luxury automobiles

Luxury automobiles get a charge with the introduction of Rivian’s electric pickup trucks.

Move over Tesla, or get muscled out of the way by a new entrant into the rapidly expanding market for electric luxury automobiles.

Rivian Automotive LLC made a splash with its electric pickup truck among the luxury automobiles displayed at the Los Angeles Auto Show. And Tesla’s not the only automaker it’s taking aim at. With its short bed and insane acceleration, the upstart’s also taking on such industry giants as Ford.

According to Autoblog:

Startup Rivian created the biggest buzz of the L.A. Auto Show by coming out of virtual oblivion to deliver not one but two battery-electric off-road vehicles with supercar-worthy acceleration and Tesla-fighting range figures. So who are these guys and how did they stay so undiscovered all this time?

To be sure, it’s not like the company, which was founded as Mainstream Motors in Florida in 2009 and quickly changed its name to Avera Automotive before settling on Rivian, flew completely under the radar. But it’s one thing to read about claims of 400-mile-plus driving range, 3-second 0-60 times and 11,000-pound towing capacity, and quite another to see what they’ve actually made — the R1T pickup truck and its companion, the R1S SUV.

The company was the brainchild of then-26-year-old R.J. Scaringe (he’s now 35), a nature and car enthusiast who grew up on Florida’s Indian River but was frustrated by what he saw as a lack of environmentally sustainable automobiles. Scaringe earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Rochester Polytechnic Institute in New York and later earned a master’s and doctorate from MIT, where he worked on the research team at the Sloan Automotive Laboratory.

Of course, success at an auto show doesn’t mean the company’s ready to take over the market for luxury automobiles.

But Rivian is an interesting concept, as Reuters points out:

Scaringe sees the U.S. pickup market, which accounts for the bulk of global profits for the Detroit Three automakers, as ripe for change.

“What we’re talking about here are cars that don’t drive particularly well, don’t handle particularly well, have fuel economy that’s really quite bad,” he told reporters at Rivian’s headquarters in Plymouth, Michigan, before the L.A. show.

Rivian has not disclosed prices for its truck, but Scaringe said it will start at just under $70,000 before federal tax credits for the entry-level model. A stripped-down version with the most powerful battery pack will sell for less than $90,000. Current large, luxury pickup trucks can sell at that price or higher.