Manufacturing

New photos show Rivian R1S on, off the production line

Rivian has shown new photos of the R1S on the production line.

Photo courtesy of Rivian Automotive

Rivian is gearing up to launch the R1T truck and R1S SUV. Currently the models are undergoing fine tuning, just as the company's first production line does the same. New photos, shown on Twitter this week, show the R1S on and off that line wearing a Rivian Blue paint job.

First tweeted by RJ Scaringe, CEO of Rivian Automotive via his personal Twitter account, the R1S was shown on the line, likely at the Rivian plant that has been under construction near Chicago, a former Mitsubishi facility. The plant, which was busy being retooled during 2020, is 2.6 million square feet. The coronavirus slowed the progress of those renovations.

The R1S is the sister of the R1T. Both are all-electric vehicles that will not be sold at dealerships. Instead, vehciles will be able to be purchased online, as with Teslas, then they will be under the care of 41 service centers as well as a "robust" network of mobile service providers according to Scaringe.

Ahead of those online sales, Rivian is slowly leaking out details about the R1T and R1S. In December 2019 Rivian showed off the R1T's ability to do a tank turn. In an all-electric truck, it is possible to achieve this sort of maneuvering using the four motors on the wheels, which can act independently and with varying levels of torque vectoring to cause the vehicle to turn in a very tight radius.

In July 2020, Rivian dropped three new videos on YouTube featuring the R1T's off-road performance being tested.

And in November 2020, Pirelli announced that they've created three new tires specifically for the needs of the R1T and R1S. Pirelli and Rivian co-developed these products over a nearly two-year timespan.

The Rivian R1S SUV is expected to reach its first customers in late 2021. The first deliveries of the R1T pickup are expected to start this summer.

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First-year Ford F-150 Lightning production numbers doubled
Ford

Ford has begun serial production of the new F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck, marking what could be one of the most important days in recent automotive history. The first trucks rolled off the assembly line at Ford's Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Michigan today, so America's best-selling truck has finally gone electric. Ford wants to sell two million EVs per year by 2026 and have half of its global sales volume to be electric by 2030.

Ford F-150 LightningPast meets future: Ford's new electric pickup will be the F-150 Lightningautomotivemap.com

Ford has seen extreme demand for the trucks, with 200,000 reservations since the books opened. To deliver, the automaker plans to increase production to an annual rate of 150,000 units by next year, which involved huge investments in the Rouge Center and created hundreds of jobs. Ford's total investment for the F-150 Lightning crests $1 billion across Michigan alone, and has created 1,700 jobs across various facilities in the state.

Ford F-150 LightningThe first production trucks left the factory today.
Ford Motor Company

Though the Lightning starts around $40,000, the most mainstream models will cost much more than that. The F-150 Lightning Pro, while affordable, is a stripped-down truck intended for commercial buyers. It's still a forward-looking electric truck with amazing capabilities, but it lacks much of the creature comforts and features that everyday drivers expect. Higher trims get the latest driver assistance features, including BlueCruise, which is Ford's semi-autonomous hands-free driving assistant. A 12-inch touchscreen is standard, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and more.

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Electric pickup truck

Ford F-150 Lightning could get tank turn

Ford patented a tank turn feature in late 2020.

Ford

The F-150 Lightning is packed with cool tech and capability, but we're learning that Ford has even bigger plans for its first electric pickup. Inside EVs found an exciting document on the Lightning Owners Forum that shows ford applied to patent a tank turn feature like the one we saw Rivian pull off a few years ago, where the truck spins around a center point using its electric motors. Rivian's tank turn feature still hasn't made it to market, so it's possible that Ford beats them to the punch.

Ford F-150 LightningTank turn allows the truck to spin while almost completely stationary.Ford

Ford applied for the patent in October 2020, but it's just now making its way out. In the document, Ford gives an example of how it could work: "Methods, apparatus, systems and articles of manufacture are disclosed to perform a tank turn. An example vehicle includes a first wheel and a second wheel, the first wheel located on an end of a first axle, the second wheel located on an end of the second axle, the end of the first axle opposite to the end of the second axle, a first suspension coupled to the first wheel, a second suspension coupled to the second wheel, and a controller to drive the first axle in a first direction, drive the second axle in the second direction and decrease a first suspension load of the first suspension and a second suspension load of the second suspension."

As Inside EVs points out, Rivian's tank turn feature employs the R1 T's quad-motor setup to drive each wheel individually. The F-150 Lightning doesn't currently have a four-motor choice and instead offers two motors – one on each axle. It's important to note that Rivian patented tank turn and showed that it could work, but there hasn't yet been a production vehicle that offers the capability. Toyota filed a patent in 2019, but again it's just paperwork at this point.

Ford F-150 LightningNo automaker has brought tank turn to production yet.

To achieve the turn, Ford has a few options. The most obvious would be to offer a quad-motor upgrade in future model years. It's unclear if such a feature is in the works or if Ford plans to provide beefier versions of the Lightning, such as a Raptor variant with upgraded motors. The automaker could also design gearing to reverse the wheels on one side while the others drive forward, or it could use braking to lock the wheels and tighten the turning radius.

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