Photo Credit Rivian.com
Wired April 2020 pp68-73 “The Body Electric” by Jon Gertner “Can automotive upstart Rivian break America’s addiction to carbon-spewing pick-ups and SUVs, with Amazon on its side, it might have a chance”.
An equation for reducing America’s carbon footprint will consist of some changes in personal actions and plenty of technological change. One-third of American emissions are related to transportation and light-duty vehicles (Cars, Pick-Ups, SUVs and Minivans) account for sixty percent of that.
Rivian, a startup, will release the R1T a full electric pick-up in 2020* and the R1S SUV in 2021 for its initial foray into reducing our emissions. Ninety percent of the more than two million pick-ups sold annually in America are used as personal vehicles-weekday driving to work, weekends camping or tailgating so the R1T is designed with those uses in mind. Reportedly it will look like a Ford F150 on a “gym and yoga regimen”, with a focus on “ride quality” and a noticeably “better driving experience”. The target buyer will be adventurous and willing to fork out $60,000 for a base model. Features include a 400-mile range, 0-60 mph in 3 seconds, semi-autonomous driving mode, Alexa, towing capability of 11,000 lbs and vegan upholstery. Other features may include an adjustable wheelbase-fit in your garage 4 foot 11 inch but larger for loads 6 foot 11 inch and what about a slide-out camp kitchen in place of a gas tank?
Sweetening the likelihood of success, Amazon, as part of its “Fossil Fuel Free by 2030 initiative”, has signed-on for 10,000 Delivery Vans by 2022 and another 90,000 by 2024. These vans will include features to improve Amazon workers efficiency of movement/delivery.
Rivian, having yet to mass produce vehicles, faces many challenges namely they must appeal to pick-up customers, must ramp-up for mass manufacturing and they are not Tesla.
So far, Rivian claims 10,000 difficult decisions but they have created some unifying components-a skateboard chasis intended for the R1T and R1S, battery packs, drivetrains and motors. The unique “Tophat” being versions of the R1T and R1S.
In a time when the current federal administration is reducing fuel efficiency standards, Rivian, Tesla and others and our planet would benefit by guidelines for better fleet efficiency.
Note: * recent reports indicate 2021.