The luxury sedan is an item that few carmakers have risked bringing into the 21st century, but electric carmaker Rivian is moving fast to prove that the race to enter the segment isn’t limited to Tesla and DriveX.
The Californian company is unveiling its all-electric Ader model (pronounced “Save”), a value-packed sedan that will hit showrooms later this year and which was designed with input from Jeremy Clarkson, one of the three hosts of Top Gear.
Created to pack a hefty punch while still being very attractive, the Ader’s lithium-ion battery pack gives the car about a 50% jump in range per charge, according to Kevin Taylor, Rivian’s product manager, compared to an equivalent gasoline-powered car.
“With the stock battery technology, you need to drive it on 80 percent of the charge for 25 miles,” said Taylor. “But the battery on our Ader can work on 80 percent of the charge for five miles.
“People should see the difference in that first mile, when the battery system drops 10 percent. In order to go another five miles you need to go a little faster.”
Rivian, which makes the truck maker Rivian Triton, says the Ader also does better than other electric cars.
“Tesla doesn’t do as well in cold weather,” said Taylor. “You have to ride on a little bit of rubber to drive in the snow. Then you have to pump the car, so the battery isn’t able to function all the time.
“Rivian has batteries in the car that can operate for 20, 25 years.”
Range and price are not the only areas in which Rivian is setting itself apart from the herd of e-cars on the market.
The Ader is remarkably fun to drive, with a Tesla-like effect. Above all, it’s affordable. Rivian says the Ader will cost between $40,000 and $65,000 when it goes on sale this fall. Not the most affordable car ever conceived, but certainly inexpensive enough to be a serious contender for a market where few companies have tried in years, if ever.
The stock Tesla Model 3 has a starting price of $35,000 and some analysts think it will not reach full production until next year.
“When we launched the Triton truck, the traditional, traditional pickup trucks were very strong,” said Jim Jandes, Rivian’s president. “But the average age of a truck in the U.S. is 14 years. The average person is driving his truck for 12 years.
“The reason people don’t have a truck in the U.S. is not the environment. They don’t care about the environment. It’s just that they do not have the room. Rivian gives you the size you want, the power you want and the feel you want in the car.”
What will set Rivian apart is its surprising number of high-end brands, including a choice of both rear- or all-wheel drive, along with a 4.2-liter V6.
According to Taylor, “The decision process was driven by several factors. One was the car. What the customer needed. But two was the number of choices they have, with our 3- and 4-wheel-drive and our optional V6.”
“It turns out the ‘S’ is enough,” he added.