Tesla vs Rivian for Your Next Electric Vehicle Purchase: An In-Depth Comparison

As an electric vehicle enthusiast, you’re likely torn picking between the leading options of Tesla and newer make Rivian for your next purchase. Both companies make compelling and innovative EVs, but have key differences across factors like pricing, capabilities, models and overall vision.

This comprehensive guide compares Tesla and Rivian head-to-head across 10 categories that matter most. Read on to gain insights as an informed EV buyer and see which brand may work best for your needs!

Brief Histories

First, let’s review the origins of these automotive trailblazers.

Tesla was founded in 2003 by Silicon Valley engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning to create premium electric cars. Elon Musk joined in 2004 as an early investor and became CEO after the initial Roadster model launched in 2008.

Since then, Tesla has pioneered long range battery technology and a global fast charging network enabling EVs to truly replace gas cars. It went public in 2010 and now dominates the EV market, selling over 936,000 cars worldwide last year.

Rivian emerged more recently in 2009, founded by MIT alum and engineer RJ Scaringe. The company operated for years out of the spotlight, developing innovative electric truck and SUV platforms for recreational use.

Rivian unveiled prototypes in 2018 and soon after announced investments from Amazon and Ford to bring its visions to production. Deliveries of Rivian’s first vehicle – the R1T electric pickup truck – began in late 2021. The company also went public last year through one of the largest IPOs of 2021.

Current Model Lineups

Tesla has more current model diversity with four passenger vehicles selling globally:

Model 3 – Best selling EV globally, available as sedan or hatchback
Model S – Flagship premium sedan with class-leading range
Model X – Stylish SUV with iconic "falcon" doors
Model Y – Compact crossover SUV

Rivian so far has focused on the popular pickup and SUV categories long ignored by Tesla:

R1T – Electric pickup featuring unprecedented storage flexibility through a gear tunnel and frunk
R1S – 7-seat electric SUV for families who enjoy outdoor adventures

Both companies have major models coming soon too – the Tesla Semi, Cybertruck and 2nd gen Roadster compete with Rivian’s planned delivery van.

Pricing across Trims

ModelBase Price (MSRP)Top Trim Price
Tesla Model 3$47,000$62,990
Tesla Model S$105,000$135,990
Tesla Model X$120,000$138,990
Tesla Model Y$65,990$72,990
Rivian R1T$67,500$87,000
Rivian R1S$70,000$90,000

Across most variants, Rivian pricing is very competitive with premium-brand gas trucks and SUVs. Top trim Teslas still command a significant price premium over mainstream brands.

Driving Range

One of the most important EV considerations is how far you can drive between charging stops. This table compares the EPA rated max ranges across configurations, showing Rivian competitive with Tesla’s latest models:

ModelBattery SizesMax EPA Range
Tesla Model 360/75/82 kWh358/412 miles
Tesla Model S100/107 kWh405/396 miles
Tesla Model X100/107 kWh348/333 miles
Tesla Model Y75/82 kWh330/303 miles
Rivian R1T135/180 kWh314/400 miles
Rivian R1S135/180 kWh316/316 miles

In my experience owning a 340 mile EV, 300+ mile ranges provide plenty of flexibility for road trips with 30-45 minute fast charging stops.

Acceleration and Performance

ModelFastest 0-60mphTop Speed
Tesla Model 3 Perf.3.1s162 mph
Tesla Model S Plaid1.99s200 mph
Tesla Model X Plaid2.5s163 mph
Tesla Model Y Perf.3.5s155 mph
Rivian R1T3s125 mph
Rivian R1S3s125 mph

Tesla clearly leads in flat out speed and neck-snapping acceleration. But Rivians deliver great responsiveness too – quicker than most muscle cars. Their top speeds match highway limits.

Charging Infrastructure Access

A major advantage Tesla retains is its huge Supercharger fast charging network, with over 35,000 ports globally. Rivian so far has around 10,000 planned charging sites enabled by partnerships in the US and Canada. Until Rivian approaches Tesla‘s scale, longer trips will require more third-party fast charging station stops.

Unique Features and Capabilities

While Tesla focuses more on technology, Rivian vehicles showcase clever utility:

  • Gear Tunnel Door – The R1T’s retractable gear door enables carrying longer items like surfboards through the cab
  • Tank Turn – Spin Rivians on their own axis thanks to dual motor torque vectoring
  • Camp Kitchen – Rivian’s slide out camper kitchen provides the ultimate glamping convenience
  • Driver+ Hands Free Driving – Rivian’s advanced cruise control automatically follows lanes and routes

Meanwhile, Tesla offers industry-leading self-driving with its FSD package. And the Model X still provides the coolest doors out there with auto-presenting falcon wings.

5 Year Ownership Cost Projections

|| Tesla Model Y | Rivian R1S |
|Base MSRP | $65,990 | $70,000 |
|Electricity Costs* | $3,500 | $5,250 |
|Maintenance Costs | $4,500 | $7,500 |
|Depreciation @50% | $32,995 | $35,000 |
Total Cost| $106,985 | $117,750** |

*Assumes average electricity rate of 15 cents/kWh and 12,000 miles/year
**Estimated due to limited data as a new model

Despite higher upfront cost, the Rivian holds value well and costs less to power over five years of ownership. Long term value may depend greatly on brand perception.

The Verdict: Tesla Leads But Watch Rivian

For now, Tesla retains the edge overall thanks to broader model selection, vast charging reach and self-driving capabilities. Their proven track record alleviates reliability concerns for many buyers as well.

However, if expanding storage and off-road talent rank high on your priority list, Rivian’s creative truck and SUV designs make them a top contender. Early demand and reviews suggest great enthusiasm for the R1T and R1S abilities.

As production ramps up, Rivian aims to claim the mantle as the #1 electric adventure vehicle maker. Their initial strong showing heralds the chance for Rivian to mature from promising upstart to an EV heavyweight in their own right over the next decade.

So while Tesla may win on technology today, don’t sleep on Rivian’s potential to become a major player in the booming EV marketplace of tomorrow! Whether you ultimately choose Tesla or Rivian, embracing electric driving promises a bright road ahead.

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