Rivian’s Electric Pickup Truck Will Cost Less Than Expected

In recent months, the electric pickup truck market has gained new competitors. Hummer’s coming back in all-electric truck form, and GM’s Lordstown plant has been recommissioned for electric pickup production. Perhaps that’s the motivation behind Rivian’s latest announcement. Fresh off the heels of new investments and feature introductions, the company has revealed the R1T electric truck will be cheaper than initially expected. But will the price cut keep the R1T competitive?

Details on the Rivian electric truck’s new price

2021 Rivian R1T
2021 Rivian R1T | Rivian

Initially, Rivian was planning on offering the R1T starting at $69,000. However, in an interview with Reuters, Rivian CEO, and founder R.J. Scaringe revealed the truck’s price will be “lower than has been previously announced.”

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Fog’s rolling in.

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As The Drive explains, that price was initially quoted for the base, 105-kWh version of the electric truck. This is the version that wouldn’t go on sale until late 2021, a year after the 135-kWh and 180-kWh versions. However, Scaringe is now claiming that the mid-tier 135-kWh with variable-transparency glass roof panel will cost that much, according to Autoblog. Autoweek also reported a similarly-equipped R1S SUV, which shares the R1T’s platform, will start at $72,000.

The 105-kWh battery, according to InsideEVs, will be good for 230 miles, while the 180-kWh pack will allow up to 400 miles of range. The 135-kWh version will provide up to 300 miles of range, according to Reuters.

Why the price cut?

Scaringe did not reveal specifics behind the announced price cut. However, Jalopnik and Autoweek presented some potential motivating factors.

Rivian R1S
Rivian R1S | Rivian

It’s possible that Rivian’s recent fundraising, as well as its collaboration with companies like Ford, Lincoln, and Amazon, have meant it can afford smaller profit margins on customer sales. Or, perhaps one of those collaborators is willing to blunt some of the financial pressure that comes with lowering prices.

There are also economies of scale to consider. Scaringe wouldn’t quote specifically how many people put down a refundable deposit on a Rivian, only calling the reaction “really positive.” There are allegedly enough pre-orders that customers may not get their vehicles as quickly as they’d like. If there are indeed that many pre-orders, it would allow Rivian to negotiate for lower prices on parts, supplies, and materials. Therefore, the automaker wouldn’t have to charge as much for its vehicles.

There might be another motivating factor behind Rivian’s decision, though. Rivian is sticking to its goal of having the R1T begin delivery by late 2020, with the R1S following shortly. And at that point, it might face some stiff competition.

The Rivian R1T’s new pricing vs. the competition’s

2021 Bollinger B2
2021 Bollinger B2 | Bollinger

Although Bollinger’s B2 pickup competes with the R1T in terms of off-roading capability, at $125k for 200 miles of range, it’s at a significant financial disadvantage. Then again, Bollinger is focusing on a different type of buyer.

Tesla Cybertruck
Tesla Cybertruck | Tesla

Rivian’s biggest pickup competitor will likely be Tesla. With the $39,900 single-motor Cybertruck delayed a year, the R1T will at first compete with the $49,900 dual-motor and $69,900 tri-motor versions. Although the Cybertruck’s classification might mean the EPA wouldn’t have to certify its range, Tesla is claiming a 300-mile range for the dual-motor truck and over 500 miles for the tri-motor.

Adding range is arguably less important than providing more fast-charging stations. And there, Tesla does have Rivian beat. Reuters reported that one Tesla owner who flew into Rivian’s recent event remarked how non-Teslas can’t fully-utilize the company’s Superchargers. To be fair, Scaringe did tell Reuters that Rivian is working on rolling out a more-extensive charging network at places like national parks. However, Scaringe also said the R1T will be able to take advantage of other existing charging stations.

Tesla Cybertruck frame
Tesla Cybertruck frame | Tesla

However, Rivian’s R1T will have several advantages over the Tesla Cybertruck. For one, the R1T will beat it to market; even the non-delayed Cybertrucks aren’t due until late 2021. Furthermore, there’s the very real chance that Tesla will have to modify its truck to abide by federal and non-US safety standards. The R1T will also have four motors, to the Cybertruck’s max of 3. Tesla has also not revealed how off-road-able its truck will be, while off-roading is a key part of Rivian’s strategy.

The Rivian R1S’ competition

At a starting price of $72k, the mid-tier R1S electric SUV will be quite competitive.

2019 Audi e-tron
2019 Audi e-tron | Audi

Audi’s e-tron electric SUV starts at just under $75k, and its max range is an estimated 204 miles. And while Tesla’s Model X Long-Range has slightly more range (328 miles), its $79,690 starting price is even more expensive than the Audi’s.

2020 Tesla Model Y
2020 Tesla Model Y | Tesla

Tesla’s Model Y crossover is cheaper: the dual-motor AWD model starts $47,700. It does have slightly less range—280 miles—but the price difference arguably makes up for it. However, unlike the R1S, the Model Y is seemingly not tow-rated. At the very least, Tesla does not provide that information on its website.

The bigger rival is likely to be Fisker’s Ocean SUV. Deliveries won’t start until 2022, and Fisker has also not revealed the Ocean’s tow-rating. However, its 80-kWh battery will provide 250-300 miles of range, and it’ll start at $37,499. Even the cheapest R1S might have a tough time competing.

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