Are Electric Trucks the Next Big Technology?

Rivian Engineered Vehicles Inc., the electric-vehicle startup led by former Tesla engineers, got off to a rocky start, losing a big chunk of its investment in March in a share sale to investors without…

Are Electric Trucks the Next Big Technology?

Rivian Engineered Vehicles Inc., the electric-vehicle startup led by former Tesla engineers, got off to a rocky start, losing a big chunk of its investment in March in a share sale to investors without any actual vehicles to sell.

Then, something interesting happened. Rivian told investors last week that it would soon begin delivering its fully electric, three-seat R1T electric concept truck, and that it would begin delivering to customers in the first quarter of next year. “Rivian’s exciting, innovative electric vehicles, powered by battery technology from one of our founding companies, Tesla Motors Inc., are making waves in the industry,” Scott Painter, CEO of Rivian, wrote on the firm’s blog last week. The company also said its financial results would be released separately, as some investors wanted.

Is Rivian on a roll? Well, yes and no. The Detroit-based startup is managed by a group of familiar names in the electric-vehicle game, including the former chief executive of Fisker Automotive, who rejoined in May, and the former CEO of electric-motor vehicle specialist SolarCity, who was hired as a new chief product officer. Painter, who had also worked at Tesla, joined the company a year ago.

Rivian said last week that it signed up Toyota Motor to deliver the first R1T trucks, with plans to use them for test drives through testing in Japan and the United States. And, the company says, Toyota is already prepping a version of the R1T, which will go into production in 2021. Toyota’s program will be run by Toyota UK Ltd., a new company that will be part of Toyota’s growing operations in the United Kingdom, which include a new factory in Sunderland, East Yorkshire.

The R1T, which has a range of 300 miles and can be charged from empty in just 10 minutes, will be produced by Rivian’s Rivian Electric Vehicles Company unit. Toyota, working with a development partner, EJMC Motors, will be the exclusive global sales partner for the vehicle. The R1T will be sold in different size and luxury models, all with prices starting at $79,990, but the premium versions will cost $79,990 to $84,990.

Rivian is still in the early stages of building its first vehicle, and has no plans to manufacture it anywhere in the world. The R1T will continue to be manufactured at Rivian’s ales in Michigan.

Photos: Rivian / Matt Sayles/Associated Press

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