Rivian Builds First Electric Pickup Truck; Ford Close Behind

The first production Rivian R1T electric truck rolled off the automaker's Normal, Illinois, assembly line this week, driven by company founder and CEO RJ Scaringe. (Rivian)

When a new automaker produces its first car for a paying customer, it's understandable that the company's founder and CEO would be proud enough to Tweet about it. But for Rivian leader RJ Scaringe, a simple Tweet was not enough. That's why he got behind the wheel and drove the first retail unit R1T all-electric pickup truck out of the assembly plant.

Scaringe Tweeted about the landmark moment at the Normal, Illinois, factory this week as well, thanking his team's collective effort and saying that he "can't wait to get these into the hands of our customers." Rivian has been working on its electric vehicles (EVs) in one form or another for years, and even just building the various pre-production vehicles required to get to this point took many months, Scaringe said.

Rivian previously stated it would start delivering vehicles to customers in September. Still, it can now claim that it was the first to build a modern production electric truck. It's a big claim for a company that only came out of stealth mode at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, where it displayed prototype versions of the R1T truck and the R1S SUV for the first time. According to TechCrunch, the company has raised over $10 billion since 2019, and the first R1S deliveries will follow the R1T deliveries "shortly," Scaringe wrote in a letter to customers earlier this year.

All the hurdles for that to happen seem to have been jumped. Not only are Rivian's production vehicles rolling off the production line, but the EVs have also been "fully certified by NHTSA, EPA, and CARB, and are ready for sale in all 50 states," a Rivian spokesperson told Bloomberg in an email.

Lest we forget, Rivian isn't the only company building all-electric pickup trucks right now. Ford, which has a partnership with Rivian, announced that it has started building pre-production units of the first Ford F-150 Lightning electric trucks at its Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan. That's music to the ears of the 150,000 people who have reserved one of these trucks, which Ford won't start selling until next spring.

The Lightning electric truck has a maximum targeted range of 300 miles. It offers features that gas-powered trucks don't, like Intelligent Backup Power that can be used to power a properly equipped home during a power outage. Rivian's trucks offer unique benefits, too, such as a "gear tunnel" behind the rear seats that can be accessed from outside the truck to store goods and can also be equipped with a pull-out camp kitchen.

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