Technology

Surprise maker beats Ford and Tesla

The American giants have talked a big game in the past few years, but a relatively unknown company has beat them in a critical race.

A little known car maker has done what some of the biggest and most valuable companies in the world have not – build an electric ute.

Rivian’s first R1T electric ute has rolled off the American company’s production line in the US state of Illinois.

It has beaten Tesla’s CyberTruck and Ford’s F-150 Lightning to the punch by a considerable margin.

The company’s founder, RJ Scaringe, said on Twitter: “After months of building pre-production vehicles, this morning our first customer vehicle drove off our production line in Normal! Our team’s collective efforts have made this moment possible. Can’t wait to get these into the hands of our customers!”

The milestone comes not long after US President Joe Biden signed an executive order that requires 50 per cent of all new cars sold by 2030 to be electric.

Rivian hasn’t gone it alone. The EV maker is backed by some of the world’s biggest companies and investment firms.

Ford and Amazon are both major investors. The latter has a standing order for 100,000 specially built electric delivery vans, which will help the company’s green drive.

In total Rivian has raised $US10.5b ($14.34b) since 2019.

Scaringe said after the company’s latest funding round in July that it needed the cash injection to start vehicle production, scale new vehicles and to fuel international growth.

The good news for Aussie tradies is that it’s expected to be sold in Australia.

In 2019, a Rivian spokesman Chris Wollen told News Corp Australia the ute would be developed in right-hand drive for overseas markets.

“We know that there’s markets that will be into these vehicles and the adventure positioning and Australia fits that perfectly. We know we’re nicely suited for Australia so it’s an important market for us,” he said.

Rivian claims its R1T will have some pretty impressive performance. The truck will tow up to 4500kg and have a claimed range of up to 640km.

The Rivian R1T will be available in several variants and have a choice of either 135kWh or 180kWh battery packs, with respective theoretical range of 500km and 640km.

All are all-wheel drive — electric motors power each wheel, with torque vectoring to ensure optimum grip.

Power figures vary with specification: the smaller battery makes 563kW/1120Nm and the larger battery pack prioritises range over power, making 522kW/1120Nm.

The ute will have an 800kg payload and a wading depth of up to a metre.

Rivian is also developing an electric SUV called the R1S.

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