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Look out Tesla Model Y! Look who has turned up at Sydney Airport

Look who has turned up at Sydney Airport. (Image source: Facebook)

A Rivian R1S has seemingly arrived in Australia, with an image of what appears to be a camouflaged version of the electric American SUV at Sydney Airport appearing overnight.

The American EV brand - a key rival to Tesla - has long promised to launch in Australia, though it's unclear if this vehicle is here as part of pre-launch testing, or here for another reason entirely.

If it's the former, it will likely strike fear into the hearts of plenty of competitors – everything from the Tesla Model Y to the Toyota LandCruiser and Nissan Patrol – given the R1S is an electric SUV that also packs in the off-road capability.

CarsGuide is yet to independently verify the image.

At the core of the R1S - and its R1T pick-up truck sibling - is a skateboard EV chassis and quad 147kW electric motors. The brand says a total 1400Nm of torque is on offer, as well as three battery options that include 105kW, 135kWh and 180kWh configurations. The brand says it can clip 100km/h in around 3.0 secs, and tow an impressive 3.5-tonnes, too.

"From city streets to far-off trails, explore all types of terrain through all kinds of weather. Whatever adventure means to you, R1S is ready for it,” the brand says.

And a local launch has long been in the pipeline for Australia, beginning way back in 2019 when, at the New York Auto Show, the brand's then chief engineer, Brian Gase, told CarsGuide a Down Under 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."

Next came the brand filing several model trademarks in Australia, securing the names R3S, R4S, R5S, R3T, R4T and R5T, joining its trademarks for the R1V, R2X, R1S, R1T and R1X.

And then, in a document filed with America's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last year, the brand revealed that it is targeting a major Asia-Pacific launch after its American debut, and that Rivian had 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."

Is this the beginning of a local launch plan for Rivian? Only time will tell.

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...
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