What's a Rivian? We're not surprised at the question, because not only has this fledgling U.S. automaker not yet brought any product to market, it hasn't made much noise about what it's been up to. But the automaker's getting close, with its first effort — the fully electric 2021 Rivian R1T pickup truck — set to launch in just a few months.
2021 Rivian R1T
Well, nothing. But that's because the Rivian rolls around on a skateboard platform that contains the suspension, the four motors and the battery pack. Each motor is rated at 147 kilowatts, and total combined output can be as high as 562 kW, which equates to 753 horsepower. The cool part about having four motors is that it allows supremely accurate traction control and torque vectoring using nothing but software control. In theory, it means there are no differentials to lock or unlock either.
Electric vehicles are expected to present a more stylish and tech-forward interior than their internal combustion engine counterparts, and the R1T certainly follows that trend. Inset within open-pore wood trim (sustainably sourced, according to Rivian) are two fairly large digital displays: one in front of the driver, where a normal instrument pod would live, and the second in the center of the dash. Though we haven't had a chance to sit in the R1T yet, we prefer the idea of a dual-screen setup to the single screen found in Tesla's Model 3 and Model Y. The rest of the interior looks solid and well-made, although time will tell if the materials can withstand the adventurous use the R1T is designed to deliver.
We've not yet driven the R1T, so it's hard to comment about the ergonomics of its interior layout and the usefulness of its unique infotainment system. Few such details have been released, but Rivian has outlined a fully connected system that will readily enable over-the-air software updates. Tesla owners tend to love this functionality, but it can also lead to sloppy development practices.
The R1T is unusual in its use of space. At just 55 inches long, its truck bed is stubbier than most. But it has a front trunk under the hood because, well, there's no engine under there. And the bed offers an underfloor trunk of its own that's suitable for a full-size spare. But the weirdest and coolest part may be something Rivian calls a gear tunnel, which is a lockable space behind the cab and under the bed that can hold golf bags and snowboards. Accessible from either side of the truck, its doors open in such a way that they also function as bed steps.
The release of the 2021 Rivian R1T pickup is quickly approaching, and the way Rivian has flown under the radar until the vehicle is production-ready gives us confidence that it might pull this off. The truck looks good, its touted performance seems achievable, and Rivian has time to refine the product before it begins deliveries in mid-2021. Until then, watch this space for more updates and an eventual first drive of the Rivian R1T.