Rivian CEO talks auxiliary batteries and ‘Jurassic Park’ style self-driving tours

As Rivian continues to set the stage for the production of its first two vehicles — the R1T pickup truck and the R1S SUV — CEO RJ Scaringe has started dropping some compelling new details about the two upcoming all-electric outdoor adventure vehicles. In a recent interview, the 35-year-old CEO mentioned a couple of upcoming features for the R1S and the R1T, such as an auxiliary battery that acts like a “digital jerry can” and autonomous capabilities that echo some iconic scenes from Hollywood.

Scaringe’s recent statements were related in an interview with Tesla owner-enthusiast Sean Mitchell of All Things EV. During the interview, the Rivian CEO and the longtime electric car owner talked about the R1T and the R1S’ batteries, their autonomous features, and even their charging infrastructure. Needless to say, it appears that the startup electric car maker has a number of compelling announcements in the pipeline.

A particularly compelling detail related by Scaringe involved the R1T and the R1S’s batteries. Being luxury adventure vehicles, the pickup truck and SUV are designed to go on long trips and travel off the beaten path without running out of range. As noted by the Rivian CEO, range is the primary reason behind the company’s extra large battery packs, which are offered at 105 kWh, 135 kWh, and 180 kWh configurations. With its largest battery pack, the Rivian R1T and R1S are expected to be capable of traveling more than 400 miles per charge.

To further avoid any range anxiety, Scaringe added that Rivian is currently working to install chargers at notable outdoor adventure locations, such as national parks and ski resorts. In the event that extra range is needed on the go, the CEO revealed that Rivian is also working on creating auxiliary batteries that work like a portable, extra tank of fuel which could provide the R1S and the R1T with extra range to make it to a charging station.

During the vehicle’s unveiling, Rivian noted that its vehicles would feature autonomous capabilities. To enable this, both the R1S and the R1T are equipped with a suite of cameras, radar, ultrasonic sensors, high-precision GPS technologies, and two, cleverly-placed LiDAR. Scaringe described some of Rivian’s upcoming autonomous features, including a self-driving tour function reminiscent of the iconic SUVs in the classic Steven Spielberg film Jurassic Park.

“Let’s say you are in a national park. We can give you a guided tour of that park, you know, narrated and explaining what you’re seeing, but it’s like the vehicles are on “digital rails,” sort of Jurassic Park style, as it drives around the park. These are some of the features we’re gonna be showing over the course of next year,” Scaringe said.

Both the Rivian R1T and R1S are designed to be just as capable in rough terrain as they are on paved roads. Thanks to their heavy battery packs, Scaringe noted that both vehicles actually have a low center of gravity despite their high ground clearance. This also gives the pickup truck and SUV stability and impeccable handling. The four electric motors used in the R1T and R1S provide the cars with some impressive performance specs as well, such as a 0-60 mph time of 3.0 seconds for the 135 kWh variant. Rivian has opened its pickup truck and SUV for reservations, with production expected to start at 2020.

Watch Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe’s recent interview with Sean Mitchell in the video below. 

Rivian CEO talks auxiliary batteries and ‘Jurassic Park’ style self-driving tours
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