Watch how Rivian hand-builds an R1T prototype test truck


While its employees are mostly working from home and its manufacturing launch has been pushed back by the coronavirus outbreak, Rivian reached into its goody bag to give us this look at how it hand-builds prototype vehicles for testing winter driving characteristics, suspension, vehicle dynamics and so forth.

The 74-second clip was filmed at its Plymouth, Michigan, engineering center before the social distancing and stay-at-home order went into effect last month. It’s set in the prototype shop where workers are preparing to hand-assemble an R1T battery electric pickup truck. We get an abbreviated look at how an R1T mule comes to life.

First comes the chassis components, which are attached to the steel rail frame and include the battery pack, electric motors, thermal management components, DC-to-DC chargers, independent air suspension and other components. They all make up what the company calls its flexible skateboard platform, which will underpin the R1T and the R1S SUV, but also a forthcoming Lincoln EV and a fleet of Amazon electric delivery vans. It all fits below the height of the wheels, providing a low center of gravity and opening up space above in the cabin, enabling features like the gear tunnel between the bed and cab for extra storage for long items or things that won’t get wet. Then we see workers preparing the skateboard with adhesives and tying down wire assemblies to drop the finished body atop it.

Rivian is promising a blend of sustainability and high performance, with up to 400 miles of driving range from its largest, 180 kWh battery pack and up to 750 horsepower and a 0-60 mph time of 3 seconds. Both vehicles are also touted as being highly off-road capable, with a unique “Tank Turn” feature, thanks to the four independent motors delivering power and torque vectoring to each wheel.

Rivian had intended to launch production of the R1T in December from its plant in Illinois but now says it will be delayed because of the coronavirus, with production now commencing sometime in 2021.

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