Why you can trust Jerry
Jerry partners with some of the companies we write about. However, our content is written and reviewed by an independent team of editors and licensed insurance agents, and never influenced by our partnerships. Learn more baout how we make money, review our editorial standards, reference out data methodology, or view a list of our partners
When it comes to the burgeoning electric pickup truck segment, two of the major contenders this year are Tesla, the long-reigning electric king, and Rivian, a new, promising startup.
Both Tesla and Rivian have never sold gas-powered pickup trucks, are seen as authentically sustainable electric alternatives, and have an unconventional direct-to-consumer sales model.
When looking at Rivian vs. the Cybertruck, the similarities largely stop there. While the Rivian R1T is more traditional in its look, the Tesla Cybertruck is hardly recognizable as a pickup truck, with a sharp, angled top and a futuristic stainless steel body.
The cars also differ in price. While the Cybertruck starts at just $39,900, the Rivian R1T starts at $67,500. That being said, the Tesla model isn’t eligible for a federal electric vehicle tax credit, while the Rivian model is.
If you really want to look at Rivian vs. the Cybertruck, here are some more differences between the hottest two electric pickup trucks of the year.
Rivian vs. Cybertruck: Design
The most striking difference between these two vehicles is their design. Kelley Blue Book calls the Tesla Cybertruck’s design “polarizing,” though the site adds that the truck’s “sharp creases and angular shape” were chosen for practical reasons, to accommodate the car’s stainless steel build.
The Cybertruck has a truly unique look, and isn't likely to be mistaken for a different model—which could be a plus or minus, depending on your perspective.
The Rivian R1T, on the other hand, appears to be a run-of-the-mill pickup truck (with the major exception that it’s all-electric, of course). Kelley Blue Book describes its design as “a conventional crew carb/cargo box profile you expect from a pickup.”
Still, the R1T has a modern flair, with oval lighting elements, tow hooks, and skid plates. Its design speaks to its practicality as a hardy off-road vehicle.
The key feature of the Tesla Cybertruck is that its body panels are made of cold-rolled stainless steel. This is a heavy material, meaning that it’s more difficult to work with than, say, steel or aluminum.
However, the stainless steel adds aesthetic value and gives the pickup a cool, cutting-edge look. The Cybertruck’s stainless steel body also means that it doesn’t need to be painted or detailed.
The Rivian R1T has a chassis made of high-strength steel and a body made of aluminum and carbon fiber—much more conventional and lightweight materials than stainless steel. The R1T’s lighter build balances out the heaviness of the car’s battery pack, giving the model an extra power boost.
The R1T has a “skateboard” chassis, which, according to Kelley Blue Book, “mounts the battery pack, cooling, and other EV componentry between the frame rails.” This makes room for additional storage space and lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity, stabilizing it for on- and off-road driving.
The Tesla Cybertruck comes in three different configurations, according to Kelley Blue Book. The base model has a range of 250 miles with a 0-60 miles per hour acceleration of 6.5 seconds. The next model, an all-wheel drive Dual Motor model, is even faster, with a 0-60 mph acceleration of 4.5 seconds. The top model has three all-electric motors, a 500-mile range, and a speedy 0-60 acceleration time of only 2.9 seconds.
The Rivian R1T has a range of 300 miles and a 135 kWh battery pack. Rivian has promised a 2022 version with a longer range—likely around 400 miles—and a 180 kWh battery pack.
The R1T has 800 horsepower and 900 pound-feet of torque. The pickup is expected to accelerate 0-60 mph in only three seconds, an impressive speed.
These electric pickup trucks are quite different and accordingly, are likely to appeal to different drivers. Kelley Blue Book speculates, “Thanks to its performance, Cybertruck may attract enthusiasts or extreme sports types rather than those looking for practicality.”
The site adds that drivers “put off by Tesla Cybertruck’s polarizing design” may opt for the “modern yet more conventional take” offered by the Rivian R1T. Despite their differences, both Tesla and Rivian are targeting drivers who use their pickups recreationally, rather than for professionally.
Ultimately, whether the Rivian R1T or the Tesla Cybertruck makes a bigger splash in the electric pickup truck market will depend on whether consumers are looking for something new and flashy—or tried and true.