Rivian R1S Is the First Production EV to Conquer Rubicon Off-Road Trail

The Rivian even managed the trip on a set of stock tires.
Rivian R1S SUV in silver, driving uphill on a trail

The Rubicon Trail is one of the hardest, most famous off-road trails in the United States. Hell, Jeep even named its most hardcore Wrangler after it. But it isn’t the exclusive domain of Jeeps, as a nearly stock Rivian R1S SUV has become the first production EV to run the gauntlet successfully.

The SUV used for the journey was a quad-motor R1S on the factory 34-inch Pirelli tires, with only light mods to finish the trail. Those consisted of steel rock sliders, front tow hitch receivers, and a roof rack—all fairly basic stuff for managing terrain and recovery.

The Rivian set off the morning of Monday, August 7 with about 80 percent charge and the company’s development drivers at the helm. It was initially tailed by pre-production quad-motor R1T support trucks, which passed off duties to a modified Jeep Wrangler for the remainder of the run. Rivian says the R1S suffered no mechanical problems, and didn’t even have to change tires the whole way, taking only some cosmetic oofs as battle scars.

By the afternoon of Wednesday, August 9, the Rivian reached the Tahoma end of the trail with less than 10 percent charge left. It turned out to be just enough to make it to a Level 2 charger nearby.

That makes the Rivian R1S the first production EV to finish the Rubicon Trail. Other homebuilt electrified machines have managed it, according to Chris Bassett of the Rubicon Trail Foundation, but Rivian’s trip marks a first.

“I’m hugely impressed by the R1S’s clean run,” Bassett said. “Aside from some homebuilt EV crawlers, this is the first fully EV vehicle through the trail, and definitely the first production EV. Very impressive on stock tires, too.”

Rivian's development drivers pose next to the R1S that completed the Rubicon Trail
Rivian’s development drivers pose next to the R1S that completed the Rubicon Trail. Rivian

Rivian’s completion sets a benchmark for Jeep’s upcoming off-road EV, the Jeep Recon slated for next year. Said to be Rubicon-ready from the factory, it already had a legacy to live up to. Now it has a rival to beat, too.

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