Here in Australia we are in election mode and the two main parties are going at it hammer and tongs about the usual topics: health, education, taxes etc. This week the opposition Labor Party announced a new policy with regards to climate change and environmental issues: they will mandate that 50% of all new cars sold by 2030 must be electric powered.
The current Government has a similar plan to mandate a lower percentage of sales of electric vehicles. However in true election form, the Government then did a press conference with a “hands off our utes” theme accusing the opposition of trying to kill off the tradies vehicle of choice – the humble ute, originally produced by Ford and Holden, however with those two not manufacturing here any more, Toyota, Mazda and Mitsubishi have the market with an ever growing fleet of Chinese made utes appearing on our roads.
It was clear that neither party really knew much about what they were talking about (what’s new?) because if they had done ten minutes of homework, they would have seen the Rivian R1T that was announced late last year and is a truck that they could encourage the manufacturer to schedule for future Australia release. That would do something that hasn’t happened for decades: make the tradies and the Government happy at the same time!
Rivian has been described as an EV startup, however that is not strictly true – they have been operating under a few different names since 2009 and took the Rivian name about five years ago. The R1T is the first vehicle they have got close to market with, having started out with a design for a highly economical passenger car, then switched to autonomous systems before settling on an electric powered truck.
The R1T is about the size of a current Ford F-150, so slightly larger than the Japanese imports here in Australia. It has been designed as a dual-cab with three different power rating options depending on the usage required. It is a heavy vehicle as many in this market segment are, although I believe Ford switched to aluminium a few years ago. To counter this weight, the R1T has a motor at each corner and uses what has been described as a “skateboard” architecture where the batteries are sandwiched into the chassis – like laminated wood. In traditional terms, Rivian quotes a power output equivalent of around 750hp, which is huge compared to a standard vehicle. The R1T also uses air suspension to raise the vehicle when off-road. This is important to protect the battery packs – you wouldn’t want to bottom out and damage the power source!
The styling has a traditional profile however the front looks like it is a member of the C3PO family and the rear also has some Star Trek influences. Perhaps the designers were Star Warriors or Trekkies! With regards to specs, the largest of the power options: 180kWh (135kWh and 105kWh are the other two) will give it about 640 km of range (400 miles in the old world) and very quick acceleration – which would be dependent on load carrying.
It is interesting to think that the acceleration times are still used as a marketing tool, when in reality, this type of vehicle is built for purpose not for street racing! It is actually irrelevant however the range, torque and battery life are key topics that would be of interest to a serious buyer.
We like this truck, it isn’t trying to be too futuristic and for a first version, does tick many boxes for the types of usage that it is intended for. It can carry up to 800kg and tow up to 5,000kg which would be ample for the majority of buyers who typically have a bed full of tools and equipment to lug around. Having been brought up with Jeep trucks (a J10 followed by a J20) and seeing them being used in a real world environment, these vehicles will not be used for towing very heavy equipment and will actually be used far less than the design was intended for.
The R1T and its sister R1S (an SUV) are expected to roll off the production line next year and so international markets would surely be ready to open one to two years after the home market has settled down. By that stage, many countries will have far greater electric charging infrastructures installed.
Images are sourced from – and owned by Rivian.