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Rivian R1S is a battery-powered SUV for off-roading adventurers. Photo: Rivian

Electric vehicle start-up Rivian made its debut at the Los Angeles auto show by taking the wraps off two new rugged battery-powered models — a pickup truck and a seven-passenger SUV.

The big picture: Founded in 2009, Rivian is one of a slew of EV start-ups trying to elbow their way into the automotive industry at a time of unprecedented disruption. Tesla is a rare success story — and even it came within weeks of death this year, CEO Elon Musk recently told Axios. Rivian is targeting a unique niche: adventurous, off-roading families.

The details: The R1T and R1S are particularly ambitious efforts, with big promises on performance, autonomous technology, and off-road capability. The company says they will go on sale starting in 2020.

  • The R1S will have a range of up to 410 miles, a 0-60 mph time of three seconds, and the ability to wade through nearly three feet of water.
  • Both models come with three battery choices: 105 kWh, 135 kWh (for fast performance), and 180 kWh (for longer range).
  • All-wheel drive and a towing capacity of 7,700 pounds come standard.
  • They'll launch with Level 3 autonomy (eyes off, hands off) but Rivian says they will eventually offer full self-driving capability.
  • The R1T starts at $61,500 and the R1S at $65,000, after the federal EV tax credit.

Success is a long shot, but the company has wealthy backers, including Middle East conglomerate Abdul Latif Jameel. Founder RJ Scaringe told me he's talking to several strategic investors, too.

  • The twist: Rivian is also plotting a strategy to share its technology with other companies and says its system can fit jet skies and snowmobiles, too.

My thought bubble: Consumers still suffer from range anxiety when it comes to electric vehicles. I can't imagine driving off into the wilderness in an EV, wondering if I'll have enough juice to get back to civilization. Maybe that's where the adventure comes in.

Go deeper

President Joe Biden vows to be "a president for all Americans"

Moments after taking the oath of office, President Joe Biden sought to sooth a nation riven by political divisions and a global pandemic, while warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country and defeat a "virus that silently stalks the the country."

Why it matters: From the same steps that a pro-Trump mob launched an assault on Congress two weeks earlier, the new president paid deference to the endurance of American political institutions.

Updated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Biden and Vice President Harris review readiness of military troops, a long-standing tradition to signify the peaceful transfer of power.

Updated 53 mins ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were inaugurated as president and vice president respectively in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Top Democrats and Republicans gathered for the peaceful transfer of power only two weeks after an unprecedented siege on the building by Trump supporters to disrupt certification of Biden's victory. Trump did not attend Wednesday's ceremony.

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