Weekends won’t be over for long as Rivian gear up for Down Under
Why this company is the solution Aussie's didn't know we needed
We know, we know, Australians are behind the 8 ball when it comes to Electric Vehicle (EV) uptake. But give us a break! We only have a limited selection of models (being right hand drivers), and our governments aren’t exactly leading the charge (pun intended) on investment in infrastructure.
However, according to The Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program, 50% of Australian voters supported shifting 100 per cent of sales of new cars to EVs by 2025.
So, what's holding us back? Well to start with, perhaps some decent models that suit our way of life, like Johnno’s annual camping trip to tow his $100,000 Jayco to Lorne (a necessary element of the Aussie lifestyle).
Once again March 2019 saw light commercial vehicles coming out on top with the Toyota HiLux reporting the highest amount of sales at 4,527, followed by the Ford Ranger with 3,721 sales, and the Mitsubishi Triton which registered 2,666 sales. On a year to date basis, SUV’s account for over 40% and LCVs account for over 21% of all new vehicle sales in Australia.
So, it’s clear that we bloody love our 4WD vehicles, both ute and SUV style. And this is where Rivian arrives into the market, like Ryan Gosling walking into a bar. Good looking, confident and likely to be in VERY high demand.
R1T Rivian Truck
While their arrival isn’t likely until 2021 or later (if Tesla’s track record is anything to go by) you may as well get across their range, so you have plenty of time to clear out the shed for your new charging station.
Founded by RJ Scaringe in 2009 and launched at the 2018 LA motor show Rivian have been touted as Tesla’s arch nemesis. Another start-up American electric manufacturer, this time based in Michigan with a former Illinois Mitsubishi factory now in its possession to meet global demand.
So, what sets them apart? Rivian claim to have created a new segment - electric adventure vehicles. Chief Communications Officer Ken Schuman said at the brands launch “We want to disprove a bunch of myths: that electric vehicles can’t go off-road, that electric vehicles can’t deliver performance, that electric vehicles aren’t made to get dirty. That’s what these vehicles are born around, that’s their ethos. It’s really been built with this adventure segment in mind and opening what we feel is a whole new segment.”
This ethos is emulated using social media ambassadors including professional snowboarder Alex Yoder, action photographer and director Ben Moon and world-famous rock climber and free solo-er Alex Honnold.
If this brand ethos sounds up your ally then you might just be in the market for their R1T Truck/Ute or R1S SUV.
Both models feature:
• Skateboard body design that packages batteries underneath the floor. The electric underpinnings make it easier for Rivian to engineer both left and right-hand drive (YAY!)
• Four-wheel drive system, which comprises of an individual electric motor on each wheel providing 750 horse power and 14,000 NM Torque
• Acceleration of 0-100km/h in under three seconds, and 150km/h in under seven seconds – take that Ford Ranger !
• Other features including water forwarding of 1m, front trunk volume of 330L and futuristic headlights
• 4WD dual-cab utility likely to rival our popular HiLux, Ranger and Mercedes X Class
• 5 tonne towing capacity
• Body can be raised up to 360mm in off road mode
• Ranges from 370 to 640 kms depending on model
• Funky tunnel positioned between the cabin and tray which is ideal for snowboard and surfboard storage
• Priced from US$69,000 (Approx AUD$97,000)
R1S specifics :
• Seven-seater 4WD SUV touted as a direct rival to Range Rover, Land Rover or Tesla Model X
• 3.5 tonne towing capacity
• Body can be raised up to 365mm in off road mode
• Ranges from 385 to 660 kms depending on model
• Priced from US$74,000 (Approx. AUD$104,000)
• Level 3 autonomy-capable hardware – which isn’t super realistic for now, but great to have for future developments
• Inbuilt air-compressor to pump up your tyres (tres handy)
• Three 110-volt (US based) outlets to charge your laptop
• Clever security features including cables in the R1Ts tray that assist in strapping loads down and are linked to the utes security system, which can alert the owner if any are loosened, as well as 360 degree camera’s that keep watch when it’s parked
• Multiple cameras and sensors including LIDAR and 360° cameras
• High-precision GPS and internet inside the car – for that fully charged lappy
Inside the R1S
Rivian have been throwing us teasers since their launch when chief communications officer, Ken Schuman revealed an intended release in Australia, Japan and the UK (all right-hand drive markets). Then more recently Rivian’s Australian chief engineer, Brian Gase said the cars electric underpinnings make it easier for Rivian to engineer both left and right-hand drive saying “Yes we will have an Australian launch. And I can’t wait to come back to Australia and show this to all of those beautiful people.”
With a recent $700m USD investment by Amazon announced in February this year Rivian seem to have a bright future. And while there are no release dates for Down Under at this stage, CEO Scaringe did tweet “Australia is an important market for us!” so cross those rock climbing fingers people!