Options for those of us interested in an electric car, van, ute or SUV, might be about to increase with the introduction of Rivian to Australia.
Still probably a new name to many people, US start-up Rivian has just enjoyed further funding of US$700m. The EV manufacturer has now raised $2.6 billion in funding lead by investments from Amazon and a US$500 million investment from Ford. Which tells us this is a serious project!
With the popularity of utes in Australia, the Rivian R1T and R1S electric utes have particularly captured the attention of Australian EV enthusiasts.
So, can I place an order for their battery-powered ute?
Well, not yet, we'd still be getting a bit ahead of ourselves to think of this option. However, the company is keen to enter the Australian marketplace, a fact confirmed at the 2019 New York Motor show. Their Chief Marketing Officer offered a positive outlook: 'We know we’re nicely suited for Australia so it’s an important market for us'. However, caution again, and not surprisingly, their initial focus is in their own country; and this comment was made when they were still at least a year away from production.
So when will it be all systems go?
Chief Engineer Brain Gase confirmed there will be an Australian launch. It is possible that Australians could be offered their R1S family SUV and R1T double-cab pick-up (with the company quite bullish about their towing, off-road, and other capabilities) towards the end of next year or early 2023.
As they say - stay tuned! In the US, Rivian also recently unveiled an all-electric commercial Amazon van. The company also raised the possibility of specific pre-testing of the electric ute or SUV, including its key thermal battery dynamics, in our hot and dusty climate. Their Chief Executive, RJ Scaringe, also recently accepted that broadening their appeal would require specific products for key international marketplaces, including both Europe and China.
So, there is no shortage of ambition! A variety of battery packs and powertrains are likely to be offered, but details will only be firmed up closer to release dates. Company spokesperson, Chris Wollen, also suggested they might sell directly, rather than through a dealer network, mirroring the Tesla business model. This was described as owning the customer experience. Judging by US prices, it's currently probable that both vehicles would cost around the A$100K mark.
Our expanding electric vehicle marketplace
Chinese EV giant BYD has signed a deal with Nexport to see their electric vehicles hit our shores next year; four models will also be offered direct to consumers. As highlighted in the recent February VFACTS report, electric vehicle sales in Australia are continuing to increase and hybrid models are seeing a surge in sales throughout Australia.
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