Rivian Hits The R2 & “One More Thing” R3 Out Of The Park

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If you’re into EVs and on social media, this article probably won’t share any hard news, but I wanted to share just how impressed I am with not only Rivian’s new vehicles, but the attention to detail they put in and the great showmanship.

Recap

For those who aren’t aware that Rivian has some new vehicles, I’ll go ahead and share the video and a short recap for those who don’t want to or can’t watch the 40-minute video: (article continues after video)

First off, it’s long been known that Rivian was going to make some smaller SUVs. The market demands it! And we’ve known for some time that this would next come in the form of a five-seat SUV to compete with vehicles like the Ford Bronco and maybe Bronco Sport. But Rivian didn’t stop at just announcing a short-bus version of the R1S.

They go through the company’s short history first. It was obvious that Rivian started with its most adventurous vehicles, the R1 and R1S, and only now is moving down the line to lower-cost vehicles. They wanted this “handshake to the world” to be a great first impression that shows what the company is all about. Other things, like the company’s “spaces,” budding charging network, and mobile service fleet are supposed to build on that vision.

rivian-announces-mid-sized-platform

But, at the same time, not everyone can lay $80,000+ on the barrelhead for a truck. So, Rivian opened up “the next adventure” with the R2. It’s a lot like the R1S, with a familiar face, layout (including the frunk), and roomy second row of seats. It has rear glass that opens and can be removed, along with a sunroof to give an open-air experience when the weather is nice. 

The interior not only has a glovebox (something the R1 didn’t have), but also a second glove box in the center. It’s supposed to come with a haptic steering feedback steering wheel, built-in flashlight holders, and seats that fold flat enough to camp in the vehicle.

The R2 has 4695 format battery cells in a structural battery pack, RWD and AWD (including a tri-motor) variants, and over 300 miles of range. It also has a powerful compute and sensor platform that should eventually result in self-driving ability, put in a vehicle that was designed to be affordable and manufacturable. Prices start at $45,000.

But, what shocked the crowd was when Rivian’s CEO casually dropped the fact that they were going to introduce a second vehicle, in a move that was reminiscent of Steve Jobs’ “one more thing” routine. Nobody outside of Rivian knew that there was going to be a second vehicle announced, and it’s an even smaller sibling to the R1 and R2. 

Rivian R3 frunk
Rivian R3
Rivian R3 charging port
Rivian R3
Rivian R3 home charging
Rivian R3
Rivian R3
Rivian R3 offroad
Rivian R3
Rivian R3 outdoors
Rivian R3
Rivian R3 hiking
Rivian R3

Built on the same platform, the R3 and R3X (performance variant) looks a lot like a retro hatchback. It’s more of a rally car type of experience, shrunk to be a decent crossover that competes with other compact vehicles that are becoming popular in the EV space. It has the same battery pack, motor options, and electronics. It also has glass that opens in the back with different heights.

A Well Thought-Out Family Of Solutions

What was more impressive is that they didn’t just plan out good vehicles and hope that the aftermarket could hack together some good camping solutions. That has worked out so far for truck and SUV brands, but Rivian put more thought into making things easier for companies that come behind them and add to the experience.

Not only did they make a rooftop tent with creature comforts like a heated bed, but they left the infrastructure there for others to potentially use for other models of rooftop tents.

So, we’re looking at a complete camping and adventure solution and not just a “let’s hope people figure it out” kind of thing. That foresight should impress people and shows that Rivian is serious about real adventure vehicles and not just building great EVs.

I can’t wait to see what else they release and what the aftermarket comes up with beyond that!

Good Showmanship and Experience Sale

The most impressive thing in the reveal wasn’t the products as much as the showmanship. Instead of obsessing over specifications and weird cost-cutting things, Rivian made it clear from the beginning to the end that they are selling a ticket to adventure and not just selling you a car. As the one hundred and fifty third Rule of Acquisition states, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of steak, but people are after experiences and not just objects these days.

They also made it clear that they were serious about the sizzle, too. Anybody can come up with some footage of their vehicle out wheeling in Moab and put some happy diverse faces on the screen enjoying the ride, but not everybody is baking the anticipated experience into the product not only in the oven, but in the mixing bowl and in the recipe itself.

Sadly, I don’t see anybody else in the EV industry doing that. Tesla has the Cybertruck, but the thing has been out (at least in limited numbers) for months before we ever saw video of it taking on Moab. We also haven’t seen anybody camping with a custom rooftop tent with power connections and an outdoor-focused charging network. The F-150 Lightning has been out for a lot longer, and we don’t see this. And the Silverado EV? We hardly see it at all.

The other thing that was a lot of fun to see was the Jobsian “one more thing” move. Dropping the unexpected was basically the expected for a while in the tech world, but that was something we haven’t seen in an automotive reveal for a while. The R3 is built on the same platform and thus didn’t require making a whole other vehicle, but putting in that effort to open up that next market segment at the same time made it not only more fun, but impressive.

We probably won’t see any more Rivian product reveals for quite some time now that the R3 is fully out of the bag, but it was worth it.

All images provided by Rivian.


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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1983 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba