Startup Rivian exits stealth mode with a bold promise to electrify off-roaders

Rivian pickup truck teaser

A startup automaker named Rivian is preparing to make its debut on the American stage. Founded in 2009, it has finally announced details about its future lineup and what it plans on doing with the former Mitsubishi factory it purchased in Normal, Illinois. It also released a teaser video that previews one of the concept cars we’ll see at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show.

RJ Scaringe, Rivian’s 35-year-old founder, initially wanted to build a super-efficient internal combustion engine. He changed course several years ago to focus on electric vehicles. Tesla currently dominates the segment, and well-established car companies like Audi, Jaguar, Porsche, and Mercedes-Benz will soon join the tussle. Instead of entering the luxury EV ring, Rivian boldly aims to apply the Tesla model to the world of off-roaders.

Website Engadget learned the firm currently plans to launch two models called R1T and R1S. Both will use battery-electric powertrains and offer level three autonomous capabilities. The R1T will take the form of a pickup truck closer to the Honda Ridgeline than to the Ford F-150, but with an ultra-rugged design that offers a clean break from the conventional notion of a truck. The R1S nameplate denotes an SUV that will share over 90 percent of its components with the pickup model. Beyond that, details are few and far between.

Rivian’s project brief impresses — at least on paper. The R1T needs to safely drive through 3.6 feet of water, offer over 14 inches of ground clearance, and be capable of climbing 45-degree inclines. If it can achieve these benchmarks, it will, in theory, put a Jeep Wrangler to shame. And that’s just one of its personalities. Rivian promises the truck will handle better than a Porsche Cayenne Turbo thanks in part to an air suspension and roll control technology, and it will log a supercar-beating zero-to-60-mph time of 2.8 seconds in its most powerful configuration. It will offer up to 450 miles of driving range, too.

Design is one of the most effective ways to stand out in the automotive industry, and Rivian is going all-in. The last few seconds of the company’s enigmatic teaser video reveal the R1T will look almost robot-like thanks to a full-width LED light bar interrupted by two vertical rows of round LEDs.

“We’ve reimagined the truck and SUV, and have turned two of the most polluting vehicles on the road into the most considerate,” the company wrote on its website.

We’ll learn more about Rivian’s plans to electrify the off-roader segment when it reveals its first two vehicles at the annual Los Angeles Auto Show, which kicks off November 30. Production will kick off in 2020. Pricing will range between $50,000 and $90,000 before government incentives enter the equation. It’s not too far-fetched to assume the company will launch a Tesla-style reservation system after it unveils its future models.

Rivian already faces stiff competition. New York-based Bollinger Motors revealed an off-roader called the B1 last summer that fills roughly the same niche as Rivian’s upcoming SUV. It’s built on an aluminum chassis that weighs just 295 pounds, according to Green Car Reports, and it offers dual electric motors with full-time four-wheel drive. Details about pricing and availability aren’t solid yet.

Updated 11-16-2018: Added Rivian’s teaser video and details about the LA-bound concepts.

Cars

Worried about commuting in winter weather? Nissan has the answer

The Nissan Altima midsize sedan is now available with all-wheel drive. To advertise that fact, Nissan's Canadian division slapped some tank-like tracks on an Altima to create a one-off show car.
Deals

Need a smart speaker? Amazon knocks $50 off Sonos Beam soundbar with Alexa

If you're looking to add some oomph to your home audio setup, then through February 3, the Alexa-enabled Sonos Beam is on sale for $50 off, bringing this excellent smart sound bar down to just $349 on Amazon.
News

Ford has a plan to future-proof the hot-selling F-150 pickup truck

Worried about the threat of rising gas prices, Ford will add the F-150 to its growing portfolio of electrified vehicles. It is currently developing a hybrid F-150, and it will release an electric version of the next-generation truck.
Mobile

Benchmark results show Snapdragon 855 destroys previous-generation chip

Almost exactly a year after the launch of the Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm took the wraps off of its next-generation mobile platform, the new Snapdragon 855. The new chip puts an emphasis on A.I. performance.
Cars

Muscle cars, trucks, and EVs roared into the subdued 2019 Detroit Auto Show

The 2019 Detroit Auto Show was the quietest edition of the event in recent memory, but that doesn't mean nothing significant happened inside the Cobo Center. Here are the new cars and concepts we saw at the show.
Cars

Big tech, bigger grille: BMW updates its 7 Series flagship for 2020

The BMW 7 Series will enter the 2020 model year with a host of updates inside, outside, and under the sheet metal. The new-look nose with a jumbo grille hides updated engines, while passengers benefit from smart tech features.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Cars

In McLaren’s 600LT Spider, the engine is the only sound system you’ll need

The McLaren 600LT Spider is the inevitable convertible version of the 600LT coupe, itself a lighter, more powerful version of the McLaren 570S. The 600LT Spider boasts a 592-horsepower, twin-turbo V8, and a loud exhaust system to hear it…
Cars

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
Cars

Ford’s Mustang-inspired electric crossover will spawn a Lincoln luxury version

Lincoln will get its own version of parent Ford's first mass-market, long-range electric vehicle. While Ford's version will have styling inspired by the Mustang, Lincoln will take a more traditional approach.
Home Theater

Spotify adds simplified Car View mode for Android users

What was once just a test is now a reality: Spotify is rolling out a new, simplified in-car user interface for all Android users called Car View, which automatically engages when the app detects a car Bluetooth connection.
Cars

Boutique carmaker Karma Automotive, legendary design firm Pininfarina team up

Karma Automotive is partnering with legendary Italian design firm Pininfarina on future luxury cars. The first product of that partnership will appear later this year, Karma said, without offering other details.
Cars

Sibling rivalry: 2019 BMW Z4 takes on the 2020 Toyota Supra

BMW and Toyota forged an unlikely partnership when they set out to build a sports car platform together. Here, we examine the similarities and differences between the 2019 Z4 and the 2020 Supra.
Cars

Driving Daimler’s 40-ton eCascadia big rig isn’t just fun, it’s electrifying

Daimler Trucks brought its all-electric eCascadia semi-truck to the 2019 CES, and invited us to take the wheel. What does it feel like to drive one? Simply electrifying, of course.