A smaller SUV from US electric-car start-up Rivian – known for the R1T full-size pick-up – is due to be unveiled early next year ahead of showroom arrivals in 2026. Will it come to Australia?
US electric-car start-up Rivian is due to unveil its smallest and most affordable model yet early next year as a rival for the world’s best-selling electric vehicle, the Tesla Model Y SUV.
And if the ‘R2S’ is built in right-hand drive, it may be the vehicle used to launch the Rivian electric-car brand in Australia.
The new R2S SUV due 2026 will be a follow-up to Rivian’s first ‘R1’ family of vehicles, comprised of the full-size R1S SUV and R1T pick-up – the latter between a Ford Ranger and Ford F-150 in exterior dimensions.
Rivian’s next model is set to be a rival to the Tesla Model Y mid-size SUV which, according to data analyst firm JATO Dynamics, was the world’s best-selling vehicle in the first three months of this year, irrespective of propulsion type.
The R2 vehicle family is expected to launch as the R2S mid-size electric SUV; it is unclear if a smaller R2T ute, or another vehicle body style is planned.
It is due to be unveiled in early 2024, Rivian chief financial officer Claire McDonough told a seminar at the Deutsche Bank’s Global Auto Industry Conference – ahead of a start of production in 2026 at a new factory in Georgia, USA.
Rivian is yet to finalise plans to sell vehicles in Australia, and the R1S and R1T are currently sold only in left-hand-drive markets.
However the company has previously said it intends to sell its vehicles in Australia, and later that it “can’t wait to meet our Australian customers.”
In a regulatory filing published in late 2021, Rivian said: “we intend to enter Western European markets in the near term, followed by entry into major Asia-Pacific markets.” Australia is a key country in the Asia-Pacific region.
If the R1S and R1T have not been engineered with right-hand-drive in mind, the R2S could be used as the launch vehicle, as it will be produced in a ground-up new factory that can be easily configured to place the steering wheel on either side of the car.
Teaser images published by Rivian show the R2S will retain the boxy shape of today’s full-size R1S, but it is notably smaller in length, width, overall height, and bonnet height.
Ms McDonough told the previously-mentioned conference the R2S would be priced from approximately $US40,000 ($AU60,000) to $US60,000 ($AU90,000).
The Tesla Model Y is priced from $US47,740 to $US54,490 ($AU71,000 to $AU81,000) in the US, while the long-range Hyundai Ioniq 5 is priced from $US45,500 to $US52,600 ($AU67,700 to $AU78,300).
In Australia the Tesla Model Y is priced from $69,300 to $95,300 plus on-road costs and Luxury Car Tax, while the Hyundai Ioniq 5 is priced from $72,000 to $85,000 plus on-road costs (but including Luxury Car Tax).
The factory planned to produce the R2 will be capable of building up to 200,000 examples per year in 2026, Ms McDonough has previously said – before expanding up to 400,000 in later years.
In comparison, Rivian says it is aiming to produce 85,000 examples of the R1S and R1T combined in 2024.
Rivian executives have said the R2 model (or models) will retain the off-road capability and “adventure theme” of the R1 twins, but with fewer features and smaller bodies.
Performance details are yet to be confirmed, however the R2S may drop the R1S and R1T’s option of quad-motor all-wheel drive in favour of a less complex and cheaper dual-motor set-up.