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Rivian R1T: all-electric pickup does a Tesla for trucks

  • First look at what is likely to be the world's first electric pickup
  • Launched at the 2018 LA auto show, due in Europe 2022
  • Huge 400-mile driving range, supercar pace, but only 800kg payload

You're looking at what is likely to be the world's first all-electric pickup: the new Rivian R1T. It's made by a new American start-up manufacturer based in Plymouth, Michigan and the company aims to start selling its innovative electric vehicles (EVs) in Europe by 2022.

The company is hoping to 'do a Tesla' and disrupt the outdoor adventure vehicle segment. The logic being that the public is already demanding electrification to clean up our polluted towns and cities - so why wouldn't they also want to clean up their environmental footprint when driving to the beach, parkland or mountain at the weekend?

The Rivian R1T (T for truck) is the sister vehicle to the R1S (S for SUV). They both share the same mechanical underpinnings, with a surprisingly high 91% commonality of parts.

What's the driving range of the Rivian R1T?

This is where it gets interesting. Rivian will offer three different sizes of battery pack to quash any remaining worry over electric driving range:

  • 105kWh  230-mile driving range
  • 135kWh  300-mile driving range
  • 180kWh  400-mile driving range

Rivian R1T rear

The company claims that the batteries will fast-charge at up to 160kW; the infrastructure to support that remains scarce in the UK today, but assuming you could actually find a charging point to support this charge, 200 miles could be added in just half an hour, says Rivian.

When plugged in, the front light bar - the wide strip connecting the two 'Stadium' headlamps - glows to show the state of charge.

Rivian R1T pickup loadbed dimensions and payload

This is a proper tough workhorse, according to its makers, who have imbued the R1T with a host of tough features to make this a viable pickup for leisure or business use.

There's a really clever Gear Tunnel (below) - an extra storage cubby under the double cab's rear seats is big enough to swallow a surfboard whole. (This clever packaging is enabled by the flat 'skateboard' electric vehicle platform).

Rivian R1T Gear Tunnel: a 350-litre cubby

The loadbed's dimensions are a decent size, although it has to be noted that the payload currently quoted falls below the magical one-tonne mark necessary for current UK tax reasons. It will be interesting to see if Rivian addresses this before UK sales start.

  • Loadbed length: 1400mm 
  • Loadbed width: 1385mm
  • Payload: 800kg

Performance claims for the Rivian R1T are surprisingly rapid, as is often the way with grunty electric powertrains. The benchmark 0-60mph sprint is dispatched in just 3.0 seconds on the fastest derivative, while top speed is artificially pegged back to 125mph.

Rivian R1T pickup

Tellingly, Rivian has benchmarked the R1T against vehicles such as the Land Rover Discovery for off-road work; with a punchy 147kW electric motor at each wheel, the four-wheel drive R1T can climb 45deg (or one-in-one) inclines and has some strong off-roading credentials.

What are the approach, departure and breakover angles of the Rivian R1T?

  • Approach angle: 34 degrees
  • Departure angle: 30 degrees
  • Breakover angle: 26 degrees

This is a proper mountain goat of a pickup, says Rivian. Such all-areas scramble skills are enabled by air suspension with a high degree of lift - ground clearance easily exceeds that of a Range Rover, as does the wading depth of one metre.

Rivian R1T loadbed

In keeping with the outdoors brief, Rivian is developing a range of accessories for its pickup, including bike racks, tents and even mobile kitchen units.

What's the price of the Rivan R1t electric pickup and when does it go on sale?

No word yet on UK prices for the Rivian R1T. But in the US, it'll start at a little more than $60,000 after incentives for the 105kWh entry-level model.

That's £46,000 at today’s exchange rate, though sterling prices will doubtless creep upwards.

The long-range version will exceed $100k (£76k).

Expect further details in the coming months, in the build-up to the 2022 European launch.

Also read:

>> The Parkers Vans guide to electric vans

>> New pickups coming soon - and recent launch round up