The Rivian R1S electric SUV is a very green off-road machine


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Hot on the heels of the reveal of its electric R1T pickup in Los Angeles on Monday night, startup automaker Rivan kept the pedal down on Tuesday and took the wraps off of the SUV that will share its battery-powered underpinnings.

The R1S three-row utility vehicle features the same futuristic headlights and overall styling of the pickup, but replaces its bed with a covered cargo area and third row of seats. It’s about the same size as the Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover that will likely be its primary, conventionally-powered competitors, and promises similar off-road capability, but with zero emissions.

The R1S will be offered with three battery sizes that Michigan-based Rivian claims will deliver from 250 miles to over 400 miles of range. Four individual electric motors, one for each wheel, provide all-wheel-drive and a precise power control on pavement, dirt and rocks, according to Rivian engineering director Mark Vinnels.

With a combined output of approximately 400 hp to 750 hp, depending on the model, the aluminum-bodied RS1 will be also able to tow 7700 pounds and accelerate to 100 mph in as little as 7 seconds. A standard air suspension can lift it high enough to provide 14 inches of ground clearance below its floor-mounted battery pack, which will be protected by composite and metal shielding.

Despite the low placement of the battery pack and motors, Vinnels says the R1S can wade through over three feet of water and that its cabin is fully-sealed against leaks if you try. That’s also true for the 11 cubic-foot “frunk” storage compartment under the hood. Even if a couple of drips make it in to either, the R1S’s Chilewich carpets are washable.

And while the RS1 is aimed at adventurous types who like to drive themselves, Rivian says it will offer Level 3 autonomy, which is capable of self-driving in certain situations, like during highway cruising or while trudging along in stop-and-go traffic.

Rivan plans to start production of the R1S at its factory in Normal, Ill., in early 2021, a few months after the pickup goes on sale. Exact pricing hasn’t been announced, but the R1T is projected to start at $69,000.


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