2021 Rivian R1T revealed as an off-road supertruck

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stayed quiet the past few years for an electric vehicle startup company, but things are changing. Its truck makes its world debut today at the L.A. Auto Show, and man does it make an entrance.

We’ll set aside the wild-for-a-pickup styling to tell you some of the vital stats of this all-electric pickup truck. It starts with a staggering 400-plus mile range from a 180 kWh battery pack. That’s a massive amount of range with a gigantic battery pack. The other number with shock value is its three second 0-60 mph time. It’s a strange world we’re living in when a truck somehow manages to turn in acceleration times akin to supercars. Charging from empty to 80 percent takes 50 minutes on a DC fast charger, according to Rivian. And this being a truck, it also has an 11,000-pound towing capacity. How far you’re able to drive with that much weight hanging out the back is another question entirely.

Back to the design, because this truck looks like no other truck we’ve seen before. We should discuss those vertical pill-shaped headlights first, because you’re either going to love or hate them. They certainly give the front end a unique look, but it’s jarring upon first setting our eyes upon them. Splitting those LED headlights is an LED light strip running the full width of the front. This light does a neat trick when you’re plugged in; it turns green and shows you the truck’s state of charge by lighting up the portion of the strip corresponding to that value. Along the sides of the truck, it looks a bit more traditional. But wraparound to the rear and you’re met with something different again. A full-width tail light matches the front of the truck, and you get a normal truck bed. Skid plates are attached front and rear because Rivian wants this truck to be truly capable off the pavement. All of this off-road ability comes thanks to what Rivian calls its “skateboard” platform.

For those who remember, GM actually used the “skateboard” moniker for its ill-conceived fuel-cell platform at the 2002 Detroit Auto Show, but the idea here isn’t a whole lot different. Rivian spent years developing this electric-vehicle-specific chassis to underpin all of its vehicles, which for now only include its truck and soon-to-be SUV. It’s made out of aluminum and high-strength steels and is capable of fitting the 180 kWh battery pack we mentioned earlier — Rivian won’t reveal its battery supplier yet. Making it go are four (!) electric motors, one at each wheel combining to produce 800 horsepower. This allows for the extreme acceleration, but also for pretty sweet off-road capability, since Rivian can control torque at each wheel independently. Because the battery pack is placed under the floor, it has the lowest center of gravity of any truck on the market. Weight distribution is also a sports car-like 52/48 split front to rear. Ride quality for the truck looks promising — it uses a multi-link rear and double A-arm front suspension design, and Rivian claims it will handle well. Helping it do that both on road and off is an air suspension at all four corners. It’s capable of raising the vehicle over five inches from its road driving height when you want the extra ground clearance or are heading into the trails. (Ground clearance) The R1T, being electric, affords it extreme wading ability at a full meter of water. There’s no intake so you can basically just drive it in deep until it starts to float away.

We got to peek inside and check out the Rivian’s interior at the launch event, and it’s luxurious for a truck. Rivian is trying to place its truck on the luxury side of things, though, so this makes sense. There are screens aplenty and all the materials have an upscale feel and look to them. Function and having the ability to effectively clean surfaces were the two main priorities for Rivian here. Seats, doors, the dash, carpeting and flooring are all designed to be wiped down easily and even resist staining in the first place.

USB and USB Type-C ports are literally everywhere you look around the interior. Rivian even hid some in the back of the front headrests for rear seat passengers to use. You can plug-in if you’re sitting on the tailgate too because there are four USB ports plus a 110V outlet for a fridge to keep your beverages cold. Part of the beauty of having an electric truck is the ability to use it as a generator to power literally anything you want when camping. Want to microwave something real quick? Just plug it in and start cooking. Utility is one of the biggest things Rivian stressed in its press briefing.

The R1T comes with three large storage compartments: the bed, the front trunk and then a trick tunnel pass through. You can fit a few snowboards or just extra gear and junk in the tunnel behind the rear seats — this space is especially useful if you’re trying to conserve bed space for extra large items. Putting the flap down for the tunnel space makes for a convenient step when loading and unloading stuff from either the bed or roof. It’s big enough to sit down and strap some boots on as well. The bed itself has a few other neat features. For one, you can use your truck as an air compressor by fitting up a hose to an outlet in the bed. It uses the air from the air suspension system. Also, you’ll have true bed security with outdoor vehicles because there’s a cable to wrap around a vehicle’s wheel then attach back into the bed. It can be controlled and monitored through a Rivian app on your phone. All the extra storage spots are pretty neat, and it’s cool to see Rivian take full advantage of the electric vehicle platform.

Finally, we’ll get to tech on this truck. When it launches in fall of 2020, Rivian says it will have level 3 autonomy. This means completely hands-off driving. It would be awesome if Rivian was able to accomplish this, but we’re not going to count on it for the time being. We don’t have full details on what its infotainment system will be able to accomplish, but the tile design of it looks futuristic.

Final pricing for the R1T isn’t available, but Rivian gave us some estimates. There are going to be three different battery pack sizes: 180 kWh, 135 kWh and 105 kWh. The best range and highest powered version will be around $90,000, whereas the cheapest one will be nearing $70,000. Range on the smallest battery pack truck is projected to be about 230 miles, and the truck in the middle will be about 300 miles. Rivian says that even the slowest version of the truck will get to 60 mph in under five seconds. We don’t know what trim levels will be available now, but there will be different trims upon release. One of them will be a “Marathon” version, which has the big 400-mile-plus range but doesn’t have the expensive options. This truck will reportedly start under $90,000.

There’s a lot to like about this adventure truck if your personality meshes with the design. Truck buyers have already shown a propensity to spend an inordinate amount of cash on luxurious pickups, so the price might not be as big of a turn-off as it seems at face value. We’ll see if Rivian is able to get it off the ground in a couple years to make the electric truck a reality.

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