Rivian R1T all-electric pickup revealed: 400-mile range, 160-kw DC fast charging

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With the Rivian R1T pickup revealed this morning, just ahead of the Los Angeles auto show, and the R1S SUV expected to be shown here this week, a Michigan-based electric-vehicle startup called Rivian might have something that’s been a long time coming: the first widely available fully electric light-duty pickup.

Along with that, it might have the first battery pack significantly larger than what’s used by Tesla, the most power and torque ever in a normal-production light truck, and the first vehicle that can be DC fast-charged at more than 150 kw.

Rivian R1T electric pickup concept

Rivian R1T electric pickup concept

The trucks that Rivian is revealing this week are loaded with great ideas and what appear to be effective designs, but it serves to cage all this with plenty of coulds or mights as they’re still far from production-ready. At about two years from first deliveries, all those boasting points are in the hypothetical realm—because they depend on Rivian’s ability to produce its trucks at a former Mitsubishi (and Chrysler) facility in Normal, Illinois, and then support those products.

We’ve seen Faraday Future, for instance, come farther—a lot farther, actually—and they still didn’t quite make it.

Good measurements for a one-size-fits-all

The product, if it arrives looking and performing as billed, would be a welcome way for truck people to go tailpipe-free. The R1T is 215.6 inches long, roughly the length of today’s so-called mid-size pickups. But its 79.3-inch width and 135.8-inch wheelbase are more in line with full-size trucks. Factor in the 55-inch bed length—short, even by mid-size truck standards—and the result appears to be a very spacious passenger cabin.

Rivian R1T electric pickup concept

Rivian R1T electric pickup concept

Visualize a truck built to appeal both to the Tesla set and the crowds who buys GMC Denali trucks and have a Range Rover in the driveway, and you won’t land too far away from the R1T’s look. The trucks “have been designed to communicate strength and refinement while still inviting customers to get them dirty,” said the vehicle maker.

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There are a lot of parallels to Tesla in the strategy. The R1T is offered with several possible battery packs, each with correspondingly longer driving ranges. And not all of them end up offering the same performance.

With the initially available 135 kwh and 180 kwh battery packs, four motors will each be rated up to 174 horsepower. Just as with Tesla, a lower-priced version with a smaller 105-kwh battery pack and lower 402-horsepower (300-kw) total (combined) motor output will join the lineup later—within a year of launch, Rivian says.

Rivian's range estimates at this point are more than 300 miles for the 135-kwh, more than 400 miles for the 180-kwh, and 230 miles for the 105-kwh.

Pulling power to match not-so-light diesels

The total of 820 pound-feet of torque in models with the larger battery packs, is bested only by the bigger diesel V-8s offered in heavy-duty pickups. With an 11,000-pound trailer-weight limit it will be able to put that torque to good use there, or in off-road tasks like climbing up to a 45-degree gradient, fording 39 inches of water, or handling serious off-road trails with Jeep-like off-road and departure angles.

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Acceleration from 0-60 mph—or again, to cage this, the projected acceleration of a future vehicle—is astonishing. Rivian claims just 3.0 seconds for the 135-kwh model or 3.2 seconds for the 180-kwh model; the 105-kwh will still be able to get to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. 100 mph comes in less than 7 seconds for the 135-kwh version (less than 8 seconds for the 180-kwh), and top speed is 125 mph.

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