. That said, if they pull off better batteries I would happily do my traveling in an electric.

    Me too.  I know I keep my Li-Ion batteries and chargers for tools in the house over the winter.  I don't have any science to back it up, but I *think* I killed a pair of new 18v batteries by leaving them in the unheated garage over 3 winter months.

  7. Hey Scott, the motors are centre mounted which means lower unsprung mass than (Proterra) hub motors and also allows for long half shafts/ large range of motion for swing arms.

    In the article it mentions "wheel mounted motors". In the chassis picture it dosent show a center mounted motor but, that could be a concept picture and what they really made may be different. When it comes to unsprung weight, again looking at the front strut assemblies, the size reminds me of the Bose prototype magnetic suspension. it never got out of the prototype due to cost and a huge weight factor. If the drawing is correct then their running a Macpherson Strut (probably not Bose) which has a bit higher unsprung weight then an SLA. Again, its possible the picture is incorrect.

    What would be nice is if they were running regeneration shocks (not sure what the real name is). Using the kinetic energy from the unsprung weight to generate electricity.

    When it comes to overlanding I’d hazard a guess that recharge times aren’t going to be an absolute priority.

    I'll somewhat agree with this. When I take my sisters Tesla X out for a drive, it's nice having the fast chargers plotted out for me. Taking a several day trip, it becomes an issue though. My route may not take me by a fast charger. The wait time goes from about 45 min's to several hours. She wont let me take it on a multiday desert trip (or off the highway at all) but I still plotted charge points if I did.

     

    If we could get solar technology to evolve a few more levels, all this will be moot.

    We also need to realize, were looking at first and second generation with these cars. Motor and battery technology has evolved tremendously in the last decade. What will we see in the next two decades?

    Scott

  8. IMO. & its just my opinion don’t mean to offend anyone but you can keep your electric/hybrid/whatever in the city. I really cannot understand where this vehicle would even make it in the real world I.E. overland world. Maybe when Moab & other areas have charging stations I still wouldn’t understand.

    1. No offense taken, but a hybrid would be great as an overlander. Jeep’s new 48v architecture in their 2.0 turbo 4 Rubicon is starting to make inroads as a very mild hybrid.

      To really make a difference, they’re going to have to start looking at different hybrid architecture. The Prius-style parallel hybrid is too limiting. I’d love to see a real series hybrid overland vehicle. Shall we say 300 miles of pure battery range augmented by a diesel? Locomotives run this type of setup where the diesel engine doesn’t turn the wheels but just charges the batteries. There are only a few series hybrid cars available, and frustratingly enough, Chevy’s Volt is one of them (BMW and Honda also make them). Frustrating because GM/Chevy has experience in building a series hybrid, and their ZR2 shows that they have the experience to put together a serious overland vehicle, so why not just combine the two concepts together? A series hybrid ZR2? I’d be all over that!

  9. And I can only imagine how it will (or won't) start and drive in -40.

    OW…."I" dont even start in that. Cold here is +40F. Brrrrrrrrrr. Im sure the range in my electric car would go to nothing as soon as I turned on my seat heater, steering wheel heater, plugged in my heated shoes, heated mirrors and defogger. Not to mention my coffee warmer plugged into the acc outlet.

    Scott

  10. I think it’s very good news and excellent idea.
    Still quite low performance, but surely it is only the first stage. I think we will be pleasantly surprised with an Electric Overlander very soon.
    I hope to get to see it. I only fear that the prices are always very high.

  11. IMO. & its just my opinion don’t mean to offend anyone but you can keep your electric/hybrid/whatever in the city. I really cannot understand where this vehicle would even make it in the real world I.E. overland world. Maybe when Moab & other areas have charging stations I still wouldn’t understand.

    1:  I'm not offended.

    2:  Full Disclosure:  I drive an oilburner.

    That said, I think once there are some growing pains ironed out, like charging availability, durability, etc., I'd love to rock an electric vehicle at Moab.  Electric motors make ridiculous amounts of torque in relation to horsepower and would be much lighter weight than an internal combustion engine.  If I could get a reliable, truly useable CJ-5 with ~500lbs of torque, I'd be all in.

    That said, I don't see any of us doing Camel Trophy runs on battery power any time soon.

  12. The biggest objection I see is running out of juice in the far flung wilds. What are you going to do when your battery runs dry 700 miles from civilization? Or if you get water ingress that fries your batteries or motors? We shall see.

  13. These companies can run all the focus groups they want and we can all express our opinions here, but what I think is interesting is that these companies have the finances to experiment and see how their users react in the real world. Whatever Rivian releases now, it will be very different in five years when they learn how their user base modifies them, where and how  they use, etc. The original Tesla Roadster was awful – ugly, small and overpriced. The model 3, which I think is ugly, is leagues beyond what the roadster was – it’s baby steps, and these companies are all learning. I’m looking forward to how this develops over the next few years.

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