Rivian doubles down with 765hp R1S SUV


Most car firms like to leave a gap between their new models. But having taken nearly ten years to get going, Rivian is clearly in something of a hurry. Not 24hrs after revealing its first attempt - yesterday's R1T pick-up truck - the startup has unveiled its second: the R1S.

This time around it's an SUV (obvs) and there's good reason for its appearance hot on the heels of its sibling. Firstly, because it's the LA Auto Show tomorrow, where Rivian is doubtless expecting to make a splash, and secondly, because it shows off the flexibility of the manufacturer's 'skateboard' architecture.

Like its pick-up sibling, the R1S uses a four-motor electric drivetrain to produce a combined output of up to 765hp and 826lb ft of torque, enabling a three second 0-60mph time and sub-seven second 0-100mph time. But without the requirement for a flatbed at its rear, the R1S is more compact and has a 25mm shorter wheelbase. While a 5,040mm gap between the axles still leaves it firmly rooted in Range Rover territory, it does at least help the smaller SUV to go further on one charge.


Rivian claims the R1S offers up to 420 miles of range before it needs to pay a visit to the socket, which leaves it 20 miles better off than the pick-up. Of course, that figure is only possible when the SUV uses a range-topping 180kWh battery, but even the entry-level 105kWh and mid-spec 130kWh version offer 240 and 310 miles respectively.

But R1S is also about going off-road. Rivian therefore thinks it's found a niche in the market and it has developed the chassis and four-motor drivetrain with the rough stuff specifically in mind. With drive at each corner there's no need for torque-splitting differentials in Rivian's models, allowing each wheel to work completely independently from the other. The American company thinks this design layout trumps the ability of more complicated mechanical drivetrains attempting to offer the same thing. Which is bold.


Traction is only part of the equation, of course. To ensure robustness on the rough stuff, the R1S and R1T both have flat floors reinforced with carbon fibre and Kevlar to protect their batteries. Evidence of this design's effectiveness comes with five-star crash test safety ratings in the US.

The R1S obviously sacrifices load space with the loss of a flat bed at the back, but it retains a vacant bonnet space as a front boot offering 330 litres of storage space. Rivian says on-road handling is also improved by R1S's low centre of gravity and independent all-wheel drive, suggesting the Porsche Cayenne could be under threat from this new breed of plug-fed SUV in more ways than one.

We won't know for sure until 2021, when the R1S is planned for launch, a year after the R1T reaches roads (Rivian says the models are due in Britain a year after their North American introductions). But for a newcomer company like this, even one that's been quietly working on its models out of the spotlight since 2009, this is shaping up to be one heck of a market entrance.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (37) Join the discussion on the forum

  • GranCab 27 Nov 2018

    I suggested this yesterday .... and here it is !

  • herebebeasties 27 Nov 2018

    0-100 in seven seconds! Good Lord. Those range figures look awfully impressive if they are to be believed, and although this looks a good deal less aerodynamic than an iPace (no clever bonnet bypass, etc.) it has double the battery capacity, so may well be not far off the mark provided you are fleet of foot. I doubt it will be cheap, but it looks pretty credible. If they can get the quality right, with performance numbers like that and the obvious practicality (frunk!) I can see these doing really well in the market, even if they pitch this at well over Tesla Model S money.

    I also really like the clean styling - maybe we're finally going to see a swing back from the over-styled mess that is most new designs these days (looking at you, BMW).

  • GranCab 27 Nov 2018

    16' 6" between the axles .... you sure ?

  • Fire99 28 Nov 2018

    Jolly good... In an EV / TRON kinda way.. I don't like EV's too much but if you must have one then these look kinda funky..

  • tr3a 28 Nov 2018

    How lovely. Overall drag coefficient of a house, but at least the door handles are supremely aerodynamic!

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