The other day, I saw a really cool video on YouTube. Someone took a Rivian R1T out in the real world and tested it!
Before I get to my request, I do want to point out some really cool things we learned here.
First off, it does appear to perform like a real truck and not a crossover with the back cut off. It’s built more like a body-on-frame truck, and thus doesn’t suffer from the shortcomings that are common with unibody vehicles. It’s not the most amazing off-roader, as it did show its limits of articulation, but it’s not a fake truck.
It’s also notable that Rivian was comfortable allowing people to take these on trails at an event, despite risks to the undercarriage. This likely means that Rivian is comfortable with the amount of protection it’s put in for vital components like the drive units and the battery pack. Like my experience with the Wrangler 4xe, the reviewer noticed that the electric drive had distinct advantages. Regenerative braking, low-speed controllability, and stability were all better for the Rivian than the average truck. This makes it a superior experience compared to gas-powered trucks.
It also has an adjustable ride height system that is independent for each wheel and controlled by a computer, giving it even better off-road chops. It even helped them to change a tire when one got gashed by a rock, and they were able to use the vehicle’s full-sized spare. It even had a platform so that the vehicle’s scissor jack could reach the bottom of the vehicle. Plus, if the spare tire had been low, or if a tire just needed to be aired back up after off-roading, the on-board air compressor can be used to do that.
Along with all of the other cool features that you’ll need to watch the video to see, this all makes for a true adventure vehicle. Rivian wasn’t lying.
One Problem: When Do We Get To Test One?
I try to not put manufacturers on the spot like this in articles, but in this case, I’m going to make an exception.
The EV world has enough luxury barges. Many new companies have been trying to enter the market, and most of them have tried to copy Tesla’s success by making yet another big, heavy, luxury sedan with more and more and more range. They’re all doing this while the market for sedans continues to shrink, though. In a time when trucks and SUVs are the norm, even Tesla is only selling crossovers that would take heavy damage doing what the Rivian just did.
That’s why I’m so excited about electric trucks. Sure, they’re less efficient than the Aptera I’m planning on getting, but they can do so much more than anything that was previously on the market.
So, I’m publicly asking Rivian if we can get some wheel time soon!
What We’d Do With That Wheel Time
Like any good proposal, we need to lay out the advantages of going with it. In our case, the advantages are numerous.
First off, I’d test the vehicle in exactly the kind of environment the Rivian was designed for. Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona are all great places to find a variety of terrain, and also a variety of charging availability. If the truck can operate in places like western New Mexico or eastern Arizona without much headache, it would go a long way toward making the vehicle more attractive to the target market.
At the same time, we don’t want to act like we’re the marketing department, either. The challenges of the western US (away from the coast) allow us to really see if it can do what people want it to do. If it does fall short, we’d be able to tell readers exactly where it does fall short and what to expect with upcoming infrastructure.
[Editor’s note: EV and electric truck manufacturers, ignore the real-world use cases in “flyover country” at your own peril. I’ve been building a low-carbon human-scale sustainable homestead farm/ranch in rural southwestern New Mexico for the last 10 years, with real-world needs for pulling a trailer for horses, farm work, etc., and the lack of charging infrastructure and access to affordable and rugged/durable electric trucks is a very obvious deal-breaker for many of us. – Derek]
We can also give the vehicle a real family test. While there are six people in my family, we’d do what we did with the Wrangler 4xe and see what it’s really like to haul 3 kids in the back. For many people, they need the vehicle to perform in the family role between adventures, so this also would make a lot of sense to check out.
The R1S Would Be A Great, Too
Unlike the R1T, the R1S is actually on my list of possible purchases in the next few years. I know that they’re still further back in the testing phase, but we’d like to get on that list and get an event invite. The room for a larger family would be a game changer in the electric off-road EV world.
Featured image by Rivian.
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.