Autofocus: 2021 Rivian R1T Unveiled

Rivian, the pioneering electric vehicle manufacturer, has unveiled details about its initial Electric Adventure Vehicle, the R1T, a cutting-edge, all-electric pickup designed for five passengers. Scheduled for a grand public debut on November 27 at AutoMobility LA, alongside the R1T, Rivian will present its fully electric SUV, the 2021 Rivian R1S.

The eagerly awaited R1T boasts an impressive array of features, including a remarkable range exceeding 400 miles, a wading capability of up to 1 meter, and outstanding performance coupled with precise control facilitated by the quad-motor all-wheel drive (AWD) system. Crafted to empower customers to explore the world, this dynamic truck is a testament to Rivian’s commitment to innovation.

Manufactured at Rivian’s state-of-the-art plant in Normal, Illinois, production of the R1T and R1S is set to commence in late 2020.

RJ Scaringe, the visionary Founder and CEO of Rivian, expressed his excitement, stating, “We’re launching Rivian with two vehicles that reimagine the pickup and SUV segments. I started Rivian to deliver products that the world didn’t already have – to redefine expectations through the application of technology and innovation. Starting with a clean sheet, we have spent years developing the technology to deliver the ideal vehicle for active customers.”

He continued, “This means having great driving dynamics on any surface, whether on- or off-road, providing cargo solutions to easily store any gear, whether it’s a surfboard or a fishing rod, and, very importantly, being capable of driving long distances on a single charge. From the inside out, Rivian has developed its vehicles with adventurers at the core of every design and engineering decision. The R1T and R1S result from all this work, and we are excited to introduce these products to the world finally.”

Skateboard Platform

At the core of both the R1T and R1S lies Rivian’s innovative skateboard platform, a revolutionary design that efficiently accommodates the battery pack, drive units, suspension, braking, and thermal system beneath the wheel’s height. This strategic arrangement maximizes the space above, providing ample room for occupants and their gear.

Beyond the advantages in packaging, this platform ensures a remarkably low center of gravity, contributing to the vehicles’ agility and stability. Complementing these benefits is a sophisticated suspension architecture featuring unequal length double wishbone suspension in the front and a multi-link suspension in the rear. This system incorporates dynamic roll control, adaptive dampers, and ride-height adjustable air suspension, allowing users to tailor the suspension settings for highway comfort, on-road performance, or off-road capability.

Rivian’s commitment to cutting-edge technology is further evident in the quad-motor system employed in their vehicles. Generating an impressive 147kW with precise torque control to each wheel, this system facilitates active torque vectoring, ensuring optimal performance in various scenarios, from high-speed cornering to low-speed rock crawling. With an astounding 3,500 Nm of grounded torque per wheel (14,000 Nm for the entire vehicle), the R1T can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 3 seconds and reach 100 mph in less than 7 seconds. Notably, this robust powertrain and chassis configuration also endows the R1T with an impressive tow rating of 11,000 pounds.

“The beauty and elegance of our quad-motor setup isn’t just about brute power; this architecture provides instantaneous torque with extremely precise control at each wheel, which is completely game-changing from a dynamics perspective, both on- and off-road.”

Executive Director of Engineering and Programs Mark Vinnels.



Rivian’s vehicle design philosophy seamlessly blends strength and refinement, inviting customers to embrace both rugged adventures and a touch of sophistication. The vehicles boast robust proportions and sleek, continuous bodylines, creating a modern and welcoming stance that doesn’t compromise on performance or advanced technology.

The primary bodyline of the R1T gracefully wraps around the cab, contributing to a distinctive silhouette. This design choice not only highlights the Gear Tunnel™ cutline but also accentuates the rear fender flares. The R1T’s design includes short overhangs, elevated ground clearance, and assertive approach and departure angles, instilling the vehicle with a confident and rugged presence. These design elements are made possible by Rivian’s distinctive skateboard platform.

A Rivian vehicle is easily recognizable, thanks to its iconic “stadium” headlights and a daytime running light that spans the entire width of the vehicle. These signature features not only add to the vehicle’s aesthetic appeal but also reinforce its unique identity on the road. In essence, Rivian’s design approach ensures that their vehicles exude strength, sophistication, and a readiness to embrace the outdoors.


In perfect harmony with the striking exterior, the interior of Rivian’s vehicles beckons occupants into a premium space that combines craftsmanship with an invitation for rugged, everyday use. Rivian places significant emphasis on color and materials to distinguish its vehicles, incorporating sustainably sourced wood throughout the interior. The natural finish of the wood creates a warm and inviting ambiance. Particularly noteworthy is the use of wood as a structural element in the dashboard, seamlessly integrating the main center display and driver cluster, achieving a balance of form and function.

The interior design extends beyond aesthetics to address practical considerations. In high-wear areas, materials draw inspiration from sportswear and active gear, combining durability with innovation. This choice ensures that the interior remains not only stylish but also easily maintainable with simple cleaning.

Jeff Hammoud, VP of Vehicle Design, emphasized the importance of interior design, stating, “Although the exterior of the vehicle is what first attracts you, the interior is where you spend the most of your time, so we really focused on creating a transformational space. The biggest challenge was creating an interior design that delivered a premium experience while still being comfortable as a space that is heavily used. 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.” This approach underscores Rivian’s commitment to delivering a premium yet functional interior experience for their customers.


