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Rivian R1T Rollover Has Everyone Talking, Except the Driver and Rivian

Meant to be a warning for other Rivian R1T owners, the post took off and many have speculated about what happened.
Benjamin Ponds

There’s a chance you’ve seen these photos of a Rivian R1T on its side shared around Facebook. In the original post, the electric pickup’s owner Benjamin Ponds notes that it happened while driving through a field, adding a word of warning: “these trucks will roll easier than you’d expect them to.” Rivian then sent a pair of engineers out to investigate, and even after speaking with the owner and the manufacturer, no one is forthcoming with details of what happened. Regardless, Ponds’ R1T, which he waited two years for, is now in a North Carolina salvage yard, and he tells me his insurance provider has found him at fault.

Off the bat, Ponds made it clear that he won’t disclose the specifics of the incident. “The particulars of exactly what happened, the mode the truck was in, how I was driving the truck, all that, I’m probably not willing to discuss until Rivian figures out what they need to figure out.” As such, Ponds isn’t saying what height the adjustable suspension was set to, nor if it was in the All-Purpose drive mode or something sportier like Off-Road Rally or Off-Road Drift mode.

“It’s interesting because when I approached Rivian, it was, ‘Hey, this happened. What did I do wrong?’ That’s how I approached them,” Ponds says. “The next day, they sent engineers out. That’s not something I requested of them. People online, you know, they’re crazy. They say, ‘Oh, you’re trying to blame Rivian for rollover.'”

Ponds says that’s not his intent. According to him, Rivian’s response has been impressive as the engineers examined the scene of the incident and retrieved data that could help them determine why it rolled. He tells me he has, “some ideas as to what could have happened,” but he’s “waiting on engineering.”

“The truck, I hauled it up to Hickory, North Carolina, which was the closest Rivian-certified collision center,” Ponds says. “Rivian was pretty adamant early on that it go to one of their certified collision centers, which I was fine with.”

He notes that “the truck is bricked” and every panel except the tailgate is damaged. You can see what he’s talking about in these images from the salvage center. Not only is its body trashed, but when the airbags deployed, a pyro fuse allegedly blew, cutting the high-voltage battery pack’s power. There’s nothing to keep the 12-volt battery charged at that point, so soon after, nothing in the R1T would turn on.

When I contacted Rivian for comment, a spokesperson pointed me toward the R1T’s recent safety accolades. They then confirmed that Rivian has been in touch with Ponds directly, analyzing the crash. The representative explained Rivian’s findings won’t be released to the public.

“The Rivian R1T recently received the highest Safety rating, Top Safety Pick+, from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety,” the spokesperson explains. “The vehicle’s low center of gravity and rollover mitigation system provides unmatched stability. When possible and with permission, Rivian sends engineers to engage with vehicle owners after an incident. As a new product, this represents a valuable opportunity for us to learn. In this case, we’re examining the vehicle behavior leading up to the incident, examining the vehicle itself, and speaking with the driver. To protect driver privacy, we don’t share additional external information or results from incident investigations.”

Ponds acknowledges that Rivian has been good to work with through the process, though he claims that the R1T rolled easier than he ever expected.

“I’ll put it this way: If I thought it would roll, I would never have gone out there. I think at the minimum—and that’s part of the reason for my post, and now I wish I wouldn’t have posted at all—there’s an assumption that EVs just don’t roll. They don’t roll as easily as gasoline vehicles, perhaps. The whole post was specific to Rivian to say, ‘Hey, these trucks can actually roll, so be careful.’ But yeah, it definitely rolled easier than I expected it to, for sure.

“It rolling was unexpected. But, it was not like it was sitting in a field and ‘Oh, it suddenly rolled,'” he added. Ponds mentioned “being silly with it,” alluding that the accident wasn’t the result of normal A-to-B driving.

“My insurance has labeled it as a collision, which will ding my driving record,” Ponds adds.

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