The company has removed a desirable feature for the foreseeable future.
When the all-electric Rivian R1T first hit the scene, prospective customers were amazed at the amount of features and available technologies. But now it seems the startup automaker is removing a popular function, much to the chagrin of patiently waiting customers. First seen on Rivian Forums, an email from the company to clients has announced the discontinuation of the powered tonneau cover.
The communique explains that Rivian is upgrading the feature and plans to re-introduce it at a yet-to-be-announced date. "For the foreseeable future, all R1Ts will come with either a manual tonneau cover or no tonneau cover."
Rivian explains that from early 2023, it will switch over to a design without integrated side rails.
Rivian has assured customers this will barely impact the R1T's driving range. "It's worth noting that when driving an R1T with no tonneau cover, there is little to no impact on [the] range when the bed is empty," reads the statement. This is of little concern to frustrated customers, who expected this feature on their vehicles.
One order holder wrote, "I don't understand why they would change the bed design to having no side rails. Wouldn't they want to leave people the option of buying their manual tonneau or having the powered version installed later?"
Another forum user noted, "You will not have the option to add the powered cover later...once the new powered covers are available again, then you can order it again...people taking deliveries between now and then are stuck."
For waiting clients, this must come as a blow. In March, several hundred Rivian customers threatened to cancel their orders due to planned price hikes, and, more recently, the company announced it would reduce production complexities, resulting in further delays for some customers.
"Building in few build combinations reduces complexity with our suppliers and in the plant and allows us to build a greater number of vehicles," said the company to order-holders.
Getting back to the powered tonneau cover, it's understandable that buyers are frustrated with the sudden omission. Even if Rivian is prepared to refund the money, the company offered an accessory and took it away without warning or the possibility of retrofitting it at a later date.
For now, the manual tonneau cover is the only option for buyers left in the lurch. Rivian says the four interlocking panels are made of a durable aluminum composite. When not used, these panels can be stored in the Gear Tunnel. "If you are taking delivery soon, your panels will ship later. Our current estimate is early 2023."
While the company has plans to introduce a smaller model in the coming years, other future plans are up in the air after a judge rejected a proposal to grant the automaker tax breaks in Georgia. This has thrown a spanner in the works for the automaker, which plans to break ground on a new facility in the state, in the coming years.