"Startup" electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian took almost 10 years to develop its first production-intent concept vehicles, but at least it aimed for the heart of the market with a pickup truck, the R1T. Following the R1T's debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show is a three-row SUV, the R1S. The Plymouth, Mich.-based company says the real products will arrive in late 2020.
The R1S SUV, a five- or seven-seater, shares the fundamentals of the R1T pickup truck, including four-motor all-wheel drive, which is valued for precise control at each wheel. (The motors aren't incorporated into the wheels but rather sit inboard on a "skateboard" platform that integrates the battery pack.) It's about 17 inches shorter than the pickup in length at 16.5 feet, comparable to a Ford Explorer. Its wheelbase, at 121.1 inches, is around 15 inches shorter than that of the pickup.
Like the pickup, the SUV is pitched as an "electric adventure vehicle" with off-road capabilities to match. Thanks to adjustable air suspension, the R1S' ground clearance ranges from 8.1 to 14.4 inches, a few tenths of an inch higher than that of the truck. The shorter wheelbase also increases the ramp breakover angle to 29 degrees from the pickup's 26, but the other angles are the same: a maximum (with the suspension raised) of 34 degrees for approach and 30 degrees for departure. Both vehicles have a water-fording height of 3.3 feet.
Where pickup buyers demand the capabilities above, SUV shoppers are more concerned with practical matters in an all-electric vehicle such as range, and here the R1S adds another 10 miles of estimated range to each of the three proposed battery packs it shares with the R1T: a total of 240 miles, 310 miles and 410 miles on a charge. Total horsepower also varies with the battery, ranging from roughly 402 to 700 hp. Rivian claims acceleration to 60 mph is 4.9 seconds for the base 105-kilowatt-hour pack, 3.0 seconds for the 135-kwh pack and a slightly slower 3.2 seconds for the largest (and heaviest) 180-kwh pack.
They might not know it yet, but consumers should also take interest in the R1S' support of over-the-air updatability, a capability to keep Teslas evolving that no other automaker has yet fully matched. This function is crucial to keep vehicle performance optimal as a car ages, and it's especially important when it has autonomous features, as the Rivian models will.
The R1S will start at $72,500 before destination charges and incentives in its most modest form, though Rivian says this version will follow loaded, maximum-range variants by up to 12 months. The company is accepting preorders with a refundable deposit of $1,000 at its website.
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