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Rivian wants to do for pickup What Tesla did for cars

New electric vehicle launches can not avoid comparisons with Tesla. Elon Musk's automaker is the only one selling EVs a…

New electric vehicle launches can not avoid comparisons with Tesla. Elon Musk’s automaker is the only one selling EVs a lot today, and remarkably it is made that it is mainly sedans, when trucks and SUVs are the most popular vehicles in the United States. That’s what makes Rivian Automotive launches on the Los Angeles Auto Show this week so interesting. It reveals an electric pickup and SUV, as it’s called adventure vehicles, designed to take a bunch of sales with high profit margin sales for Big Three.

“This is a space for vehicles that have great function, You can put your gear, pets, your stuff in them, and they invite you to use them and make them dirty,” says founder RJ Scaringe. He believes that no such thing really exists in the luxury market, which has led to inflated prices for relatively unladen trucks with lots of luxury alternatives bumped. And he sees an opportunity to sell electric cars, designed from scratch and earn money doing it. Tesla sees the same opportunity, promising a model SU small SUV, and a pickup but without a fixed schedule. As Elon Musk says, Tesla has a lot on his plate . Other companies, such as Workhorse, also see the space, but more for commercial vehicles.

Scaringe founded Rivian 2009, but has been nice to this point. The 35-year MIT already employs 600 employees in five locations, including Plymouth, Michigan (Vehicle Construction), San Jose, California (self-propelled) and Irvine south of Los Angeles, where it develops batteries. When I visited that place in October, Scaringe gave me a tour of the plant as a proud parent. I’m not sure if he would consider this compliment, but his excitement and technology focus reminded me of getting a plant trip from Elon Musk a decade ago.

Ben Moon / Rivian

Rivian’s first vehicle is R1T, debut on Monday, with SUV to follow Tuesday. R1T would make a good bumper for a movie set in 2025. It’s around the size of a Ford F-150, angular enough to see the future strain, yet recognizable to not be off-putting. The most striking visual elements are the LED lights, red on the back and white, punctured with Tic Tac headlights at the front.

“We will take the traditional compromises that exist in segment-deficient fuel economy, not fun driving, not good on the highway, and making them strong,” said Scaringe. He promises his vehicle will be fast, fun and extremely skilled. 19659003] Rivian uses four engines, which should allow a 0-60mph sprint of three seconds – crazy for a truck – and also gives R1T 11,000 pounds. The company also experiments with off-road capabilities. Having one engine per wheel gives it the type of drag you want, for example rock jerking.

As Scaringe shows me pictures of the vehicle for the first time, he says that his designers used the space where an engine, exhaust, and other messy pieces would go in a regular truck. a powerful hood with a front luggage, a gear tunnel behind the cabin, intended for snowboards, golf bags or (for another type of adventure) strollers. Three 110-volt outlets in the truck’s bed can run power tools g or camping grills. Anything you lay back is monitored by an anti-theft camera.

Like Musk, Scaringe seems happiest when you dive into technical details, taking a pen to draw maps on a board to show me the company’s charging strategy, to extend the battery’s longevity. We walk past rows of glass cabinets, where individual battery cells are loaded and emptied over and over to calculate their capacity and properties. Even if Rivian buys the cells from a supplier, it wants to understand them more in detail than the manufacturer can provide.

The company uses standard cylindrical cells, such as large AA batteries, built into packaging. But then it smoothly melts two layers of packaging together, with the fluid cooling that the batteries must be sealed in the middle. Scaringe takes a package to show me “The flow has been optimized to ensure that the maximum temperature difference between the hottest and coldest cells in the package is less than three degrees.” It’s important because lithium-ion batteries are the happiest in the same temperature zones as humans. He gets excited again when explaining the cooling loops for battery, traction and cab. “It’s so cool, the battery and the thermal system are my favorite parts!”

Double-sided batteries help Rivian to promise massive 180 kWh and 135 kWh capacity packages for their vehicles. The largest package Tesla now offers is 100 kWh. Its testing shows 450 miles of the range may be possible, but it is far from EPA tests with an official rating to prove it. Although Scaringe says his team has worked hard to iron airflow, a truck is not an intrinsic aerodynamic form, which means that highway driving will be far from effective.

Finally, when Rivian is completely satisfied with his design and manufacture of battery pack process, it will have to scale it up. As Tesla has shown, it may be the tricky part. The company will produce mass production at a factory in Normal, Illinois, with deliveries due to their launch by the end of 2020 and sales targets of 50,000 vehicles per year in the United States.

It’s still two full years from now, which feels like always compared to Tesla’s regular promises in six months or so, but it also makes the deadline more realistic – and this is where Scaringe breaks from Musk. He also plans to license the underlying skateboard platform to other manufacturers who may be eager to get a bit of EV action, giving the company a different income stream if direct sales get tough because they all have Tesla. So these comparisons will not end soon, but Rivian can hope that they are favorable.

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