Tesla is often hailed as the company that brought disruption in the world of electric vehicles and made them mainstream. As of now, the Silicon Valley-based automaker has the largest share in the EV market at about 66% but hasn’t quite been able to diversify its product portfolio with just sedans and crossovers on sale. And while most electric vehicles in the market are in fact either sedans or crossovers, here’s a little automaker called Rivian that’s delivering off-road capable electric pickup trucks or ‘electric adventure vehicles’ as claimed by the brand.
Rivian recently rolled out the R1T pickup truck and it had the world struck in awe. For one it looks all rugged and brawny like a hardcore off-roading pickup truck should. It has the traditional boxy pickup truck shape with squared-off wheel arches and it’s hard to tell from the outside that it’s an electric pickup truck. We at Carindigo have compiled a comprehensive in-depth review of the new Rivian R1T, check it out for more details.
The R1T comes equipped with 4 electric motors with a combined output of over 800 horsepower and 900 lb-ft of torque. It can go from 0-60 MPH in just 3 seconds and can tow nearly 11,000 lbs. It even has a water wading capacity of over 3 feet so it can cross rivers and marshes with ease while you’re on an off-roading adventure. The range, however, is significantly less than any of the Tesla flagships at around 300 miles.
On paper, the power figures of the Rivian might seem exciting, and you might be all set to take the R1T on a long road trip with a trailer hooked up, but then, we’d suggest you hold your horses for a moment as towing isn’t the R1T’s greatest strength. It is rather disappointing as the expected range of the truck drops by almost over 50% when you put the truck into towing mode. So, if you tow with your truck for long distances, well then the R1T might not be for you.
Car and Driver recently experimented with the Rivian R1T’s trailering capacities. They strapped a BMW E91 328i wagon on a Futura trailer and hooked it to the R1T and decided to go on a road trip from Ann Arbor to Traverse City, Michigan. Without the trailer and just the driver inside, the R1T displayed a highway range of about 270 miles at 75 mph. However, with the 5650 lbs. trailer hooked up, the truck displayed a range of just 103 miles which is a bummer, to say the least.
Ann Arbor to Traverse City is about 239 miles and so normally with no trailer, at 75 mph, with just one-stop to charge the truck, you could cover the distance in around 4 hours, 20 mins and be left with some juice as you enter Traverse City. However, with a trailer that weighs about half of the truck’s rated capacity, the range drops by over 50%. Range estimator and route planning website abetterrouteplanner.com estimates that you’ll need to make 4 stops for charging the truck on the way. All summed up, it’ll take you about 6 hours 30 mins to cover the distance and have about 10% of battery left as you enter Traverse City. So, if you’re excited by the whole prospect of an electric pickup truck covering long distances while hauling a trailer, the Rivian isn’t going to cut it.
But there’s a positive side as well. The quad-motor powertrain can tow with absolute ease. Credit to its massive power and torque figures, the R1T gets going like a breeze and you never really feel like the truck’s struggling as you’d otherwise do in a regular IC engine powered truck. The R1T also gets integrated trailer-brake and sway control that works flawlessly. Both the truck and trailer feel very stable and planted while driving.
However, even if you are willing to forego the limited range, there’s still one glaring issue and that’s charging infrastructure. Although there are quite a few charging stations throughout the country, these stations were designed and developed with regular cars in mind. There hardly are any charging stations where you can just drive in an R1T with a trailer attached and get it juiced up. Moreover, the R1T’s charging dock is on its nose and there’s no way you can connect it to a DC fast charger with the trailer connected. So every time you pull up for charging, you will have to detach the trailer, get the truck charged, reconnect the trailer, and then get going.
The Rivian R1T looks great on paper. It has very low running costs, it has great power and torque figures, and it comes loaded with tech features that hardly any of the conventional pickup trucks get. But then, there are quite a few issues in terms of practicality and usability especially when it comes to towing and hauling. The range takes a big slump and hardly any of the charging stations are equipped to accommodate pickup trucks with trailers. Yes, the R1T is more than capable of towing but it just cannot go the distance that you’d normally want it to go. So, if you plan on driving long distances while towing, then perhaps you should stick to a traditional ICE pickup truck simply because it’s more convenient and practical than the R1T. Moreover, it’s not just the R1T that has such issues- this is true for all the electric pickup trucks and SUVs that are available in the market today. All we can do is wait for the tech and infrastructure to improve over time.