The Rivian R1S is a fully electric large SUV and is the sibling to the R1T electric pickup. While the general public was introduced to Rivian in 2018, they have actually been working on their electric vehicle technology since 2009. The Rivian R1S will be competing against other large electric SUVs such as the Tesla Model X, Audi E-Tron and Mercedes EQC. However, the Rivian R1S will actually beat all of its competition on towing capacity at 7,700 lbs. Which is impressive in one sense, but disappointing in another (I’ll explain).
Key Rivian R1S Specs
- Official Towing Capacity – 7,700 lbs
- Availablility – Summer 2021 – 2022
- Price – Starting $70,000 (Explore) > $77,500 (Launch Edition/Adventure)
- Estimated Range – 300+ miles (Rivian Claim)
- Estimate Towing Range (50%) – 150 miles (Based on Rivian Claim)
- Maximum Charge Rate – Unconfirmed (potentially up to 300kW)
Rivian R1S HP & Torque
- Yet to be confirmed.
Rivian R1S Towing Capabilities
As I stated in the introduction above a 7,700 lb towing capacity is superior to any of its large electric SUV competition currently on the market. For instance, the current large electric SUV leader when it comes to electric tow cars is the Tesla Model X with a 5,000 lb towing capacity. Hence, with the Rivian R1S offering a towing capacity 2,000 lbs over that of the Model X its impressive. However, at the same time, I’m actually disappointed with the towing capacity of the Rivian R1S. Why? Well, its because of its sibling the Rivian R1T electric pickup truck.
The Rivian R1T electric pickup truck will share the same skateboard battery/motor platform with the R1S SUV. Hence, both vehicles will have roughly the same range, though there will likely be some difference due to aerodynamic/weight differences. We don’t know the weights of the R1T or R1S, however, its likely the R1S will weigh a little more due to the enclosed rear section on the vehicle apposed to an open pickup bed. As both the R1T and R1S are based on the same electric platform they should have the same/similar towing capabilities right? Well, unfortunately not.
R1S @ 7,700 lbs vs R1T @ 11,000 lbs
While I appreciate there may need to be some differences between the towing capacity between the R1S and R1T, I didn’t expect the difference to be so significant. As it currently stands, Rivian is stating the R1S SUV will have a towing capacity much less than that of the R1T at 11,000 lbs. Why? I’ve sent a message to Rivian’s PR department to ask. However, as yet I’ve received no response. Once I do I will update this article with more details.
The R1S is roughly $3k more than the R1T which is reasonable considering the additional materials/manufacturing costs to create an enclosed rear on the vehicle. That larger enclosed rear on the R1S would come in very handy when towing as it means more storage space for belongings. However, judging the R1S in terms of its towing capabilities customers are paying an additional $3k to lose 6,300 lbs in towing capacity over the R1T.
No Auxiliary Battery Pack Option?
If you read my article on the Rivian R1T pickup you will be able to read about/watch the towing tests that Rivian have been conducting with the R1T. You will also read about the patent that Rivian has secured for the R1T for a removal auxiliary battery pack that will sit in the bed of the pickup. This removable auxiliary battery pack has not been confirmed by Rivian as an accessory that will be coming to the R1T anytime soon. However, with the patent now secured, its likely the R1T with come with the electrical/coolant connections included to accept the removal battery pack in the future.
With the R1S being an SUV with no exposed rear bed, that removal auxiliary battery pack is potentially not going to be an option. What that obviously means is customers may not be able to increase the battery capacity on the R1S. Towing increases battery usage considerably, typically a 50% range reduction is to be expected when towing. Hence, for towing in particular being able to increase the battery capacity of a vehicle for towing trips is very appealing. I believe if Rivian does end up offering the auxiliary battery pack it will be a rentable option at their Adventure Network charging stations.
As the R1S SUV may not be able to take advantage of a removable battery pack which the patent for the R1T refers to it further reduces the appeal of the R1S as an electric tow car over the R1T. Who knows, Rivian may have intentions for a similar type of auxiliary battery pack that slides into the back of the R1S. However, with the R1S you will still be left with that significantly reduced towing capacity over the R1T pickup.
My Thoughts On The Rivian R1S…
I one sense I’m impressed with the Rivian R1S and its towing capabilities, it will offer the largest towing capacity of any fully electric SUV currently on the market. However, when I think about how the towing capacity of the R1S is significantly less than its sibling the R1T pickup I’m conflicted. Personally, I would generally find an SUV more practical than a pickup. However, I also don’t like the idea of paying more for less which is currently the case with the R1S over the R1T.
As I’ve stated above, I’m yet to receive an explanation from Rivian for the significant towing capability differences between the R1S SUV and the R1T pickup. Furthermore, who knows, the towing capacity of the R1S may be increased in the future making it closer to that of the R1T. However, as it currently stands, even if I could afford the more expensive R1S SUV I think I would actually choose to go with the cheaper R1T due to its much higher towing capacity.