This coming week, the Los Angeles Auto Show is staging the unveilings of several new vehicles but it’s also noteworthy for seeing the unveiling of a new manufacturer.
Founded by RJ Scaringe in 2009 as Mainstream Motors, the Michigan-based electric vehicle manufacturer became Avera Automotive and then Rivian in 2011. It markets the two mid-sized dedicated-electric vehicles launched — the 3-row, 7-passenger R1S SUV and the 5-seat R1T crew-cab pickup — as electric adventure vehicles, which it trademarked.
“I started Rivian to deliver products that the world didn’t already have – to redefine expectations through the application of technology and innovation,” said company CEO Scaringe. “Starting with a clean sheet, we have spent years developing the technology to deliver the ideal vehicle for active customers. This means having great driving dynamics on any surface on- or off-road, providing cargo solutions to easily store any type of gear, whether it’s a surf board or a fishing rod and, very importantly, being capable of driving long distances on a single charge.”
The EVs ride on a skateboard platform (the battery pack, motors, suspension, braking and thermal system are all located below the height of the wheels), which makes their production relatively simple on one line in Normal, Illinois (the former Mitsubishi Motors plant).
The platform houses four 147-kW motors, a suspension set-up of front unequal-length double wishbones and rear multi-links, and can cross water up to a metre deep. The suspension features dynamic roll control, adaptive dampers and adjustable air suspension, making it adjustable for optimum driving on the road and off it.
“The beauty and elegance of our quad-motor setup isn’t just about brute power,” said Executive Director of Engineering and Programs Mark Vinnels. “This architecture provides instantaneous torque with extremely precise control at each wheel, which is completely game-changing from a dynamics perspective, both on- and off-road.”
The quad-motor set-up effectively creates active torque vectoring, enabling maximum performance in driving situations from high-speed cornering to low-speed rock crawling.
The platform will be available with three battery sizes — initially 135 kWh and 180 kWh, then joined the following year by the base 105-kWh version. An onboard 11-kW charger enables the addition of 322 km of range in just 30 minutes of DC-charging. Full-charge range is between 386 and 660 km (370-644 km in the R1T pickup).
Depending on battery configuration, the total power output ranges from 300 kW to 562 (408-764 hp) and 413 to 826 lb-ft of torque. Both the bodystyles can go from zero to 100 km/h in as few as three seconds or as many as five seconds, again depending on battery size. Top speed is limited to 201 km/h and towing is rated at 5,000 kg for the R1T pickup and 3,500 kg for the R1S.
And to top it off, there is a full complement of driving aids enabled by the vehicle’s hardware suite of camera, lidar, radar, ultrasound, and high precision GPS coupled with high definition maps, all of which grants them a designation of Stage 3 automated driving (hands off wheel; eyes off road).
Deliveries are slated to begin toward the end of 2020, with prices pegged in the $60,000s (after US Federal rebates). Customers can pre-order with a $1,000 US deposit at rivian.com.