Last Thursday, Rivian published a short video on YouTube revealing its pre-production R1T electric pickup trucks are being assembled to be used for final testing. They will not be sold to customers. Rivian doesn't expect to start deliveries of the R1T June 2021, with the R1S SUV version following in August 2021. Compared to the original date, that's a delay of six months due to the pandemic that halted operations at its factory.
Rivian's factory in Normal, Illinois, traces its roots to a joint venture between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FCAU and Mitsubishi MSBHF. The two companies joined forces to create Diamond-Star Motors in 1985. Back then, FCAU owned a small stake in Mitsubishi. It was a part of his effort to circumvent the limitation of the number of Japanese cars that could be imported into the US. In 1991, Mitsubishi purchased Chrysler's stake and it continued its production. It closed the plant in 2015. Rivian saved it in 2017 and gave it a new purpose.
Latest YT Video
Last month, Rivian already showed what its factory looks like. However, the latest video gives a sneak peek that many of the R1T's distinctive features, such as its headlights made their way from the 2018 concept to the production stage. When Rivian unveiled the model at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2019, in announced some impressive specs such as impressive range of more than 400 miles and towing capacity of 11,000 pounds. Its skateboard platform contains the battery pack and all mechanical components which allow different bodies to be easily engineered. The same skateboard underpins the R1S, and will be used for electric Amazon.com, Inc. AMZN delivery vans and at least one Ford Motor Company F model.
Not much has happened in a decade
Amazon and Ford have both backed up Rivian. The company has raised $5.3 billion since 2019, so money is not an issue. Therefore, the obstacle to getting its first electric truck into production is something else. Unlike youngsters such as Lordstown Motors, the company was formed more than a decade ago. It is led by a rockstar CEO in R.J. Scaringe with a PhD. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT so expertise shouldn't be a problem, yet Rivian has not produced not a single car since its inception in 2009. In fact, besides the 2018 Los Angeles Show, the company has been rather silent. However, taking nine years to show off its first two vehicles, the R1T and R1S, isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Both vehicles were at last set to enter production late in 2020, but then COVID-19 started its relentless march across the globe. The new target production start date is June 2021. These pre-production vehicles will be used for continued testing to ensure Rivian meets and exceeds expectations when it comes to quality and durability.
The promise is yet to be delivered
The latest video showing Rivian's pilot line is up and running is a good start. Over half a dozen carmakers have entered the EV race to bring the first all-electric pickup to the market and many vehicles will debut in the next 24 months. Rivian took a significant step towards the finish line by building pre-production prototypes of the R1T. But considering none of these trucks exists yet, these promises are yet to be delivered so it is impossible to make a worthy comparison and judge if it can truly live up to the Tesla Inc. TSLA Cybertruck and General Motors Company GM Hummer.
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