Touted as the strongest rival to Tesla, Rivian has been making waves in the EV world with its suite of backers like Amazon and Ford along with impressive specifications. With the recent sighting of not one but two Rivian models in Australia, speculations are rife that Aussie customers can soon order an R1T and R1S, however, while that is not beyond the realm of a possibility, it could be more than a year before we see it happen.
Right now there is a lot of frantic activity happening at Rivian ahead of US deliveries starting in September (for the R1T Ute) along with a stock market float in the offing. Clearly, the focus for this EV start-up is the US market at the moment while it plans to enter Europe in 2022 via the export route. RHD plans will follow suit in the second leg of the expansion including setting up a second plant- rumoured to be in the UK or Europe. Hence, an Australian launch could be in 2022 or beyond that.
Both the R1T Ute and the R1S SUV have a quad-motor AWD set-up using Rivian’s own skateboard platform where the battery pack, drive units and suspension are efficiently packed. Despite their gargantuan proportions, the performance claims are akin to a sports car with a 0-60 mph time of just 3 seconds and onto 100 mph in less than 7 seconds. Crucially, the R1T has a tow rating of 11,000 pounds. EPA figures reveal the range of the R1T and R1S at 314 and 316 miles- just shy of the Tesla Model X Long Range which is pegged at 370 miles.
The much talked about “Waypoint” charging stations at off-road trails have also started appearing around Moab and there are plans for around 10,000 such stations all over the US at off-road locations, similar to the Tesla Supercharger network. It is clear that Rivian wants its cars to be more than a one trick pony while the off-road ability plus access to charging at remote places is what will separate itself from a Tesla. However, with the Cybertruck (further delayed apparently), Ford F-150 Lighting and GMC Hummer also waiting in the wings, the EV Ute/SUV market will soon turn out to be a fierce battle ground. That said, at the moment, Rivian seems to have the early mover advantage.