Rivian’s R1T is a canny play on words that almost makes us believe it’s the future

Rivian is an electric crossover SUV with seven seats that excels in performance and style.

This Smart Fortwo might look the part of a one-tonne electric car, but it isn’t powerful enough to ferry around any one of us. But it’s very much a piece of whimsy. A joke in a small car. Here are some of the other sidecars in Rivian’s new line up: the Beep, the Rivian Pod, the Go, the Yuri, the H3 and the Yo. Each one is somewhat styled like something out of the 1960s. There is even a Rivian S6 Luxury concept car, running a state-of-the-art 8-speed gearbox in an opulent white package, costing £240,000.

Basically, Rivian is an electric crossover SUV with seven seats that excels in performance and style, although the new R1T is the first in the range to come in at a bit more than £40,000. This piece of EV quirkiness has long been part of Rivian’s design DNA and reflects the company’s urge to look towards the future. The self-driving technology has been codenamed T. The R1T boasts a top speed of 160mph with a 0-60mph time of 3.4 seconds. It’s so agile and so fast it competes with Formula 1 cars, according to Rivian.

There’s little doubt the R1T’s inside is luxurious. The 15in screens, the higher-resolution cameras, the magnetorheological steering wheel – they all feel more like luxury products than a line of electric cars.

The back seats feel like they have been stretched wide out in order to accommodate electric motors

Rivian has undoubtedly taken risks, and while the company is enjoying healthy sales (up 60% last year) and expects to sell more than 10,000 vehicles in 2019, it’s probably best not to read too much into that. We need a decade or more of consistent quality to really understand what Rivian means when it produces something like this.

At the moment, every Rivian is a one-off, for one reason or another. It’s a Volvo, but rather than delivering a rig in the same state as a V90 the interior is simply a touchscreen unit that opens like a door. The main centre touchscreen plays a lot of YouTube clips. There’s a jokey tour of the factory in which a jittery employee quickly takes his jacket off and starts wrapping itself around his face to make it look more durable.

The middle row of seats feels like they have been stretched wide out in order to accommodate electric motors and so you end up riding an electric motorcycle

It’s scary to realise that once a car starts feeling like a piece of art, it will go up a thousand points in price.

However, that’s what Rivian wants, and in some ways that’s good – we don’t need any more cars that make us feel uncomfortable or cash in on our feels and so on. I’m in the market for a new car at the moment, and at the moment the only cars I like are the ones that stick together: Tesla, Jaguar I-Pace, Range Rover and Volvo XC40, a hot hatch so overpriced I might not even be able to afford it.

So, where will Rivian take us in future? I’m guessing that it might be a waypoint rather than the destination.

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