Trucks & SUVs

This Is How Rivian Prepped the Electric R1T for Ewan McGregor’s Long Way Up

If you doubt the ability for EVs to be capable off-roaders, Ewan McGregor’s Long Way Up may make you a believer. While the main focus might be the program hosts’ bikes, the support vehicles come courtesy of Rivian. Ewan McGregor and his riding buddy Charley Boorman ride modified Harley-Davidson LiveWires, but the journey was made possible with the help of some Rivian R1Ts. And here’s how the American EV company got its soon-to-be-released trucks ready for the trip.

Long Way Up background

Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman standing in front of their blue and orange Harley-Davidson LiveWires in the middle of the desert
Ewan McGregor (left) and Charley Boorman with their Harley-Davidson LiveWires | Apple TV

This isn’t the first time Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman have gone on an extended ride like this together, The Drive reports. It’s actually the third.

In 2004, the duo rode from London to New York City by way of Russia in Long Way Round. And in 2007, they rode from the northernmost point of the UK to Cape Town in South Africa for Long Way Down. Both these trips were on BMW adventure bikes.

Long Way Up details Ewan McGregor’s and Charley Boorman’s trip from South America to LA. They start in the southernmost tip of Argentina and travel through South America, Central America, and Mexico. The trip covers roughly 13,000 miles, Roadshow reports. The Drive reports that it’s the longest-such trip ever attempted on an electric motorcycle.

And to help it succeed, Rivian sent two R1Ts along.

What does the Rivian R1T do, and how was it modified for the journey?

A white Rivian R1T climbs a South American sand dune
Rivian R1T climbing dunes | Rivian

Using Rivian R1Ts as support vehicles isn’t simply a marketing opportunity for the automaker. It’s difficult enough in some big US cities to find sufficient charging stations.

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And while part of Long Way Up’s drama involves McGregor and Boorman finding places to charge, that’s partially why the R1Ts were there, Autoblog explains. If need be, the trucks can serve as charging stations for the LiveWires. As it stands, Rivian helped set up roughly 240 charging stations along the trip route, Car and Driver reports. Some are temporary, Motor Trend reports, but more than a few are permanent installations.

But what kind of prep-work did Rivan do to the two R1Ts it sent to film Long Way Up? Based on the reports, remarkably little. That’s mostly because the trucks used were technically prototypes, rather than full-on production vehicles. However, InsideEVs reports they’re not the same as the first prototypes Rivian debuted. They have two charging ports instead of one, and the glass in the rear windows can retract.

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However, based on the R1T specs already revealed, it’s likely Rivian didn’t need to do much modification. With an electric motor at each wheel, it has AWD and can essentially turn on the spot. Its adjustable air suspension means it can vary its ground clearance from 8” to 14”, Car and Driver reports. Plus, it can wade into water over 36” deep. And while towing videos aren’t always what they seem, The Drive reports the Rivian R1T seemingly can tow 11,000 pounds.

But that doesn’t mean helping with Long Way Up wasn’t helpful for Rivian.

How did the TV show impact the electric pickup truck?

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Part of the reason why Rivian loaned two R1Ts to the Long Way Up production was to test them in real-world conditions, Robb Report explains. And from what MT reports, it seems that Rivian did get some useful information from the experience.

Throughout the journey, the trucks suffered from issues fault 12V-battery connections and frayed brake lines. Even issues with how streetlights reflect off the mirrors made its way back to Rivian’s HQ, Car and Driver reports. Plus, there was the matter of servicing the pickups in the middle of nowhere if something broke.

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Still, after the 13,000-mile journey, both Rivian R1Ts survived. And hopefully, the lessons learned in South America will make the production trucks even better.

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