Rivian isn't quite ready to deliver its first electric vehicles, the R1T pickup and R1S SUV, but the company did release a video explaining its origin story.
Founded in 2009 as Mainstream Motors, Rivian didn't start out as the same truck-focused company we know. Watch carefully in the video and you'll get a glimpse of the sporty coupe Rivian was developing before it switched to pickup trucks and SUVs.
Visible beginning at around 1:30 in the video, it's a two-door car with a low roofline and short overhangs, but also a truncated rear end that almost suggests a hatchback.
The project was scrapped in 2011, although images used in the video seem to show a working prototype. Perhaps it's stashed away in some dark corner of Rivian's headquarters.
Rivian founder RJ Scaringe eventually decided the coupe project wasn't ambitious enough, hence the switch to off-road vehicles. The move admittedly differentiates Rivian from the multiple startups—such as Faraday Future and Lucid Motors—looking to emulate the success of Tesla with sporty electric luxury cars.
The R1T and R1S were unveiled at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. Both use the same skateboard chassis, which houses the battery pack and all mechanical components. Different bodies can be mounted on the same basic chassis to create new models.
Rivian sports coupe clay model
Rivian has said the R1S will have a maximum range of about 410 miles, while the R1T will have a maximum range of about 400 miles. Both vehicles will also do 0-60 mph in 3.0 seconds, Rivian claims. It seems some of that sporty coupe's DNA survived after all.
The R1T is expected to launch in 2020, with the R1S following a year later. The vehicles will be built at a former Mitsubishi factory in Normal, Illinois. Rivian previously said that it would contract with a third-party supplier for battery cells, but would assemble those cells into battery packs onsite.
Following the launch of the R1T and R1S, Scaringe has said Rivian could launch six models by 2025. One of those models could reportedly be an electric rally car with a shorter-wheelbase version of the Rivian skateboard chassis.
Rivian is also sharing its skateboard chassis design with other companies. The startup has signed agreements to develop electric delivery vans for Amazon, and to provide the skateboard as the basis of Lincoln's first production electric vehicle. Both Amazon and Lincoln parent Ford have invested in Rivian.