Rivian's all-electric ute confirmed for Australia, is New Zealand next?
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The Tesla-fighting Rivian all-electric super ute is one step closer to New Zealand.
An Australian-based independent importer and converter of vehicles from left- to right-hand drive is already taking pre-orders for the Rivian R1T pick-up truck and R1S SUV ahead of the American on-sale date later this year.
The co-owner of Queensland-based AUS MV and SCD Remanufactured Vehicles, Eddie Kocwa, says Rivians will soon be on roads down under.
“One way or another, the Rivian will be coming to Australia, whether it’s manufactured in right-hand drive or it needs to be remanufactured in right-hand drive,” says Kocwa, who already converts everything from the Dodge Challenger to the Ford F-150. “We’ve taken pre-orders … securing your spot in the queue.”
AUS MV is positioning itself to be an engineering partner and/or distributor of Rivian, which has a near-cult following despite not producing a single car yet.
Until recently the R1T – which will compete with the Tesla Cybertruck and GMC Hummer – and R1S were listed on the AUS MV website, but Kocwa says they’ve been removed to instead be listed on the EV-dedicated sister website AUS EV, due to launch soon.
AUS MV has a national distribution network and has partnered with Ultra Tune for servicing and warranty. On the brand's website, it shows that an Auckland location is "Coming Soon", so we can imagine that AUS MV is planning on selling the Rivian on both sides of the Tasman.
In light of recent events, a big electric ute that qualifies for a full government rebate should be snapped up like hotcakes.
Kowca believes the unique model will be appealing to EV start-up brands such as Rivian that don’t want to invest in dealerships and distribution.
It’s the engineering and conversion side that potentially adds to the appeal.
Ram and Chevrolet each use Walkinshaw for factory-approved conversions in Australia and SCD Remanufactured Vehicles partly competes with them by converting an assortment of American-sourced cars and utes.
Kocwa says he can provide a quality conversion to right-hand drive if the vehicles come out of the factory with the steering wheel on the left, as is the case with many American cars.
“If it’s made right-hand drive, we’ve got the network to distribute it,” says Kocwa of the Rivians. “If they want to do a deal with us and we remanufacture, that’s cool too. Or if they decide … ‘we don’t want to enter the right-hand drive market’, we still go through our original avenue of purchasing them, bringing them over, remanufacturing to right-hand drive.”
While there are dozens of EV start-ups planning to take advantage of the increased interest in electric vehicles, many are expected to fade away in the battle to muscle in on an intensely competitive market.
Despite a recent delay in production – pushing anticipated first deliveries to September – Rivian is one electric vehicle maker many believe is here to stay. It has financial backing from online retailing behemoth Amazon and car maker Ford, the former giving it a guaranteed order book of sales for an electric delivery van also in the works.
As well as big performance from four electric motors, the ability to tow five tonnes and an EV range of more than 500km, Rivian has an innovative selection of accessories for its R1T.
It includes an electric kitchenette that slides out from the centre of the car as well as an integrated tent.
There’s also an intense focus on off-road ability, but it also has a “vegan leather” interior, panoramic sunroof and Meridian sound system as well as advanced driver assistance and crash avoidance technology.