Turns out, not having to pack an internal combustion engine under the hood of a truck really opens the doors of creativity. At least, that’s what happened when Jeff Hammoud, Rivian’s head of design, began playing with that bonus volume in the EV automaker’s R1T pickup, which began delivery last September. It’s the winner in the Automotive category of Fast Company’s 2022 Innovation by Design Awards.
In addition to an EV-only front trunk (or frunk), the R1T has a deep center console designed with women’s bags in mind, and room underneath both the front and back seats. Then there’s the Rivian-invented gear tunnel—a 65-inch-long watertight cavity between the cab and truckbed that can carry skis, muddy boots, or even something as quotidian as a bag of groceries. This last example isn’t happenstance; Hammoud says the R1T was specifically designed with day-to-day use in mind, unlike most of its competitors in the truck space. The typical truck on the market, he says, is “literally a vehicle that’s designed to carry things, but it’s actually very difficult to do something as remedial as grocery shopping.”
The gear tunnel is a practical solution born of all the extra space the design team had to work with. “We really tried to find every little bit of volume,” says Hammoud, noting that the gear tunnel was one of the original design moves featured in the concept version of the truck that was revealed back in 2018. “The design continued to evolve from model to model, and [the gear tunnel] was the one thing that actually stayed,” Hammoud says. “We said, ‘We have to do this.'”
The EV nature of the truck also opened up fewer expected opportunities, such as the flashlight that’s stored and charged inside the door and the portable Bluetooth speaker tucked into the console. They’re all tools for adventure, which Hammoud says is the design’s guiding star. “That doesn’t only mean camping,” he says. “It could mean taking your family to the beach or to Ikea to buy furniture.”
This story is part of Fast Company’s 2022 Innovation by Design Awards. Explore the full list of companies creating products, reimagining spaces, and working to design a better world.