Rivian R1T electric ute concept.
Rivian R1T electric ute concept.

Why Tesla should worry about this ute

The electric car market is about to get another major player.

Electric car startup Rivian has announced it has secured $US700m ($980m) in funding from an Amazon-led group of investors.

The cash injection will help the maker expand and bring its electric ute and SUV to market by 2020.

Rivian turned heads at the Los Angeles motor show in November last year with its futuristic R1T all-electric dual-cab ute concept.

The R1T turned heads when it was revealed late last year.
The R1T turned heads when it was revealed late last year.

Rivian would beat Tesla to market with an electric ute. Tesla boss Elon Musk has been hyping one for years but has yet to release any concrete details. Late last year Musk tweeted that the company may reveal a prototype this year.

However, Rivian has been more forthcoming with details of its future green workhorse.

The R1T will be available in two versions with 135kWh or 180kWh battery packs, with respective theoretical range of 500km and 640km.

All are all-wheel drive - electric motors power each wheel, with torque vectoring to ensure optimum grip.

Power figures vary with specification: the base makes 563kW/1120Nm and the top-spec prioritises range over power, making 522kW/1120Nm.

The Rivian R1T is due to enter production in 2020.
The Rivian R1T is due to enter production in 2020.

An 800kg payload and towing capacity of up to 5000kg give the R1T the muscle to back up its claims. It can also handle some of the rough stuff with a wading depth of up to a metre.

Rivian also debuted a R1S seven-seat SUV concept at the LA show. The R1S would have a range of between 330km and 660km depending on battery specification.

The R1S has seven seats and a theoretical range up to 660km.
The R1S has seven seats and a theoretical range up to 660km.

The R1S features genuine luxury interiors with a digital instrument display and a larger centrally mounted infotainment screen and leather upholstery and wood veneer.

The boot is located in the front of the vehicle because the electric motors and batteries are located underneath the vehicle.

The R1S interior is dominated by large digital screens and wood panelling.
The R1S interior is dominated by large digital screens and wood panelling.

Rivian boss RJ Scaringe says the company has "spent years developing the technology to deliver the ideal vehicle for active customers".

"This means having great driving dynamics on any surface on or off-road, providing cargo solutions to easily store any type of gear … and, very importantly, being capable of driving long distances on a single charge."

Both vehicles will be priced from $US65,000 ($91,000) after electric vehicle incentives which range from $US2500-$7500 ($3500-$10,500) depending on battery size.

If Rivian can get the two vehicles to market by the proposed 2020 launch date, it will have the market segment to itself - no other maker plans a ute or seven-seat SUV so soon.

Jaguar recently launched its mid-size I-Pace SUV, to compete against Tesla's Model X. Joining them in the next 12 to 18 months will be the Audi e-tron and Mercedes-Benz EQ C SUVs.

In 2020, Porsche will launch the Taycan electric sports car and Volkswagen will launch the ID hatch.



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