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With its concept of pickup and SUV bodies perched upon an electric “skateboard” technology, Rivian may be the buzziest EV startup since Tesla.
The company has been wowing autoshow onlookers and grabbing headlines for major partnerships, tech luminary praise, and novel features of its electric vehicles aimed at adventurers.
A Rivian pickup with a range of about 200 miles will have a starting price of about $70,000.
The company expects to begin delivery next year and has recently lined up an injection of capital and resources to become a strong early entrant in the electric pickup marketplace.
Below is a roundup of some recent developments with Rivian and the latest from other automakers who plan to build electric pickups
Rivian announced in February a $700 million round of funding led by Amazon which reportedly developed from CEO Jeff Bezos’ fascination with emerging trends in the auto industry.
“If you think about the auto industry right now, there’s so many things going on with Uber-ization, electrification, the connected car — so it’s a fascinating industry. It’s going to be something very interesting to watch and participate in, and I’m very excited about that whole industry,” Bezos said at a March all-hands meeting, CNBC reported.
Ford announced a $500 million investment in Rivian, and a plan for collaboration. Ford will have access to Rivian’s electric “skateboard” technology, a rolling chassis that stores the battery pack and can be used for various body configurations.
Ford also said it intends to develop a new vehicle using Rivian’s skateboard platform. This is in addition to Ford’s existing plans to develop a portfolio of battery electric vehicles. As part of its previously announced $11 billion EV investment, Ford already has confirmed two fully electric vehicles – a Mustang-inspired crossover coming in 2020 and a zero-emissions version of the best-selling F-150 pickup.
With the partnership, Rivian will have access to Ford’s engineering and manufacturing resources as it ramps up production of its R1S (SUV) and R1T (truck) at its plant in Normal, Ill.
Kitchen in Your Pickup
Rivian announced a very interesting accessory available at launch – a camp kitchen. The unit slides out from a “gear tunnel” located between the cab and the bed and is powered by the truck’s 180kWh battery pack.
It features two induction burners, a sink, five gallons of water storage, and “keeps all your cookware and utensils organized while you’re out in the wild,” Rivian said in a tweet.
We’ve cooked up a mobile kitchen prototype that showcases just one of the many ways to utilize the extra storage space in the #R1T. It features 2 induction burners, a sink, 5 gallons of water storage and keeps all your cookware and utensils organized while you're out in the wild. pic.twitter.com/qsVXZUvCw8
— Rivian (@Rivian) May 17, 2019
GM to electrify a full-size
GM was also reportedly in the hunt to invest in Rivian, but the deal fell apart.
So, the company said in April it plans to build its own range of electrified trucks, including full-size models.
“GM has an industry-leading truck franchise and industry-leading electrification capabilities,” Chief Executive Mary Barra said during the automaker’s quarterly earnings call. “I assure you we will not cede our leadership on either front. We intend to create an all-electric future that includes a complete range of EVs, including full-size pickups.”
Still, there are few details as to the timing of an electric Chevrolet or GMC truck.
Workhorse, which builds electric fleet vehicles and a pickup, is reportedly having woes. A New York Times report said the entity, headed by founder Steve Burns, “exists almost entirely on paper,” and is “barely hanging on.”
The company is hoping to attract a $300 million investment to help it tool a Lordstown, Ohio GM plant to complete assembly of vehicles for UPS, DHL and other customers. UPS ordered 1,000 electric vans. And the company is a finalist for a $6.3 billion contract to build electric delivery trucks for the USPS.
Workhorse has reportedly produced a total of 365 vehicles since its founding in 2007.
Bollinger Seeks Investment
Bollinger Motors is also on the hunt for funding. The company has moved from Hobart, N.Y., to Detroit to bring its all-wheel-drive electric off-road vehicle to production. Founder Robert Bollinger told Automotive News he is looking for $100 million to complete the engineering work and begin production.
“The company has hired engineers, lined up its first vendors, started testing components, shopped for a manufacturing site and worked on the myriad other things it takes to build and sell high-quality vehicles,” according to the report.
The company plans to build a boxy sport-utility truck dubbed the B1, and a four-door version known as the B2, at a low volume, which means they’ll likely have a high price. Bollinger intends to show off new vehicles in July.
During Tesla’s Q4 2018 investor conference call, Musk said a Tesla-badged pickup truck may be ready for an unveil “this summer.”
Some of Musk’s Twitter banter has described the pickup as a mini version of the Semi with “crazy torque” and room for six passengers. He has also suggested 400 to 500 miles of range or “maybe higher.”
Speaking to Recode in November, Musk said he wants it to be a “futuristic-like cyberpunk, Blade Runner pickup truck” and that he doesn’t care if many people want to buy it.
“I’m weirdly like … if there’s only a small number of people that like that truck, I guess we’ll make a more conventional truck in the future,” Musk told Recode. “But it’s the thing that I am personally most fired up about. It’s gonna have a lot of titanium.”
Tesla certainly has a lot on its plate with scaling its current offerings including the Model Y crossover, but hopefully we’re just a few months away from seeing the concept of a pickup Musk calls “heart-stopping.”