Rivian’s all-electric, seven-seat R1S isn’t your typical family SUV

Electric-car startup Rivian is getting off to a strong start. Ahead of the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, it unveiled the R1T, an all-electric pickup truck with a claimed 400-mile range and zero to 60 mph acceleration of 3.0 seconds. Without giving anyone a chance to let that sink in, Rivian followed up by introducing a seven-seat SUV called the R1S.

Like the R1T, Rivian plans to offer the R1S with three battery-pack sizes: 180 kilowatt hours, 135 kWh, and 105 kWh. The 180 kWh model offers a claimed 400 miles of range, while Rivian claims the 135 kWh and 105 kWh packs will be good for 310 miles and 240 miles, respectively. Each battery pack comes with a different power output — the 180 kWh model has a claimed 700 horsepower and 826 pound-feet of torque, the 135 kWh model has the same torque output but 745 hp, and the 105 kWh model is rated at 402 hp and 413 lb-ft.

The R1S may be a seven-seat family SUV, but Rivian claims its acceleration can rival that of supercars. Rivian claims the 135-kWh version will do zero to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds. The company quotes times of 3.2 seconds and 4.9 seconds for the 180 kWh and 105 kWh models, respectively. All versions are limited to 125 mph.

All performance figures match those of the R1T pickup truck, which shouldn’t be too surprising, as the vehicles share almost all mechanical components. Both feature four electric motors (one per wheel, enabling all-wheel drive), and what Rivian calls a “skateboard” chassis. All mechanical components are contained within the chassis itself, allowing Rivian to plop different bodies on top to make different vehicles. That means the R1S gets the same off-road capability as the R1T (Rivian claims both vehicles can drive through up to 3.2 feet of water), as well as a Tesla-like front trunk.

Rivian plans to equip its vehicles with what it calls “Level 3” autonomous-driving capability, meaning the R1S and R1T will be able to able to steer, accelerate, and brake autonomously in certain situations during highway driving. Both vehicles will also be equipped with a 15.6-inch central touchscreen display, supplemented by a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 6.8-inch rear touchscreen.

Pricing for the Rivian R1S starts at $72,500, or $65,000 after the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles is applied. As with the R1T, Rivian plans to begin deliveries of the R1S in 2020, starting with the 180-kWh and 135-kWh models. The base 105-kWh version will arrive “within 12 months” of the start of production, according to Rivian. The startup is accepting $1,000 refundable deposits and has secured a former Mitsubishi factory in Normal, Illinoi,s to build its vehicles. But startups like Faraday Future have shown that having a cool vehicle is no guarantee of success in the car business.

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