Rivian Angers Reservation Holders by Cutting Entry-Level Trim
Production hell is real, and it appears Rivian is having to make some difficult calls to get through it.
Rivian has notified several pre-order customers that it is discontinuing the base trim of its R1T pickup and R1S SUV, as per a post on the Rivian Owners Forum.
Anemail from Rivian posted to the forum states that the company will no longer build vehicles with the "Explore" package. This served as the entry-level trim, beneath the more expensive Adventure package. The email cites low demand for the base trim as the reason for the cull. The aim is to instead build more vehicles in the popular Adventure trim, streamlining production and allowing Rivian to ship vehicles faster.
The Explore trim is no longer available on Rivian's online configurator. Rivian confirmed the changes in trim levels to The Drive.
Reservation holders are instructed to reconfigure their vehicles to the Adventure package to stay in the build queue, according to the communication. Those that don't choose the Adventure package will see their reservations drop out of the production queue on September 1.
Some forum posters are frustrated that the news comes just after they had locked in $100 non-refundable deposits on their orders. However, Rivian's email notes that it will provide a full refund to those who do not wish to upgrade their order.
The Adventure trim features premium interior finishes, along with heated and cooled seats, ash wood in the cabin, and an upgraded audio system. It also adds a special "Gear Guard" monitoring system to the bed on the R1T for security purposes. Upgrading to the Adventure package will cost owners at least $5,500, or potentially more for some configurations. One forum poster complained that the hike will cost them almost $8,000 if they choose to stick with the order.
Dovetailed with the deletion of the Explore models, Rivian has also announced changes to the Ocean Coast interior. A darker stain wood has been substituted for the original light ash, as Rivian has struggled to secure supplies. For those customers unhappy with the change, it's also offering a dash wrapped in light vegan leather.
The startup EV automaker appears to be facing struggles as it ramps up production of its debut vehicles. Earlier this year, it hiked prices for reservation holders, only to backtrack days later after incurring significant backlash. Late last year, the company reported it had a backlog of over 50,000 orders which it only expected to clear by the end of 2023.
Whether Rivian can ride out production hell and remain a going concern will depend on how much funding it has, and how customers respond to the changes. With Amazon backing it up, though, and the production line beginning to pickup speed, the company has a solid shot at making it through the pain.
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