The R1T harnesses its advanced vehicle architecture to offer an unparalleled amount of lockable storage, establishing itself as the pickup with the most extensive storage capacity globally. At the forefront is the 330-liter front trunk, designed for effortless daily access with a fully powered hood for seamless opening and closing.

Beneath the cab, the R1T boasts a lockable Gear Tunnel that spans the vehicle’s width, providing over 350 liters of storage space. This versatile compartment accommodates oversized gear such as snowboards, golf bags, or strollers. The Gear Tunnel doors serve multiple purposes, acting as steps for loading items into the bed or onto the roof, and doubling as a seat and a convenient platform for activities like lacing up hiking boots. Complementing this design, the R1T features a watertight integrated tonneau cover, and beneath the bed floor lies a 200-liter sealed bin, suitable for storing a full-size spare tire. The bed is equipped with three 110-volt outlets and integrated compressed air for added convenience.

A standout feature, the Gear Guard, incorporates two integrated locking cables in the bed, ensuring the secure attachment of bicycle frames and other gear. The bed is equipped with a camera system that monitors any stored items, sending alerts to owners if any tampering is detected.

Rivian goes further by introducing a telescoping racking system with user-friendly mounts that seamlessly attach to the roof, bed rails, and bed floor. These racks are compatible with a range of accessories, including tents, travel containers, and bike/ski racks. When not in use, the racks can be conveniently stored in the front trunk, enhancing the R1T’s versatility and practicality for a variety of adventures.

Battery System

Rivian’s commitment to pushing boundaries is evident in the development of its energy-dense battery module and pack, meticulously designed for the most challenging journeys. With a focus on durability, these components feature robust underbody protection and an advanced cooling system, providing occupants with the confidence to explore farther, regardless of the terrain or temperature. Adaptive control algorithms contribute to this confidence by learning driver behavior and optimizing user-specific battery management, ensuring the utmost in battery life, reliability, and second-life reusability. Rivian plans to offer three battery sizes, with the 180 kWh and 135 kWh options available at launch, followed by a 105 kWh variant within six months.

The battery system is engineered for rapid charging, supporting rates of up to 160kW. This capability allows for the addition of approximately 200 miles of range in just 30 minutes of charging, making long-distance travel more convenient. Alongside DC fast-charging, the R1T is equipped with an 11kW onboard charger for efficient charging at Level 2 charging stations, offering a comprehensive charging solution to cater to various needs and scenarios.

Connectivity and Digital Experience

Rivian has crafted its connected car platform meticulously, starting from scratch to ensure complete control and flexibility over the vehicle’s hardware, software, and user experience. Operating on a high-speed Ethernet backbone, this system prioritizes robust security. The platform facilitates granular over-the-air updates of vehicle software, allowing for continuous enhancement of functionality and performance. All Rivian vehicles are seamlessly integrated into a cloud ecosystem for efficient data exchange and processing, supporting machine learning and data services. This interconnected digital experience extends beyond the vehicle, encompassing cloud services and mobile/web applications, providing a cohesive and seamless interface for monitoring vehicle status and control.

The in-vehicle experience is defined by a custom 15.6-inch center touch screen, a 12.3-inch instrument cluster, and a 6.8-inch rear touch screen. Recognizing the customers’ desire for a connected adventure, Rivian has tailored maps, music, navigation, and other adventure-focused features to complement the digital experience. The digital user interface mirrors the spirit of adventure, the outdoors, and exploration, offering an immersive and natural experience whether used in a connected urban environment or in remote off-road settings. Rivian’s connected car platform is designed to enhance the overall driving experience by seamlessly integrating advanced technology with the spirit of exploration and adventure.


The R1T is set to debut with an advanced hardware suite featuring multiple modalities, including cameras, lidar, radar, ultrasonic sensors, and a high-precision GPS coupled with high-definition maps. This comprehensive hardware setup empowers the vehicle with “Level 3” autonomy, allowing for hands-off wheel and eyes-off-road operation specifically on highways. Going beyond the Level 3 capabilities on the highway, the R1T will incorporate a range of self-driving features designed to enhance the driving experience and support active lifestyles. These features showcase Rivian’s commitment to integrating cutting-edge technology to not only ensure safety and convenience but also cater to the evolving needs and preferences of drivers.


Rivian’s unwavering commitment to safety is reflected in its meticulous safety systems and body-structure design, aiming to achieve IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus and NHTSA 5-Star ratings. The safety features include a comprehensive array of 8 airbags strategically placed for occupant protection. Moreover, the skateboard platform, serving as the vehicle’s foundation, is reinforced to provide added protection for the battery.

2021 Rivian R1T

In addition to passive safety measures, both the R1T and R1S will be equipped with a full complement of active safety systems. These systems leverage Rivian’s suite of self-driving sensors, contributing to enhanced safety by providing features that actively assist drivers in avoiding collisions and other potential hazards. This holistic approach to safety underscores Rivian’s dedication to delivering vehicles that prioritize the well-being of occupants through a combination of advanced safety technologies and thoughtful design.