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About The R1T Pickup Truck
Considering that the top-selling vehicles in the U.S. are pickups (Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, and Ram Pickup, in that order), Rivian wisely started its efforts in the busiest part of the automotive marketplace. Going where the money is (pickups) makes perfect sense, plus it avoids the premium EV sedan segment already dominated by Tesla and attracting other automakers, including Porsche, Lucid, and Faraday Future.
While the R1T has the basic form of a pickup, visually, it’s very distinctive. The vertical oval headlights have an almost anime quality giving the front end a whimsical look. At the same time, the intersecting horizontal light bar accentuates the R1T’s width and bulk.
The Launch Edition R1T reaches the streets with a promised 314 miles of range and 0-60 mph time of three seconds. These specs will give Tesla’s Cybertruck (now pushed back to next year) something to shoot for. Also standard for the R1T is a four-motor, all-wheel-drive setup and a three-foot water fording capability that gives the truck serious off-road creds. Rivan promises a 400-mile range R1T next year.
The truck is also rated for a towing load up to 11,000 pounds, putting the R1T on par with the Nissan Titan XD and beating out the Toyota Tundra’s towing strength (by 800 pounds). Detroit’s half-ton trucks (when fully equipped) usually max out in the 12,000-13,000 pound towing range.
Inside, the R1T offers a crafted but streamlined cabin that’s reminiscent of the Tesla experience. Separate horizontal tablets provide a driver information display and the center console infotainment touchscreen. Standard gear includes “vegan” leather upholstery, heated seats, and a heated steering wheel as part of the entry-level Explore Package.
Step up to the Adventure Package, and the cabin gets upgrades, including ventilated seating, natural wood accents, and a Meridian audio system. A power moonroof is standard on all R1T models, with Rivian reporting that an optional removable roof will be available in mid-2022.
Rivian cleverly makes use of every nook and cranny in the R1T. The “frunk” offers 11 cubic feet of storage. In the cargo area, the underbed storage space can handle about 14 cubic feet of gear. The 4.5-foot cargo bed stretches out to 7 feet when the tailgate is dropped.
The R1T’s signature space is the Gear Tunnel which runs the entire width of the truck behind the rear doors. There’s an access panel on each side, and the compartment is the ideal place to stash golf clubs and other sports gear. Or, the R1T can be equipped with the available Camp Kitchen. The $5,000 option (Adventure model only) slides out of the Gear Tunnel space with a two-burner electrified cooktop, sink, and complete dining set.
THE 21ST CENTURY
In 2001, the halo headlamp first appeared as a feature of that year’s BMW 5-Series. Halo headlights consist of illuminated rings that light whenever a vehicle is in operation, day or night. Though initially an exclusive hallmark of BMW, the halo headlight has been adopted by other automakers in the years since its debut.In effect, halo headlights function as shining rings for vehicles. As with HIDs and LEDs, halo headlights can be purchased as aftermarket replacement lights for existing vehicles.The 2010s have seen further innovations on the lighting front, most specifically with the emergence of the laser light. The laser light works by generating concentrated light and turning it white with a lens. While the laser light has thus far been confined to luxury Audi and BMW models, the light is expected to grow in popularity in the coming years as more drivers learn of its power, durability and compact nature.At present, the automotive market enjoys an almost overwhelming variety of headlight types. How this will ultimately play out in the history of projector headlights remains to be seen. Hopefully, automakers will relearn to balance aesthetics with quality, and not risk the latter just to boost the former for marketing purposes.In any case, today’s drivers have their choice of the brightest headlight bulbs ever produced in the history of cars.
From the outset of the Dustbowl Era, American automakers were scrambling to catch up with their European counterparts on technologies designed to reduce the glare from car headlights. Studies into the matter resulted in the adjustment of beam patterns, and hence the realization that light directed in a certain way could make things safer for drivers, and also less imposing on oncoming motorists.As the 1930s progressed, the industry launched a slew of lighting innovations, including the replaceable glass lens, the integrated bulb and the metal reflector headlight.
Who Is R.J. Scaringe?
While earning his doctorate at MIT, Scaringe worked with top engineers from major automakers at the prestigious Sloan Automotive Laboratory, per Bloomberg. After rebuilding vintage Porsches as a youth, Scaringe began dreaming of founding his own car company at age 18, the Times says. “I wanted to have an impact, and the highest-impact approach was to build the company myself,” he said, regarding his concerns about climate change and air pollution.
What Others Say About The Rivian R1T
With the R1T finally hitting the streets, the obligatory “first drive” reviews have been coming in droves. Of course, anyone who writes about cars can easily get distracted by new and bright and shiny objects. And, the situation is no different with the Rivian R1T. The truck’s first-to-market status no doubt is attracting attention. But what makes many so curious about the company is the more than $10 billion of investments provided by Ford, Amazon, Cox Automotive, and other heavy hitters. In other words, does all this money produce a superior product?
Seth Weintraub, the publisher of EV website Electrek , remarks that the R1T is “Easily the best pickup I’ve ever driven, both off-road and on.” In his review, Weintraub puts hits money where his mouth is by placing a deposit on Rivian’s forthcoming R1S SUV (which he says is a better fit for his lifestyle).
In its R1T review, Car and Driver comments that the pickup “accelerates like a Corvette, off-roads like a Power Wagon—and includes a kitchen sink.” It also dishes out high marks for the truck’s behind-the-wheel composure, mainly when off-road. The dings are minor, mostly citing the absence of an inclinometer and altimeter for off-road journeys. And, the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto gets called out.
In addition, Robb Report heaps praise on the R1T citing how the pickup handles high-mountain adventures with aplomb. The review points out that conventionally powered vehicles would find tall elevations a challenge for sufficient oxygen intake, which doesn’t matter with the Rivian. The review is critical of a hard-to-control virtual volume slide and the occasional frozen infotainment screen (which Rivian attributes to prototype issues).
Across numerous reviews, it’s impossible to find any significantly negative comments about the R1T other than availability and pricing (noting that the truck’s starting price is more than 50 percent higher than the average new vehicle transaction). Of course, time will tell about durability and reliability.
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Conservative Production Plans
While Tesla CEO Elon Musk is noted for making, and missing, bold production and sales forecasts, Scaringe is more conservative. As of 2019, Rivian had been targeting 2021 as its first full year of production, planning to make between 20,000 and 40,000 vehicles in that year, the Times reports. However, given that Tesla built more than 250,000 cars in 2018, the potential market for Rivian eventually may be at least as large.
Even with Ford's and Amazon's backing, Rivian faces major obstacles. "The capital requirements are enormous and ceaseless,” Mike Ramsey, an analyst with tech research firm Gartner, told the Times. For Rivian, “Manufacturing is the biggest challenge,” Ford CEO Jim Hackett said in a news release. The next few years will prove whether Rivian can produce at a competitive price the kind of high-mileage, durable SUVs and trucks that founder "R.J." Scaringe envisions in the ruthlessly competitive global car market.