Your Monthly Roundup of Tesla and Rivian Truck News

Rivian R1T Tailgate

Cars.com photo by Mark Williams

By Nick Kurczewski

This week, we're getting a deeper look inside Rivian, the electric automaker looking to apply some Tesla magic to the world of pickup trucks and SUVs. Meanwhile, when in doubt about what a hotly anticipated electric truck might look like in real life, simply go ahead and sketch it yourself.

Related: More Electric Truck News

That's what some enterprising and creative Tesla fans have done online. The result is sometimes rough around the edges — if we're being honest — but the concepts include interesting details, including a front-opening tailgate.

Last but certainly not least, a Tesla truck was spotted in California, though this version is much too big for the average home garage. The Tesla Semi is undergoing testing and rolling examples are being put to work.

Rivian Hopes to Succeed by Avoiding the Spotlight

We know Rivian seems to have come out of nowhere. Headquartered in Plymouth, Mich., it was during the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show where the fledgling automaker broke cover and revealed its R1S SUV and R1T pickup. With a starting price of about $70,000, promised straight-line performance to rival many sports cars and maximum driving range of more than 400 miles per charge, the R1T and R1S immediately drew comparisons with the high-end products from Tesla.

Except, as this New York Times story uncovers, one of the keys to Rivian's future success might be down to its CEO, R.J. Scaringe, and his early attempts to keep the company under the radar. Believe it or not, Rivian has been in the EV business for nearly a decade, though an early project to build a sports car was tossed into the engineering trash bin. Many of the company's early design and engineering centers also had unmarked exteriors, according to the Times' report, so as not to draw attention.

Now, with plans to begin selling vehicles in the latter half of 2020, Rivian is stepping out of obscurity by necessity. Riding on a skateboard-style chassis, Rivian vehicles have unique features in the truck world, such as a front-mounted trunk and a handy cargo area between the cabin and cargo bed. The company recently revealed a complete travel kitchen grill-and-sink combo that slides out of this hidden storage compartment. The feature is an intended accessory for production models and could make Rivian R1T owners the envy of every tailgate party.

What About Tesla's Pickup Truck?

Considering how secretive Tesla has been about its upcoming pickup truck, we're not surprised people have offered their take on what this vehicle could look like. Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO, has provided some tantalizing details, such as a sub-$50,000 starting price. Musk also stated on a recent podcast, which we wrote about in June, that the truck's functionality and performance will rival the Ford F-150 and Porsche 911 sports car.

Sounds exciting, right? But Tesla has released only one teaser image of its truck, showing the front of the vehicle and an apparent light bar stretching across the width of the front end. It's expected that Tesla will reveal the truck between now and the end of 2019. But if you simply can't wait that long, there are plenty of online renderings that Tesla fans have created.

Some are a little more balanced than others, to put in nicely. This YouTube video shows what looks like the offspring of a Tesla Model X and Ram 1500 pickup:

The front-mounted trunk and fold-down tailgate are clever, however. A more likely design — or one that bears a modest resemblance to Tesla's one teaser pic — is the sport-themed truck from Turkish designer Emre Husmen. (Hint: Scroll about a third of the way down his homepage to find the renderings).

Considering Tesla has promised its truck will have Porsche levels of performance, this wild concept looks like a possible bridge between truck and sports car.

Of course, everyone could be wrong, and Elon Musk's self-proclaimed "cyberpunk"-styled pickup could be far more radical looking once it arrives.

Tesla Semi Spotted Towing on the Road

If you're in the mood for an electric truck but need something a whole lot bigger, then feast your eyes on these recent photos of Tesla's Semi truck. The image was first published at Teslarati and apparently comes via a Tesla Model 3 shopper who was visiting the company's factory in Fremont, Calif.

If you like big red trucks, you're going to love this Tesla Semi. Despite having the same overall layout as a regular tractor trailer, the Tesla Semi features an aerodynamic cab that does without a front grille. According to Tesla, the Semi has a coefficient of drag of only 0.36, which isn't far from many production cars and SUVs. When pulling 80,000 pounds, Tesla estimates the Semi's four electric motors can hustle this big rig from zero-to-60 mph in only 20 seconds.

Like the Tesla pickup truck, the Semi could make its official production-ready debut sometime later this year. On its website, Tesla says the starting price of the Semi is $180,000, though an exact production timeframe remains unclear.

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