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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.
During the early 1970s, all U.S. cars featured circular sealed beam headlights that were either dual or separate. At the request of U.S. automakers, who sought more designing liberties, federal highway laws were amended in 1974 to make way for rectangular headlamps. Within two years, the rectangular sealed beam headlamp was a common feature on newer makes and models by American car companies.But while this did affect the appearance of the new cars, it didn’t affect the impact of the lights.In the late 1970s, after years of resistance by American automakers, halogen bulbs began flooding into the U.S. By now, Americans had heard of the brightness and efficiency of halogen lights, which produced a fuller light than tungsten incandescent headlamps, yet used no extra power. Automakers soon caught onto how easy it was to manufacture automobiles with this low-cost lighting option.Halogen lights swiftly became an industry standard — a phenomenon that has only recently been called into question.In retrospect, the history of automotive headlights could be seen to have entered the last stage of its golden age around 1978, when halogen lights gained serious traction in the U.S. market. Halogen lights would dominate the auto industry for the next three decades, and remain the most familiar of the different types of headlights to most drivers.Even though halogen lights have since been bested by newer headlight bulb types, the halogen light was the last to emerge in an era that favored quality over superficial aesthetic appeal.
The 1990s marked the debut of two types of lighting that have since gone on to dominate the headlight market. The first of these is the high-intensity discharge (HID) headlight, in which two electrodes support an arc of light within a tube. Commonly known as xenon headlights, HIDs were introduced in 1991, but have grown in popularity since the turn of the millennium.HIDs are popular for their brightness, durability and energy efficiency. In comparisons to halogen bulbs, many of today’s motorists agree that xenon lights are superior by all metrics.The other lighting innovation of the 1990s was LED lights, which consist of charged, glowing electrons. As with HIDs, LED lights can last for periods that far exceed the life expectancy of halogen lights.Furthermore, LED lights emit strong levels of brightness without drawing too heavily on energy supplies. LED tail lights first appeared on automobiles in 1993, but the lighting option didn’t see wider adoption until the following decade. These days, LED lights are the dominant headlight type throughout the automotive industry.With the passing of time, it’s become increasingly apparent that the 1990s marked a downward shift in car light marketing. Even though HIDs and — to a lesser extent — LED lights remain superior to all the different types of headlights that came before, the marketing of headlight bulb types was starting to emphasize “coolness” over quality.illuminating qualities of led light have given it the market edge over brighter HID
Consequently, the icy, illuminating qualities of the LED light have given it the market edge over the brighter and technically superior HID.
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.