Before 2018 Rivian was an electric vehicle brand very few people even knew existed. The reason being, Rivian had been operating in ‘stealth mode’ since 2009. Yes, while Rivian is technically a start-up company, a lot has been going on behind the scenes for over a decade. Rivian is set to release its first vehicle the R1T in the summer of 2021 in the US. Apparently, the R1T will also be making it over to the UK in 2022. The US specification R1T will be rated to tow up to 11,000 lbs (just under 5,000 kg). UK specs yet to be revealed.
Key Rivian R1T Specs
- Official Towing Capacity – 11,000 lbs (just under 5,000 kg) in the US
- Availability – 2022 in the UK
- Price – Predicted £67,500 (Explore) > £75,000 (Launch Edition/Adventure)
- Estimated Range – 300+ miles (Rivian Claim)
- Estimate Towing Range (50%) – 150 miles (Based on Rivian Claim)
- Maximum Charge Rate – Unconfirmed (potentially up to 300kW)
Rivian R1T HP & Torque
- Yet to be confirmed.
Rivian R1T Towing Capabilities
We are still several years away from the release of the R1T pickup and R1S SUV here in the UK. However, Rivian has previously stated their intentions to bring their vehicles over to the UK and Europe once their US role out has been completed. We still have no official pricing for the UK versions of Rivian’s vehicles, the figures above are just the US dollar prices with a UK pound sign instead. However, the price of vehicles sold in the US and UK often ends up being a straight currency icon swap, even though through actual currency conversion the price in UK pounds would appear cheaper.
Likewise, the towing figure I’ve stated above of 11,000 lbs is the specification for the US Rivian R1T. Now, its likely the US and UK spec cars will be very similar. However, just bear in mind that towing capacity has not been stated for the UK version. It’s likely the towing capacity will be just stated to be 3,500 kg due to the differences in US/UK driving/towing laws. Even at 3,500 kg, the Rivian R1T would become the market leader when it comes to electric tow cars, beating the 2,250 kg towing capacity of the Tesla Model X.
Impressive Extreme Weather Towing Tests
If you have read my articles on the likes of the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Jaguar I-Pace you will know I get very disappointed with manufacturers not properly considering towing as a functionality of their vehicles. However, with Rivian as you can see below they are taking the towing capabilities of the R1T seriously with some extreme weather testing in Death Valley, USA.
If you want the full details on the R1T towing test I would recommend reading the full Rivian blog article. Below I’ll just quickly run through how the test was conducted and how the R1T performed. So right at the start of the video, you hear the Rivian guys talking about “1,500 amps for a minute or two straight“. The point their making is towing, and especially towing in those extreme conditions really puts the battery and its cooling system to the test.
Rivian conducted the towing test in the R1T over the Davis Dam Cycle which is effectively the test to prove the towing credentials of a vehicle in the US. The test was not only to see how the battery management/cooling system held up but could the car at the same time maintain a reasonable cabin temperature. Rivian even tested how the R1T would perform towing over the Dumont Sands. I don’t believe many people would/should try towing with any vehicle over-sand. However, its good to see that Rivian is really trying to test the R1T to its limits to see what its actually capable of in the real-world.
R1T Towing Consumption/Range Figures
Within the Rivian towing test video above there are no specifics on battery consumption per mile or detailed range figures while towing. However, within the blog article, it is stated that “We generally see about a 50% reduction in range when towing at full capacity.” That 50% range reduction is to be typically expected when towing with an EV, though it can be more or less depending on the specific trailer in terms of its weight/aerodynamic profile and also the terrain/elevation changes.
If Rivian did record a 50% range reduction with that particular 30-foot/11,000 lb trailer in those extreme hot weather towing tests I find that very impressive. That boxy cargo trailer has pretty much the worst aerodynamic profile you can have on a trailer. Hence, factor in the high temperatures, just a 50% range reduction would actually be very efficient. However, until we see some more towing tests with the R1T with specific test result data we will not know how efficient the R1T is while towing.
