Rivian launches electric R1S sport utility
Automotive startup Rivian has been busy at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, debuting both a pickup truck, the R1T, and a new sport utility vehicle, the R1S. Based on the same platform, the truck and SUV are fully electric vehicles made to both go the distance and get through rough terrain on the way.
Sharing underpinnings and most capabilities with the pickup truck that Rivian unveiled first, the R1S utility has the square bodied, ready design of a Rover and the large footprint, tall stature of a Jeep. Its front fascia, however, has a flat face instead of a grille and odd vertical ovals for headlamps, much like the Volkswagen I.D. electric vehicle concepts shown in previous years.
On the inside, the Rivian SUV is all business with a sleek, near-minimalist design that centers on two large output screens and wood inlay. Long squares and a flat, lifted motif for the dashboard herald the vehicle's electrically-motivated simplicity.
The touchscreen is a 15.6-inch display with navigation, mapping, and other outdoor-centric offerings. The 12.3-inch driver information screen in the instrument cluster can show both a virtual gauge cluster and mimic the larger touchscreen's displays for navigation and mapping.
The R1S has three battery pack options: 105 kWh, 135 kWh, and 180 kWh. Each offers more range than the last, but the largest pack reduces passenger volume by two (from 7 to 5), eliminating the third row in favor of more batteries. The all-wheel drive system is powered by four motors at 147 kW per wheel with total output ranging from 300 kW to 562 kW, depending on battery pack chosen. Range is estimated at 240 to 410 miles per charge.
These battery packs are made to be protected from and withstand hard off-road use and the daily rigors of a user's drive needs. Rivian has developed adaptive control algorithms that learn the driver's normal driving behaviors, adapting the battery management systems to optimize charge and battery life using that information.
Rivian plans to launch the R1S with the larger 135 and 180 kWh battery packs first, bringing the smaller 105 kWh later in production. Charging rates are available up to 160 kW in DC fast charging as well as Level 2 11 kW charging at standard stations.
We note that range estimates are a bit better for the SUV than they are for the pickup truck, due largely to weight differences between the two. The SUV is slightly smaller and lighter and likely boasts improved aerodynamics due to its body design. The R1S weighs 44 pounds (20 kg) less than the R1T and its 198.4-inch (5,040 mm) overall length is 17.1 inches (435 mm) shorter than the truck. The SUV's width, track, and height are all the same as the truck.
Utility is the apparent goal of the R1S designers, with storage, cargo, and seating space being focal points. A front luggage area ("frunk") in the R1S hosts 11.6 cubic feet (330 liters) of storage under a powered hood. The liftgate and small tailgate on the SUV provide access to an undisclosed amount of cargo space, with folding second and third rows to add more as needed. An integrated roof rack can be added with options for skis, bicycles, tents, and cargo storage bins. The racks are made to detach and fit in the frunk when not in use.
Rivian plans to give the R1S level 3 self-driving capabilities (no hands, eyes off road) through a suite of hardware including camera, lidar, radar, and ultrasonic sensors and high-definition GPS. The company has not said whether this will be ready to use upon the SUV's launch.
Connectivity is another point that Rivian mentions for its truck and SUV. A connected car platform utilizes a high-speed Ethernet backbone in the vehicle that accepts granular, over-the-air updates for vehicle software. A cloud ecosystem for data exchange and processing allows for machine learning and data service connections for in-vehicle and mobile use.
Rivian says that the R1S has been designed to achieve top scores in crash testing. Voth the SUV and R1T pickup truck are on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week.
The company has announced that pricing for the R1S will begin at US$65,000, after federal tax credits, and deliveries will begin in late 2020. That price point does not reflect the first to launch, however, which will be fully-equipped units with the lower-end as-priced units entering production within a year after the SUV's launch.
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