Electric Truck-Maker Using F-150 Bodies for Drivetrain Testing

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Rivian R1T Front Road

Rivian is testing electric trucks around their headquarters in Michigan under the guise of Ford F-150 pickups.

While it is expected that Ford will soon introduce a hybrid F-150, most electric vehicle companies have avoided the consumer truck market. Rivian looks to change that when their R1T pickup arrives late in 2020, but in the meantime, they need to test their all-electric, high-performance pickups without being hassled by spy photographers.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the Michigan-based company has found that certain Ford F-150 bodies fit on the company’s “skateboard” chassis, allowing them to test their drivetrains in plain sight without any camouflage, making these test trucks nearly impossible to detect.

Rivian R1T Rear Parked

An Electric “F-150”

Although there is no connection between Ford Motor Company and Rivian, the electric automaker found that the bodies of certain F-150 pickups perfectly fits on the company’s “skateboard” chassis. This unit carries the batteries and all other components of the R1T’s drivetrain, including an individual electric motor mounted at each wheel.

Rivian R1T Grass

“We need something to keep the weather out while we put a lot of miles on our skateboard, so they’re driving around in Detroit right now, too,” said Rivian founder and CEO R.J. Scaringe. “They’re all over the place, but nobody knows. We’re very quiet about that.”

788 Horsepower, 400 Miles

Rivian’s drivetrain combines the 197-horsepower output from the four motors to offer a total system output of 788 horsepower, allowing the truck to sprint from a stop to 60 miles per hour in just three seconds with their mid-level battery package. Buyers who opt for the largest battery package can expect slightly reduced performance, but they could see 400 miles of all-electric range in the proper conditions.

Rivian R1T Dirt

Also, the Rivian R1T is built to perform like a proper truck, with a real cargo box and a ride height that will afford it solid off-road capabilities. At the same time, those who don’t plan to haul any cargo will be able to add a plug-in extended battery that will increase range even further.

Rivian expects pricing of their electric pickup to start at $69,000, not including any local or federal tax credits, so while it will cost more than the average pickup, it will cost less than the less-capable models from Tesla.

Rivian R1T Camper

Given all this, we must admit we are intrigued. But we’ll probably wait to see what EV and hybrid options Ford will deliver.

"Before I was old enough to walk, my dad was taking me to various types of racing events, from local drag racing to the Daytona 500," says Patrick Rall, a lifetime automotive expert, diehard Dodge fan, and respected auto journalist for over 10 years. "He owned a repair shop and had a variety of performance cars when I was young, but by the time I was 16, he was ready to build me my first drag car – a 1983 Dodge Mirada that ran low 12s. I spent 10 years traveling around the country, racing with my dad by my side. While we live in different areas of the country, my dad still drag races at 80 years old in the car that he built when I was 16 while I race other vehicles, including my 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and my 1972 Dodge Demon 340.

"Although I went to college for accounting, my time in my dad’s shop growing up allowed me the knowledge to spend time working as a mechanic before getting my accounting degree, at which point I worked in the office of a dealership group. While I was working in the accounting world, I continued racing and taking pictures of cars at the track. Over time, I began showing off those pictures online and that led to my writing.

"Ten years ago, I left the accounting world to become a full-time automotive writer and I am living proof that if you love what you do, you will never “work” a day in your life," adds Rall, who has clocked in time as an auto mechanic, longtime drag racer and now automotive journalist who contributes to nearly a dozen popular auto websites dedicated to fellow enthusiasts.

"I love covering the automotive industry and everything involved with the job. I was fortunate to turn my love of the automotive world into a hobby that led to an exciting career, with my past of working as a mechanic and as an accountant in the automotive world provides me with a unique perspective of the industry.

"My experience drag racing for more than 20 years coupled with a newfound interest in road racing over the past decade allows me to push performance cars to their limit, while my role as a horse stable manager gives me vast experience towing and hauling with all of the newest trucks on the market today.

"Being based on Detroit," says Rall, "I never miss the North American International Auto Show, the Woodward Dream Cruise and Roadkill Nights, along with spending plenty of time raising hell on Detroit's Woodward Avenue with the best muscle car crowd in the world.

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