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Australia's new ute king? Rivian R1T gets green light for local launch as segment-shattering electric dual-cab cleared for take-off

The Rivian R1T appears to have been green lit for an Australian launch.

Electric ute and SUV maker Rivian has just posted a major filing to America's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and buried in the pages is news that should get Australian hearts beating a little faster.

Because in the document is not only news that the Rivian R1T is targeting a major Asia-Pacific launch after its American debut, but also that the brand has cross-checked Australian laws and regulations and found that distributing the ute that will out-power everything from the Toyota HiLux to the Ford Ranger Raptor – not to mention the Walkinshaw W580, Nissan Navara Warrior, Mitsubishi Triton and GWM Ute – is cleared for a local launch.

The key point they needed to check related to the brand's direct-to-consumer sales model, which appears to forgo the traditional dealership model in favour of online sales with fixed prices.

"Internationally, there may be laws in jurisdictions that may restrict our sales or other business practices," the filing says.

"While we have analysed the principal laws in the United States, EU, China, Japan, United Kingdom, and Australia relating to our distribution model and believe we comply with such laws, the laws in this area can be complex, difficult to interpret and may change over time, and thus require ongoing review."

The fact the brand has taken steps to ensure it can sell vehicles in Australia is a good sign for its intentions in our market, and the fact it's found no roadblocks is an even better sign.

But perhaps the best sign of all is the brand's intention to "Pursue International Expansion", including its entry into "major Aisia-Pacific markets".

"Our launch is focused on the U.S. and Canadian markets. We intend to enter Western European markets in the near-term, followed by entry into major Asian-Pacific markets. To serve our global demand, we plan to localise production and supply chains in these regions," the brand says.

In the USA, the R1T starts from just US$67,500 for its new entry-level model – but there’s a catch. While the more expensive Launch Edition of the Tesla Cybertruck rival has begun arriving in the USA now, priced at US$75,000, the cheaper Explore model won’t be touching down until January 2022.

The Explore model will still get Rivian's quad-motor drivetrain (with an electric motor at each wheel), and the brand is promising a range in excess of 300 miles, or 482kms. You’ll also get a black interior treatment with heated (vegan) leather seats.

In the grunt department, we'd expect 300kW and 560Nm for the cheaper model - enough to propel the monster truck to around 97km/h in just 4.9 seconds - a decrease from the more powerful 522kW/1120Nm outputs of the more expensive models.

The range then steps up to the Adventure, which adds an off-road pack that includes an underbody shield, tow hooks and an on-board air compressor, as well as a better stereo, nicer woodgrain interior elements and a ventilation function for the seats. The Adventure is priced at US$75,000, or $106,760 in Australian dollars. Deliveries are expected to begin in January 2022.

Finally, the Launch Edition is the same price as the Adventure, and is similarly equipped, but adds Launch Edition interior badging, a unique green paint option, and a choice of 20-inch All-Terrain or 22-inch sport alloys wheels.

The news follows Rivian confirming its intention for an Australian launch way back at the 2019 New York Auto Show, where the brand's then chief engineer, Brian Gase, told CarsGuide a local launch would follow about 18 months after the vehicle's debut Stateside.

"Yes we will have an Australian launch. And I can’t wait to come back to Australia and show this to all of those beautiful people," he said.

Rivian is making some bold promises about its R1T, promising it can “do anything another vehicle can do, and then some.”

"We have really focused on the off-road capability of these vehicles. We have 14-inches of dynamic ground clearance, we have a structural underbody, we have all-time all-wheel drive so we can go up 45-degree inlines, and we can accelerate from zero to 60mph (96km/h) in 3.0 seconds," Gase said.

"I can tow 10,000 pounds (4.5 tonnes). I’ve got a tent that I can throw onto the back of the truck, I’ve got 400 miles (643km) of range, I’ve got all-time all-wheel drive so I can do anything another vehicle can do, and then some."

Andrew Chesterton
Contributing Journalist
Andrew Chesterton should probably hate cars. From his hail-damaged Camira that looked like it had spent a hard life parked at the end of Tiger Woods' personal driving range, to the Nissan Pulsar Reebok that shook like it was possessed by a particularly mean-spirited demon every time he dared push past 40km/h, his personal car history isn't exactly littered with gold. But that seemingly endless procession of rust-savaged hate machines taught him something even more important; that cars are more than a collection of nuts, bolts and petrol. They're your ticket to freedom, a way to unlock incredible experiences, rolling invitations to incredible adventures. They have soul. And so, somehow, the car bug still bit. And it bit hard. When "Chesto" started his journalism career with News Ltd's Sunday and Daily Telegraph newspapers, he covered just about everything, from business to real estate, courts to crime, before settling into state political reporting at NSW Parliament House. But the automotive world's siren song soon sounded again, and he begged anyone who would listen for the opportunity to write about cars. Eventually they listened, and his career since has seen him filing car news, reviews and features for TopGear, Wheels, Motor and, of course, CarsGuide, as well as many, many others. More than a decade later, and the car bug is yet to relinquish its toothy grip. And if you ask Chesto, he thinks it never will.
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