An electric pick-up truck? No kidding!

A little-known automaker called Rivian has made waves by unveiling an electric pick-up truck called R1T. It promises to be a go-anywhere EV. Is it worth your time?

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At one point in time, electric vehicles were considered a novelty. At that time, the Tesla Roadster was the only EV around. The Model S and Model X were under development then. That time seems like a distant memory now. Today, there’s Faraday Future trying to upstage Tesla, despite its own difficulties. Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Jaguar are making EVs. Moreover, a storied sports car maker like Porsche is gearing up to launch the EV Taycan. All this should make a relatively new auto player like Rivian seem out of place. However, Rivian has a trick up its sleeve. A giant pick-up truck-sized trick. Rivian calls it R1T and it promises to go where EVs haven’t before – off the tarmac. I am intrigued, are you?

Rivian R1T – Photo Gallery

What’s new about the Rivian R1T?

Let me make an exception here by starting with Rivian R1T’s specs. Firstly, because I’ve not done that before. More importantly, its specs are kind of nuts. Four electric motors onboard, all-wheel drive, torque-vectoring, capacity to seat five, least powerful model going over 200 miles (320km) on a single full charge… All these things demand a quick look at what powers this truck.

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The R1T will be sold in three powertrain trims – 105kWh, 135kWh, and 180kWh. These refer to the battery packs either model will come with. Here’s where it all becomes confusing – the 105kWh model has 402HP power, the 135kWh model has 753HP power, and the 180kWh model has 700HP power. Curious? Let me break it down.

Rivian-R1T-1

Each of the four electric motors mounted on the Rivian R1T makes 197HP power. That totals to 788HP output for all four combined. In either model’s case, the power going to the transmission is computer-limited. Also, either model’s top speed is limited to 125mph (200kmph). As far as their range goes, the 105kWh model goes over 200 miles (320km), the 135kWh model goes over 300 miles (480km), and the 180kWh model goes over 400 miles (640km) on a single full charge.

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Let’s now talk about the Rivian R1T’s design. To my eyes, it looks like a pick-up truck alright but sleeker. It’s silhouette is unmistakably that of a truck. Unlike other pick-up trucks though, it doesn’t have that muscularity. That’s partly because of how smooth the bodywork is, despite the bonnet and side creases. I think Rivian went for a look that is inoffensive to either a person working on a ranch or in a corporate office. It looks unique, even though I can’t see myself admiring it. May be it will look better in person than in photos.

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Also, there is a sense of efficiency about the Rivian R1T. Few bulges and smooth surfaces help convey that feeling. What also conveys this feeling is the platform the truck is built on. Rivian calls it Skateboard platform. It packages the battery, motors, suspension, and other critical components below the wheels’ height, ensuring packaging efficiency that is conveyed in vehicle’s design too.

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The same feeling of efficiency is also conveyed in R1T’s interior. Two large displays, one for driver (12.3-inch unit) and one for infotainment (measuring 15.6 inches), adorn the dashboard. The rear seat passengers make do with 6.8-inch displays. A swath of wood spans the width of the dashboard.

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If you look closely, the A/c vents have been neatly integrated as surrounds for the wood. Even the steering wheel has wood insert. Good luck finding buttons in this interior. Only if Rivian could find a way to cover these screens too. After all, nothing screams dated more loudly than a worn-out screen.

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Time to now talk about some of Rivian R1T’s clever bits. Rivian has paid attention to this vehicle’s design. The various storage spaces around the car, apart from the bed, prove this. This is the only pick-up truck on the market with a 330-litre frunk. Take a moment to let that sink in.

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Below the pick-up bed, there is a bin which can house a full-size spare tire. Otherwise, this bin has 200-litre storage capacity. Between the pick-up bed and cabin of the R1T sits a gear tunnel with 350-litre storage space (it’s lockable too). Barring the 180kWh mode, the other variants get 95-litre underseat storage too.

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The Rivian R1T’s pick-up bed houses three 110V ports. The Gear Guard feature helps you secure your valuables. Not to be missed is a tire inflator in the bed. Two integrated locking cables help secure items in the bed. A camera helps monitor the gear mounted in the bed. Rivian’s proprietary racking mounts attach to the roof, bed rails, or bed floor to mount gear.

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These mounts are expandable. The DRL up front on the R1T doubles up as charge indicator – green means go. Rivian says the truck will get Level 3 autonomous driving capability (hands off wheel and eyes off road). Rivian is also aiming for top ratings from both NHTSA and IIHS.

Is the Rivian R1T worth consideration?

For one Rivian R1T’s price, you can get almost two Tesla Model 3s (cheapest ones anyway). However, they won’t be able to wade through 3ft water or go off road. Moreover, they will not be able to haul as much stuff as the R1T can. Rivian is asking you to part with $1000 (approx Rs 72,000 at current exchange rate) to start with and it is refundable too. Deliveries will begin late 2020. Moreover, the cheapest model will be made available within 12 months after 135kWh and 180kWh models go on sale. That’s some waiting time, isn’t it?

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However, if you want a vehicle that is as capable as the R1T (more than a sedan or a crossover), the wait should be worth it. The crazy bit about it all is that Rivian showed their SUV – the R1S – a few days later. However, this vehicle has my attention more than that.

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Call it my bias for pick-up trucks or my dislike for crossovers dressing up as SUVs, I think this vehicle is worth your time. If EVs are the future of automobiles, a pick-up truck is the best way to show that EVs are prepared for the prime time. After all, where would you be more anxious about your EV’s range – in a city or off-road in the wilderness?

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The Rivian R1T is a practical, usable, and purposeful vehicle. Its footprint is quite big, there’s no mistaking that. But at a time when the world is going SUV-crazy and SUVs are becoming ‘less SUV and more crossover’, a pick-up truck is still devoid of any bastardisation. This is yet another reason why you should consider the Rivian R1T. A go-anywhere EV? I am all in and so should you be.

Rivian R1T – Specs at a glance

SpecificationsRivian R1T
Price US $61,500 onward after federal tax credit (approx Rs 44.23 lakh at current exchange rate)
Engine Four electric motors with electric AWD
Battery pack capacity 105kWh/135kWh/180kWh
Range 200 miles+/300 miles+/400 miles+ (over 320 km/480km/640km)
Power 402HP/753HP/700HP
Torque 560Nm/1,120Nm/1,120Nm
Transmission Single-speed automatic
Front Suspension Double wishbone with adaptive dampers/air springs (optional)
Rear Suspension Multi-link type with adaptive dampers/air suspension (optional)
Front Brake Disc brakes
Rear Brake Disc brakes
Length 5,475mm
Width 2,015mm
Height 1,815mm
Wheelbase 3,450mm

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