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Rivian R1T will beat Ford, Telsa electric pickups to market

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Lost among the F-150 Lightning vs. Tesla Cybertruck “rivalry” is an oft-ignored third competitor in the electric pickup truck segment. And this quiet competitor will beat both Ford and Tesla to market when deliveries of the 2022 Rivian R1T begin later this month.

In addition to being first, according to a report in Automotive News, the R1T’s estimated range will be 314 miles. That’s comparable to the Ford F-150 Lightning and less than that of the Tesla Cybertruck with the tri-motor system.

The Rivian R1T’s first offering is known as the Launch Edition which has a 135-kilowatt-hour battery pack. There are two additional battery packs planned in the future for R1T — one being smaller and the other being larger.  Rivian is also coming out later this year with an all-electric SUV named the R1S, which should rival General Motor’s reboot of the Hummer EV SUV, which is due out later this fall. The Hummer SUV and pickup truck are slated to be the first full-size electric SUV and truck from one of the Detroit Three manufacturers.

The electric truck segment

When Tesla launched the futuristic-looking (dare I say, goofy-looking) Cybertruck to PT Barnum-like fanfare, it was an immediate disruptor to the industry. An all-electric pickup truck, even one that looks as strange as the Cybertruck, fills a need in the most profitable segment in the auto industry. And, it wasn’t one any of the major automakers seemed to be working on.

Tesla has developed its reputation as the electric vehicle leader and industry disruptor. Elon Musk takes pride in it. Their fanbase thumbs their nose at the established auto industry, almost obnoxiously. But while all this ballyhoo and fanfare goes and the focus turned on the developing rivalry with Ford, Rivian has remained in the background, doing its thing.

However, while Tesla seems hell-bent to go it alone, Rivian seems open to partnerships and collaborations. In fact, Rivian has had an on and off relationship with Ford for product development, and truth be told, Rivian’s early work in vehicles like the R1T will likely lead to big things for auto manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors.

The bottom line on EV pickups

As the industry heads toward electrification, it will need partnerships and cooperation from early developers like Rivian. So, with the R1T being the first electric pickup truck out on the market, it’s a good thing for Rivian but could lead to good things for all pickup truck consumers.

The F-150 Lightning and Hummer EV will be the next electric pickups to hit the market, beating the Cybertruck by several months. Tesla can pound their chest and brag about 600,000 pre-orders, but they need to get a realistic (not a futuristic) pickup truck to market. Follow Rivian’s lead. Follow Ford and General Motors who have mastered the truck manufacturing.

Rather than be silly, pointless rivals, come together. Learn from each other. Surely the R1T will have bumps along the way. The Detroit Three would be wise to see what Rivian’s done right and wrong with its truck and apply those lessons to their own upcoming electric pickups.

More competition is usually a good thing for the consumer. A company like Rivian will not move a mass volume of products. The R1T pickup will be a niche vehicle, with low volume, but it could be a nice truck with a lot of innovation the spurs on more innovation in the industry. It certainly looks different, but not as goofy as the Cybertruck and not as mainstream as the F-150 Lightning.

That’s the right slot for Rivian, somewhere between Tesla and Ford.

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Jimmy Dinsmore

Jimmy is News Editor for PickupTruckTalk with an expertise in new vehicles. He is also a Ford Mustang historian having authored the book Mustang by Design (available on Amazon). His second book, about the history of Ford's F-Series truck comes out next year.

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