Online retail giant helps take fledgling American manufacturer's total investment to around £894.5 million
Mark Tisshaw
15 February 2019

Online retail giant Amazon has led a $700 million (£544m) round of investment in American electric car start-up Rivian.

The fledgling manufacturer has attracted big interest since its public debut at the 2018 Los Angeles motor show. Today's round, which includes investment from existing shareholders, brings the total raised by the company to around $1.15 billion (£894.5m). 

According to sources speaking to Bloomberg, Rivian is currently in discussions with General Motors (GM) to secure further investment. If a deal is secured, it's understood that GM would be listed as minority shareholder and Rivian would be valued at between $1bn and $2bn (£778m and £1.56bn). It will remain an independent company.

Rivian is aiming to bring the first electric pick-up truck to market. It only announced itself to the world last year despite having been developing and producing electric platforms since 2009. 

Rivian R1S SUV and R1T pick-up aim to shake up the 4x4 market

Rivian is hoping to have the kind of impact Tesla has made in shaking up the established automotive set and believes it has found a niche with the creation of go-anywhere electric vehicles.

The R1T pick-up and R1S seven-seat SUV, the first and second in a series of models eventually planned, are built on a bespoke electric ‘skateboard’ chassis that is modular and can be used on all different types and sizes of vehicles. The initial pair are closely related, the chief difference being a slightly shorter wheelbase in the R1S. The R1S is 5040mm long, making it Range Rover-sized, while the 5465mm-long R1T is marginally longer than the Mercedes-Benz X-Class.

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In both cars, the lithium ion battery pack is mounted in the floor. The R1T is good for a 230-mile range in its standard 105kWh capacity, a 300-mile range with a 135kWh battery pack, or up to 400 miles with a 180kWh ‘mega-pack’. In the R1S, the same battery packs are offered with ranges of of 240, 310 and 420 miles respectively.

The two models share their drivetrains, too. Four electric motors, one for each wheel, give them four-wheel drive. Each motor produces 197bhp (total combined figures through the gearbox are 754bhp and 826lb ft in the 135kWh version), which allows for prodigious performance. It’s claimed both vehicles can crack 0-60mph in just 3.0sec and 0-100mph in less than 7.0sec in the 135kWh versions.

Double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension features, alongside air springs and adaptive dampers. Rivian claims the electric drivetrain and chassis set-up allows for both impressive on-road performance and handling and precise off-road control that surpasses any existing mechanical solutions. Its flat floor is also reinforced with carbonfibre and Kevlar to protect the battery pack, while both models get five-star crash test safety ratings in the US.

A distinctive front-end exterior design appears on both cars, while the spacious interiors get premium but durable materials that are easy to clean, in keeping with the cars’ off-road lifestyle brief. Two screens feature inside, running Rivian’s own software and graphics.

There are packs of novel hidden features and clever solutions in both models, including a 330-litre front storage under the nose, and the pick-up has a full-width storage compartment between the rear doors and rear wheels that’s good for housing golf clubs.

Rivian, first formed in 2009, is looking to do things differently from other start-ups by having its entire business plan and funding in place before going public with its intentions, and even then keeping targets conservative.

Company founder and CEO RJ Scaringe has already gone through two stillborn versions of the R1T to get to this third, production-ready version.

The US-based company is backed by investors from the Middle East, and employs some 750 people worldwide. Its design and engineering centre is based in Plymouth, Michigan, and other key sites include a battery development facility in Irvine, California. It has opened an advanced engineering centre in Chertsey, Surrey, too.

Manufacturing will take place at an old Mitsubishi plant in Illinois, bought by Rivian for $16 million (£12.5m) last year. This has a capacity of up to 350,000 units per year.

Rivian’s ambitions are much lower than that initially, with plans to be selling some 50,000-60,000 of its premium electric off-roaders by 2025-2026. It does, however, plan to offer its electric skateboard chassis to other companies – either car makers or any brand looking to launch an electric car – as long as their products don't compete with Rivian’s own. The R1T will go into production in late 2020 with the R1S in early 2021, the former priced from around $70,000 (£55,000). Right-hand drive production for the UK will follow around a year later.

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Comments
40

26 November 2018

 Trucks aren’t meant to do silly numbers numbers, 0-60mph 0-100mph in Supercar times,cashing in on these are not what I’d want an EV Trick for, I want rugged, go anywhere, move heavy loads, what Trucks were designed for in the first place....

Peter Cavellini.

26 November 2018

If you have a 100+kWh battery it comes with the inhereant capability to discharge at a high peak rate.

If you put a motor on each wheel and give each motor the torque to get the vehicle up a steep incline and the ability to go to beyond highway speeds at max RPM without a gear change you inherently design a vehicle capable of imense acceleration.

There is a reason why the base Tesla has 283bhp!

If you google Model X in towing contests or hill climbing you will find many videos showing the traction advantages of electric power, you get as close to the inherant traction of the tyres fitted because you can adjust torque in intervals of sub wheel rotations.

As I said before this truck will come up for some pretty tough competition from Tesla, however I think the other bit of learning from Model 3 is that it you produce a good electric car you won't be able to produce enough of them.

