Two motors work as well as four, although with less horsepower and torque. But the price goes down.
It’s been almost two years since Rivian launched R1T truck production at the former Mitsubishi assembly plant in Normal, Illinois—a facility purchased by the EV startup in 2017 for $16.5 million. And if you’ve seen Rivians on the road (or been lucky enough to take delivery of one while the pandemic greatly curtailed supply), all of them had “Quad-Motor” powertrains, with an individual motor at each wheel.
This past spring, Rivian launched a Dual-Motor variant that consolidated two motors into one single-motor drive unit for each axle, a strategy intended to reduce weight while reaching a wider audience at a lower price point. Rivian calls this new motor Enduro, and each new R1T pickup and R1S SUV will come available with either Quad or Dual-Motor powertrains.
The cost savings can be significant, depending on which battery is employed. A Quad-Motor R1T truck with the Large battery pack (good for an estimated 328 miles with 835 hp and 908 lb-ft of torque) starts at $88,800 with destination, while a Dual-Motor with a Standard battery (good for 270 miles with 533 hp and 610 lb-ft) starts at $74,800.
Beyond the standard Dual-Motor AWD offering, there’s a Performance Dual-Motor R1T that starts at $85,800 with the Large battery pack delivering an estimated 352 miles of range, 665 hp, and 829 lb-ft of torque.
If you spring for the same Dual-Motor powertrain with the newly available Max battery pack, you get an estimated 410 miles of range (and the same horsepower and torque) at a higher price starting at $95,800.
For prices of the R1S SUV similarly equipped, just tack on $5000 (with standard range starting at 260 miles). Also worth noting, the R1T truck priced under $80k qualifies for the $3750 IRA tax credit.
Rivian had previously offered an R1T pickup with Quad-Motor AWD and the Max battery pack, and the automaker promises that will be reintroduced in the future. Also, a 390-mile Dual-Motor AWD Max pack R1S SUV will be added to the vehicle configurator in the coming months.
Based on the diminished horsepower and torque with the new Dual-Motor setup, one might think it represents a big step down from the Quad, in terms of performance. Rivian invited journalists to the plant in Normal for the Dual-Motor launch and offered seat time in vehicles equipped with both powertrains.
While Rivian will continue positioning the water-cooled Quad as the better choice for serious off-road adventuring, the automaker insists the oil-cooled Dual-motor will do everything for just about everyone.
Driving both models back to back on a short test track behind the plant, the Dual-Motor scampered up a steep grade of massive boulders with little difficulty and also provided more than enough motivation on a long, narrow paved oval track shaped, incidentally, like Rivian’s distinctive vertical headlamps.
Equally impressive was a towing demonstration as we rode in a Dual-Motor R1T confidently hauling a flat-bed trailer with a Rivian service truck, estimated at 9800 pounds total. Both the Quad and Dual-Motor powertrains are rated for towing 11,000 pounds.
The engineer behind the wheel said towing something big and bulbous like the Rivian service truck could cut in half the observed battery range, depending on speed and temperature. If the same truck was towing 5000 pounds, the engineer said to expect about three-quarters of normal range.
He said the problem with towing heavy loads with a Rivian EV isn’t the stress and strain on the motors but instead the aerodynamic impact of whatever is on the trailer, or the shape of the trailer.
The Dual-Motor system also will automatically disconnect the rear axle when it’s not needed, to optimize battery range. With the Quad system, the driver had to select Conserve mode for 2-wheel-drive to extend range. Otherwise, all four motors were working all the time.
Rivian designed the Enduro drive unit, which was first put into production in Normal for the Amazon front-wheel-drive electric delivery vans this past January. All major components, including the motor, gearbox, and inverter are manufactured in-house.
This represents a strategic change from the Quad-Motor, which used motors supplied by Robert Bosch Corp. As Dual-Motor volume ramps up, it is unclear how long Bosch will keep the Quad-Motor business. Rivian employees could buy Dual-Motor vehicles starting in May, and general customers are expected to take first deliveries this fall.
On the overall sales front, Rivian says it sold 24,900 vehicles in 2022, and the forecast for this year is about 52,000. Meanwhile, the Normal plant is tooled to produce 150,000 units, so there’s plenty of room for expansion.
Much of the anticipated growth is pegged to the Dual-Motor powertrain, which is expected to represent more than 50% of Rivian’s product mix by the end of next year. The Normal plant employs 8100 people on three shifts, including some paint shop employees who transitioned over from the Mitsubishi years.
Looking further into the future, the state of Georgia is grading land near Atlanta where Rivian plans to build a plant for the next-generation R2 vehicles, which likely will be smaller and less expensive than the R1 models.
Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe tells Autoweek it’s unlikely a sedan will come from the new plant, which suggests crossovers smaller than the three-row R1S could be in the plan. But the target is to sell volume-orient vehicles priced between $40,000 and $60,000.
Rivian says the Enduro Dual-Motor platform will serve as the powertrain foundation for the R2 vehicles to be produced in Atlanta, starting in 2026. The automaker plans to employ 7500 people in Atlanta and invest $5 billion in the plant, with an annual capacity of 250,000 units.
Does a less-expensive Dual-Motor powertrain make Rivians more enticing to you as an EV shopper? Please comment below.
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The 2024 Mercedes-Benz EQB Is Easier to Live WithRivian’s Dual-Motor layout consolidates two motors into one single-motor drive unit for each axle, a strategy intended to reduce weight while reaching a wider audience at a lower price point. The cost savings can be significant, depending on which battery is employed. A Dual-Motor with a Standard battery (good for 270 miles with 533 hp and 610 lb-ft of torque) starts at $74,800.Rivian says the Enduro Dual-Motor platform will serve as the powertrain foundation for next-gen R2 vehicles to be produced in Atlanta, starting in 2026. Dual-Motor powertrain