R1T Mysteries Remain (Charge Rate/Power/Battery Capacity)
While we now know pricing in the US for the R1T for its release version and cheaper Explore version coming in 2022, there is still a lot about the Rivian R1T which has yet to be confirmed, and all have an impact on the towing capabilities/practicality of the vehicle. For instance, Rivian has not stated the horsepower or torque figures. However, that doesn’t concern me at all, any pickup truck which can accelerate to 60mph in 3 seconds is not lacking on power for towing. What interest’s me more from a towing perspective is the lack of specifics on the maximum charge rate and battery capacity.
Maximum Charge Rate of 180 or 300kW?
First, let’s discuss the maximum charge rate. As an electric tow car/truck generally loses half its range when towing, getting power back into the battery pack when charging is more important than under normal driving circumstances. Back in 2019, Motortrend compared the Rivian R1T and Tesla Cybertruck stating the R1T would support a 160kW charger, which would be quite a bit down on the Cybertruck supporting a 250 kW+ charging system.
However, InsideEVs reported in June 2020 that a patent has suggested the Rivian R1T will support up to 300kW charging, making it much competitive to the Cybertruck. Though, even if the Rivian can charge at up to 300kW it may be hard to do so for several years after the R1T launches. Rivian owners will be dependant in most cases on the public charging network. However, Rivian is also developing its own charging network called the ‘Adventure Network’ in the US.
Now, from the details known about the Rivian Adventure Network its not intended to be as vast as the Tesla Supercharger Network. I also don’t believe Rivian has plans for an Adventure Network of chargers in the UK. Maybe in the future, who knows. The main emphasis appears to be to place these fast chargers in remote locations close to National Parks etc in the US where existing public charging is currently limited at best. Therefore, if the Rivian R1T and R1S can really charge up to 300kW I would expect Rivian to be including those chargers in their Adventure Network. Hiring previous Tesla employees who have worked on the Supercharger network is a smart move on Rivian’s part.
Expandable Battery Capacity?
So you may have noticed on the key vehicle specs for the R1T and any electric tow car I write about I don’t specify/emphasize the battery capacity. This is not an oversight, its deliberate, and I’ll be writing a future post going into detail as to why. But quite simply, its not a good idea to compare electric cars on battery capacities.
Why? Well for a couple of reasons. First, the stated capacity is not always ‘usable’ capacity. Second, the efficiency of electric vehicles varies between manufactures and models. Some electric cars consume more electrons than others (Audi E-Tron cough, cough). Hence, battery capacity is not a good indicator of range, I prefer to reference EV-Database figures once available for range instead.
Having said all of the above, the battery capacity of the Rivian R1T is getting interesting. First, back in 2018 when the R1T was first announced it was stated to have a 180kW battery pack and go 400+ miles. Well, the launch version is set to go 300+ miles, hence, I don’t think it actually features that 180kW battery. It looks like that 180 kW battery pack is coming in later versions. But what about a removable auxiliary battery pack?
Thedrive.com reported about the patent that Rivian has secured for a removal auxiliary battery pack originally filed in 2019. This removable battery pack would sit in the rear bed and not only link up to the battery management systems but also the cooling system for the main battery pack within the R1T. Interesting stuff, and could definitely come in handy to help address range concerns when towing. Who knows, Rivian might even be considering auxiliary battery pack swaps/renting at their Adventure Network stations?
My Thoughts On The Rivian R1T…
I think the Rivian R1T has a lot of potential to be an excellent electric car/truck, but particularly as an electric tow car/truck. There are still no specific official details on the UK release, but Rivian does have intentions to launch in the UK in 2022. Potentially the R1T may face tough competition from the Tesla Cybertuck, which will potentially be cheaper, have a higher towing capacity and have access to the widely available Supercharger Network.
However, its not actually clear if the Cybertruck is coming to the UK and not everybody wants to own a Tesla. Furthermore, many people are not fans of the looks of the Cybertruck. Therefore, the Rivian R1T is good competition, it will appeal to those who are interested in a more ‘normal’ looking electric truck that is still very capable, especially when it comes to towing.
From a towing perspective, if Rivian can make the R1T capable of 300kW charging, potentially with some auxiliary battery pack options that could really help to reduce range anxiety concerns when towing. After viewing the hot weather testing video above and the general specifications of the Rivian R1T I’m pretty convinced it will be a highly capable electric tow car. But what about its sibling the R1S SUV?