December 23rd, 2018 by Kyle Field
Rivian took the Los Angeles Auto Show by storm for the reveal of its fully electric truck and SUV. Both are based on the same skateboard-style electric chassis, which will be available with three different battery sizes for a maximum range of 400+ miles per charge in the largest configuration.
The Rivian R1S is the sport utility vehicle of the family — though, Rivian likes to call them both “Electric Adventure Vehicles.” The Tesla Model X might be a capable off-road electric vehicle, but with the price ranging from $80,000 up to $140,000, it’s not well suited for the masses looking to get out into the wild to explore and get dirty along the way.
Rivian saw that gap as an opportunity and built its new chassis from the ground up as the foundation for a family of electric off-road vehicles that not only enable more enjoyment of the outdoors, but also take that enjoyment to the next level with loads of new features. We covered the basics of the platform that underpins both vehicles in our coverage of the Rivian R1T electric truck, but the R1S does have a personality of its own that we wanted to talk about as well.
A Luxury Electric SUV
First and foremost, the R1S is an SUV, which means more interior space and no bed to store outside things in. On the inside of the vehicle, you can haul around 7 passengers except with the largest battery configuration. The 180kWh battery configuration of the R1S utilizes some of the rear seating area for the extra batteries and is only available as a 5-seater. Scroll down below the video for the full specs on the Rivian R1S and the R1T.
Its larger interior translates to more room and protected storage for precious cargo. Rivian is clearly positioning the vehicle to compete against other luxury SUVs, like the Cadillac Escalade and the Land Rover, but the awkward LED “eyes” up front just keep making me think about WALL-E and make it hard for me to take it seriously.
The design of the R1S pulls strong lines across the body of the vehicle, telling anyone who comes near that it means business. The exterior maintains many of the same design cues as Rivian’s truck, the R1T, while adding on a rear cab that evokes a sentiment somewhere between a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a Land Rover.
It is big and blocky, and could even be described as larger than life. It is an intimidating vehicle to look at, except when it comes to the LED light bar across the front that frames the awkward headlight pods that give the face of the vehicle a cartoonish feel.
On the inside, the R1S is wrapped in the same durable luxury materials featured in the R1T, with durable floor mats that can simply be rinsed out with a hose, topped by leather-wrapped seats. The combination screams “toddler resistant” more than it does “take me off-roading,” but it is still likely to find strong traction with an audience that’s looking for luxury on the way to the soccer field with no intention of any serious adventure activity to speak of.
They will feel right at home with modern luxury utility vehicles, but the awkward intersection of luxury and durability feels strange. Sustainably sourced wood is used throughout the interior and its natural finish, making the interior feel warm and welcoming.
“The biggest challenge was creating an interior design that delivered a premium experience, while still being comfortable as a space that is heavily used,” Rivian’s VP of Vehicle Design Jeff Hammoud said. “To do this, we looked outside the automotive industry and took inspiration from contemporary furniture, as well as hiking and outdoor gear, to drive the design.”
Battery & Range
The Rivian R1S utilizes the same battery sizes as its truck does, incorporating necessarily tough underbody protection and an advanced cooling system that give occupants the confidence to go further, regardless of terrain or temperature. Rivian is building adaptive control algorithms into the battery management system that will learn driver behavior and optimize the vehicle’s behavior to best meet the needs of the driver. The batteries are supported by foundational technology that works to find the balance between maximizing battery life, reliability, and second-life reusability, when the time comes for that.
The R1S will be available with three different battery sizes, with 180 kWh and 135 kWh versions available at launch and a 105 kWh offering being made available within six months of launch according to Rivian. Rivian said that the battery is designed for fast charging, with charging rates of up to 160kW. This enables approximately 200 miles of range to be added in 30 minutes of charging. In addition to DC fast charging, an 11kW onboard AC charger facilitates higher charging speeds from level 2 chargers.
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Images credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica
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