Rivian R1S SUV EV to launch as factory output jumps

Technically, Rivian was building some R1S vehicles but not delivering them to the public. Deliveries began to employees starting in December 2021, Rivian said, including the first one to Scaringe himself. Deliveries will soon shift to increasingly impatient reservations holders starting in August or September.

That will mark an important milestone since Rivian has more than 90,000 reservations between the R1T and R1S. That’s separate from an initial order from Amazon for 100,000 vans. The pickup and SUV using the “R1” platform are built on a separate line from the much larger commercial vans.

The R1T and R1S are considered a high mark in the EV space, according to effusive reviews from automotive journalists.

The R1T was the first electric pickup to market and boasts sports car performance on the street and hardcore off-road performance on trails, thanks to an air suspension that adjusts dramatically up and down, depending on the use case. Multiple accessories highlight its focus on camping and outdoor adventures.

The R1S will have the three-row luxury EV space nearly to itself, with the exception of the Tesla Model X, which has limited off-road capability. The seven-seat Model X starts at $125,940 with shipping, while the R1S starts at $85,575. A less expensive R1S is expected to ship by 2024.

“Apart from the aging, pricey Model X, we haven’t had another EV with three rows of seats — only had a handful of plug-in hybrid vehicles,” said Robby DeGraff, industry analyst at AutoPacific.

“The R1S will cater to a much wider net of consumers, like active families or individuals who’ve been waiting for an EV with more seats and cargo room” compared with the R1T pickup with seating for five, DeGraff said.

Although the Model X was recently freshened with an updated interior and a $140,440 Plaid performance version, the R1S offers a boxy SUV design and similar off-road capabilities to the R1T.

“Really, it’s the only game in the market right now,” Travis Langness, senior reviews editor at Edmunds, said in a video review. “The Tesla Model X — while it shares similar dimensions to the Rivian R1S — is a coupe essentially,” given its car-based roots.

The R1S comes with seven seats, nearly 15 inches of ground clearance at its highest setting and 835 hp in the four-motor version that is now being produced, according to Rivian press materials.

The R1S has 316 miles of range, according to the EPA estimate, and fast charging capability that can add up to 140 miles of range in 20 minutes under ideal conditions, Rivian said.

“Rugged SUVs are hot right now,” DeGraff said. “All the greatness Rivian’s promised about its R1T, like impressive off-road chops and towing capability, for example, is essentially mirrored onto the R1S, just via a more accommodating, approachable body style.”

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