We get taken for a ride in the new 547kW Rivian R1T electric pick-up truck.
In the town of Normal, Illinois, USA, two hours south of Chicago, something very different is hitting the roads.
It’s the Rivian R1T – an all-electric pick-up truck from the much-hyped start-up firm that’s set to rival Tesla. It’s built in Normal at a former Mitsubishi factory, where an SUV version called the R1S will soon join it. And we’ve had the chance of an exclusive first ride.
This is the R1T Large Pack, which uses the largest battery the brand makes – an impressive 135kWh, which gives a claimed range of 505km to US testing standards and is capable of 200kW charging. That means, at a charger fast enough, you’ll be able to put an additional 225km into the R1T’s battery in 20 minutes. A 105kWh battery will be standard, while a Max Pack will enable up to 640km of range, despite the three-tonne-plus weight of the vehicle.
Once you’ve climbed aboard, you have to remind yourself that you’re sitting in a commercial vehicle. It’s all very premium, and very unlike the average pick-up truck.
You sink into the comfortable vegan leather seats, and gaze out over a relatively short bonnet. There’s the impressive cockpit to take in next, with its hi-tech dual screens, a digital instrument panel for the driver and a huge central infotainment screen. There’s also the large panoramic glass roof – and this is all before you get moving.
While most four-wheel-drive EVs have an electric motor on each axle, the Rivian stands out because it has a motor for each wheel. It makes a big difference in how it feels on the road. The torque vectoring and optimal distribution of power enabled by this system mean that despite its hefty weight, the R1T glides along almost like a passenger car.
This is how it feels in the “all-purpose” driving mode, but for those who want to explore the power of the colossal 547kW set-up, Sport mode unlocks the performance potential; this is a pick-up truck with more power than a Ferrari F8.
It feels as rapid as that figure suggests, weight included. However, we’ll have to wait to see how it manages off-road, where its adjustable air suspension comes to the fore.
Our first taste of the Rivian R1T leaves us feeling this could be a brand about to break out the Tesla-style hype all over again. As for being offered in Australia, we have heard strong reports that Rivian is planning a new production site in the UK. Speaking previously to Stuff in NZ, chief engineer for the company Brian Gase said: “The truck makes sense in the Australian market. We see significant value, particularly with the SUV in right-hand drive markets. And we’ve commonised everything on the vehicles forward of the B-pillar, so by default, getting a right-hand-drive truck is a low barrier, because I’ve got a right-hand-drive SUV.”
Add to all of this that Rivian has already brought two models to Australia (and New Zealand) for testing and there are strong indicators that the brand will launch here, at which point it could make quite the compelling option for those after a big ute with a big difference.
Rivian R1T Price and Specs
|Model:||Rivian R1T Large Pack|
|Transmission:||Single-speed auto, four-wheel drive|
|On sale:||Australia TBC|