Rivian is wildly appealing, even though I never wanted a pickup truck

I have mushy palms and thin denims. For many of my life, I’ve blocked out the omnipresent stream of pickup truck commercials, never referring to the guarantees of dual cabs, towing capability, or pulling as much as a job website and dumping out a ton of gravel. Pickup vans weren’t for me.

Then I rode in an electrical pickup truck. And I was smitten.

[Photo: Rivian]

On Wednesday, the electrical truck firm Rivian debuted with one of many largest preliminary public choices in historical past. The corporate’s inventory worth ascended to make it value greater than Ford and GM (though, notably, Ford owns a 12% stake in Rivian).

Chances are you’ll be scratching your head as to why. So what if its R1T is the primary electrical pickup truck available on the market? Why is Wall Avenue so sizzling on Rivian? That reply is really fairly apparent. Pickup vans are the top-selling class of the U.S. auto business yearly. The top three vehicles of 2021 are all pickup vans. Not solely do they transfer essentially the most models, however vans are additionally essentially the most worthwhile phase of the car business.


In keeping with Reuters, every truck GM sells generates $17,000 in revenue for the corporate, whereas many automobile fashions make only about $1,100. Rivian has offered solely a few hundred vans up to now, and its vans gained’t be extensively obtainable for years (and possibly gained’t be profitable at all any time quickly). Nonetheless, traditionally, pickup vans make cash. Which is why we see Rivian’s friends leaping into the EV pickup area, together with Tesla (with the Cybertruck), GM (with the Hummer EV) and even Ford (with the F-150 Lightning).

[Photo: Rivian]

Nevertheless, the place all this market evaluation falls brief is in answering one other query: Why do folks love pickup vans a lot? They’re safety hazards and fuel guzzlers. Electrifying a truck doesn’t make it much less lethal to cyclists, or inherently good for the planet.

Earlier this yr, I drove out to Dearborn, Michigan, to take a experience within the new F-150 Lighting. As a result of I’d never even pushed a pickup truck earlier than, I borrowed a gas-powered F-150 from Ford for the four-hour drive from Chicago to get a baseline of comparability.

Ford F-150 Lightning [Photo: Ford]

I anticipated to be impressed by the Lightning, which is out in spring 2022 (extra on that in a bit). I didn’t count on to fall in love with a inventory Ford F-150, even though it’s been the top-selling car in America for greater than 40 years. I quickly realized there’s merely nothing like a full-size pickup truck with regards to general consumer expertise.

Ford F150 Lightning inside.  [Photo: Ford]

The primary time I climbed into the cabin—and also you do must climb up—I was shocked at simply how giant and comfy it was. I drive a Toyota RAV4 crossover (the best-selling car within the U.S. that’s not a pickup truck), which is not at all a tiny car. However sitting within the F-150 feels much less such as you’re in a automobile than a small room. The middle console is broad sufficient to carry a laptop computer. The area is designed to be a place you possibly can work in whereas on a job website, however that area is fairly darn interesting each different second of your experience, too. As for the again row of seats? They’d extra legroom than my crossover!

I felt responsible driving this massive machine for no sensible cause, however these cognitive issues have been shortly outweighed by the enjoyment of driving such a commanding car. You don’t have to tow something to understand the ability of a full-size pickup truck—250-plus horsepower goes 0 to 60 in 6.6 seconds. Couple this energy with unimaginable visibility (you actually look down on crossovers from a pickup truck cabin) and you are feeling downright invincible cruising down the freeway. The pickup truck is a sensation, I realized, not simply a assertion of American identification.

[Photo: Rivian]

How does all this relate again to the Rivian? As a result of if you electrify a truck, its sensational consolation and energy solely grows. With out a fuel engine, the entrance finish of the Rivian (and Lightning) is devoted to storage. It’s a entrance trunk, or “frunk.” Ford representatives instructed me months in the past that having the choice for enclosed storage would open the marketplace for their electrical pickup dramatically as a household car. The electrical plugs within the Lightning’s frunk, they instructed, can be used for crockpots at tailgates, as a lot as instruments at development websites.


[Photo: Rivian]

As for the ability? I can let you know the 0-to-60 time is within the 4-second vary. However what I can barely specific is what it felt prefer to experience shotgun in an electrical F-150 round Ford’s take a look at monitor. Whenever you flooring the pedal of a 6,500-pound pickup, you’re now not driving a truck; you’re driving a bullet prepare. It’s comfortably anchored to the highway with a low heart of gravity because of its hefty chassis filled with batteries. The velocity with which a lot mass accelerates so easily—bear in mind, there’s no gear shifting in an electrical car—is an unparalleled sensation in driving. (Actually. I’ve pushed a Tesla, a McLaren, and a Polestar.)

[Photo: Rivian]

The Rivian R1T, with 4 electrical motors, is even sooner, with a 0-to-60 of three.2 seconds. And its cabin is extra posh, with the match and end of a $70,000 car (whereas the Lightning begins at roughly half that). To be sincere, I assume there’s a lot energy packed inside these giant automobiles that we must always most likely query their legality on public streets. However whereas I barely belief myself to drive an electrical pickup, I’d nonetheless leap on the likelihood.

If solely I may match one in my storage.