No, Rivian is most definitely not ‘Tesla’s worst nightmare’

With Detroit-based Rivian Automotive stepping into the limelight, the electric car maker has seen itself being compared to Silicon Valley-based Tesla, a first mover in the EV market. Over the following week, Rivian and its CEO, RJ Scaringe, has been dubbed as several things, among them being “Tesla’s worst nightmare.” This is a flawed assumption. 

Rivian emerged from the shadows late last year, surprising the auto industry by revealing two production-ready vehicles that feature the best that electric cars can offer — instant power, luxury, and a killer design. With this in mind, it is not surprising that the company is perceived with optimism by Wall Street and potential investors. Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas, for one, noted that Tesla’s dominance in the US EV market could be “unsustainable” as it faces “serious competition” from Rivian, considering the younger company’s “access to talent and capital” and its focus on the “fastest growing segments of pickup trucks & SUVs.”

Yesterday, reports also emerged that high-profile investors such as GM and Amazon are in talks to invest in Rivian. Provided that the reports are accurate, Reuters noted that Rivian’s valuation would rise to between $1 to $2 billion once the deal goes through. That’s incredibly impressive for the electric car maker, and it bodes well for the EV industry in general as it provides much-needed funds for the development of clean transportation. What it does not do is prove that Tesla will run into trouble because of Rivian’s upcoming and seemingly inevitable rise.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe both aim to rid the world of fossil fuels.

While rivalries present a compelling narrative, it is difficult to paint Tesla and Rivian as rivals trying to beat each other without compromising each company’s character. Tesla’s Elon Musk, for one, has always encouraged the development of more electric cars. In a recent tweet late last month, Musk noted that it is “exciting to see all the new electric vehicles coming to market,” referring to a report of other EVs set to debut in the coming years.  In a later post, Musk added that Tesla’s true competition is not new electric vehicles, but rather, the “enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.”

In his most recent 60 Minutes segment, Musk went so far as to state that “if somebody comes and makes a better electric car than Tesla, and it’s so much better than ours that we can’t sell our cars, and we go bankrupt, I still think that’s a good thing for the world.” It remains unknown if Elon Musk could ultimately put his foot where his mouth is, but considering his statements so far, he definitely appears to be fully supportive of other electric car makers, including Rivian.

Rivian, for its part, has never given an indication that it is going after Tesla. The electric car maker has established since the reveal of its first truck that it is dedicating itself to the production of luxury adventure vehicles (at least for now) with zero compromises. Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe has also been pretty open about his opinion of Tesla. During a fireside chat at the Automotive News World Congress last month, Scaringe credited Tesla for disproving “untruths” about electric vehicles. Simply put, everything that Rivian has done so far indicates that it acknowledges Tesla, and it is fully onboard with the company’s mission of accelerating the advent of sustainable energy.

Mainstream media loves pitting companies, products, and people against each other — Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox, Celebrity A and Celebrity B, the list is endless. In the case of Tesla and Rivian and their CEOs, this idea does not seem to line up very well. In their respective segments alone, the companies should not be compared, considering that Tesla is pursuing the mainstream market with the Model 3 and the upcoming Model Y, while Rivian is focusing on the luxury adventure sphere with the R1T and R1S. Until Tesla releases its own pickup truck, then the two electric car makers are best seen as allies in the transition away from fossil fuels — not rivals attempting to overpower each other.

No, Rivian is most definitely not ‘Tesla’s worst nightmare’


2020 BMW X3M and X4M arrive with 503 hp and 177 mph top speed

It’s the new reality: A sporty crossover SUV is as important as a sport sedan from an automaker that makes performance one of its talking points. So it was only a matter of time before BMW released M versions of its compact X3 and X4 crossovers.

On Tuesday, BMW revealed the 2020 BMW X3 M and X4 M crossover SUVs and said production will begin in April.

The headline is under the hood. Both crossover SUVs are motivated by the S58 twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that spins out 473 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. The engine revs to 7,200 rpm, launches the vehicles to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, and vaults them to a top speed of 174 mph.

2020 BMW X3 M Competition

2020 BMW X3 M Competition

That’s just the starting point.

X3 M and X4 M Competition models are available as well, and they make 503 hp. That’s enough to drop the 0-60 mph time to 4.0 seconds and increase the top speed to 177 mph.

A lot of cooling is employed to handle all that power. The SUVs have a central radiator flanked by two smaller radiators, an additional engine oil cooler, and a separate transmission cooler.

Oil supply is also optimized for track driving. The oil sump has two chambers and a suction channel. An additional suction stage pulls oil from the smaller chamber when needed and helps ensure the SUVs are never starved for oil, even under the heavy lateral loads experienced on a track.

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The standard 8-speed automatic transmission should crack off instant shifts and can be controlled via steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.

The standard cars’ all-wheel-drive system has been tweaked and tuned by BMW’s M Division, and a Sport mode allows it to send more power to the rear wheels. A standard active rear differential can shift power side to side.

BMW reinforced the body with a metal strut tower brace, an A-brace at the firewall, and two other braces that mount between the shock towers and the front of the vehicle. A carbon-fiber strut brace will be offered in August. The company also updated the suspension with M-specific bushings, bearings, rear control arms, anti-roll bars, and front wishbone suspension components. The front camber is increased to help provide high-speed stability and more control through corners.

2020 BMW X4 M Competition

2020 BMW X4 M Competition

M-tuned adjustable adaptive dampers are standard, and the steering has variable ratios and adjustable weights. The brakes feature 15.6-inch front rotors with 4-piston calipers and 14.6-inch rear rotors with sliding calipers.

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Those brakes sit behind light alloy 20-inch wheels that mount staggered-size Z-rated tires: 255/40s up front and 265/40s out back.

BMW says it tested the X3 M and X4 M on the Nürburgring Nordschiefe, as well as the company’s Mirimas test track in southern France.

Onlookers will be able to spot the M SUVs by their large front air intakes, signature M gills along the sides, rear diffusers, rear bumpers, and unique roof spoilers. The front and rear bumpers, side skirts, and wheel arches are also body color instead of black.

Competition models have gloss-black grille surrounds, mirror caps, and side gills. The X4 M version also has a black rear spoiler, plus 21-inch wheels, an M Sport exhaust with black chrome exhaust tips, and unique door sill plates and badges.

2020 BMW X3 M Competition

2020 BMW X3 M Competition

Inside, all models get sport seats with upgraded leather upholstery, aluminum carbon trim, and M division parts for the instrument cluster, steering wheel, and gear selector. Competition models have more thickly bolstered M Sport seats in softer leather.

Prices have not been announced. Expect that information closer to launch this spring.