The idea of overlanding in an electric vehicle, meandering miles and miles off the electrical grid for days on end, has so far been largely unfathomable, a bit terrifying, even. But we've seen that it's not impossible, and now electric truck startup Rivian is hoping to make it more mainstream. Less than a year after turning heads with an LA Auto Show double debut, it made the trip to Overland Expo West to show how electric power can be a boon rather than bane for overland travel. Its all-electric pickup camper offers an estimated 400 miles (644 km) of range, a roof-top tent and an electric kitchen.
Rivian has been hinting at the R1T's overlanding chops ever since it showed a picture of the model with a roof-top tent during last year's debut. Now it's taking things a step further, bolting a Tepui roof-top tent over the bed and adding a slide-out kitchen.
"We've been coming to Overland for a few years now, learning from this community how they use their vehicles," explained Rivian Creative Director Larry Parker. "Much of what we've learned from Overland attendees has gone into our product design."
EV disadvantages when it comes to long-distance travel are more pronounced, but the five-seat Rivian R1T does offer some advantages, too. The lateral passthrough compartment just ahead of the rear tire has previously been marketed as an ideal storage space for the likes of snowboards and golf bags, but it also fits Rivian's custom-designed slide-out kitchen prototype like a glove, freeing up bed space that might otherwise be dedicated to kitchen gear.
In equipping the kitchen, Rivian sticks with the all-electric theme by wiring up a dual-burner induction cooktop to the vehicle battery, showing how the massive 180-kWh pack can fulfill multiple roles in the field. Rivian says that campers can cook on the stove and use the electric lighting at camp for over a week, depleting only 20 kWh of battery power — 11 percent of the total capacity. The company does notably neglect to mention how quickly the Dometic fridge/freezer hidden away in the frunk will drop battery level.
The kitchen also includes a sink hooked up to a 19-L water tank, a purpose-built slide designed to hold an electric kettle, and the usual collection of drawers, storage nooks and worktop. The slim induction cooktop, sink and work top on the front side all fold down when it's time to slide the kitchen away.
Out back, the custom Tepui tent is mounted on Rivian's flexible cross bar system. The versatile bars can easily pop in and out of the bed walls, making it simple to add them when needed, get them out of the way when not.
Power for Rivian's Overland Expo special comes from the standard 750-hp quad-motor electric drive, which delivers loads of vectored torque to each wheel for precise control and handling. Other features that should prove advantageous for off-road adventurers include the 11,000-lb (5,000-kg) tow rating, 3-foot (1-m) wading depth, adjustable air suspension with up to 14 in (356 mm) of travel, onboard air compressor and trio of 110-volt outlets in the bed. And the 330 liters of additional storage in the front trunk is sure to find some use, too.
For those looking to tow a trailer, it's worth noting that Rivian estimates towing the full 11,000 lb will cut the R1T range in half, so from 400 miles to 200 miles (322 km) with the flagship battery option.
Deliveries of the R1T pickup will begin in late 2020, and the base model with 105-kWh battery pack and 230-mile (370-km) range will start at US$69,000. Rivian plans to keep the price of the 400-mile flagship below $90,000. It said at Overland Expo that the production slide-out overland kitchen will be available as an option at launch. The seven-seat R1S doesn't have the gear tunnel that the R1T has, but Rivian said it will entertain the idea of building a different kitchen specifically for the SUV, should it receive enough interest.
Update: Dometic contacted us to echo the sentiments of a couple of commenters, saying that its CFX35 cooler only uses about 219 watts a day, its CFX75 about 375 watts, so not the big power draw we were thinking it might be. The CFX75's spec sheet lists energy consumption at 105 kWh/year, so the same in a year as the capacity of Rivian's small battery and well less than the 180-kWh battery in the R1T overland truck.
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