Rivian don't need to beat Tesla's offering just provide something that is broadly similar across most measures and has one of tow unique advantages to justify the purchase.

If Rivian and Tesla are the first two participants in the electric pick up market (and it looks that way as the big manufacturers cannot undermine their own cash cows) they might get enough of a first mover advantage that by the time the large manufacturers get competitive they have already established themselves if not financially damaged the large manufacturers.

 

 

26 November 2018
Peter Cavellini wrote:

 Trucks aren’t meant to do silly numbers numbers, 0-60mph 0-100mph in Supercar times,cashing in on these are not what I’d want an EV Trick for, I want rugged, go anywhere, move heavy loads, what Trucks were designed for in the first place....

It can do all you want trucks to do, it just happens to be able to do 0 - 60 in 3 secs as well - this is just a side effect of being electric, jeez some people.

XXXX just went POP.

26 November 2018
typos1 wrote:

Peter Cavellini wrote:

 Trucks aren’t meant to do silly numbers numbers, 0-60mph 0-100mph in Supercar times,cashing in on these are not what I’d want an EV Trick for, I want rugged, go anywhere, move heavy loads, what Trucks were designed for in the first place....

Yes, we know that, but the first thing that’s mentioned is how fast it is, there’s no talk about it’s Truck capability....

It can do all you want trucks to do, it just happens to be able to do 0 - 60 in 3 secs as well - this is just a side effect of being electric, jeez some people.

Peter Cavellini.

26 November 2018
typos1 wrote:

Peter Cavellini wrote:

 Trucks aren’t meant to do silly numbers numbers, 0-60mph 0-100mph in Supercar times,cashing in on these are not what I’d want an EV Trick for, I want rugged, go anywhere, move heavy loads, what Trucks were designed for in the first place....

It can do all you want trucks to do, it just happens to be able to do 0 - 60 in 3 secs as well - this is just a side effect of being electric, jeez some people.

Rather because it's got such massive amount of power. Massive excess of power, means great acceleration. You certainly can arrive there without electricity. However, ample motive power in form of electric motor at each wheel - works very well inded. 

Most trucks with enough power to tow say 3 tons, tend to have impressive acceleration, when not towing and when running with empty bed. After all, any truck with enough duice to tow 3 tons, is massively overpowered when running without any weight in tow or any carrying weight.

You can certainly place smaller electric motors at each hub - like you can have smaller dizel or petrol engine, hence arrive at a less potent vehicle, hence as I said - it's not because it's electric, but because it's got such massive amount of excess power. 

13 February 2019
Peter Cavellini wrote:

 Trucks aren’t meant to do silly numbers numbers, 0-60mph 0-100mph in Supercar times,cashing in on these are not what I’d want an EV Trick for, I want rugged, go anywhere, move heavy loads, what Trucks were designed for in the first place....

Actually that isn't true. The leisure truck market in North America is huge and growing at the expense of sedans. Trucks are roomier and just as refined these days. My 2019 RAM 1500 has a 5.7 litre HEMI unit producing 395bhp and 410 lb-ft of torque, and can practically go anywhere.

 

26 November 2018

And some impressive figures but does the world really need a pickup capable of 0-60 in 3 seconds? That aside, this pickup shows just how versatile the concept of an EV is. So much more usuable space than a normal pick up.

26 November 2018
Will86 wrote:

And some impressive figures but does the world really need a pickup capable of 0-60 in 3 seconds? That aside, this pickup shows just how versatile the concept of an EV is. So much more usuable space than a normal pick up.

Jesus, do you know anything about electric cars ? The performacne is because its electric, it cant be helped - they produce maximum torque @ zero revs !

XXXX just went POP.

26 November 2018
typos1 wrote:

Will86 wrote:

And some impressive figures but does the world really need a pickup capable of 0-60 in 3 seconds? That aside, this pickup shows just how versatile the concept of an EV is. So much more usuable space than a normal pick up.

Jesus, do you know anything about electric cars ? The performacne is because its electric, it cant be helped - they produce maximum torque @ zero revs !

If you placed 700bhp. diesel with same overall amount of tourqe - the truck also would be doing silly numbers, I really doubt there would be substantive difference in acceleration in the overall -- sure the electric motor begins very slightly earlier, however large enough diesel is slow reewing and would come extremely strongly on steam that fraction later. 

You clearly can place smaller electric motors - Nissan Leaf previous gen has pretty weak power output, and there are some pretty small electric cars around with weak engines; I'm pretty sure if the engines had say mere combined power of say 300bhp. and say less than half the tourqe the truck wouldn't be doing silly numbers - assuming electric movitation. 

26 November 2018
typos1 wrote:

Will86 wrote:

And some impressive figures but does the world really need a pickup capable of 0-60 in 3 seconds? That aside, this pickup shows just how versatile the concept of an EV is. So much more usuable space than a normal pick up.

Jesus, do you know anything about electric cars ? The performacne is because its electric, it cant be helped - they produce maximum torque @ zero revs !

Not much no, but clearly neither do you.

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