COVID-19

Production of Rivian R1T, R1S models postponed due to pandemic

Preparations to bring the Rivian plant in Normal, Illinois up to speed have slowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo courtesy of Rivian

Until the COVID-19 pandemic halted much of the automotive industry from supplier to salesman, Rivian had been set to begin production of their all-electric R1T truck and R1S SUV in the coming months. Now, reporting by The Chicago Tribune indicates that the company's timeline for launch has been pushed back to 2021. Rivian has since confirmed the delay.

The R1S SUV was slated to be the first off the line at Rivian's plant near Chicago, a former Mitsubishi facility. Rivian counts Ford and Amazon among its investors with Ford's luxury arm Lincoln planning to use the Rivian SUV's underpinnings for an electric Lincoln SUV. Amazon is working with the company on an electric delivery van.

Detroit-Hamtramck Plant Last ImpalaGeneral Motors, Ford, and FCA plants are among those shut down by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Photo courtesy of General Motors

The plant currently has 11 workers and 60 contractors in its 2.6 million square feet of space, all of whom are practicing social distancing and mostly doing electrical work as retooling of the facility continues, according to Rivian spokesperson Amy Mast. Mast also told the Tribune that all Rivian employees are being paid in full during the business slowdown.

Rivian isn't the only automaker hurt by the global health crisis. Most U.S. automobile factories are shut down and the two of the largest buying markets in the world - China and the U.S. - have seen their economies come to a virtual standstill in Q1 due to the virus.

Trending News

 
 

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.

Trending News

 
 

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.

Trending News