Photo: Rivian

Rivian, the startup electric vehicle company developing an electric pickup capable of up to 400 miles of range, has apparently been doing much of its road testing in Detroit under the disguise of the Ford F-150.

For months now, Jalopnik has been getting tips sent in of funny-seeming F-150 pickups that appear to be missing tailpipes, or with other weird or missing features, with many speculating that the trucks were actually the upcoming hybrid version of the F-150 or some other electrified Ford. You can see some photos of an F-150 charging, for example, over on Carscoops.

But now it seems like some of these weird test vehicles could have actually been Rivian prototypes, at least according to R.J. Scaringe, founder and CEO of Rivian. Here’s the part of an interview mentioning the disguised test trucks, from the Detroit Free Press:

The company’s skateboards, which carry the electric vehicle batteries and key components, have been hidden underneath used Ford F-150 bodies as they have undergone testing.

“We need something to keep the weather out while we put a lot of miles on our skateboard, so they’re driving around in Detroit right now, too. They’re all over the place, but nobody knows. We’re very quiet about that,” Scaringe said, noting that there’s no corporate connection to Ford. The wheelbase just happens to be the right size.

In a back room at the headquarters, sections of not just F-150s but SUVs from other companies and the parts that should provide the extra capability Rivian is promising, such as quad motors to power the wheels, were on display. That area, however, was off limits for cameras.

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While it’s not too unusual for automakers to disguise their test vehicles, sometimes with design cues seemingly meant to mimic competitors, it’s sort of funny that Rivian’s skateboard platform fits the wheelbase of the F-150 so perfectly, as the F-150 is probably actually the benchmark for the R1T’s design and designed to be similar in size to the Ford.

With the company’s explosive reveal at last year’s LA Auto Show and Amazon recently leading an investment of $700 million in Rivian, the company has gone from an unknown startup to a hyped up segment leader in the development of electric pickups.

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The Detroit Free Press story also mentions that Rivian claims to have exceeded its expectations for orders of its R1T pickup and R1S seven-seat SUV, with more vehicles planned to be announced later next year. The CEO wouldn’t comment on rumors of potential talks between Rivian and GM, but it seems like a lot could change between now and then.

Jalopnik reached out to Ford about Rivian testing with used F-150 bodies and will update when we have more.