The Rivian R1T – the world’s first electric pickup – has been driven by members of the Australian public, but don’t expect it in showrooms any time soon.
Australian firm MEVCO (the Mining Electric Vehicle Company) recently posted on corporate social media platform LinkedIn that it had taken delivery of a Rivian R1T, showcasing the electric pickup at a customer drive day in Perth.
The left-hand drive Rivian appears to only have been driven on a closed course, with mining executives provided the chance to drive the electric vehicle (EV) as a showcase of how it could be added to their site vehicles.
It’s not yet clear if MEVCO ordered this R1T from the US and had it shipped here, or if it is one of the Rivian vehicles which arrived in Australia in mid-2021 to perform climate testing – though its Illinois manufacturer plate suggests the latter.
While Rivian exclusively builds for left-hand drive markets at the moment, the company has previously expressed interest in launching locally, which would allow MEVCO to capitalise on the US firm’s recent announcement that it won’t exclusively supply fleet vehicles to its partial owner Amazon.
It would also result in MEVCO diversifying its EV offerings, having signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Australian-based international electric truck manufacturer SEA Electric to convert 8500 Toyota HiLux utes and LandCruisers to battery power by 2028.
When the billion-dollar deal was announced in January 2023, MEVCO and SEA Electric claimed more than half of its 2023 allocation had been pre-sold.
However, MEVCO may hit a stumbling block if it is to import the R1T for mining fleets before the electric pickup goes on sale in Australia.
Almost all mine sites require their vehicles to have a five-star ANCAP safety rating – something Rivian’s models don’t have, as they are not sold locally.
This is one reason why MEVCO, SEA Electric and other companies have chosen to convert existing diesel-powered vehicles to EV, allowing the utes to be used by mining companies both above and below ground.
According to MEVCO’s LinkedIn post, it will be hosting another customer drive event in Perth later this month, followed by demonstrations in Queensland.
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