One day after unveiling its first vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show — an electric pickup truck called the R1T — Michigan-based automotive startup Rivian is already following up with a second. Built on the same platform as the pickup, Rivian’s second vehicle will be a seven-passenger SUV in a style that sits somewhere between a Land Rover and Jeep’s more rugged offerings.
Due in late 2020, the R1S will be slightly more expensive than Rivian’s pickup truck when it goes on sale, with the base model starting at $72,500. Preorders start this week, with a refundable $1,000 deposit required.
Rivian’s SUV is built on the same platform as its pickup truck
Other than its shape, the R1S (as the SUV is called) mostly matches the R1T pickup truck blow for blow. It will be available in three different battery pack configurations, with a 105kWh version capable of about 240 miles of range, a 135kWh variant that can last for around 310 miles, and a top-of-the-line option with 180kWh of capacity, pushing the range over 410 miles. Those range estimates are each slightly higher than what Rivian expects its pickup truck to be able to get out of the same battery packs. (Also of note, the 180kWh version will only seat five.)
Rivian’s SUV will be just as fast as its pickup truck sibling, with the base model reaching 60 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds, and the two higher-spec models hitting that speed in just around three seconds. That’s because the SUV will have the same quad-motor layout as the pickup truck, meaning an electric motor will power each wheel for precise all-wheel drive performance. While the base model will have 400 horsepower, the 135kWh version will have 750 horsepower. That number drops to 700 horsepower in the 180kWh version of the R1S.
Inside the SUV, a 15.6-inch touchscreen takes up a huge portion of the dash, while a second, 12.3-inch screen sits behind the steering wheel. A third touchscreen, measuring 6.8 inches, is at the back of the center console, within reach of rear passengers. The R1S will also be outfitted with sensors capable of allowing the SUV to drive itself in certain situations, according to Rivian.
The all-electric Rivian R1T is a dream truck for adventurers
The R1S also has the same front trunk as the R1T, with 11.7 cubic feet (330 liters) of storage space, as well as a similar spare wheel-sized bin in the floor near the rear of the car. It doesn’t have the “gear tunnel” that Rivian’s pickup truck features, and also has less storage space under the seats compared to the R1T.
That said, the R1S has the same kind of rugged-meets-luxury style as Rivian’s pickup. The interior features lots of wood elements mixed with sturdy fabric. Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe told The Verge ahead of the launch that he wants the company’s vehicles to have a “Patagonia-like feel of enabling adventure,” and that comes through in the R1S. He also said that the versions of both the SUV and the pickup truck that were shown at the LA Auto Show this week are “extremely close” to what will ship in a few years.
Rivian’s pickup truck has a laser-focus on utility that puts it in a somewhat more specific niche than the startup’s SUV. The SUV is also going to face far more competition. Tesla is months away from unveiling the Model Y, a smaller successor to its luxury SUV, the Model X. Jaguar started production of its first all-electric SUV this year, the I-Pace, as did Audi with the e-tron. Mercedes-Benz showed off the all-electric EQC this year, which is also coming in 2020. Meanwhile, a number of Chinese companies big and small (like NIO, or SF Motors) are also making electric SUVs intended for multiple markets around the world. Others, like Byton, are moving down the same path.
But that’s not to say there’s no room for something like the R1S in the market, especially since SUV sales have gone through the roof in the last few years. What’s more, the Jeeps and Land Rovers of the world have moved far more slowly when it comes to electrifying their fleets.