Rivian shares first undercover look at upcoming smaller R2 SUV

Rivian shares first undercover look at upcoming smaller R2 SUV

Rivian has been working on its cheaper, smaller R2 platform for some time now, expected to be the “high volume” counterpart to its flagship R1T and R1S. And we just saw our first look at the R2S – albeit undercover.

R2-based vehicles are expected to be more accessible to buyers and enable higher volume production, getting more EVs on the road and helping Rivian with its current primary goal of upping its production capacity. But currently, the R2 isn’t slated to release until 2026, so we’ve got some time to go until we see it.

We hadn’t seen anything yet of the vehicle, but Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe just revealed a small look at the R2S SUV, alongside chief designer Jeff Hammoud. The short video was posted on the company’s Instagram story, in response to customer questions as part of an “Ask Rivian” segment.

Well, sort of anyway. It’s under cover, and it’s just a clay model, but it gives us a sense of the size and shape of the vehicle nonetheless:

It’s not much to go on, but this is the first we’ve seen of the upcoming model, and we can get a sense of a few things from what we see here.

First, it’s smaller. Which was expected, but it’s nice to see confirmation of. In forum posts about the “reveal,” Rivian community members seemed surprised by just how much smaller it is, given that the R1T and R1S are quite large vehicles. But that’s what we were told would happen, and here it is.

Second, it does seem to maintain a pretty similar shape to the R1S. It’s quite boxy, in contrast to the typical egg-shaped small SUVs common across the rest of the segment. It does look like the roof line tapers in from the sides of the vehicles, perhaps moreso than on the R1S, so its front profile may look a little different. But we’re only seeing one angle, so we can’t be as certain of that.

In the background of the video, we saw some Rivian marketing material which seems to show that the R2 will maintain the R1’s striking headlight design. This design was originally controversial on the truck’s reveal but has become a bit of an icon for the company. We’ve seen a brief glimpse of the clay model’s fender in a previous Rivian video (see this article’s featured photo for that), which also confirmed that the R2 headlight design is similar to the R1.

It looks like the R2 will also come with a built-in portable flashlight which stows and charges in a secret pocket in the front door, another feature carried over from the R1.

Finally, Scaringe also answered a question about “tank turn,” a prototype mode which spins the quad-motor powertrain in opposite directions to allow a vehicle to turn in place on soft surfaces. Rivian showed this off as a cool marketing stunt a few years ago and had been planning to release it to the public.

But Scaringe said that Rivian has apparently now decided to shelve those plans. Rivian decided that the mode would be too destructive to trails and doesn’t fit with the company’s ethos to be better stewards of the environment. Though Scaringe didn’t say anything about “front dig mode,” another simpler version of tank turn which Rivian has patented.

Electrek’s Take

The R2 platform could be thought of as the “Model Y” compared to the R1’s “Model X.” A smaller and less expensive model designed for higher production numbers, in what is currently the most popular vehicle segment.

And we’ve recently gotten some news about how well that is going, with the Model Y becoming the world’s top-selling vehicle. This isn’t to say that Rivian will achieve the same feat – and they’re years behind Tesla in that respect anyway – but it does show the difference in potential volumes between these segments.

As for what we’ve seen of the R2 today, readers may know that I’m a fan of smaller vehicles (I drive a 2,800lb, two-seat Roadster after all), so this seems like an improvement to me. As much as I love Rivian and think the company is doing a great job (and we at Electrek love their vehicles), I do think we need to turn towards smaller vehicles as a society. The R2 doesn’t quite get us there, but it’s headed in the right direction at least.

So when people are surprised at how much smaller the R2 looks than the R1, well, that’s just a bonus for me.

And while I understand the egg shape (it’s about efficiency, which is important), it does get a little old sometimes to see almost every SUV – and indeed, almost every car, since SUV sales are (unfortunately) through the roof these days – with the exact same profile. As long as Rivian can keep the R2 from being too inefficient compared to competing vehicles, I’m glad it’s sticking with bolder lines to differentiate itself from basically everything else in the segment.

What do you think about what we’ve seen of the R2 today? Let us know in the comments.

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