Two Irvine companies will roll out next-gen trucks this summer

World’s first electric truck

Make/model: Rivian R1T

Price: $67,500

0-60: 3 seconds

Launch: June 2021

Irvine-based Rivian will deliver the world’s first electric (and fastest) truck in June and is “primed to set the automotive world on its head,” according to Car and Driver magazine.

The auto industry is abuzz. Why? The interior is warm and rich, rivaling a Lamborghini, and its electric motors and low center of gravity deliver a sports-car feel. “There’s not a faster truck in the world,” says Rivian Executive Creative Director Larry Parker. It will take you from 0-60 mph in 3 seconds, and take you off-road into the mountains. “It’s designed for the outdoors,” he says, “whether it’s a journey through South America or a weekend trip with your friends.”

Why have Amazon, Ford and T. RowePrice invested in Rivian? Rivian closed on $2.6 billion in funding last month, bringing its total to $8 billion. Experts put its valuation at $27.6 billion. Ford has invested $500 million, while Amazon invested $700 million. Other investors include T. Rowe Price and BlackRock. “Over the last decade, Rivian has been creating a robust organization built for the long term,” Parker says.

What about Rivian’s Irvine expansion? Rivian’s presence in Irvine began as a team of 16 people focused on battery technologies. As that team grew, Parker says, Rivian saw Irvine as the ideal location for its future headquarters. “Access to top talent, to off-road driving, the beach and the diversity that California has to offer is really enticing to our organization,” he says.

A whole new class of vehicle

Make/model: Hyundai Santa Cruz

Price: Not yet announced

Style: Compact crossover

Launch: July 2021

With the Santa Cruz, Hyundai has created a whole new class of pickup — a sports adventure vehicle — that is one of the most anticipated launches of 2021.

“It might be the next big thing in the pickup market,” HotCars reports.

It was designed right here in Irvine, so we asked Hyundai Design Manager Bradley Arnold to sum up the Santa Cruz.

“Segment shattering,” he says. “It represents an entirely new class of vehicle that meets many traditional SUV-buyer needs coupled with truck-like capabilities in a design package the U.S. buyer has never seen.”

The four-door crossover is designed to appeal to younger drivers with active lifestyles — and anyone who wants a truck bed on a compact body.

“It definitely fights above its weight class,” he says.

Arnold, whose dad was a race-team mechanic for the Honda motocross team, learned the car-design trade at the ArtCenter in Pasadena, where he fell in love with “anything that had an engine, was fast, made some noise — and looked cool.”

He joined Hyundai because he believes in its mission: “To be provocative, always pushing the envelope.”

On top of that, he gets to design cars in Southern California, long a hotbed for car culture.

“Every day, we’re tasked with coming up with the future esthetic for the brand,” he says. “And we feel this is the perfect spot to do that.”

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