Rivian has released the EPA range rating for their upcoming R1T and R1S electric truck and SUV. For vehicles with the “large pack” configuration, the R1T pickup truck will have a range of 314 miles and 70mpg and the R1S SUV will have a near-identical 316 miles of range and get 69mpge.
These numbers announced today are only for the “large pack,” and Rivian plans to offer an additional “max pack” configuration of the R1T for an additional $10,000. Rivian has not yet released the EPA rating for the max pack, but expects a range of 400+ miles. Rivian has not yet announced availability of the max pack for the R1S, but will announce a “longer-range” R1S after Launch Edition vehicles hit the road.
Deliveries of the R1T are scheduled to begin this month, with Rivian just waiting for government approval to start putting trucks on the road. Rivian says that “all configurations will be available for delivery starting January 2022.”
Rivian also plans to offer a smaller “250+ mile pack” for both vehicles, though the company has not yet announced the timing on availability for that configuration.
Oddly, the ratings between the two vehicles are almost identical but the SUV has slightly higher range (<1%) and slightly lower efficiency (~1.4%). The differences are small enough, though, that it could just be a quirk in the testing process or a rounding error.
These numbers make the R1T and R1S among the least-efficient electric vehicles available (just a tad better than the Porsche Taycan Turbo S), but to be fair, they are also the largest electric vehicles. So this was to be expected. At 70mpge, they are still above three times more efficient than gas-powered pickup trucks and large SUVs.
As the first electric truck to get an EPA rating, this gives us an idea of where future electric trucks will land in terms of efficiency. If the R1T consumes approximately 480Wh/mile, we can project similar consumption from the Tesla Cybertruck, Ford F-150 Lightning, GM Hummer EV, and so on. Thus, in order to get a ~400 mile range, those trucks will need a battery pack approaching a whopping ~200kWh. The largest EV battery packs on the road currently are around 100kWh.
Personally, I maintain that range is not the most important number about an electric vehicle, and that there are many other aspects of the car that are at least as important or more important than just the range. Efficiency, cost, weight, option availability, comfort, performance, etc. Yet range is usually the No. 1 thing that gets mentioned in headlines (guilty here, but to be fair, this story is about range numbers just being released).
And in general, we at Electrek think always-ballooning range numbers are a bit silly. The vast majority of drivers don’t really need 400 miles of range and would probably be better off with a lower-range vehicle with fewer batteries, lower cost, and higher efficiency, as long as it’s capable of DC fast charging or home charging. Which is why it’s important to focus on charging rollout and on making it easier for people to charge if they don’t have a garage.
There are niches that can use these giant-range vehicles, but given that most EV production has been battery-constrained for years now, it might be better to split the available batteries into more vehicles (to get more gas cars off the road) rather than fewer vehicles that will never use their full capacity. So we shouldn’t just keep ratcheting range up past the level of practicality, expecting that each new model year will bring unnecessarily high-range numbers.
However, in the case of adventure trucks like this, large range numbers are more justifiable. Off-roading is much less efficient than road driving, so one mile of range won’t get you one mile of off-roading. Same goes for towing, which can drop your range significantly. Both of these are matters of physics and affect vehicles, no matter what their powertrain, but gas vehicles can carry a jerry can of extra fuel in them to help alleviate the potential issue of getting stranded. And these are the types of vehicles you’d want to take a road trip in, whereas small commuter cars usually aren’t.
In response to this, Rivian is offering an optional huge 400+ mile battery, and has even patented a “digital jerry can” that would allow for temporary expansion of battery capacity (though no news on whether this will ever be, or need to be, made available). More importantly, they’re planning to roll out a “Rivian Adventure Network” for quick charging on the road, with many locations planned near adventure destinations like National Parks and so on. Note that these locations also often have RV hookups available, which electric cars can charge on overnight.
Plus, even if it takes a lot of batteries out of limited battery supply to get these electric trucks and SUVs on the road, hopefully they will displace a higher-polluting gas truck/SUV, so the climate impact will still be beneficial.
Given all of this – the large battery, the much-better-than-gas efficiency, the planned charging rollout, etc. – we’re plenty excited about the Rivian and can’t wait until we get a chance to get in the seat of one. Stay tuned for impressions when we do.