Will the Rivian R1T Electric Truck Live up to the Hype?

New reports and videos claim that the Rivian R1T electric truck concept is capable of off-roading and overlanding, but we’re not entirely sold on that.

The Rivian R1T initially debuted as an outdoor adventure vehicle. The company says it will perform well on and off the road; making it ideal for any excursion.

Although sadly, that video of a Rivian turning like a tank was completely fake.

The R1T features plenty of sleek style that we would expect from a new electric vehicle, but Rivian is attempting to go beyond electric capability and stylish good looks. They want to appeal to current truck owners with utility and muscle. It’s expected at dealerships in 2020 and will hold five passengers. It also features an electric range of over 400 miles and has a claimed fording depth of 39.4 inches.

That’s where we start questioning things. From a lay person’s standpoint, it’s going to take a lot of waterproofing to enable the driver to submerge the good bits of an electric vehicle in standing water, and it’s something overlanders and off-roaders will absolutely try to do. And how sensitive is all that stuff?

Let’s dig deeper into what Rivian themselves call the world’s first electric adventure vehicle to see what it’s really made of.

What is the Rivian R1T Electric Pickup Truck?

While consumers continue to await competitors like the Tesla pickup truck, one company has recently made their way to the front of the spotlight.

While they began in 2009 as a company that wanted to produce a conventional car that could get 60 mpg, Michigan upstart Rivian quickly shifted their focus to electric technology instead. As of last year, they had raised more than $450 million in capital to achieve their goals.

To fulfill promises, they’ve unveiled the R1T pickup. There’s also an R1S electric SUV in the works that was showcased at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. Both investors and consumers are actively awaiting the arrival of the full lineup.

Rivian founder RJ Scaringe often remarks that this new truck is capable of driving anywhere, no matter what surface you find yourself on. He also claims that it provides enough cargo room for all your gear and can go long distances on a single charge.

But is it truly good enough for off-road adventures and overlanding?

Rivian R1T: The Skateboard Platform

The R1T is built on a skateboard platform, as automakers call it. This means that the battery, thermal, suspension, braking and drive systems are all located under the truck. Because of this design, there’s additional space for gear and passengers. It makes the center of gravity lower which allows the pickup to remain agile.

Rivian R1T: Power Delivery

The R1T receives its power from quad electric motors making 200 HP each. These can take the truck from 0-60 mph in just three seconds and to 100 mph in just seven seconds. This pairs with an all-wheel-drive setup for maximum capability.

Rivian R1T: Trim Levels

There are three battery trims offered by Rivian on the R1T.

  • The 180kW is the top of the line

  • There’s a medium-duty 135kW

  • And a base model with 105kW

On the 180kW battery, users can expect about 400 miles on a single charge. The 135kW offers about 250 miles and the base model will be less than that.

As far as the charging is concerned, in just 30 minutes the R1T can receive about 200 miles worth of range.

Is the Rivian R1T Practical?

Most people don’t purchase a truck based on speed. It’s more about utility and ability. The quad-motor in this pickup delivers plenty of power complete with optimal torque control provided to each wheel. This allows for hard rock crawling at low speeds just as well as cornering while traveling high speeds.

The R1T has an 11,000-pound tow rating. It also boasts of a 1,800-pound payload capacity.

Off-road enthusiasts will enjoy the over 14 inches of ground clearance this truck offers. It also is capable of 34-degree approach angles and 30-degree departure angles. On top of that, it features an adjustable suspension. Just adjust it lower for highway driving or higher for off-road adventures.

The stadium-type headlights also provide distinctive visibility for any thrill. There are also daytime running lights that span the grille length.

You can get a glimpse of this truck heading off-road in this YouTube spot. As the truck becomes available to owners, we are sure there will be plenty more videos showing what the electric vehicle is capable of, and what it’s not.

Hauling Gear and Luggage

Because this truck doesn’t feature a conventional engine, there’s a little more room to spare in the front. In industry parlance, Rivian calls this space the frunk, which is amusing and clever. The frunk gives drivers more than 11 cubic feet of space in addition to the 4.5-foot bed.

If that’s not enough room to hold all of your gear, consider the lockable gear tunnel which runs the entire truck width below the cab. With this, you can expect more than another 12 cubic feet of space. If you have long gear to carry such as your surfboard or snowboard, this would be the place to put it.

The tunnel doubles as a step to reach the truck roof or a place to plant your butt as you put on your boots.

That’s not all the company thought about. There’s a tonneau cover that hides a watertight compartment below the bed. It’s big enough to hold your spare tire! There are also three 110V power outlets in the bed plus a built-in air compressor.

Furthermore, the gear closet features telescoping racks which attach to your truck’s bed floor, bed rails and roof. These racks integrate with many accessories such as ski racks or rooftop tents for overlanding.

A Full Suite of Technology

After hearing about all of this gear, it’s perfectly normal to think about the security features. Don’t worry; Rivian has thought of it all. The camera monitors in the bed alert drivers if something gets tampered with. You also get two locking cables that are integrated to secure your gear in the truck bed.

The R1T is a smart car. This means it connects to existing cloud services, offers self-driving ability and automatically receives updates. There’s an included 15.6-inch center touchscreen, plus a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and 6.8-inch rear touchscreen which also controls navigation, music and other features.

Of course, you can’t expect all of this to come cheap. MSRP is $61,500 and preorders are available now with your refundable deposit. Deliveries of this R1T won’t begin until later in 2020, but we anticipate many adventure seekers buying this truck.

But is it Good Enough for Overlanding?

We called an office meeting about the Rivian and came up with some pressing questions.

To those in the know, the word “overlanding” carries a lot of weight.

At face value, anything with an 11,000-pound towing capacity, 14 inches of ground clearance, and a 34-degree approach angle should be able to overland just fine.

However, once you add all your luggage to the equation – especially if you’re hauling a trailer in – there’s no way you’re going to get the stated range of 400 miles. And if you get anything less than the best version, you’ll be lucky to get half of that without your gear.

But if you have to fire up a gas generator to recharge your overland rig just to get back out of the campsite, doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

Final verdict

After researching the Rivian R1T electric truck concept, we can’t help but get excited over the possibilities. Not only will this truck be ideal for towing the bikes to the trail with, but it appears it might actually be able to accomplish overlanding if everything Rivian says holds true.

Do you plan to buy the Rivian R1T? Do you think it’s all talk and no walk?

Comment and tell us about taking an adventure in this electric truck.

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