A brand new Rivian R1T was spotted in Affalterbach, Germany wearing test car number plates, parked at the headquarters of Mercedes-AMG, which is the performance arm of Mercedes-Benz.
The photo was posted on Instagram by Rollende Reporter and later uploaded on the Rivian Owners Forum, where there’s also an explanation of the red number plate, which are used in Germany for a handful of purposes: trying or testing cars, and on cars that are on the way to be sold by dealers. The plates always have the number 06 at the beginning and only car manufacturers, sellers, and repairers can use this type of number plate.
So, obviously, this begs the question: what’s an American Rivian R1T (which isn’t sold in Europe) doing at the headquarters of Mercedes-AMG? A clear answer is hard to get, but we can speculate based on what knowledge we have of the two car companies.
Mercedes-Benz and Rivian had a short joint venture in 2022 for building an electric van together, but that deal was put on hold in December, so it’s unlikely that the R1T spotted in Affalterbach has anything to do with this. There were also rumours at some point that Rivian vehicles would be available in Germany through Sixt, but they were quickly debunked.
Then, there’s the more likely possibility that Mercedes-AMG is benchmarking the American pickup against its own version of the upcoming all-electric Mercedes-Benz EQG off-roader. The EQG will eventually be sold in North America and AMG will probably come up with a high-performance version of it at some point, considering the internal combustion engine G-Class has an AMG G63 variant. Adding to that, Mercedes-AMG already has some experience in the all-electric world, after it started making high-performance trims of the EQE and EQS saloons.
Gallery: 2022 Rivian R1T: First Drive Review
Mercedes-Benz doesn’t have a pickup in its lineup (although it used to make the Nissan Navara-based X-Class), but seeing how the Rivian R1T’s setup is very similar to that of the R1S SUV, it’s a good candidate for testing.
As a reminder, the American electric pickup is available with either a dual-motor all-wheel drive setup or a quad-motor AWD drivetrain. And judging by the latest batch of spy photos showing prototypes of the Mercedes-Benz EQG, the German brand appears to be testing a quad-motor version, as well as a setup that has fewer than four motors.
Another possibility is that an employee or other person somehow managed to get his hands on a Rivian R1T and the car is at the first step of the registration process, waiting for the permanent number plates to be issued.